My Story


I’m John Wigham, and this is the story of my journey retold, just for you: The year was 2001. The month, February. The location, De Oude Smidse bar in the village of Ouderkerk on the outskirts of Amsterdam, Holland (The Netherlands).

On the chilly evening of Friday the 23rd, a disgruntled group of contract workers was having a few drinks and putting the world to rights. Actually, drowning their sorrows and bemoaning their woes is a more accurate description – it had been a “difficult” week for all.

I know this because I was there – a group of people had a “wake-up and smell the coffee” call. A call that changed the way six people viewed the world and began a journey to change their lives forever.

I guess it was just coincidence that we’d all had such a rotten week, but that didn’t make us feel any better at the time. Three of us had an hourly rate-cut imposed, the dilemma being do we leave the company, or grit our teeth, and stay. Better the devil you know and all that…

De Oude Smidse – Where it all began

Two guys had been told their contracts were not being renewed, which meant a loss of income. One of the gals had discovered her boyfriend “was playing away … ” and was obviously pretty devastated, especially as she had begun to think ‘he could be the one’.

There were others there that night too who, for reasons of their own, chose not to pursue their dreams. However, as the beer flowed and tongues loosened the conversation become more upbeat and turned to travel, vacations, work and what we’d each love to do if there were no restrictions.

It got real interesting when the topic of work – while on vacation – got aired. “Stop! What idiot would ever want to do that?” was the cry. Well! Suppose you could be on permanent vacation with just a couple of hours work each day was the reply – that killed the conversation and made us ALL think!!

You see, we were all suffering from a degree of job disillusionment and were fed up with living away from home and the daily commute to work – when driving, being regularly stuck in heavy traffic, when using public transport, being surrounded and jostled by surly and rude people, and to make matters worse the weather had been especially grim these past few months.

And then we contrasted all this with our annual two weeks vacation in the sun. Ah bliss! The smiles were restored at the thought of “living the dream”.

Four of us would live by, or on, the beach. One chose living on a mountain. Another liked the idea of being a perpetual traveler.

One of our beach wannabees was spectacularly successful within eighteen months.

Big Ron sold everything he could to raise some cash and bought six rental properties. He successfully manages these properties from a beach-front location in a gorgeous setting more than 9,000 miles away. All it took was a little planning and organizing before he left ‘home’ – oh, and a dash of courage too. Big Ron is living his dream and is very happy… and he’s since added to his portfolio as well.

Jessica, ‘posing’ on the beach

Jessica has always been a good writer and quickly found herself writing articles and reports through an agency for online marketers. From this, she learned how to create and market digital books and has since become a well-paid Kindle author and now lives in an apartment overlooking the sea in Mellieha, Malta. 

Jess is living her dream and is also very happy. 

Mind you, actually trying to work on the beach with a laptop is a colossal disappointment (it certainly was for me). When I tried, it was a bright, slightly breezy day, “Just right!”, thinks I – Wrong! For a start the light was too bright so I couldn’t see my laptop’s screen. So I had to put a towel over both my head and the laptop. It was hot and uncomfortable and after 20 minutes of trying – and failing – to do any meaningful work, I noticed tiny grains of sand were getting in everywhere. Disillusionment was rapidly setting in so that was one ‘dream’ quickly abandoned, never to be repeated. 

Kenny flew home after that fateful night and informed his wife they were moving to the Greek island of Zakynthos (Zante). They’d had a great holiday there several months earlier. During the Summer he works as a deck-chair attendant and in the Winter earns a living as a handyman. Kenny admits money’s tight but he is so enthusiastic about living his dream in his beachside apartment in the sun.

I’ve lost touch with Malcolm, but I do know he’s living half way up a mountain somewhere in Chile. I would bet that Malc is pretty happy watching the world go by while living his dream.

Fergal’s dream of being a perpetual traveler changed when he met the love of his life in Singapore. They spend a lot of time in Northern Thailand, both of them earning a living online selling digital products. Every year they make a pilgrimage to Fergal’s home town in County Cork, Ireland and then on to Becky’s home town near Boston, in the USA. Both love their lifestyle and will continue to do so despite the imminent arrival of their first-born.

My own journey was long and rambling and took a little longer to complete. Thankfully, I made a plan that was detailed enough to move me ever forward towards living my own dream, while being flexible enough to cater for the curve balls life throws at us periodically. I believe creating a plan of action at the outset was absolutely crucial to my own success. 

I had a lot of debt, which needed paying off, or at least brought down to a manageable level, before doing anything else. Fortunately, a combination of some lucky property deals, a brilliant long-term contract for writing railway manuals and several passive income-earners online steadily paid off the debts and left me with a tidy bank balance.

At the time my railway manuals contract ended, I treated myself to a beach vacation on the southern coast of South Africa. It was fabulous, with wall-to-wall sunshine, quiet open roads, no overcrowding, cheap housing, great food and drink, and a very favorable exchange rate, I simply loved the place (what’s NOT to love, I hear you ask;).

Within two weeks, I’d bought a good sized plot of land and hired a local builder to build me a beautiful home by the sea. Impulsive? Oh yes, but definitely a good decision.

Relocation to My Beautiful Home by the Indian Ocean

And so, ten months later, I left snow-bound Manchester in the UK and landed the next day in warm and sunny Cape Town. My exciting journey was going so well.

My new home and lifestyle is nearly everything I could wish for. Mind you, there’s still stuff I miss from the UK but hey, that’s pretty normal.

I often think about that life-changing meeting we had on Friday, February 23rd 2001. I’d love it if we could all meet up again, especially the other five who went to change their lives as well.