A Moment to Exhale… So Now What?

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A Moment to Exhale... So Now What?Well, we’re finally over the hump.  We actually had a moment to exhale.  We sold the house and moved into an apartment.  Everything should start to get easier and easier as we get closer to the big move to Panama next summer.

I started this post while at the airport on our way to Miami to get our cruise kicked off.  We booked this trip at the beginning of the year thinking we’d have nothing going on at this time.

Yeah, we were wrong.

Once we got through security here at Hopkins airport here in Cleveland, I got a text from my agent telling me everything just finished.  The closing is officially done and they’re in the process of filing the papers… nice!

Things couldn’t have been more tightly timed.  But that’s all on me.  In late July, I decided we needed to change course and put the house up for sale right away.

The original plan was to wait until next spring, but I had a change of heart.  The market was booming and I got nervous that we were at the top and it would only be a downhill slide from here.

Only time will tell if that was a smart move or not financially, but at least it’s done.  We don’t have to worry anymore about our house not selling and holding up our plans to head to Panama next year.


Ugh… the fun of a downsize

This apartment couldn’t have worked out better in terms of duration.  We signed a six-month lease (plus a pro-rated October) through the end of April.  They’ll then allow us to go month-to-month for three months taking us through the end of July, which is exactly what we’re after.

The good news is that we’re 100% moved into the apartment.  We actually cutover some things like our Internet service a few days before the movers came.  So, we moved a lot of the lighter stuff ourselves in the meantime and left the furniture and other heavy boxes for them (I’m too old to be doing that anymore!).

While we waited for the movers, though, that left a couple of days of indoor camping.  We slept on air mattresses in the living room and set up a small TV in there for the time being.  Our daughter loved it…

A Moment to Exhale... So Now What? - The downsize
Sad little setup we have going here, right? Thank goodness we have one laid-back kid on our hands! Notice the XY Planning Network shirt she’s wearing!

The bad news is that we moved from a four-bedroom house with a basement to a two-bedroom apartment with no basement.  If you want to force yourself to get rid of your stuff, downsizing is just the kick in the pants you need to do it.

Even so, we have a lot of stuff… a lot.  It looks like this in every room of the place…

A Moment to Exhale... So Now What? - The downsize
Every – single – room.

And unfortunately, we had to leave it that way since we didn’t have time to work on it before vacation.  So, in the short-term, we have a little work on our hands, but nothing too crazy.

No moment to exhale on this part, but now things start to get much easier for us.


Selling and eliminating

You can bet your butt we’ll be using much bigger suitcases when we head out!

Our next mission is to start getting rid of most of our possessions.  You don’t realize how much junk you accumulate over time – there’s a lot of that needs to go.  Even the useful stuff is going to have to find its way out of the apartment by next summer.

If you’re new to our story, we’re planning to move to Panama with just two suitcases each.  That doesn’t leave us with a whole lot of breathing room.

Along the way, we’ll be selling my 2009 Chevy Malibu in the spring.  We’ll hang onto Mrs. R2R’s 2011 Ford Escape until right before we fly out next summer.

We also plan to keep a small storage unit for a year as a “just-in-case” while we feel things out in Panama.  If we decide it’s just not the place for us after that year is up, we’ll at least have some essentials waiting for us instead of needing to start completely from scratch.

What’s nice is that now that the house is gone, we can take our time on the selling and eliminating.  We have until next summer to make this happen… piece of cake!


Wrapping up the j-o-b

A Moment to Exhale… So Now What? - Wrapping up the j-o-b
Here’s something I hope not to have to do much if ever again!

In less than two months, I’ll officially be “retired.”  It’s somewhat surreal to think about, but as the countdown creeps closer to zero, it’s really as exciting as I’ve dreamed it would be.

My cousin was picking up some furniture from us a couple of weeks ago and said, “It’s funny that this’ll be your last winter here and they say it’s supposed to be a bad one this year.”

It was fun to answer back and say, “Yeah, but I’ll just be able to look out the window on a bad snow day and say, ‘Glad I don’t have to go out in this!’  Plus, I’ll be in the apartment so we won’t have to worry about shoveling either!”

He chuckled and nodded.  He gets it and plans to retire a little earlier himself (maybe 55).  I’ll be sure that he reads Sam’s book on How to Engineer Your Layoff before he gets to that point.  If you’re planning to leave, you might as well get paid to do it!

In the meantime, I’m starting to wind things down at the office.  My replacement I’ve been training is now ready to run things.  He’s now running the show managing the engineers and can just ask me questions on any goofy things he runs into.

I’m actually looking forward to taking care of some other odds and ends.  I have a handful of small projects that I’ve had to put on the back-burner over the years due to lack of time.  Well, now I’ve got the time.


