Why I Sold Everything and Moved to Guam

Categories:Inspiration, Travel
Jessica Peterson

Flower-Blouse-wide-V

There are two kinds of people in this world: Travelers and Non-Travelers. I knew which one I wanted to be.

Neither of my parents travel much. We were too poor growing up to take family vacations (plus, my parents split when I was four). The travel bug bit in my early teens when I saw a video about missionaries. It struck me that there was a big, wide world out there for the discovering. It helped that I had survived moving from my birthplace (Cincinnati) to Maryland and then Texas. My parents had instilled enough creativity and confidence in me that I was undaunted by the thought of stepping outside my comfort zone. In fact, I yearned for it.

Pure Wanderlust

England Jess umbrella

I love books, movies, and music — all a form of escape and a point of inspiration to do so. Foreign films and music started to inform my worldview in my teens. At 19, I took my first big parentless trip to New York. I would return to NYC a handful of times in my early twenties. By 24, I had traveled to Canada, England, France, and Jamaica.

Island Life

Horseback into the Sea

I spent nearly a month bouncing between Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios, and Mandeville. I loved Jamaica — the ocean, the people, the chaos. It is still one of the best trips of my life. Jamaica set me up to love island life.

Travel Wasn’t Enough

NZ-Geothermal-Jess-Rock-H

I had fantasized about moving to lots of places inside and outside the U.S., but couldn’t afford to take the plunge as a broke twentysomething. By the time I was 30, I had already made return trips to my favorite places: New York, Europe, and Jamaica. The itch to move was insatiable! It was time to stop fantasizing and start doing.

Opportunity Knocks

cocos island, guam beach jessica peterson

My husband and I received an invitation to move to Micronesia (what? where?) and realized we could actually do it! We did our homework online and found very little helpful info, which is why I eventually created The Guam Guide. We started networking with friends who had moved to Micronesia and friends of friends who put us in touch with people on Guam.

No Home, No Kids, No Debt

michigan-jazz-age-park-us

We had carefully crafted the rare trifecta of situations: no house, no kids, and no debt. This didn’t happen accidentally. It was sort of our pre-nup agreement not to chase The American Dream. After three years of marriage, we had stuck to our guns, lived simply, and accumulated a small savings account. We saved as much as we could to guarantee we could survive our first year in Guam whether we found jobs or not.

>> READ NEXT:  24 Things to Do with 24 Hours of Sunlight In Fairbanks, Alaska

Rootless

santi-mandala-jess-far-V

Along with being childless, etc. I wasn’t tied to my job, my apartment, or my things. I liked those things, but I enjoyed new experiences more. I love my family and friends, but I knew we’d Skype, FaceTime, email, text, and phone. Our Guam plan included an emergency evacuation fund equivalent to two one-way tickets just in case the whole thing went bust. I don’t consider myself a nomad — I’ve only lived in four cities and I don’t move that often — but I’m definitely rootless, meaning that I can leave it all behind. I don’t feel my identity is tied to any one place and I like it that way.

The Big Unknown

DMA-Jess-V

Instead of being terrified, I was thrilled with the idea of moving to The Big Unknown. I knew Guam was a tiny, tropical island in the Pacific and that was enough. I had thoroughly exploited the possibilities of entertainment and leisure in the concrete jungle of Dallas. It had long been time to move on!

What’s Next?

BTS-Borneo-Video-shoot-jess-V

I can’t say. We have lived on Guam for five years and have definitely put down some roots, but none so deep that they can’t be cut. There are things I love and things I dislike about this place, but I realize there is no perfect place to live in this world. Living on Guam means 24-hour trips back to the Mainland, yes, but it also means four-hour flights to Asia and Australia and I foresee even more of those in my future…

Jessica Peterson
Follow me

Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson is a travel filmmaker, photographer, and journalist. She released her first documentary film about indigenous culture on Guam in 2016, after having lived nearly 7 years on the Pacific island. Jessica is currently on the Great American Roadtrip in her Airstream trailer.
Jessica Peterson
Follow me
  • Fabio

    It’s funny how stories about leaving everything behind kind of come from the same general feeling. The urge to travel and enjoy the adventure.
    You go girl! I’m about to make my move in April 2015 at the max.

    • Thanks for reading, Fabio. Where are you moving?

      • Fabio

        First of all I will become a diving instructor. My diving vacations opened doors for me, doors I will be taking now. My intention is to see the world once I am a diving instructor. I’m not sure where my first stage will be, I’m planning as we speak. You can follow my blog here: http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/13018499
        😉