A Response to “Why I Gave Up a 95K Job to Move to an Island” & Ode to the 9-5 Worker

Posted on May 1, 2015 by Rachael Leonie in VIVI'S VIEW

Article by Rachael Leonie.

In response to Cosmopolitan’s “Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Job to Move to an Island and Scoop Ice Cream”

Preface: I usually hate these kinds of articles. The “I’m Cooler Than You Because I Left My Job to Travel the World and Am the Happiest Person on Your Facebook Newsfeed” kind of pitch. I’ve read the same piece countless times – in magazines, books, but most especially travel blogs. At first I was entertained and imagined I was as “special” as the author, as I was traveling and working shitty jobs to do so as well. But the more I read, the more I realized how out of touch the authors were: how egotistical, condescending, and disconnected they seemed from the rest of society.

For me, the worst part is that these travelers cast off those working hard in large offices, tiny cubicles, what have you, as “basic” (as in Urban Dictionary’s definition of the word) degenerates: Starbucks-slurping cogs who aren’t following their dreams.

ENOUGH, I say.

Travel writers: Stop broadcasting your life as a merry-go-round of success and adventure, while assuming the “others” (AKA those behind their desks) live a grey monotony of paperwork and Netflix. And thank you, Noelle Hancock, for being the first travel writer to do it differently even if you did have to do it in Cosmo.


April 29th, Cosmopolitan published an article titled “Why I Gave Up a 95K Job to Move to an Island” that, ironically, began popping up on Facebook newsfeeds everywhere May 1st, International Worker’s Day (Labor Day). The author, Noelle Hancock, summarized how she gave up a high-paying job in New York City to move to the Caribbean and deal with things like, say, chickens in her shower and unannounced donkeys blocking the roads.  Noelle Hancock’s story is inspiring –but, then again, so are all the other motivational, “look-at-me” stories of travel bloggers and their adventures overseas…so what’s the difference?

Hancock is honest. She’s real. And she doesn’t dare me to pack a suitcase, quit my job, and move to a deserted island. She tells “it,” this unpredictable life abroad, as it is and ponders what comes next –in her life, not mine.  Instead of speaking for the “others” (those cubicle drones I talked about earlier, who foam Frappuccino at the mouth) and bashing them for being average (my point here: they’re not), she dives deep into herself.

Here’s what she’s gets right:

Life Isn’t Glamorous

Leaving your home country doesn’t mean abandoning responsibility, work, and hard times. Life abroad means a job in a different country, or freelance work. Noelle may not be working a 9-5, but she still works her tan toosh off behind the bar.

What Is Lost, Is Lost

Say it with me: ninety-five thousand dollars. That is a lot. Salaries like that don’t present themselves all the time, and Hancock consciously rejected that money in pursuit of something.

Self Fulfillment Doesn’t Come Easy

Hancock made the choice to move to the Caribbean because she wasn’t happy in New York. And yet there she is, sitting on her toilet, wondering what the hell she’s doing in the Caribbean with a chicken in her shower. Each and every human on this earth is in search of something: happiness, love, money, food, drugs, etc. The brave act is to make changes — big or small —and go after your “thing.” That’s how Hancock ended up in a wildlife-infested washroom; why Liza of NOLA suffers nightly in a blazing-hot kitchen to feed fried chicken to the masses; and why my best friend works round-the-clock in a sleepless cycle of work/study to become a psychologist. Because there is a goal. And once you find that “something” — your thing — all the fuss is worth it.

I’ll wrap this up quickly: Travelers aren’t better than everyone else. Those of us who live abroad haven’t yet reached euphoria.  And following your dreams doesn’t mean you need to ditch your 9-5 job in San Francisco and travel. But do make the conscious effort everyday to figure out what you really want in life and go after it.

Roadblocks present themselves in different ways –poultry or otherwise. Embrace them and plan how to move forward. Chances are you don’t need to buy a plane ticket to do so.

Rachael Leonie aka The Wanderita is a spunky twenty-something-year-old who found her way back to Buenos Aires after a series of misadventures through South America. She spends her free time talking porteño with taxi drivers and taste-testing choripán. Follow her on Twitter, as she bares her soul to Argentina.


  1. Very true, Rachael – travelers are not better than people who work “regular” jobs in their country of birth. Nowadays, quitting your job as a young, healthy westerner with no ties is not such a radical notion. And it does not necessarily bring automatic fulfilment and lasting happiness. I did it. Now I work my ass off, struggle with money, get frustrated with bureaucracy etc etc etc but in a different country to the one I grew up in. However, I do now have the most beautiful baby and he wouldn’t be here if I never left the UK. Chasing dreams is hard wherever you are. But it is worth it.

    • I completely agree, Louise. We all face our own battles here in Argentina, and although they aren’t the same as the ones we fought at home, they’re pretty tough none the less! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. I like your interpretation of the article, but I had such a knee jerk reaction to her self-righteousness. I wrote a book. I was making x amount of money. I was living in a great Manhattan apartment. ME ME ME, look how amazing I was and how enlightened I’ve become! Glad she moved to the Caribbean and didn’t become one more of the Palermicans that seem to have similar attitudes about how awesome they are.

    • First off, I’d like to inform you I’ve patented the phrase “Palermican” for future article use 🙂

      When she bragged about her “former” life it didn’t bug me so much, because I’m so used to travel writers bragging about their current ones. Either way, I understand. The bragging is like a walking, talking FB feed, only showing the good and disregarding the challenges surpassed and the tiny battles fought everyday.

      Living in a foreign country is a challenge for anyone that does it –but generously rewarding. Expats/immigrants should just agree on that and let the “others” still in their home countries to carry on in peace, and let them figure it out for themselves. The world doesn’t need another “travel is enlightening, look at me” article.

  3. Great response Rachel and I couldn’t agree more. Living abroad, being an expat, giving up one type of life for another ain’t easy…and all too often we get the glossy, photoshopped version, never looking beneath to the gritty b side. Having packed up my life twice to live in a different country to my own has brought incredible joy and personal growth I would not have experienced otherwise…but with that also comes frustration, isolation, loneliness, financial strain and a heap of other challenges. Is it worth it? Absolutely. But its not for everyone. It also doesn’t qualify us for some ‘look what I can do’ medal, although it may give us perspective and experiences different to others we come into contact with.

  4. Hi Rachael, I’m a big follower or travel writers and I get this notion pretty often. It’s great if you have a great life (because you tell yourself that) but leave the rest of the people alone if they want to have a 9-5 job. We all find our balance. And if not, we always have the possiblity to chase our dreams. Being on the road aaaall the time is not for everybody. Showering twice a week, sharing bedrooms and the sort. I do enjoy a differente focus and speech about life on the road when I find it.
    btw, in which “barrio” are you living?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *