Have you ever thought of giving it all up and moving to a far-away island in the sun? Well that’s exactly what writer Ian Usher, 50, did, who features in an episode of Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild on Channel 5, Friday 21st February, 9pm.
Ian made global headlines in 2008 when, following his separation from his wife, he made the decision to sell his entire life on Internet auction site eBay and leave his life in Australia to settle down in the Bocas del Toro area in Panama.
Always keen on adventure, Ian set up a list of 100 goals that he wanted to complete before heading off to the remote island. One of his goals was to meet Richard Branson, someone who Ian had always admired and also owns a Caribbean island.
Why move to a remote island?
Speaking to Kettle, Ian Usher said: “Buying the island was a pretty random decision. At the time I was living with my previous partner in Whitehorse, Canada, where I had settled to write a book about my travels and adventures. I stayed there until Christmas 2010, living in a remote wooden cabin in the forest, but when the temperature hit minus 30°C it was time to look for somewhere warmer.”
“I came across an online article called ‘The Top Ten Cheapest Tropical Places To Live’ and Panama was very high on the list. My first trip here was merely supposed to be a property fact-finding mission, but my impulsive nature got the better of me.”
As Ben Fogle will discover, island life can have its ups and downs. Upping sticks to a remote part of the world may seem idyllic but home comforts that seem almost run of the day to most people seem alien to the island.
He added: “It does take a while to get anywhere if you want to travel out into the wider world. I miss friends and family in Britain more than I miss Britain itself. I miss the convenience of a little corner store, or the fun of a night out at a pub or a concert.”
Of course the island is like its own little haven and Ian hasn’t had to don a jumper since getting there and can live in shorts and a t-shirt. He gets to spend his days living near a bay where dolphins swim and can go snorkelling regularly.
A new life in the wild
Ian and his wife Vanessa were contacted by the production company behind Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild and after watching the first series of the TV show opted to get involved with the second series.
“Vanessa had also just given up her London lifestyle to join me on the island which was very much a ‘New Life in the Wild’.”
“It was great having Ben and the crew come to the island. Ben stayed with us for six days and was a great guest. He is very easy-going and easy to chat to. He fit in very easily on the island, and even helped Vanessa do the laundry. The crew was a great group of people too, making the whole experience a lot of fun”
Life in the public eye
Following the initial coverage of selling his life, Ian’s move to Panama managed to go under-the-radar for almost a year until an article in the Daily Mail was published bringing him back into the spot-light. After Ben Fogle’s visit Ian is now expecting the public interest in his and Vanessa’s story to be renewed. His story has inspired a lot of people and in November last year Ian was invited to give a talk about living an ‘Unlimited Life’ in Austria at a TEDx event.
Ian has also written two books: A Life Sold tells the story of his attempt to complete 100 goals in 100 weeks. Whilst Paradise Delayed documents his island adventures living remotely in Panama and includes the visit by the New Lives in the Wild crew.
Links to both his books can be found on his website. He can also be contacted through the contact page on his website.
You can watch Ian and Vanessa on Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild on Channel 5, Friday, February 21, 9pm. Alternatively visit Demand 5. Have your say in the comments section below.