Are you happy with your lifestyle?
Over the next weeks and months, I’ll write a series of articles on how some simple changes can improve your life. I’m not a psychiatrist, I’m not even a sensitive guy! I’m a practical, minimalist, eco-friendly, and smart home developer. Not your usual dispenser of lifestyle advice, right?!
Well, in today’s world more than ever, with riots and protests combined with generally divisive talk filling the airwaves in North America, people are tired of the status quo lifestyle they have and want change. Even after doing everything society pushed them towards, they’re not really happy. The situation in the US is frankly a little depressing these days. But what many don’t realize is that they’re only a couple hour flight from a world where a great lifestyle and relaxed environment is just the norm.
The recent quarantines the world has had to endure gave all of us time to think about what we want. The break from 9 to 5 gave us a moment to reflect, even if we didn’t do it very consciously. And there was one particular thing that the quarantine taught many companies and individuals. Do you know what that is? It’s the one thing that has made our Tiny, Eco-Friendly, Smart home communities sell out on the day we announce them!
You could say that it is because suddenly we realize we can live in smaller spaces, and that is true. You could also argue that the quarantine and shortage of supplies in some areas gave us a wake-up call that we should think about being more self-sufficient and even produce our own food and power. You might think we’ve learned that smart home technology that saves us money and keeps us entertained is extremely valuable too, right Alexa? And you’d be right on all those points. But there is one thing that has caused a paradigm shift that was already occurring, but has now been set into hyperdrive! And it’s something that not only many people realized, but many corporations were forced to realize too. And it saves them money. And that’s what matters to businesses.
If you guessed it by now, consider yourself ready to take the next step and make the world your oyster! What that one thing is… drum roll please…is the simple realization that a huge percentage of the population CAN work from home.
It’s that simple. If you have a high-speed, reliable internet connection and your job doesn’t require you to always be physically at a certain location, you can work from anywhere in the world! Your home can be anywhere. That’s liberating. Not only for you but for the company you work for. And as corporations around the world realize this and get on board, we are seeing a massive shift to the communities we develop that are built for digital nomads (people who can work from anywhere). In fact, with the low cost of tiny homes, the low cost to maintain them because they are powered by solar and wind, and because they are smart technology equipped with high-speed internet, you can probably afford more than one! Which is exactly what people are starting to do. Some of our clients are buying one of our over-the-water TES homes in the Caribbean, one by a tropical beach by the Pacific Ocean of Central America and one in the tropical highlands of Panama. And they can buy all three for less than their single home in the US or Canada.
Imagine spending four months of the year in the Caribbean, four months by the Pacific waves, and four months surrounded by jungle and monkeys in Panama. And all with everything you need to do your job! I can tell you from first-hand experience, it’s a great lifestyle, and I can tell you that because that’s my wife and my lifestyle. My wife Andrea is a Paediatrician that serves her patients with an online app. Being a doctor you might think it’s impossible for her to have this lifestyle but she’s made it work well. And during the height of Covid-19 quarantine, she was very busy with online video meetings with her patients and their families, and I was amazed at how at ease the families became after an online appointment. There are challenges of course where she needs to partner with local doctors to give prescriptions. But where there is a will, there’s a way. And of course, my job as COO of ECI Development requires a lot of travel anyway and I’m always in my email or on a Zoom meeting, so working from anywhere is the default for me.
The big paradigm shift though that we’re seeing now is not that individuals learned that they can work from home. We’ve always known that! Where the concept is really gaining traction is that companies have now been forced to see that a large percentage of their staff can work from home. And in many cases, they saw a boost in productivity. The old idea that if we let people work from home they won’t get anything done is being defunct. And the stats prove it. Studies have shown that allowing employees to work from home (when possible) even half of the time saves on average approximately $11,000 per employee per year! So maybe you can make a deal with your employer to split those savings!
