Adventures aplenty for man who sold his life

Liam Croy

It might be hard for some to swallow but Ian Usher says you can only spend so long sipping margaritas on a private island in the Caribbean.

The former Perth man gained international celebrity in 2008 when he listed his “entire life” for sale on eBay after his marriage broke down.

The offer included his house, car, possessions, job and even his friends.

He failed to find a buyer on eBay, but he sold his Wellard home locally and went on to do what most of us only daydream about.

With nothing to his name but cash, he captured the public imagination by dropping out of the rat race and setting himself 100 weeks to complete a 100-item bucket list.

From running with the bulls in Spain to swimming with whales off Japan, he visited 31 countries in two years and ticked off 93 items.

Now 51 and living in Shenzhen, China, he has crammed more adventures into the past seven years than most people will in a lifetime.

The Weekend West last spoke to Mr Usher four years ago after he finished his bucket list adventure and signed an exclusivity contract with Walt Disney Pictures.

He ended up using the money to buy a deserted island in the Bocas Del Toro archipelago in Panama in 2012 — an island which is now back on the market.

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The 1ha pocket of paradise is drenched in sunlight year-round, dotted with coconut trees and surrounded by crystal clear water teeming with fish.

The nearest neighbours are 400m away by boat.

He lived on “Usher’s Island” for the better part of three years and in 2013 was joined by his current partner Vanessa after meeting her on a trip to Britain.

They spent their Sundays at a pizzeria on a nearby island, sharing drinks and laughs with their neighbours before piloting their boat home.

The island life wasn’t all smooth sailing, however — at least, not at first.

Mr Usher spent months clearing the land and then building his two-storey house, encountering unique logistical challenges.

Usher Island in Panama

“The island cost me about US$30,000 but that’s not at all reflective of what I’ve put into it,” he said.

“In the end, I'll just about break even, which isn't bad really because I had three years of living on a little tropical island.

“But you can only sit on a balcony sipping margaritas for so long. I've learnt that for me, life is more exciting when I have new challenges.”

The English-born author and his partner moved to China in December and started teaching English.

He has been blown away by the warmth of the Chinese people and the modernity of their cities.

Mr Usher is already planning his next trip — six months in Australia to speak publicly about his experiences.

A relaxing time on the water

“A lot of people seem to find inspiration in what I did by giving up my job and doing what I really wanted to do,” he said.

“People get so obsessed with working the same job, paying the mortgage, going home and going to sleep.

“From my perspective, it’s a bit of a gilded cage.

“We're sold this idea of the Australian dream or the American dream or the English dream, where life's about getting a big house and a new car, but that stuff traps you in a cycle of debt.

“It’s difficult to go against people when they say, ‘Oh, you shouldn't do that, you shouldn't give up your job,’ but don't forget — it's your life.

“All of us are going to run out of time one day. Don't make that the day you look back and think, ‘Well, I wish I had have done that’.”

For more, visit www.ianusher.com.