I’ve been building overseas on Little Corn Island off the coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea for the last 13.5 months. I left home in 2009 and have effectively been traveling and living overseas for the last 6.5 years. Travelling and living overseas has been an incredible experience but after getting involved with building my a home for myself, I’ve realized most adventures only ever skimmed the surface of the society that I was visiting.
Below is a list of 10 ways that building overseas has changed my life. Traveling will change your life but doing a large project overseas and away from the tourist trail is another experience altogether. Add a foreign language you’re not comfortable with in the mix and you will most certainly have a different perspective on life by the time you finish.
1) NOTHING LASTS FOREVER
We all know that our time on this planet is short but the real question is how short will it be? There are all sorts of materials one can choose from to build a house or their lives and all these choices impact the longevity of the structure or one’s life. Realizing that nothing lasts forever helps you make conscious choices that will prolong your life and your structure.
Before I got into building most of my routine habits were automatic and I never really thought about what was going into my body and how they affected the length of my life. Build a strong body with quality food and a strong structure with quality materials.
2) WE ARE BUILDING OUR LIVES
It’s so easy to think that we’re just living our lives and whatever will be is largely left to chance but the reality is that’s not the case. From the moment you made a conscious decision in the massive choose your own adventure that we call life, you’ve been building your life. The big decisions you made early on are the foundation for the rest of your life to to be built upon. Everyday we’re adding more blocks to what at the end will be the life that we’ve built for ourselves.
3) QUALITY MATTERS IF YOU CARE
It’s easy to go through life not caring about much, many of the woes of this planet could boil down to people just not caring. If you want to make the most of your life and get the most out of your structure you really need to care what materials you use and what type of quality they’re made of.
Cheap quality building materials much like superficial relationships won’t last the test of time. In the short run it may look great but what someone or something is made of counts more than how they look. You want to surround yourself with quality people much like you want the walls of your home to be surrounding you with quality materials that can weather any storm.
4) NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF EVERYTHING
They say necessity is the mother of invention but it’s far more than that. Necessity is what allows normal people to do extraordinary things. Necessity is essentially the burning bridge behind you so that whatever has to be done simply has to because the idea of retreating or not completing what you set out to do is simply not an option.
When you must do something out of necessity, there is a certain focus and clarity of the mind which is unattainable in any other circumstances. If you’ve always wanted to learn a language, try building overseas with builders who don’t speak yours; you’ll become conversational faster than you imagined possible.
5) EVERYWHERE IS SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT
When I speak with people who have not travelled much, they all tend to think other places do things in odd ways or they are very different. The reality of the matter is everywhere is far more the same than it was ever different. On a superficial level things appear to be different but the core essence of any place is essentially the same.
Around the world everybody wants security, shelter, love and happiness. When you start building you start meeting people that you would never, ever meet as a tourist or simply an ex-pat living somewhere. You start to meet the people who make the community what it is, you get to know the backbone of the being or the engine of the machine.
6) GOOD THINGS TAKE TIME
Whether we’re talking about building a home or making a nice meal, good things take time. The difference between a home-cooked meal and drive-thru from your favourite fast food joint are immense. The former takes time and it leaves you feeling fulfilled, The latter is all about convenience and often leaves you with a hint or more of regret.
I’m trying to build the best house that I can right now and by doing so it has really made me question if I am building the best life I can right now? This should not be a question you ask yourself once and forget but a reoccurring theme. The more you think about it the more you see where you’re succeeding and were ultimately, you’re failing.
You can build many houses in a lifetime and each one gets easier, becomes more routine and is done more efficiently. That said, we’re all building our lives for the first time on on the main stage. Life is one big learning experience and the more thought we put into what we want, what’s working and what’s not the better it will be.
7) THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR HARD WORK
My first house in Canada was simply bought through a real estate agent; I received a mortgage and not long after the keys. When building overseas or at home there is so much more thought, sweat and stress that goes into the equation. You need to work hard and give lots of decisions some serious thought; you need to focus and really consider all the angles.
Building a house that you will be proud of and that will stand the test of time is like building anything else in your life. If you want to be proud of what you’ve done and for it to stand the test of time, it will take a lot of hard work and dedication to see things through.
Working smart always helps but you still have to work hard.
8) BIG GOALS INSPIRE YOU TO BE BETTER
Working on big goals which stretch your comfort zone and make you grow into a bigger person and what makes life worthwhile. By building overseas I’ve overcome so many obstacles and it has really made me think about all sorts of different areas of my life. I’m currently on the second house which is four times the size of the first one. I know for a fact that if I had not built the first house and learned what I did from the process, the current project would not of been possible.
There’s a strong feeling of accomplishment when you reach a large goal. It’s not just the feeling of accomplishment but a feeling of appreciating your own abilities and perseverance. I have no idea what the future will hold after these projects are done. The fact that I’ve done them though will give me the confidence to do more; whether it be building or in any other aspect of life.
9) PATIENCE IS IMPORTANT BUILDING OVERSEAS
Of all the qualities that people use to describe others or themselves, patience doesn’t get the respect it deserves; especially when building overseas. You need to have patience to accomplish any large goal. Good things don’t just happen overnight and Rome wasn’t built in a day. You need to have a tremendous amount of patience and perseverance in order to make your dreams a reality.
Things won’t go always according to plan in life nor will they progress as fast as you’d like but they will get done if you don’t quit and what be will be. When building a house overseas or living your life, you have to celebrate the days where things get done, tolerate the days when when they don’t and have enough patience to realize that there are no straight roads to any destination.
10) DO IT RIGHT ONCE
In life you might as well do it right once for anything that matters. The whole idea of rushing through things and making fixes as needed is a horrible way to build a house or go about living your life. You’ll spend far more time and energy fixing something up which wasn’t done right compared to doing it right once.
If you build a house strong and do it once right, you won’t really have to think about it again and you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour. If you’re going to do anything worthwhile in your life, why not just do it right once? Then you’re free to continue enjoying the present while planning for the future without incurring penalties from the past.
These are just some of the ways that building overseas has changed my life. Travel is an incredible way to spend your time on this planet and I look forward to exploring much more once these projects are done. If you’re looking for a life well traveled, consider planting roots in the part of the world that resonates most with you inside, you’ll know in your gut when you’ve found your place.
Building overseas will teach you more about life and yourself than you ever thought possible.