Why I’m leaving paradise

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say, “I wish I could give everything up and move to a hut on the beach.” Well, you can. I did! And it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. The year I spent in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica, most of the time in a tiny one-room house surrounded by ear-splitting roosters and howler monkeys, was the happiest of my life.

Despite those loud animals, I conquered my life-long insomnia. Plugged in to an adventurous community of expats and travelers like me, I made friends from all over the world. And in my pueblo, I made friends with whom I could truly be myself. In fact, I can honestly say that I was more myself this year than at any other time in my life.

And with that thought, I’m suddenly packing my bags for… Las Vegas. As in, gambling, boozing, up-all-night, neon-packed Sin City.

If I were anyone but me, I’d think I was nuts. Just as I launched my company to become a full-fledged location-independent business owner, I decided to go back to work. Full-time. Behind a desk.

The justification is simple: The expat life will always be there; in fact, I was one of the youngest in my community. But a job that’s seemingly tailored just for me? Not a chance.

But that’s not why I’m taking it.

Let’s backtrack to Thursday, June 24. I was in NYC, gearing up for the TBEX travel blogging conference. For the rest of my life, when I go over the series of events that’s yanking me out of my idyllic sabbatical, I know without a doubt that sometime that day something inside of me changed. I was no longer tolerating a visit to the city in the spirit of seeing my friends; without warning, I suddenly felt comfortable there again. Coco started to reinvent itself as an exotic, far-away memory, no longer my home. Instead of my thoughts of Costa Rica feeling comfy, like they always had been, it was weirdly So Exciting that I lived there. Daydreaming of my time there felt like reminiscing about a vacation, which by definition always comes to an end.

I put those thoughts on hold, but I knew that whenever the move ended up happening, the idea gave birth that day. As luck would have it, however, within a week I got that cinematic, life-changing email… An exciting job offer was suddenly available: “Would I consider moving back?”

The universe manifested this for me, and I’m not wasting one breath arguing. I will never, ever regret this decision; it wasn’t mine to make.

I’ve taken to saying that my year of adventure is coming to an end, but now I realize that that’s ridiculous. After a year of reflection, peace, centering and rest, I am ready for anything. My adventure is just beginning.

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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  1. Life is a journey, and the ultimate goal is to be happy. You’ve done things other people only dream of, and now you have the opportunity to do something more “traditional”. That doesn’t make it less of an adventure, make the best of it. Wishing you not luck, but success!

  2. What a gorgeous post darling! Ahhh, I’m SO excited for you and this new path you will be taking. I have no doubt it will be filled with LOTS of beautiful adventures. I’m totally coming to visit. Can’t wait to pop our first champagne bottle together. Hope you’re having fun out East right now!!!

  3. Vegas misses you.

  4. The Neon Jungle Princess

  5. Jean Bean says:

    So happy for you!!

  6. Karen Loftus says:

    Great post! I so get it. The year away and the return back as I too played the expat card for a year in Spain then came back. It’s a blance the getting away and the coming back, a balnce you appear to have struck. Good luck!

  7. Congratulations, Abby! Can’t wait to follow your adventures back in Vegas =)

  8. Congrats on the great job opportunity. Sounds like everything is falling into place!

  9. Congratulations! One exciting city after another. You know I’ve never been to Las Vegas…

  10. Congratulations Abby! Good luck to you and your move, I hope it works out seamlessly. You’ll no longer be labeled as the “Jungle Princess” but as someone said above, the “Neon Jungle Princess”. LOL. You’re obviously trusting your instinct with this move, and with that will come good things. Enjoy yourself in Vegas!

  11. The only true regrets are the things not done, the times you didn’t leap into the unknown, the chances squandered and the madcrazyfool risks not taken.

    Don’t think you need to worry about regret. 😉

  12. Ah, they say “its not the destination but the journey.” In this instance I tend to agree with “they.” Paradise is not the destination, but the journey. Enjoy it and good luck back in sin city.

    stay adventurous, Craig

  13. Congrats and welcome back to the States, Abs! Now you’ll only be a five-hour drive away. Definitely plan on seeing me soon!

  14. Abby, I am excited for you and your new adventures. When I lived abroad, I had a hard time leaving but was forced out by lack of work & money after a while. Like many returning expats, I came back without a job or a real sense of home or of what to do. But in the end, it was the right time for me to come back, and it sounds like this is a great time for you, too. A job that fits you is a gift that not very many people are fortunate enough to have. Best of luck in the next chapters!!

  15. Best of luck to you in this new venture! You know as well as anyone that you control your destiny.

  16. Thank you so much, everybody!! Everyone wrote such uplifting words. I’m so excited!

    @Jenna I had the reverse expat experience as you! I left in the first place because I was without a job/direction/income. I was so lost! But that makes me extra grateful that I get to return home with those things. I’m so thrilled!

