1. Vacuuming is not negotiable. Do it or get ready to meet 1000 new friends every night.

2. Stock up on the foods you like. When it’s raining so hard you can’t see the road down the mountain from the mist and steam coming off of it, you’ll be grateful for the economy size box of Fruit Loops.

3. Pack your rubbish out nightly and shower before bed. Everything has a smell, including you. The ravenous bull-cockroach swarm coming out of the trees thinks you’re food. Don’t fulfil their expectations by leaving your burrito wrapper in the bin and smelling like it yourself.

4. Make friends with the local dope farmers. They’re the mafia in these parts. The teenage gangsters and drug mules you see on the roads (easy ID: nervous eyes in a minivan over 10 years old? Ah so, signor drug donkey) answer to the old dope farmers who typically look like heavily armed Pai Mei in overalls. Befriend the old man on the mountain and you will never be messed with. Plus, he’ll get you anything you need, but you might have to dig some holes for him in the swamp. It’s only fair.

5. Be careful with the human turkey vultures. That nosey lonesome woman from suburban Steubenville, who wants to know what you think of her tramp stamp and whose bank manager husband just bought the 20-room villa on the old cane plantation, keeps showing up at your door in Daisy Dukes and mini skirts. Uh huh. Offers to let you use her husband’s weight set when he’s not there? Uh huh. Mentions that he lives back in their Ohio home half the time, but she’d rather just stay here? Uh huh. Don’t. Just don’t. If you need an explanation why you shouldn’t, it’s probably too late. But don’t, okay? She’s looking for a Divorce Pry Bar. Before a year goes by, there will be a blow-out fight. There will be tears. And you don’t want hubby showing up at your door on a rainy night with a bush machete looking to sublimate his emotions (“Uh, Bob, I think you’re projecting a little . . . Bob? BOB NO!”).

6. Make friends with the Buddhist monks in the forest temple. They’re wonderful.

7. Get ready for a lot of weird-ass job opportunities you wouldn’t normally take. Night carpentry? Check. Cutting banana trees in 108° heat? Yesum. Helping your affluent neighbor from Steubenville move her husband’s weight set to the unoccupied maid’s quarters (she’ll provide the sunblock, even put it on you)? Uh . . . Get offered money by random millennial tourists spending their trust funds for (a) tarot readings; (b) guided trips up to the volcano; (c) lessons in things adults should already know when they invite themselves over to dinner (OMG this is the BEST Caesar salad—can you teach me? I’ll pay you $100); driving a panel truck with 800 lbs. of chemical manure down the mountain in a thunderstorm with a guy named Jeff who spends the whole time explaining his facial scar? Yes. These are the golden years, lad. Savor them.

8. Corollary to #2 above: factor in the reality of the local elderly Japanese and Thai ladies deciding you’re okay and wanting to feed you. In one week, they might bring over banana lumpia, spring rolls, various curries, mung bean pastries, edamame, hummus, papaya salad, and an entire strawberry cake. They’re always polite, never stay long, sometimes bring a good-luck plant for your yard, and often say, “I pray for you! Good! Be happy!” on their way to the car. They and the monks will restore your faith in humanity.

9. The dude who’s always high and likes to shoot at anything moving on the valley road is not your pal. Think good thoughts for the feral pigs, dogs, chickens, mongeese, and random birds because they don’t deserve a bullet in the head. The upside is that Dwayne is usually so stoned most of the time his aim sucks.

10. Spray the windows with tea tree oil or it will be termite apocalypse in May and June. And you don’t want that. Nobody wants that.

Now you’re ready to move into a hut with a corrugated steel roof and write that novel you’ve been planning. Let me know how it goes.