The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

“No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.” – Robert Burns

To determine what countries we will visit during the first year abroad, we researched flight amounts, visa requirements, safety and housing.

Visa Requirements – All the countries have a strict visa requirement and if they find you in the country without a visa or pass the time you can stay there without a visa, you can be deported or imprisoned.  We don’t want to stay in a country with a strict visa requirement during the first year of our time abroad. South America and the Caribbean are just as flexible as the United States and the cost of living is cheaper.

Plane ticket prices – The ticket prices, of course, was the most important factor in deciding where we would spend our first year. It made sense to remain on one continent before moving on to the next but the cost of moving within the continent was more expensive than we anticipated. Of course these prices are speculative. We plugged in some potential travel dates and countries to determine prices. We realized that a flight from Colombia to Brazil, one way, is over 800.00. We had to find out if Brazil is a country that is on the must-see list or if we can pass on it lol. Surprisingly, our list went down by half once we started looking ticket prices.

Safety – Of course safety is an important factor.It took a lot to maneuver the online propaganda and fear. Every country but America is dangerous of course. And only the cities with white skin people are the safest. So we decided to look at claims of kidnapping of Americans, how these kidnappings took place and the warnings issued by the embassies.  We looked at violent crimes against tourist and police behavior. More importantly, we spoke with people who lived in these countries to get first hand experiences.

Housing – This category was easy because of airbnb.com and homeaway.com. However, in the Caribbean countries, the cost tripled on these websites.  So we looked at deals on resorts. Surprisingly, when we weighed in the cost of food and entertainment, living on the resort was cheaper.

We narrowed our list:

COLOMBIA – First stop. We don’t need a visa if we stay for 90 days or less. Medellin is pretty safe and we found a 6 bedroom house on airbnb.com for 1k a month.

bogotanight

Panama – travel from Colombia to Panama on a plane is 100.00 each or we can take a bus. It is riddled with petty crimes but very little kidnapping claims. Some violence but no more than America. We found a 5 bedroom home on airbnb.com for 950.00 a month.  No Visa is required and we can stay for 6 months, but we are only staying for 2.

panama

Costa Rica- beautiful and very safe country. Here we plan to settle into a rural area where we can pluck fruit off the trees. It will be a relaxing 30 days, staying in a 5 bedroom house, with no A/C lol for 750.00 a month. The bus runs only on the weekday and it stops at 4PM. No Visa is required but we will need a Yellow Fever vaccine since we are coming from Panama and Colombia.

costa-rica

Jamaica – no Visa requirement for 6 months. In Jamaica we are staying at a resort for 45 days, may extend to 2 months. The owners of rental homes in Jamaica charge an arm and a leg to rent their homes to travelers. We saw a few plantation style homes for rent lol. Kinda pricey and creepy, not really something I can stay in for that long. Safety in Jamaica is similar to the other countries. Beware of pickpockets,  be safe at night, don’t travel alone, etc etc. We are looking forward to exploring the island.

jamaica-firefly

Dominican Republic- a tourist card and a valid passport is required for the Dominican Republic. We are hoping to stay for about 3 months but we are slated for 2 right now. During our last visit to DR we made contact with a developer who purchased and renovated apartments there. We will need two separate units but the price for a 3 bedroom is 650 a month and a 2 bedroom, 550 a month. It is a gated community in Puerto Plata. Puerto Plata is relatively safe. My biggest concern is being mistaken for a Haitian and the prostitution that is legal there (I have sons) but we love DR and want the kids to experience this lovely country.

dominican-republic-nature-and-scenery__banner-large

After the first year, we head to Canada and then Africa!!

Advertisements

Flight Mode

We purchased our tickets to Colombia! Yeah!!! We spent weeks going through all the articles and newsletters discussing tips and tricks to finding the cheapest ticket. We browsed through all of the major flight websites, priceline, cheaptickets, expedia, etc and finally found a path that eased all of our concerns.  I noticed something interesting about these websites that I never noticed before.  For example: cheaptickets and expedia have a limitation on the amount of tickets you can purchase at one time. That limit is 6 and there are no guarantees that you can get your family on the same flight if you need more. Priceline allows for the maximum of 8 tickets.   If you buy directly from the airline websites, you have the same issue. You can’t buy more than 6 tickets online, you must call it in.

