Living on an island. Dream or nightmare?

Living on an island

Living on an island? Dream or nightmare? Read on and find out

Far away from civilisation. Far away from home. An island in one of the world’s best dive destination called Raja Ampat. That’s where we live and work at the moment. And? How is living on an island? Day by day. That’s a question we hear again and again. Is it boring? Do we feel lonely? No, not at all.

When we used to live and work on the Maldives we heard that same question all the time. Many people think we have a dream job. Living and working where others spend their holidays is indeed wonderful. Nevertheless, not many people we talked to can imagine working and living on an island for more than a few weeks. Something we can understand. Some people love to live on the countryside others love living in the middle of a big city. How is it if you are living on an island?

If you walk around with open eyes doors will open

We ended up on the small island Pef in Raja Ampat by accident. At the end of 2014, after a long road trip around Australia, we returned back to Switzerland without a plan. The only thing we knew was that we want to see more of the world. It’s not time to settle down yet. We had two options, either planning another trip or looking for a job as diving instructors. One day while browsing the internet a very interesting job ad caught my attention. A job on Pulau Pef, the island of our dreams. And that’s exactly where we are now.

It reminds me of our first job on the Maldives. We just finished our diving instructor course in Koh Tao and as rookies we did a few freelance jobs for local dive centers. Our big dream at that time was to work on the Maldives one day. After a few job applications our dream came true right away. Something we didn’t expect to happen.

The future depends on what we do in the present. Mahatma Gandhi

So, it is not the first time that our dreams come true. How? I don’t know. But I’m sure it helps to believe in your dreams.

Currently I’m in the office in Sorong, an ugly and dirty city in West Papua. Well, even if I can’t call Sorong a nice city there is something about it. It’s our gateway to the island and spending a couple of days here is a welcome change from the island life. But to be honest, one day in Sorong is enough as the city does not offer much. And if it’s hot – and it is always hot there – it’s stinky because of the garbage on the street. Hard to believe that Sorong is the gateway to one of the most beautiful dive areas and island kingdom called Raja Ampat.

Sorong rubbish

A typical streetscape in Sorong. Fortunately it doesn’t look like this in the whole city.

Carefree living on an island

In the meantime we’re living on the island Pef for almost four months. And we love it because of many things. There is this view – to start with – on the way to breakfast, lunch and dinner.

View from Pef

Our view on the way to the coffee break

Even if it’s raining and even if there is not always a beautiful sunset, living on an island has many advantages. Our walk to work takes about one minute. Cooking ourselves? Not necessary because we can eat in the guest restaurant. And the best of all, we have a housekeeping team that cleans our bungalow and does the laundry. Therefore one day off a week is enough. Thinking back to our life in Switzerland, one day of the weekend was gone for shopping and doing the chores.

More advantages are that we have the sea at our doorstep, we can go scuba diving during the lunch break or on our day off. We can go kayaking through the fascinating mangroves, walking around the rainforest or hang around the beach. What a carefree life. But don’t think that we’re on holidays here 😉

Sunset on Pef

We can’t get enough of these breathtaking sunsets

Yes, we love the island life but there is also a downside to it. Sometimes we miss things like cooking our own meals and using the ingredients and spices we are used to. We often dream about our next road trip, the freedom we have while travelling, the adventure and the feeling not to know what will happen next. And there is one big thing we really miss, our families and friends. There is nothing on the whole planet that can replace family and friends while abroad.

Living a nomadic life means to sacrifice

Yes, it’s true. Whether you are travelling or living abroad, it means you have to pass on some things. The biggest sacrifice is to be so far away from families and friends. But no one can change that. Luckily communication got a lot easier with WiFi, Facebook, E-Mails, Skype and all other communication options. But still, nothing can replace a big hug or a personal talk face to face. That’s the reason why we promised ourselves to visit Switzerland at least once a year to spend quality time with our loved ones.

Thank you so much. Thank you to our families and friends, colleagues, travel buddies, blogger colleagues, digital nomads we met along the way, and of course our blog readers. Thank you for following us, believing in us, thinking about us and a big thank you to my husband Marcel, with whom I can live the dream. Life rocks!

Live in the Here and Now

Every day is a special day wherever you are

I’ve written this blog post because I felt I have to put my thoughts on paper… or on the screen. Just like this. This is one of the posts that I’ll read myself again in a few months and I’m already curious what life will bring by then and how it then feels to live on the island.

Do you have a dream? Or are you living your dream life already? Have you ever experienced the nomad or expat life? Share your story with us. We’d love to hear about it. Would you like to know how to travel to Raja Ampat on a budget?

4 thoughts on “Living on an island. Dream or nightmare?

  1. Hi Reni & Marcel,

    I stumbled upon your blog while researching scuba diving instructor career opportunities ! You’re blog really struck a chord with me and I feel the gut wrenching pain to join the nomadic lifestyle.

    I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and have spent the last 3.5 years sitting behind a desk in a banking job within a large financial institution in Canada but have worldly dreams almost everyday. I just started diving after my friend who is a DM did a DSD course with me in South Africa. So now, I am finishing my Open Water course locally and plan on leaving my career behind and visiting Spain, Germany, Belgium & UK in the fall. I’ve been to quite a few places so far and cannot see myself stopping anytime soon. My friends & family have called me crazy for even thinking about quitting a stable – and potentially lucrative career in banking to do unstable work…

    Excited and anxious all at the same time =)

    • Hi Colin,

      Thanks for your comment. First of all, you do the right thing in our opinion. Life is too short to just think about work. Of course, anyone needs some stability and security and also money to survive. But what we figured out during the last years of travelling is, that we need a lot less then we think. Especially while travelling longterm.

      We personally think travelling is the best education anyone can get and there is always a door opening if you walk around with open eyes. Travel now and whenever you go back home you will be given another chance for a job. And very often things happen while travelling too. You meet many people and who knows what opportunities you will stumble upon.

      We wish you a fantastic trip, enjoy the freedom while travelling and good luck.


      PS: We never regretted giving up our stable life back home to go travelling and living a nomadic life 😉

  2. Hello fellow adventurers,

    Thank you for sharing your story. After reading several of your posts, I am reading exact ideals I have uttered myself, it’s extremely satisfying to hear it from another person. I am an American, Swiss German on my mothers side. I have been battling being a starving artist vs a career my whole life and have ended up nowhere. I am an adventure seeker, creative, artistic, and genuinely love people. I have always had far too many passions to stick with one, which has left me idling.

    I finally settled on a career path and started going to school, with the goal of making my own business. I loathe the 9-5 and crave freedom, but don’t want to be broke.

    I got open water certified in Oct 2013. I moved from Arizona where I had lived my entire life to Washington State which was the greatest decision I ever made. I am attending school, but am tired of working and going to school full-time. I want to travel and feel I need to make up for lost time through adventuring. I made up my mind that whatever I do I’ll be happy as long as I can support myself while pursuing a passion.

    When I was certified, it all felt natural. I figured things out intuitively before the instructor said anything. Even my instructor and other students noticed and said I should be an instructor. I recently signed up for advanced open water and rescue diver with plans for dive master next.

    What advice can you offer me and how do I handle setting aside other passions for this one? Thank you so much for your insight.

    • Hi Jonathan

      Thanks for your message and great to hear about your diving plans.

      Sounds like you are a natural talent in diving. Keep on diving and dive as much as possible. You will figure out if diving is what you really want and if becoming an instructor is the right thing for you. Diving should be your passion. It’s important that you love diving and working with people.
      Before we quit our jobs years ago, we did the DM first to find out if we want to work in the dive business.

      Good luck and happy diving,


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