BY: Zoe Melnyk
Most people don’t grow up in a southern conservative home and graduate from Yale to wind up scooping ice cream on an island in the Virgin Islands. However, many people do graduate from prestigious universities, land a high paying corporate job, and save up for almost their whole lives in order to retire on an island, so who’s the real winner here?
In 2011, Noelle Hancock had what seemed to be a perfect life for most hard working Americans. She was a successful journalist making almost six figures. She lived in a trendy neighborhood in New York City, and she had just published a novel.
As glamorous as the NYC lifestyle may seem, Noelle described it in her article for Cosmopolitan as a hectic buzz where you’re working more than you’re really living—where you spend most of your time isolated and looking at screens and where months may pass by before there’s even a spare moment for drinks with friends.
With her novel finished and in between work, Hancock sifted through job applications when she spotted the familiar pop-up of a vacation getaway that most people swat away, and found some inspiration.
It’s easy to lust for a tropical destination when you watch the snowfall past your window, heaping up until it covers the ground that you will inevitably have to trek through.
Hancock, almost jokingly, sent out a message on Facebook inquiring about moving to the Caribbean, and where people recommend she should go.
Despite the odd request that would send most family members into a frenzy of questions, Hancock actually received some sound advice from a friend’s sister suggesting she go to St. John.
St. John sits pretty at a population of 4,170 according to the 2010 census, resting on 50.8 square km. That’s compared to over 8 million people resting on 789 square km in New York City. So, it was a slight adjustment.
However daunting, and however little understanding and support she received from her parents, Hancock set off for the island. After six weeks of research and planning, she arrived at her new home.
Hancock found an adequate one-bedroom apartment. And by adequate I mean she often has run-ins with random critters, including at least one incident with a chicken parading through her home. But it’s a roof over her head and the views from the island seem to make the unorthodox living situation completely worth it.
What was once a bustling life with little to no time for actually just being happy, Hancock now fills her time scooping ice cream and exploring the island with friends.
“The truth is, I was happier scooping mint chocolate chip for $10 an hour than I was making almost six figures at my previous corporate job,” she said.
Of course, the inevitable feeling of falling behind creeps up on Hancock. That’ll happen when previous colleagues start small businesses like Pinterest and create hit television shows, but Hancock is learning to embrace her new life and all its uncertainty.
“Living abroad has exposed me to a different approach to life, one in which you’re not expected to settle in one place and do one kind of job,” she said.