Noelle Hancock says it was a beach scene screensaver on her computer that prompted her to quit her $95,000 journalism job in New York City at the age of 31 and buy a one-way ticket to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Once there, Hancock -- who had never visited St. John and said she knew no one -- took a job scooping ice cream for $10 an hour.
“I went to college and I went to New York and I became a journalist but it was always in the back of my mind,” Hancock said today on “Good Morning America.” “I would be watching movies that took place in paradise or reading books, and I would be kind of jealous of the characters that got to live these lives.”
Four years later, Hancock is a bartender in St. John and says that when she hears about former colleagues who are forging ahead with their careers, she only looks outside to erase any doubt of her life choice.
“Seeing old colleagues and acquaintances building successful careers can make me second-guess my choices. ... But I have an island,” Hancock wrote in an essay for Cosmpolitan.com. “I live in a charmingly ramshackle one-bedroom apartment on a hillside overlooking the sea.”
Hancock’s essay has already garnered more than 300 comments, many of which applaud Hancock for her move and ask how they can do the same.
“You are such an inspiration! I'm 34 and am at a transitional point in my life. I need a life makeover!,” wrote one.
“Thank you, I needed that. My boyfriend and I are leaving our jobs at top Fortune 500 companies. We are moving to Colorado with the hopes of living our adventurous mountain dream,” wrote another.
"I would say that you can do it too...sometimes you really just have to lead and the net will appear," Hancock told "GMA." "It sounds really scary but living here has showed me that there's a different way of living and sometimes you can just arrive some place with first and last month's rent and, you know, start something completely new."
Hancock wrote on Cosmopolitan.com that she got the most resistance from her parents, who could not believe their Yale-educated daughter -- whose classmates would go on to found Pinterest and win an Emmy, Hancock wrote -- would choose the island life.
"My family definitely thought that I had lost my mind," Hancock told "GMA." "I grew up in a conservative household where you stay the course and you work hard and you go to school and you go and you enter the professional world and you work your way up the chain and you certainly don't spend 10 years building a career to suddenly chuck it all and move to an island and scoop ice cream so I think they definitely thought that I was in need of a therapist."
"At the same time, I had a ton of friends who said, 'Oh, absolutely. That's what I would like to do if I could,'" she said. "So I had support and, my parents, they're actually very supportive, they just didn't necessarily understand what I was doing because they'd come from a different generation where that's just not what you do."
In her essay, Hancock also pointed out the obvious differences between Manhattan and St. John -- she found a chicken in the bathroom of her St. John apartment -- and the more surprising.
“It's ironic to feel lonely on an island of 4 million people, but it seemed I spent my life staring at screens: laptop, cell phone, iPad -- hell, even the taxis and elevators had televisions in them. I felt stressed, uninspired and disconnected,” Hancock wrote of her Manhattan lifestyle.
“People gather on the beaches at dusk to watch the sunsets together. I see my friends every day. On our days off, we hike the local ruins, dive, or go boating to the nearby British Virgin Islands,” she wrote of her lifestyle in St. John, population 4,100.
The former journalist told "GMA" that she found out the things one would think would be missed from big city life, really do not matter in the end.
"Manhattan is a place where you can get anything at any time and I've moved to a place where there's no delivery because there are no addresses," Hancock said. "You're literally living in place where there are chickens running out on the road and sometimes you run out of water and it takes a day or two for it to get replaced and sometimes the power goes out but when those things happen you realize the things that you want and the things that you need and that's the beauty of living here with a simpler lifestyle."
"That said, you definitely miss really good pizza or somebody bringing you Chinese food to your door," she continued. "You miss the little things but you get something so much bigger in the trade-off."
Tell us in the comments: Would you ever leave your life for the island life?