Quality of Life

Cris in Parque Urbano Kabah

Parque Urbano Kabah in Cancun

Posted by | Cancun, Live Like a Local, Mexico, Quality of Life | 6 Comments

Beyond the towering spires of the high-rise resorts and the crystalline beaches of the Hotel Zone that Cancun is known for lies the mainland city. Forgotten behind the glamorous ritz and spam of Spring Break and all-inclusive hotel chains, the city boasts a modern infrastructure, a safe and inviting Mexican culture, and a cost of living that is affordable for most digital nomads. On top of that, there are dozens of plazas, movie theaters, local parks and green areas such as the Urban Park Kabah, otherwise known in Spanish as the Parque Urbano Kabah.  Read More

Melnik, Bulgaria

Five Reasons to Live Abroad

Posted by | Expat Lifestyle, Freedom, Live Like a Local, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | 19 Comments

For many people, the glamour of travel is that it is the chance to explore new destinations and experience new cultures and places that allow them the opportunity to step out of the 9-to-5 routine work grind and enjoy a little downtime for a couple of weeks. Some prefer hiking mountains and volcanoes, while others enjoy lounging on the beach, kayaking down a river somewhere or enjoying a 5-star stay in a world-class destination like Paris or Rome.

For these folks, vacation is as close as they think they will ever come to experiencing “the good life”. But if you are one of those who, like me, want to enjoy “the good life” on a regular basis, there are numerous reasons why you choose to live in a foreign country and city for prolonged periods of time. It’s actually quite difficult to narrow the list down to just a few, but for the sake of space (and your eyes!) I have chosen what I think are the top five reasons people should choose to live abroad. Read More

Cost of living in Cancun

Cost of Living in Cancun, Mexico

Posted by | Cancun, Freedom, Mexico, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | 26 Comments

While it’s covered in greater detail within our Cancun travel guide, it’s a question that comes up on a regular basis at our social media outlets as well as in emails. How much does it cost to live in Cancun?

The answer always surprises people, because many of them just don’t realize how cheap you can get by when living in Mexico, much less have access to the exact same amenities and creature comforts  you have while living in a so-called “developed” country where the costs are four and five times or beyond.

But don’t take my word for it. Read on to find out just exactly how cheap it is to live in Cancun, and how Cris and I manage to keep ourselves living the good life without spending out of our noses. All costs are as of 2016. Read More

how to find an apartment in cancun

How To Find An Apartment in Cancun

Posted by | Live Like a Local, Mexico, Negotiation, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | 24 Comments

I’ve been calling Cancun home since September of 2010, using it as a base of operations for other travels, such as my trip to Bogota, Colombia and my explorations in and around Mexico. In that time, I’ve learned to speak Spanish reasonably fluently, I’m a permanent resident, I got married, and Cris and I have kept our living expenses under $12,000 a year. That includes groceries, Internet, utilities and, most important, our apartment rental.

How do we manage to live so affordable in a city known for Spring Break, its decadence, all-inclusive resorts and vacation rentals that regularly cost foreigners and tourist visitors $3,000 a month or more? By living like a local and knowing how to navigate the minefield. Every month I receive the same question over and over from readers: “How do I find a cheap apartment in Cancun?”  Read on for the full details. All costs are valid as of 2017. Read More

Character Sheet

My Secret Life as an Expat Gamer – Player Character Versus Non Player Character

Posted by | Blogging, Gaming, Human Evolution, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | No Comments

Everything had been going well up until the point the guard had woken himself up by snoring and just happened to catch Terrik in mid-pick on the lock of the door across the hallway. Purely chaotic, bad luck. Until then he’d made it past the three first-level guards, a tired manservant pushing a broom and an outbound prostitute before he’d made it to the door, completely undetected. And it was inside this very room that his whole reason for breaking in existed.

A quick jab to the throat sent the guard down in a gasping heap, but not before he’d let out a startled shout. After that, there was no point in worrying about silence and stealth anymore. Terrick wasn’t going to leave empty-handed, so boot to door made the most sense.

Splinters flew, heel jerked in pain that would turn into a bruise tomorrow, a yelp from the bed as the owner clutched his sheets around his frame and fumbled in the dark for his sword. Or a crossbow. There wasn’t time to find out, and a quick scan was all that was needed to locate the book he had been hired to retrieve. Impossible to miss, tucked away behind colored glass as it were, all displayed with pride and joy.

Other heel down, shattered glass, book in hand, into pack and out the door, only to come face to face with three charging guards from the left and two more from the right. Quick glance over shoulder reveals iron bars over the window. Not an exit. Take deep breath, commence getaway.

A couple of quick lunges got him up to speed for the right, and he spun slightly on his heel as he leapt, hoping to clear the guards. They cursed and tried to catch him mid-run, fingers wide and reaching, but he was above their claws. All clear, and then the toe of his left foot impacted with the left guard’s face, sending him into a stumbled landing, crashing into the wall, knocking a painting to the floor.

Two crossbow bolts shot from the three guards firing over the two sprawling guards he had just bowled over buried into the wall next to his head with a thunderous thwump thwump. He jigged to the right as he ducked and tried to recover from the landing. The rasp of steel drawn behind him, then horn blast, then another two guards coming up the stairwell as he reached it.

