Our Moving Plans Changed Again… and That’s OK

Our Moving Plans Changed Again… and That’s OK

Moving plans are generally immensely stressful. Trying to coordinate everything to fall into place as smoothly as possible can be extremely complex.

Depending on your scenario, it could involve a lot of juggling. Maybe you have to hire a real estate agent to sell your home and coordinate house showings around your work schedule and home life. Make sure to keep your house immaculate while strangers traipse through it without you even being there.

Don’t forget about the pain of going through your old stuff and donating or selling a bunch of things. And of course, there’s the packing itself and hiring a moving company or trying to do it yourself.

Do you have to get a new job or find a new school in the area for the kids? That’s going to take even more time and work to do!

Yeah, although it’s exciting to think about the new changes, moving plans can be a real pain in the @#$.

Fortunately, we’re in a unique position. First off, early retirement provides a lot of freedom. Not having to worry about coordinating anything with any scheduled work hours makes things a heckuva lot easier.

We’ve also been homeschooling our daughter for a couple of years now so we don’t have the concerns of finding a new school for the time being.

And if you throw in the small detail that we already sold almost everything we owned before moving to Panama in 2019, that makes life even easier. We came here with almost everything we owned in just 2 suitcases each! Most places here are fully furnished, too, so we didn’t build up a lot of additional stuff living here either.

Essentially, we have a lot of flexibility in our lives to be able to change our moving plans on the fly without too much hassle. That can be a real benefit in life, to say the least.

Today I’ll tell you about some unexpected moving plans we had to make as well as some plans we’re making just because we can.

Our first change in moving plans… bye, bye Valle Escondido!

We’re currently renting a condo in a fancy pants resort in Boquete, Panama called Valle Escondido. It fits our needs and wants list nicely. It’s a beautiful gated community with two pools, a nice gym, a racquetball court, 24×7 security, a cantina and restaurant, and more. It’s also just a short 1/2 mile walk to town, which allowed us to skip getting a car while living here.

Most importantly, we’re paying $1,130/month to live in a nice fully-furnished 3-bedroom, 2 bath condo overlooking a pond with a fountain and a view of a mountain backdrop. Oh, and that price includes some utilities like water and trash. In other words, it’s in our price range, yet we get to live a more upper-class lifestyle… hard to beat!

Our Moving Plans Changed Again… and That’s OK - Valle Escondido view

We’ve been in this place since September of 2019 – a month after we moved to Boquete. We love it here and we were planning on staying here until we head back to the U.S. next May.

Well, #$%^ happens, right?

I won’t go into all the details but, in a nutshell, our landlord has decided to move into the condo at the beginning of 2022. We had a 1-year lease when we moved in but we’ve just been rolling month-to-month since we’ve been here since so all’s fair there.

That gave us a lot to think about. Do we just call it and move back at the end of December? Do we try to find another place here in Boquete? How will our plans work based on our need to leave the country periodically since we’re perpetual tourists here?

One problem is that December-April is the big tourist season here. Snowbirds love to head this way and wait out the cold weather here similar to how they flock to Florida in the U.S. every year. That means that prices of accommodations jump dramatically during that time frame – supply and demand, my friends!

After some long discussions and brainstorming, we decided on a new plan. We would put the feelers out and look for a place in Boquete to try to stick around as planned if we could find something in our price range.

Fortunately, a friend of ours had several great ideas but one, in particular, proved to be a winner…

Hello, Valle del Rio!

We’re currently living right near the entrance of Valle Escondido. But just outside of Valle Escondido – I mean, we’re talking about less than 500 feet away – is a hotel along with some condos called Valle del Rio.

Our Moving Plans Changed Again… and That’s OK - A rainbow leading to Valle del Rio
Is this fate that I took this photo from our condo in Valle Escondido and the end of the rainbow leads right to Valle del Rio?

While these units can sometimes be a little pricey through Airbnb, our friend suggested going into the hotel and talking to them there. Although some of the units are individually owned, the hotel also owns and/or handles some of them.