Post-retirement, pre-Panama

It’s hard to believe that so many people all over the world will be helping me celebrate my FIRE date on December 31.  My guess is that folks will be lighting off fireworks and having parties all over the world.  It’s touching to know how many people care about my plans – I’m truly honored!  😉

But come January 1, what happens?

We still have to wait for our daughter to finish her school year out, so we’ve got our days “free” for a few months.

Don’t worry – I won’t be bored.

A Moment to Exhale… So Now What? - Post retirement, pre-Panama
Not a view you should have to see of me lifting weights…

Remember those months of snow that I don’t have to go to work in?  Yeah, well, I’m still going to traipse through it on an almost daily basis.  I plan to make it a regular routine to walk over to the workout room elsewhere in the apartment complex.

I’m excited to start to get some definition back.  I’m not overweight at all, but it’s time to build up a little muscle.  After all, I can’t let Jim Wang be the only one who shows up at FinCon with the guns blazing!  😉

I also have a lot of plans for this site.  Route to Retire continues to grow at a steady pace, but I want to put some more attention on it once I’m done working the 9-5.

One of the biggest points to starting this site was to build up a nice audience so I’d have something fun to do when I quit working.  That time has just about arrived and I couldn’t be more pleased with the growth I’ve had with it.

Now I want to focus on some more regular content for my readers.  I don’t think I’ll write too many more posts every week (maybe one additional a week?) because I want to the content to be solid and not just garbage filling up the Internet.

I may also look at bringing in some guest posts as well.  But similar to the above, I’ll have some high standards in place to ensure you guys are getting real value from what you’re reading.

Before I do that though, I really need to “pretty up” this site.  It’s boring and not very appealing.  I need an actual logo, but it definitely needs to incorporate the ocean view you’re all familiar with seeing.  I’m going to try to find a better theme for the site as well.

I’m excited because I have a cousin who’s very good at this stuff.  In fact, her job right now is building brands – exactly what I need!  She was also a graphic designer and I’ve used her skills to create the covers for both of the books I’ve previously written.

I’ve been helping her with her finances and investments recently and now she’s planning to give me a hand with my site and brand… gotta love the barter system!

Other than these things, we need to keep doing some planning for Panama.  We’ll need to find a place to stay in Boquete for a couple of weeks (probably an Airbnb or VRBO) while we look around for a more permanent place.

We also need to iron out the homeschooling side of things.  Fortunately, there are a number of options out there and we need to determine the best path for us and our daughter.  We’re only planning on homeschooling for the first year, but we’ll see if that changes down the line.

And finally, Mrs. R2R and I need some time to reconnect.  This past year, in particular, has been pretty stressful for both of us.  As I spend more and more time working on each post, that’s time together that we’re missing out on.  So between my regular job, putting in eight hours on a post, and spending time with my daughter, the relationship between Mrs. R2R and I tends to get neglected sometimes.

Earlier this year, I threw out the idea of blogging a lot less, but she suggested we should just power through it (or “man-up” as I love to tell my daughter).  After all, I’ll be done with the 9-5 time-sucker very soon.

So, I owe her big time and need to step-up more once I’m done working or our relationship could head straight down the toilet!


Summer of 2019

A Moment to Exhale… So Now What? - Summer of 2019
This is a photo from Kelleys Island this past summer… so beautiful and peaceful there.

Once my daughter’s done with the school year, the fun really begins.  We’ll now have no agenda in mind for a couple of months… it’s very liberating to think about.

By that point, we should be close to having eliminated all our excess crap and can just concentrate on enjoying our time together.

We usually go up to Kelleys Island for a weekend or two during the summer to stay at my cousin’s cottage (the one who’s planning to retire early as well).  But now that he knows we’ll have some more time on our hands, he’s already told me that we’re welcome to hang there for even a couple weeks at a time if we want as long as I mow the grass… sweet!

Then we’ll spend some time with family and friends in June and July basically saying our goodbyes.

At the end of July, we’ll officially move out of the apartment.  If things work out the way I anticipate, we shouldn’t have much left to get rid of or to put in the storage unit.  This could be the easiest move I’ve ever had!

We’re then taking two suitcases each and loading ’em up in Mrs. R2R’s Ford Escape.  We have a vacation with Mrs. R2R’s side of the family in South Carolina the last week in July so we’re just making that a stop on our way… goodbye, Ohio!

After the family vacation, we’ll make our way to Texas.  I mentioned a couple months ago that we’re moving in with my brother and sister-in-law.  So, we’ll make that happen in early August.

We’ll enjoy a few weeks with them, sell off Mrs. R2R’s car, and then fly to Panama to start our next adventure!  You’ll be hearing a lot more about Panama as we continue to approach our moving date.


Our moment to exhale

So we definitely have a lot going on, but as things are getting much easier as we wind things down before we leave.

