My Unemployed Life: Making the Great Escape

Unemployment can be devastating, especially when you have a family that depends on your income. We all know that story, but I'm here to tell a different one, a tale of optimism and adventure. It's about the sunny side of unemployment. My name is Jennifer, I'm unemployed, and I've never been happier.

Just beginning to make my way in the career world at the age of 27, I was working as a tech specialist at a large, but very personal, IT firm. Having been there only three years, I was incredibly good at what I did and popular around the company for my ability to fix big problems for major customers. This notoriety had recently gotten me promoted and I was feeling like I could handle just about anything that came across my desk. Unfortunately this arrogant idea of my talent turned out to be true, and so it happened that problems that only I could fix poured in continuously, all day long.

So what had been stimulating quickly became wildly stressful, with no apparent end in sight. When a close friend connected me with a job at his company for a $10,000 bump in salary, I jumped ship.

It was sinking anyway, plus this new company was younger and much more profitable, turning double-digit gains every quarter since its inception. That sounded pretty solid to me, along with the fact that my friend was enjoying his third promotion in two years. The new environment seemed a little quiet and the wall decor rather uninspired, but I didn't think too much about it and started my new job optimistically. With a private office and fancy title to match my fatter pocketbook, what could go wrong?

I quickly found out how they were making such ridiculous profits. Management was making a killing off hiring new graduates with no experience who were just happy to find a job in a recession market. I have to admit, it's actually a kind of brilliant idea to hire bright, impressionable minds for low salaries, because they have the stamina to work long hours, the smarts to succeed and the willingness to accept whatever soulless corporate philosophy is presented to them – as long as it comes with a commission.

Anyway, I did not care for this bottom-line mentality whatsoever. In fact I hated it with a passion. But what other option did I have in such a terrible job market? I struggled with this problem for four weeks, before I came to the conclusion there was really only one thing I could do. I quit.

Of course everyone flipped out, all my friends and family. Probably worried I'd start asking for money. However I was in a very fortunate position, having saved a small nest egg, and with no one else depending on me. I had been thinking to put the money toward a house some day, but honestly it wouldn't have gone far on a deposit. I decided a much better use for it would be to just not work for awhile, which so far has proved to be an excellent decision. Not to say I'm not working, I'm just not making any money.

Amazingly, my days are much more productive than when I had a job. I'm going through an incredibly creative period right now, as I spend my time writing, researching, drawing, thinking and learning.

At the same time, I was finishing grad school, and I now have a masters in education, receiving my diploma in December 2010. But as my funds began to run low, I realized that another solution had to be found.

So my boyfriend, an unemployed computer programmer, and I made a big decision, one that would save some money, by thinking outside the box. We moved to Costa Rica.

Going to Costa Rica has turned out to be a great decision for our finances and our lives. It's certainly cheaper than America, with rent only a third of what we paid before. We moved to Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, near the Panamanian border, and so far couldn't be happier.

My boyfriend found he could work remotely as a programmer with a company back in the United States, and I decided to become a writer. Together we also created a start-up website for tourists in Costa Rica, and though I still have no income I stay quite busy with my travel blog and learning web design.

There's still the fact that my nest egg is almost depleted and my credit cards are growing. Yet my entire outlook on working for a living has changed, and I've realized there's more to life than going into the office every day until retirement. I'm determined to avoid office life, and am now looking exclusively for remote work in writing and technology. I'm not afraid of having three or four jobs. As long as I can do them from the beach, I'll be happy.

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