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A Brave New Beginning: The Journey to Building a Dream Home in the Bahamas

Falling in Love with the Abaco Islands

It was 1985 when Norvell and Mark Slezycki first visited the Bahamas and immediately fell in love with the Abaco Islands. Living in New York City at the time, they found the islands’ underdeveloped state quite enchanting.

Over the years, this couple couldn’t shake their dream of owning an oceanfront home on the islands. When the opportunity to purchase land presented itself, Norvell recalls how they “just ran with it”, making the decision to buy oceanfront property far from their comfort zone.

  • The balance between island life and city life plays a crucial role in the Slezyckis’ happiness.
  • Natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian have tested their resilience but also strengthened their bond with their island community.
  • Retirement on the Great Guana Cay has proven to be a rewarding challenge for this brave couple.

Moving Towards Their Island Dream

In order to raise funds for building their dream home, the Slezyckis decided to downsize – selling their house in Lighthouse Point, Florida and purchasing a smaller one in nearby Pompano Beach. This allowed them to work towards turning their island dream into reality.

Constructing Their Oceanfront Paradise

While they faced numerous challenges, such as bringing in materials and keeping track of everything during construction, the builder’s assurance that work wouldn’t stop as long as they wired money every week kept the project moving forward.

The couple managed to complete their two-bedroom, two-bathroom oceanfront home by 2006. When asked about the total cost, Norvell reveals that the figure is around $325,000 “give or take”.

A Perfect Balance of Work and Retirement

Norvell and Mark officially retired in 2010, allowing them to spend six months a year on the island while living in the US for the other half. The couple considers this balance perfect, as it allows them to still enjoy their time on the island without waiting too long for retirement.

Transportation to Great Guana Cay can be somewhat challenging, but they adapt, with friends helping them drive back to their home on the island.

Embracing Island Life’s Rewards and Challenges

In the past years, minor storms have hit the island. However, Hurricane Dorian in September 2019 brought significant destruction to Abacos Islands, including the Slezycki’s oceanfront home. They were left to pick up debris where their beloved house once stood.

Undeterred, the couple decided to rebuild their home together, relying on their savings to purchase materials. With Mark being incredibly skilled, he took on much of the restoration work himself. Over the next few years, they focused on making the home livable again while staying at a neighbor’s mildly damaged house during each return trip to the island.

Remaining Committed to Island Life

Despite the setbacks, the Slezyckis are firm believers in their dream of island life on Great Guana Cay. The slower pace of the island has proven invaluable – less crowds, traffic, road rage, and crime – which keeps this brave couple reluctant to leave.

The island has recovered since the devastating hurricane, with some aspects even improving. In their earlier days on the island, they faced objections from locals due to the controversial nature of exclusive developments on Great Guana Cay. This, however, has subsided over time.

Norvell and Mark Slezycki’s story is an inspiring journey of daring choices and resilience in chasing their island dream. Their experience on Great Guana Cay serves as a powerful reminder that sometimes life’s greatest rewards are discovered beyond our comfort zones.

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