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I’m excited to announce that Lisa and I recently made the decision not to move back home to the U.S. just yet.
We’ve been taking this year by year since we moved here to Boquete, Panama in the summer of 2019. Over the past couple of months though, it looked like our time here was going to be ending in the fall.
But I’m happy to tell you that we finally came up with a new plan. We’ll have the opportunity to stay here a little longer in this beautiful country before moving back home to the U.S. down the line.
Today, I’m going to tell you what we’ve decided to do, why we’re doing it, and when we’re actually going to move back.
Why this was such a difficult decision?
In early December, I wrote a post title Making Plans for the Future – Stay or Go? discussing our thoughts in depth. Deciding whether to continue living here in Boquete after this fall or moving back home to the U.S is not an easy choice.
In a nutshell, Boquete, Panama is a wonderful place. With temps around 75° F almost every day, beautiful mountain views, vivid flowers and palm trees, and some amazing hiking trails, it’s hard not to enjoy nature here. Add in close to 1,000 species of interesting birds and cool animals like sloths and coatimundis, and you’ve got yourself one fun place!
Additionally, the people here are wonderful – both the Panamanians and expats. Sure, there will always be some rotten eggs wherever you are, but for the most part, it’s great to have such friendly and helpful people in a community.
And of course, the cost of living here ain’t too shabby either! It’s not the cheapest place in the world, but it’s still a lot less expensive than even what we were used to in Ohio. And for what you’re getting, it’s hard to complain. Living in a place like San Diego, California might get you some great weather, but you’d be paying a premium for it for sure!
Wonderful, right? Why would anyone want to move back home to the U.S. with so much greatness going on here?
Well, there are two problems we’ve run into living here:
- It’s tough being so far away from friends and family.
- There aren’t a lot of kids’ activities or kids around Faith’s age in Boquete.
These obviously don’t apply to everyone but they’re both two important considerations when figuring out our plans for the future. When we were discussing our plans a few months ago, we were leaning on moving back home to the U.S. around August of 2021, around the time our lease would expire.
That way we could get Faith back in school in case we decided to go that route. She’s been doing homeschooling for the past couple of years and we’ve been trying to decide if that will continue after this year.
The biggest downside to all of this is that we got kind of shortchanged with the pandemic. We lost a lot of time where we couldn’t go out while here in Panama, to the point where we spent months in lockdown. Even now, we’re still holding back on doing things until we feel comfortable enough to be in close contact with other people.
So that stinks. We’ve had some awesome experiences here before the pandemic and still made the best of times during our time in lockdown. We even had an awesome road trip back in the States. Even so, there were a lot of things we wanted to do here and never got to… such is life.
But then I came up with a thought…
What’s the plan?
I had a random idea while jogging back from the gym a few weeks ago…
Anyway, my thought was – why do our choices have to be so cut and dry? Why are we limiting it to having to either move back home to the U.S. in the fall or stay another full year after that?
Guess what – there are other options! We’re retired and have all the flexibility in the world as long as we ensure that we take care of Faith in our decisions.
So when I got back, I pitched a new idea to Lisa. Here were the highlights of my proposed plan…
- We’re still not residents here in Panama so we’re required to leave the country every 6 months for 30 days. We’re about to make a trip back very soon and then we’ll technically have until September here in Boquete before we’d have to leave again. Instead, let’s go back to the U.S. in July for a month to reset the clock again. That’s helpful because we’ll only have to wait a few months from the time of this trip in February to see family and friends again instead of the usual half a year.
- While we’re in the U.S. in July, we’ll get the COVID vaccine (assuming it’s available to us then). Although we’d be able to get the vaccine here in Panama, I’d rather we get it in the U.S. – that’s a discussion for another post. Then we’d head back to Panama in August.
- Once we’ve been vaccinated, I’ll be a lot more comfortable with us being able to do things again. We’ll still be careful around others, but now we’d be more relaxed to get back on the buses or taxis in Panama. That opens up a lot more fun for us to be able to have here (since we don’t have a car here). Faith can also spend time with friends here without us having the worry we’ve had.
- We’ll start to knock some of the fun things off our list like more beach trips, a trip to Boca Chica, maybe a stay at the Rambala Jungle Lodge in the rainforest of Bocas del Toro, or even a night at a treehouse lodge! Plus, we’ll be comfortable enough to get back to doing group hikes again.
- We could then plan to go back to the U.S. for the holidays. I don’t know if that would be Thanksgiving through Christmas or just include Christmas through New Year’s. Either way, it would be nice to spend time with our families again for the holidays.
- Then we’ll go back to Panama again (thank goodness for all these travel rewards paying for most of the cost of our flights!). This would be our last hurrah in Panama to have some more fun and start to wrap things up.
- In May of 2022, we’d move back home to the U.S. with two suitcases each just like we did when we first moved here in 2019. I’m still not sure of where we’d be going, but I’d imagine it would be back in Northeast Ohio again… family wins out!
After thinking about it for a while, Lisa was on board with the idea. So that’s it, my friends – we’re getting a little bit of the best of both worlds. We’re going to stay in Panama a little longer to be able to enjoy some “post-pandemic” fun here and then we’ll move back home to the U.S. to get Faith back to a “normal” childhood.
So you’re planning to move back home to the U.S. for good in 2022?
I feel good about this plan overall. The opportunity we’ve had to live in another country is something that not a lot of folks get to experience. Being around other cultures is good for all of us, but that’s especially true for Faith. She already knows at this young of an age that there’s more to this planet than just her home country.
Having a little more than another year here should help fill the gap of what I was afraid we were going to miss out on, too. I think I’ll feel that we fulfilled everything I set out for when we first planned to move here.
That said, being around family is important, too. Faith needs more time with her grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Getting her involved in other activities she has an interest in can be healthy as well. Whether that’s back to gymnastics, trying out something new like martial arts, or learning to play an instrument, there are a lot more opportunities in the U.S. than in the smaller town of Boquete.
But the years will pass quickly and Faith will continue to grow up (why does that happen?!).
So who knows what we’ll end up doing down the line? I can’t say that moving back will be forever, but it would likely be until Faith’s at least older and moved out. After that, maybe we’ll move back or be snowbirds in Boquete. Or maybe we’ll end up somewhere else completely. It’s just too early to tell.
In the meantime, we’re going to ensure that we enjoy every minute of our time here in Boquete until we do move back home to the States. And then, we’ll enjoy our time in the U.S. as well. Both places are so completely different but we love our time together and have fun regardless of where we live!
If Panama sounds like a place you’d want to consider moving to, I highly recommend checking out the Complete Panama Relocation Guide. This online resource provides you with access to recommended lawyers, honest real estate companies, a list of English-speaking health care providers, and tons more. Additionally, it’ll answer a lot of the “how-to” questions that might be on your mind like getting mail from the U.S. (including Amazon), buying a car here, and even bringing your pets to Panama. It should be mandatory reading for anyone considering relocating here!
What do you think? Are we crazy for moving back next year, crazy for living here to begin with, or just crazy no matter how you look at it?
Plan well, take action, and live your best life!
Thanks for reading!!