No choice but to avoid, so he swung himself up over the stair railing and took the leap down to the first floor, a good ten foot drop. He was ready for the impact, remembering it from earlier, crouching low to absorb and rolling forward into a somersault directly in front of the guard on the right hand side of the front door, both he and his fellow guard on the left in mid-turn as they heard his tumbled landing. A leg sweep for the one on the right, then as the one on the left reaches for his collar and swings a blade he ducks under the steel and half-stumbles, half-falls out onto the stairs of the front entry.

Cold night, torch light, shadowed burrows stretch out before him. The night is his element, and it’s time to disappear. He sprints for the nearest building with a first-story access and quickly scales its walls even as the shouts ring out behind him, “There, on the roof!” No worries. Six rooftops later and he’s slowed his pace to a casual run, springing from roof edge to roof edge as he makes his way back into the heart of the downtown district.

Time to get paid.

Being The Player Character

Terrik is what is known as a Player Character in the gaming world. He has something that sets him apart from the rest of humanity: PC Status.

PC Status is the defining skill that sets you apart from the rest of the masses. You are more than just ordinary, and you are much more than average. Rather than rolling a bunch of 8s and 10s and only a couple of 12s during your character creation, you got 14s, 16s and maybe an 18 or so.

You were smarter, prettier, stronger, faster, more skilled at something, but in some way or another PC status is what sets you apart from the rest of the meat suits. It’s what makes the difference between Bill Gates and anyone else who was born in the same year, lived in the same area and went to the same schools. It’s that special something.

It has nothing to do with luck. PC Status is what sets a Hero apart from the serfs. He’s the one who isn’t afraid to pick up the sword, to rob the castle, to brave the spider-infested dungeons of Kranthagol because deep within the lair lies the Sword of Thalius and the Bow of Bethar.

A Hero braves the cold, the heat, the sprawls, the dumps, the dungeons, the sewers, the mountains and the sea to achieve his or her goal. They inspire others to go along with them, leading through strength, bravery, wit, genius and beyond, based upon what their primary PC Status character trait is.

Someone with PC status makes their mark on the world and is remembered after they are gone. They are the Masters of their own Universe. They aren’t afraid to go out into the cold and the dark with nothing more than a torch and a sword or spell, because they’ve handled challenges like this before. It’s just one more step on the evolution to perfection, the learning experiences that shape us into the Heroes that Player Characters were born to be.

In the world of Terrik, he is the Player Character and the fumbling, bumbling guards are the Non Player Characters.

Player Character

Life Skills

I’m a long-time D&D fan. Up until the point I left the U.S. at the end of 2007, it had been as much a part of my life as MMORPGs and video games had been. The 12+ years I was living on my own up until that point had been an accumulation of all those roleplaying experiences. Which in mind lead to some of the most critical thinking anyone will ever achieve as a result of continually brainstorming and finding new ways around challenges through group interaction with a dedicated team of like-minded thinkers and artists.

I’m a firm believer that gaming leads to life skills. You’ve seen it in the other Secret Life of an Expat Gamer entries. Just as I was running 15 to 25 man crews for the construction business back in the day, I was also running teams of 30 to 40 players through raids and dungeons for six years, leading the guild to two different top 10 lists in my time as a hardcore gamer (EQ2, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes). Management. Team-building. Teamwork. Leadership.

Puzzle-solving as you come up against dungeon traps and in-game quests require critical, out-of-the-box thinking. You can’t just pass the buck to someone else when you are playing a video game and walking your character through the depths of a dungeon or in the middle of a quest. The decision rests on your shoulders, and you and you alone are the only one who will gain the glory and credit if you pull it off. Or you’ll die trying.

Non Player Characters aren’t born with innate PC Status, but they can earn it. Just as in the games there are often tomes you can find after achieving lengthy quests or overcoming challenging odds that lead to stat increases, or earn more experience points as you go along to enhance your abilities as you see fit, in life there are many things which lead to experience that can in turn be traded in for enhanced skill in a certain area.

A person who wants to paint, for example, not simply dabbling in it in their spare time, but choosing instead to spend four to six hours a day, every day, for four years working on their craft, building and doing it for their own betterment as well as to get good at it. Studying under a master, serving a mentorship, spending day upon day, hour after hour, on enhancing that one specific skill. The reward is an enhancement of that attribute after hard work and persistence. It might take you 10 levels (10 years), but eventual you always enhance your status through long hours of study…and that’s no different than reality.

Being The Hero

Being a Player Character is hard work. You don’t get to be a peon following someone else’s lead. Rather, you are the leader. The one people follow. You have the power, while others only dream about it. You have the freedom, while others only look on and wish. While the stable boy sweeps stalls and shovels horse shit, dreaming of winning the hand of the princess in marriage, you are out there, sword in hand, slitting the throat of the beast that was set to eat said princess, a night of steamy passion ahead as she sinks into your arms, not his.

You take the risks others are afraid to. You push yourself further, working longer hours, pursuing your passion with all your strength and dedication. Where others spend 10 mninutes a day focusing their time, you spend five hours. Training. Preparation. Becoming the best you can possibly be.

Giant spiders, dragons, the dark recesses of the Earth, glory, destiny and the phat lewts belong to you and those who are brave enough and skilled enough to come along for the ride. You are the Hero, the one the bards and storytellers will sing and write about for centuries to come. Your time…is now. 

Are you a Player Character? What are you doing to enhance your skills? Haven’t broken out of the NPC mold yet? Have questions or comments? Leave them below or shoot them to me in an email and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

This blog post was inspired by Luck Is Just the Spark for Business Giants.

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