In the meantime, I’ll just rub it in a little bit that I’m wrapping this post up while sitting on my balcony of the cruise ship.  I’m listening to some good music on my phone and staring out at the beautiful ocean on the way to our first stop in St. Maarten… you’re welcome!  😉

A Moment to Exhale... So Now What? - July/August 2019
Yeah, that’s right – I go old school with pen and paper when I’m on vacation… no laptop lugging for me!

It’s been a hectic ride lately, but I’m glad we’re on the downhill in the stress level as we get closer to our next adventure!


Ever had so much going on at once and then you get that moment to exhale and let the stress melt away for a short time?  Wonderful, right?


Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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22 thoughts on “A Moment to Exhale… So Now What?”

  1. Congrats for getting the house sold!! Woot woot! I could SOOO relate to the pic of air mattress on apartment floor, I was doing that in May! The path to FIRE has some hills, fun to know your just a few steps behind me. You’re going to LOVE January 1st!!

    (BTW, I’m writing this from a campground. On a Tuesday. In November. Did I mention you’re going to love “RE”!).

  2. What? You will miss the lake effect snow of Cleveland? Come on. I left that 18 years ago. Ha Ha.

    Another milestone moment for you and Mrs. R2R. Congrats and savor the moment!

    1. Haha, I’ll be content just watching “The Santa Clause” or “Frosty the Snowman” every winter from the mountains of Panama! It seems you were much smarter than me leaving the white stuff so long ago!

      — Jim

    1. We’ve been browsing a little bit, but it’s still a little early to get to deep into it. We’ll probably actually end up renting a small house (or casita) instead of an apartment. I regularly listen to Jackie from Panama Relocation Tours (we ran into her a couple times on our trip). She was just saying on her recent Facebook Live episode that 2-bedroom casitas in Boquete are averaging about $750/month – fully furnished, utilities included, and sometimes that includes a weekly gardener… not too shabby, right?

      — Jim

  3. Jim, I can so relate to this post! We had boxes in every. single. room as well and it was sooo overwhelming! We left for vacay too and it was the best thing we could have done, because we came back with minds cleared and renewed energy for getting everything unpacked.

    I’m so excited for your family!!! And our trip to Panama! Haha. Seriously, it’s so cool to see. the result of so much hard work and planning come to fruition. Super stoked for you guys! Enjoy the cruise!

    1. Thanks, Laurie!

      Ugh, the boxes! But you’re so right – coming back does give you a second wind to tackle the problem. Now we just need to find places for all this useless crap! 😉

      — Jim

    1. You are the guns, Jim! Haha, I forgot I even put that in my post! Enjoy it for now, brother – I won’t be at FinCon19, but maybe by FinCon20, I’ll be bringing the guns! 😉

      — Jim

  4. Congrats on your upcoming retirement! I’m sure the next year is going to be surreal for you guys!

    We did something very similar to you guys when we moved to Colombia a few years ago…sold everything exvept for a closet full of stuff at mom’s and two suitcases each! It felt so good to get rid of so much unneccesary crap!

    But actually, upon returning to the States, we realized we still had a lot of crap and ended up getting rid of even more stuff! And this time around, as we moved to Costa Rica, we just brought a backpack and carry-on each. It’s so liberating to move with just the essentials!

    The best travel advice I ever got was this: don’t pack stuff you can get where you’re going. Of course, you guys won’t know the full scope of what you can and can’t get in Panama until you’ve been there a while, but don’t pack things like extra toothbrushes and favorite spatulas. Maybe it’s comon sense to most people, but for some reason I paid to bring a lot of unnecessary crap down. And then left things I needed, like practical shoes, at home.

    I also packed a bunch of clothes that I never wore in the States. I thought that if I had a limited wardrobe, I would finally wear those clothes that I didn’t want to throw away because I had spent money on them and never worn them. Not the case. Just some advice from someone who has been in your shoes!

    Panama is the next place we want to check out, so I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures! Good luck!

    1. It’s definitely going to be difficult to pick and choose what “needs” to go with us when we leave, but I’m going to take your advice to heart for sure.

      Thanks, Ariel! Maybe we’ll see you down there some time!

      — Jim

  5. You’re almost there! That’s great. Nice to hear you got a chance to relax a bit.
    Life is pretty hectic for me right now. I’m preparing for my 5 week trip to Thailand. It’s not going to be a fun trip, but life should be less stressful when I get back.
    I’m looking forward to reading more about homeschooling. We want to try that for a year too. Keep at it!

  6. Great post, just found your site Jim! Looking forward to watching your journey to Panama. You’ve done some great planning so I’m sure it will be spectacular!

  7. Just stumbled upon your blog and have been devouring every post about your adventurous move to Panama. For the past three years my husband and I have been intensely researching retirement in Panama. We are planning a trip down there in early 2020 to scope out a few different areas that interest us. Congratulations on your early retirement and good luck on the move!

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