Then of course the issue of appeasing to all concerned in the group. Some were concerned about the amount of time we spend on one plane. So the more layovers, the better. I was concerned about flying within Colombia. I wanted a flight from Miami directly to Medellin. That was difficult. All the cheap tickets flew into Bogota and then to Medellin.  I was concerned about taking a small plane with all of us and our bags. My concern is not based on any hard facts, just an overactive imagination.

In my mind the plane looked like this:

5794620-3x2-940x627

The rest of the crew expressed concerns about the layover so we picked a ticket with a 10 hour layover in Miami. Figured we could check out a new city. So finally we found the perfect cheap tickets lol. We drive from Phx to California. Then from California, we fly back to Phoenix. From Phoenix we fly to Miami, where we wait for 10 hours before heading to Colombia.

2 days later…

An email from Priceline changing our tickets. NOW we are flying from California to Phoenix where we wait here for 10 hours to board a plane for Miami. From Miami, we will have 45 minute delay before we board to Colombia. All of this saves us $2400.00 in ticket prices BUT that trip is going to be a beast.

Pretty sure we will arrive in Colombia like this:

hard-night-party-was

Had to share these photos

So we found a place to stay in Colombia through airbnb.com. It is a 6 bedroom, 2 bath house for 1000.00 a month, all utilities included.

In doing some research, we asked some expats currently in Colombia about the area and we heard that this area is not the most ideal. It is great having resources(wonderful people) willing to share vital information.

We did some research of our own and found out that this neighborhood was riped with crime during the Escobar era. We also learned that Medellin, Colombia is not as safe as some people promote BUT neither is America or any other country.

We are not moving to Colombia because it is safer or to get a better life. Colombia is just one stop on our tour of the world. And it certainly will not be the most dangerous place we land. We are chasing culture and beauty. We are chasing experience. We are not running from anything! And we are never scared!

INTRODUCTION

Hello bloggers and readers!!!  Today marks the final day of doubts about our decision to move out of the country. All 8 are now completely and without reservations, on board to become expats with the family’s decision to leave the United States. We’ve spent months sorting through visa requirements, expat blogs, social media pages, crime,  police killing stats and real estate websites (I’ll get to that another day). Today, we rest. We have decided on a destination for our 5 kids and my mother. The next place for our black family to call home; a carefree home.

This is my first time blogging but I decided to call it documenting. Documenting in a public diary, my thoughts and the steps taken to make this drastic move out of America. It is not in my plan to write the why. I’m sure you can make a few educated guesses, but I will explain the how in the hopes that others will follow. I plan to vlog or video blog and post hundreds of pictures and links. I hope to entertain and motivate; to educate. More importantly, I hope to accomplish a carefree life for our family and to inspire others to hope for the same. First I really want to thank our inspirations, Young Black Expats (http://www.youngblackexpats.com/) for being trailblazers. You guys are wonderful.

Now a true introduction…

We are an African American family of 8 planning our move out of the county, future expats. Our family consist of me, of course. I’m a wife and mother currently moving my law practice from a brick and mortar to completely online. My husband is a producer and publisher of comic books/graphic novels and is now developing online games http://www.openworldcomics.com/ His comic books are distributed through Diamond and he recently completed a successful kickstarter for the upcoming video game ‘Versus’ https://www.facebook.com/versusfightinggame/. My mother is joining us on our journey. She is recently retired and is currently working on her youtube channel providing tips and tricks for healthy living over the age of 55. Stay tuned for that!

Our oldest daughter is studying Biology at ASU with plans to work remotely as a patent illustrator. Our son is studying Communications at Estrella and has an online wrestling blog, http://radilewisjr.blogspot.com/, where he rates and reviews wrestling matches. Our 17 year old is developing an online trivia game focusing on gamers and a youtube channel. Our 15 year old artist is developing an online comic strip. And finally our 13 years old is working on a youtube channel to showcase his music. I almost forgot our german shepherd, Buddy, who plans to become the loudest barking dog in Colombia!!

Follow us all as we take the necessary steps to travel the world beginning the Summer of 2017. Our first stop, Colombia!!!