    @Ayngelina You will LOVE Vegas if you go there with me!

  17. I may be sitting right next to you right now, and I may have told you all of this before, but I am so ridiculously happy for you. Everything happens for a reason … the universe is beautiful that way. Cheers to the next chapter of your life. BESOS.

  18. Very VERY excited for you! Can’t wait to see how this new opportunity turns out 🙂 Congratulations!

  19. You’ve had some great opportunities here, Abby, and I don’t blame you a bit for jumping at this one. Sounds like a great gig to me. And from a selfish perspective, I’m glad you’ll be in Vegas, so I can look you up next time I’m there!

  20. Much good luck!

  21. Go for it. Epic.

  22. Congrats on the new job Abby! Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you transition back to Las Vegas life. Will drop you a note under separate cover.

  23. Wow! You’re gonna knock ’em dead, I know it! Woooohooo! What an amazingly, upbeat and inspiring post. Love it.

  24. Congrats Abby, you GO girl!


  25. Hi there!! I just came across your blog from the TBS exchange forum and I love it! You are such a talented writer! Keep up the good work.. I can’t wait to see what comes next for you!

  26. First, congrats on the job! That’s awesome and exciting. I can’t wait to read about your adjustment . . . you’re just moving from one sort of jungle to another.

  27. Wow – sounds like the hand of providence has really grabbed a hold of you!
    All the best on your new adventure~ ^_^/

  28. Abby,
    Congratulations on something new & exciting! It makes perfect sense to take chances and whatever opportunities present themselves. Can’t wait to hear more about it.

  29. I love reading these comments! I was nervous about this one, but of course our travel community has the same sense of destiny and adventure that I do. Thank you so much for all of your support, everyone! And I will DEFINITELY be writing about the adjustment back. It’s going to be tough!

  30. I think what you have done is amazing…something that most people don’t have the courage to do…and whatever happens next is meant to be 🙂

    I really hope there will be a continuation of the Blog (the Neon Jungle Princess maybe?!)

    PS. I am still planning on adding you to my blog-roll. My computer, including the web-design program I use to design my blog crashed so I have to re-do the entire lay-out if I want to change anything. I’m planning on doing that soon – just wanted to let you know that I haven’t forgotten about you!! xo

  31. This post is, cheesy as it might sound, really inspiring & encouraging. GOOD LUCK in Vegas, & please keep writing about it! <3

  32. Lovely, and well put. Even us adventurers get comfy in an exotic place, and need to know when to move on. Happy we got to meet! Maybe I’ll catch you stateside.


  33. Ladies, your comments mean the world to me. Thank you!! Simone, do not worry about your blog roll. I can’t wait to be on it when you get everything fixed up! Suburban Sweetheart, I’ll have even more in common with you when I get back to the States, just like with Skinny Dip. YAY! Thanks so much for sticking by me during these times! Stacey!!!! I’ll miss you!! But I’ll totally see you Stateside, please. And I’ll have your back in the meantime with ANYthing Tico that you need!!!

  34. Abby!!! I am so proud of you!!!! As always, yes, do follow your heart and life will embrace you as you embrace it to the fullest! I will be in ny in less than 2 weeks. You have to come visit! Please do. xoxo and congrats! Luciane

  35. Best of lucks Abby!

    Yet another life change bringing more adventure, which after all is what you really like. Congratulations!


  36. Okay…so I’m the idiot and bad bloggy friend who thought that you had stopped blogging. Many, many apologies!

    I love that you had a feeling that Coco was a distant memory in NYC and then the perfect job in LV came your way. It was all meant to happen as it did, but I’m glad that you were open to the change and opportunity. I also love how you wrote that you can always be an expat again. A love of travel and enjoying other cultures is part of who you are. That will never change.

    Happy that the move home and job worked out so well! xoxo

  37. I know I’ve already left one comment on here. You know the one thing I have learned in all of these months of craving for travel, then craving for a home base and a job and then craving for travel again? The grass is always greener. And, life has a funny way of working out PRECISELY as it should. At least that’s what I tell myself to stay sane. xx

  38. Sounds like the perfect end to your time in Costa Rica and the perfect beginning to your life in Vegas. It’s nice when you know you’re making the right decision.

  39. Aw I love the last sentence of this. Although I’m going through travel withdrawl, when I came home from my long trip, I didn’t feel like the adventure was over. I was just as excited to get to work and plan for the next one.


  1. […] Vegas, some of my very favorite travelers are headed to Costa Rica! Yes, I’m jealous, but I‘m living the dream myself in Las Vegas, so I can’t complain. But I can live vicariously through my friends! One […]

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