I had the opportunity to see the “working from home” effect from both sides. As an employee and as an employer. Out of a staff of dozens of people that were forced to work from home, only a very small percentage struggled with productivity, being distracted when not in the office setting. And frankly, it taught us as a company which employees were mature enough to do their job regardless of where they are, and made us think about adding some additional questions to the interview process for new employees. But in addition to the boost in productivity that we saw overall, which I estimate was between 10% to 20%, we also saw immense cost savings.
ECI Development has several offices and sales centers in Central America. This region is warm! That means a lot of Air Conditioning is happening in our offices. And on the Caribbean islands and, in general, in Central America, the cost of power and water is not cheap. Our TES homes use off-grid power systems but unfortunately, our company offices haven’t been converted yet. So for the months, we had to close our offices we saved thousands of dollars in utility costs and in some cases rent rebates and it’s making me rethink the future about the necessity of these offices. I have a duty to our shareholders and if we are finding an increase in productivity while having a decrease in office expenses it requires me to evaluate it fully. We will likely always need a location for our clients to meet with us, but the need for many of our operational staff to have a spot in the office is now debatable! I’m sure a large number of corporations around the world are rethinking their office spaces. And I’m not investing in office space rental businesses right now!
You could say businesses that allow their employees to work from home are just shifting the cost of the office to the employee. But the stats don’t show that. In fact, the savings in not commuting and eating at home etc. showed that between $2,000 and $7,000 was saved per year by each employee by only working from home just half the days of the year. So it’s a win for the employee and it’s a win for the company. So now your job is simple…go convince your company that you can work from home! Maybe even on a trial basis as a proof of concept. Of course, if you work for yourself, the convincing just got easier!
As I mentioned, ECI Development is seeing a massive increase in the interest in our TES (Tiny, Eco, Smart) Community homes and much of it is because of this new paradigm. Over the next months, I will be writing regular articles and blogs about these communities and the benefits of them. The TES communities take advantage of right-sizing a home, they make use of the most practical eco-friendly and smart-home cost savings and efficiency creating technology. But I am very practical about these technologies.
I think of myself as “Eco-Sensible.” I’m a firm believer that if these technologies do not have a financial benefit for people, they won’t be sustainable. “Feel good” home popularity will not last. But a home that saves you a fortune on utility bills because of off-grid alternative power solutions, a home that is extremely inexpensive to purchase because it uses space extremely efficiently and a home that offers you home controls that give you all the luxuries of smart homes ARE homes you can “feel good” about! But they are also very practical and financially beneficial, which will make their popularity last, and their value continues to increase. And if you decide to take the plunge and have the lifestyle I mentioned earlier of living in multiple different beautiful locations, you can rent out your homes when you’re in a different location to generate a very respectable rental revenue as well!
So, I ask again, are you happy with your lifestyle? If not, the opportunity to change it may never be easier than right now. And if you are happy with your lifestyle but wouldn’t mind having a “Plan B” in your back pocket, maybe consider owning a TES home for the rental investment value now and the ability to make a change to your life later. The craziness we have all been through over the past months has uncovered some truths we didn’t fully realize. I’d encourage you to seriously consider a life on a relaxed Caribbean island, maybe combined with a home beside a beautiful unpopulated beach or in the rolling tropical hills of Panama. I have never regretted making that choice for myself and I think you might find it a great way to live too. You’ll never know unless you try it.
For more information or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!
About the author…
With a degree in Computer Science and having founded several successful software and property development companies, Mr. Patrick Hiebert used his technology knowledge combined with a love for self-sustainability over the past several decades to become a prominent expert in designing and developing eco-friendly and smart-home communities. While downsizing his own lifestyle from living in a large home to a condominium to living on the ocean in a boat, Patrick realized the benefits of “right-sized” living and self-sufficiency. Now as the COO for ECI Development, he leads the company’s TES (Tiny, Eco-Friendly, Smart) community development in Belize, Panama, Nicaragua, and beyond.