We had both been entrepreneurs and had thriving businesses that kept us working 10-12 hours everyday. We owned a home that we loved, in an upscale area of the Silicon Valley. All that sounds great except the catch was….we were feeling so much pressure to maintain our lifestyle and working way too much to enjoy our life the way we wanted to enjoy it. Like many people these days, we were on a vicious cycle that seemed to never end. Work, work work, pay bills, pay the mortgage, work some more, pay the property tax , blah blah blah then work some more. Although we always managed to fit in a good long vacation in the midst of all the working, one thing we realized about ourselves was that when it came time for the vacation to end and time to go back home, we were NEVER ready to go home! It didn’t matter if it was one week, or five weeks our hearts sank as we headed back to our home and to the routine of our life. Don’t get me wrong, we were far from being unhappy, just somehow not completely satisfied. We loved so many things about our lives before our move, I had a career that I loved, I had been a Hairstylist for thirty years and I owned a salon for twenty years that gave me huge amounts of pleasure and I felt as though I had achieved success in my life on many different levels. My husband was a contractor and was turning away more work than he could accept. Our daughter was on her own and just beginning to find her path which naturally was not heading towards us but away, as it should be. It was clear to us that we were primed and ready to explore a new path.
I mentioned earlier that we began a list of considerations that, for us were the things we needed in our new life to be happy and comfortable. I imagine that most people, if contemplating such a huge move, would come up with lists of what’s important for them in order to be truly happy someplace new.
So our list will most likely be vastly different than yours, but I’ll share mine with you …
- Climate- not extremely humid, no snow, not too hot, really no extreme weather at all.(like I said, we’re spoiled when it comes to climate and not willing to give in on this one)
- Cost of living
- Proximity to the U.S.- it was important to us to live in a country that would be easy enough for us to visit the states and for people to visit us as well.
- Crime rate- we didn’t want to live in a place that required us to have excessive security on our home (Barbed wire and glass shards! No thanks!)
- Not a big city, but close enough to a big city so that we have access to the amenities a larger city has to offer.
- We would like the town to have at least a few decent restaurants for the occasional night out
- Access to decent grocery stores or markets with quality foods and household necessities . My husband is a foody and just loves to cook! (never stop a man from cooking!!)
- Healthcare – affordable and quality
- Outdoor activities- we would like to be near enough to hiking, water sports , camping etc.
- Welcoming expat community where we will have an opportunity to get involved and make connections
- Economical and political stability of the country
Whether retirement means moving to a different country, a different state or even just staying put, there’s a lot to think about and to consider when planning such significant life change. Deciding to say ‘I’m done working’ and ending a long and rewarding career was very emotional for me. And deciding to move to a completely different country to begin this next chapter has been such a great way for us to create opportunities to learn and grow in ways we could never have even dreamed of. We’re only five months into our relocation to Panama and so far it’s proven to be a move that is great for us. We are still in the early phases of adapting and creating a new community of friends here. I am personally adapting to not working, which is at times bittersweet and other times just Sweet. I haven’t decided yet how I’ll get involved in this new community I now call home, but I know for me I must do something that will give me a sense of connection. For now my husband and I have spent our time just soaking up our freedom and enjoying the newness of everything and everyone around us. Life is good, and our Adventure is just beginning!