“I’m worried! Like this isn’t a joke anymore!” said a friend of mine on a phone call the other day. “It doesn’t matter where in the US you live right now things are crazy. Protests, riots, such division among groups, such division among people right in our neighborhoods. And a government that forces us to wear masks to the grocery store but not if you’re protesting! I’m confused, I’m annoyed and I’m a little scared! Our government used to warn about travel to places that had these issues, now we are that place! And I want a ‘Plan B’ and I want it before the upcoming election.”
This sentiment is becoming more and more common around the US and Canada these days. Almost everyone I talk to still loves their country, and they’re definitely still patriotic, but many seriously consider it naïve to not at least think about a Plan B.
A Plan B, as I’m referring to it here, is simply an alternative place to put down roots, at least for a while, if you get too frustrated with what is going on in your own country. Without knowing it, I’ve been in the business or providing a “Plan B” for well over a decade.
What’s Really Important
I’m Canadian and when I pulled up my roots in Canada and headed for a different lifestyle it wasn’t out of concern (Ok, well maybe a little bit about a concern with Canadian taxes!), it was to find a lifestyle that North America wasn’t providing for me. I wanted to live, or at least spend a lot of time in, a place where it was a bit like going back in time to my roots of growing up in the prairies. A place where people were friendly, safety wasn’t a concern, family was important and the area was naturally beautiful. So I started looking around the world for where that might be. And over time I started adding other criteria such as a low cost of living and a great climate. Eventually I made my spreadsheet (I’m still a techie at heart) and it had weighted criteria and it all got quite complex. In the end, a number of countries bubbled to the top of my list. And for me, and it isn’t necessarily the same for everyone, Nicaragua was the best choice. Yes Nicaragua! The Central American country just north of Costa Rica. Now if I’d said Costa Rica you probably would have just thought “Oh, that makes sense” but Nicaragua usually surprises people when I say that’s where I am now a resident of. But it checked all the boxes for me and is the safest country in Central America and has the same beauty of Costa Rica for about 1/4 of the cost!
Once I landed in Central America I wanted to use my knowledge of technology, my upbringing by a mother who drafted house plans and a father who was a home builder and my new found love for sustainable living. I had been downsizing my homes without really planning it as well. As my kids grew up I moved from a large home to a smaller home, to a condo to a boat on the ocean! I’ve moved over 35 times in my life and the home I have always loved the most was the boat. The nice thing about living on a boat is if you don’t like your neighborhood you can just move your house! And if you go on a boating vacation you never forget anything at home, because you brought your home with you! But no one has yet made an extension cord long enough to go very far out on the ocean, so I quickly became an expert in self-sufficiency. Both in generating my own power/water and in conserving those two essential things. What I realized was that you can still have the luxuries of life like a flat-screen TV and all the comfort of any home while also generating power from solar or wind sources. So when I moved to Nicaragua and decided to live on land again, I wanted to take all the eco-friendly stuff I’d learned and apply it to nice luxury homes in a community where all the homes were self-sustaining.
As a little aside, I don’t consider myself an eco-freak. I consider myself eco-sensible. If people are only changing their homes to eco-friendly for “feel good” reasons, I don’t think it is a sustainable thing. I believe it also has to make financial sense. The payback of the eco-technologies needs to be clear and short term or it just won’t be a long term way of life.
So how does this tangent I just went on apply to a “Plan B”? Well, as I said earlier, without knowing it, I was creating Plan B’s for people. I began developing self-sustaining, “right-sized” homes on a tropical beach or jungle setting, built where the costs are less than half of what they’d be in North America, and I soon discovered that these communities were great “Plan B’s” for people.
And what the company I work for is witnessing now is an unprecedented interest and number of investments in Plan B’s. We build tiny home, eco-friendly, off-grid or hybrid communities in several countries in Central America from Belize to Nicaragua to Panama and expanding continually.
The popularity of these Plan B homes has skyrocketed recently, especially with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. As I mentioned above, the telephone conversation with my friend is not unusual. Everyone has their own opinion on how much or little the government should be involved in their lives, but a lot of people are feeling like I do. I am libertarian and I don’t like much, if any, meddling in my business by governments. So living in Nicaragua turned out to be a good move from that standpoint as well. Nicaragua chose the “hands-off” approach to the pandemic. The government basically said … We’re not your parents and you’re not a child, you need to do for yourself what you believe to be best to protect yourself and your family from this virus. We will keep our economy open and gatherings are allowed. If you choose to go to them, it’s entirely your choice.
Only time will tell which approach turns out to be the better choice for a country. I have no expertise in pandemics at all. But I do prefer to be allowed to make my own choices and left to live how I choose to. And there must be a growing number of people that feel the same way because many, many North Americans are investing in Plan B’s in Central America right now.
What you choose to do for yourself is of course totally up to you. But there are very affordable options out there. Whether you’d like to have a great little place in Central America for the rental return, as a place to vacation, as a Plan B or as all of the above, a lot of smart people have already or are now looking into the options. “Plan B” homes start under $99,000 in our communities and have some great anticipated ROI’s as well. So it’s really affordable to make your move!
If you’re interested in one potential Plan B, check out our newest community called EVA (EcoVillage Asuchillo) which is beside one of the most beautiful swimming and surfing beaches in Nicaragua in the beautiful resort of Gran Pacifica. You can find it at www.EcoVillages.Life and request a brochure for more information.
About The Author
Patrick Hiebert has a degree in Computer Science and has founded several successful software and property development companies, Mr. Hiebert used his technology knowledge combined with a love for self-sustainability over the past several decades to become a prominent expert in designing and developing eco-friendly and smart-home communities. While downsizing his own lifestyle from living in a large home to a condominium to living on the ocean in a boat, Patrick realized the benefits of “right-sized” living and self-sufficiency. Now as the COO for ECI Development, he leads the company’s TES (Tiny, Eco-Friendly, Smart) community development in Belize, Panama, Nicaragua and beyond.
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