In 2016, my family and I left Chicago to start a life outside of the U.S. We spent two years in Mazatlán, Mexico, and now live in Antigua, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
A lot of people dream of doing what we did, but don’t feel ready to make the jump. They often ask what it’s like to live the beach life. I tell them about how much we enjoy the slower pace of life.
We’ve since fallen into a beautiful flow centered around our children and passions. While it’s impossible to document everything, here’s what we do, eat and spend in a typical week:
Once my alarm goes off at 5 a.m., I try to start my day with either a walk or a jog along the beach. I love the cool island breeze and watching the sunrise.
Of course, with three kids (ages 8, 9 and 10), the mornings are always busy. We have a simple breakfast at home — cereal, scrambled eggs and some fruit. We spend an average of $150 per week on groceries and try to eat most of our meals at home.
Then we’re out the door to school. Monthly tuition is $200 per kid, and we’re very pleased with the level of education they receive. The kids also like it and have made lots of friends from all over the world.
This summer, they enjoyed soccer camp. For $60 per child each week, they learned to dribble, pass and score goals.
Later in the day, we might stop by the local fruit stand for bananas and avocados. We also love mangos! When in season, a bag of of six to seven mangos costs around $3.75.
After we drop off the kids, my husband and I are off to work. He’s a professor in the Education Enhancement Department at the American University of Antigua.
People love bringing their laptops to the beach, but I prefer to sit on my patio, where it’s quiet and sand-free! As a business coach for entrepreneurs, my work relies heavily on a good internet connection. Unlimited high-speed fiber internet here costs $120 per month.
I usually work from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays, and sometimes on weekends if I’m hosting a video training.
Since we’re saving so much money here compared to the U.S., we’ve been able to hire housekeepers — about $45 per week — to help with some deep-cleaning around the house.
But there’s much to do on our end, too. Every six months, my husband is in charge of refilling our 100-pound propane tank that we use for cooking, which costs about $57. And we spend $3.70 to fill up our 5-gallon water jugs each week.
Cleaning up after our pandemic puppy and kitten also takes up quite a bit of time!
One nice thing about living on an island with nearly 365 days of beautiful weather is that I’ve stopped using the clothes dryer. This saves us about $150 per month in electricity bills, while also reducing our carbon footprint!
As parents, we believe it’s important to connect with one another and talk about things other than the kids. So every month, my husband and I make it a point to spend time together.
We’ll grab coffee and food at a local café, where we enjoy some waffles or a traditional Antiguan breakfast of saltfish, hard-boiled eggs and plantains. A nice sit-down meal runs us about $15 per person.
If we decide to go out at night, we’ll do an early dinner followed by a walk on the beach or live music and dancing.
No matter where we are in the world, we never skip out on Friday night pizzas! It’s something we all look forward to, and a way to reconnect and unwind from the week.
Many restaurants closed at the start of the pandemic, so we started making pizza at home, which saved us about $45 (for five pies). Now that places are open again, we do carryout once a month.
The weekend, as most parents know, is when the real fun begins!
After our kids’ Saturday swim lessons, we go to one of Antigua’s 365 beaches to enjoy some sun, sand and sea. There’s a nice, small secluded beach just one block down the road from us that we often go to.
For a special treat, we sometimes head to the beachfront path for fresh $5 juices.
On occasion, I get to sneak away for some much-needed girl time with my mom friends. A typical luxe island lunch with a cocktail is about $25 per person.
With more trails than I can count, Antigua is the perfect place for people who love the outdoors. We’ve already explored several trails, and because hiking is so popular, new routes seem to pop up every season!
While our day-to-day life might seem pretty basic, it’s a far cry from the 90-minute work commute and daily hustle and bustle of life in Chicago.
With activities like movie outings ($5 per ticket for adults, and $3.95 per kid), live concerts ($20 to $100 for the family), scuba diving ($100 for the family, although there are some “free days”), dining out and more, we have the best of everything — plus plenty of time to enjoy it all!
Living on an island makes every day feel like an adventure. Even though we’ve been in Antigua for three years, there are still so many places to explore and things to do.
I feel very grateful. We wanted a simpler life full of new experiences where we could prioritize making memories — and by moving abroad, we got just that!
Gabriella M. Lindsay, a Chicago native, is a copywriter, author, and educator. She lives on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean West Indies with her husband and three young children. “Living F.I.T.: A 40-Day Guide to Living Faithfully, Intentionally, and Tenaciously″ is her first book. Follow Gabriella on Instagram.