So that’s what I did. I went in and talked to the manager and let her know that we were looking for a place from 12/15/21 – 04/15/22 (more on those dates shortly!). She made us a great offer on a unit that was available… $1,200/month for a 3-bedroom, 3-bath fully-furnished condo. And all utilities are included except we’ll have to pay anything over $25/month on electricity.

That’s an incredible deal! That same unit would have run us over $3,000/month if we had booked through its listing on Airbnb!

Funny enough, when figuring in utilities, that’s actually going to cost us less per month than we’re currently paying. And that garnishes us an extra bathroom as well… we can each have our own now! 😉

The unit happened to be unoccupied so we were able to walk through and check it out. It got a thumbs up from all of us so we put down a deposit on it and we’re good to move in on December 15.

The upshot is that we’ll be 500 feet closer to town – that’ll save us at least 2-3 minutes of walking each way. Ok, not that exciting but glass half full, folks – come on! It’ll actually be nice since we already know the area, the walk, the microclimate, etc.

The downside is that we’ll be out of Valle Escondido. That means we’ll lose out on some of the amenities. However, I may join the Valle Escondido gym regardless just because it’s perfect for me. And at just under $65/month for access as a non-resident, I think that’s a reasonable price for something I’ll use 5 days each week.

All in all, although we’ll be leaving our two-year home, I’m excited to try out this new place for a handful of months.

Why those dates and what about moving?

I mentioned that we’ll move into the Valle del Rio condo on December 15. Here’s why that’s cool…

We were already planning on heading back to the U.S. in mid-November. Our daughter, Faith, wanted to celebrate our last Christmas and New Year’s in Panama and we all know she’s the boss. So the plan was to be back in mid-December.

Everything actually fell into place nicely. By letting our landlord know that we’d be out in mid-November (our month-to-month starts on the 18th), we’ll essentially skip a month’s rent (and utilities) before moving into the new condo in mid-December.

How awesome is that?!

That works out very nicely and makes a frugal guy like myself feel like I got a major win.

As far as the moving goes, remember, we don’t have a lot of stuff. So a lot of our things will be in our suitcases already while we travel back to the U.S. in November. And our awesome neighbor in Valle Escondido is allowing us to store our remaining possessions at her place for the month until we get back.

So, when we get back in December, we’ll head right to the new condo for the night and then grab the remainder of our stuff from our neighbor’s place the next day. Easy peasy!

But, Jim, you’re leaving out one thing. You said that your plan wasn’t to return to the U.S. until May of 2022 yet you only have the new condo booked until April 15… what gives?

Wow, I’m always amazed at how astute you are in catching these details in my posts! And you’re absolutely right – we do plan to return to the U.S. in May. But here’s the twist – we’re only going to stay in Boquete until mid-April. After that, we’re going to go make a little stop along the way…

Our second change in moving plans… Mexico, anyone?

Mexico has never been on my radar as a place that I was very interested in for whatever reason. However, that’s started to change a little recently. I don’t know that I’d want to live there for the long haul but I don’t know that I’d have any reason not to either.

I’ve been hearing a number of ex-pats here in Boquete recently talk about Lake Chapala, Mexico. I mentioned it in my post, Designing Our New Life – The Power of Early Retirement. There’s also a really nice thread in the comments about the area in my A Better Life for Half the Price… Sound Appealing? post. Here’s a direct link right to the comment thread.

Anyway, I don’t know a lot about the area and it was just something that I thought maybe we could look into later. Then we could consider traveling there sometime down the line if it seemed appealing. But as we got to talking about our plans, it started to make sense to check it out sooner rather than waiting for years from now.

So we decided to just incorporate it right into our moving plans. We haven’t booked anything yet and I don’t think I want to stay there for a full month without knowing much about the area. However, I’m liking how the idea-generating has been going with me and Lisa on this.

For now, here’s what we’re thinking:

  1. We’ll pack up our suitcases and move out of Valle del Rio on or just before 4/15/22.
  2. We’ll then catch a flight from Panama City airport (PTY) to Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport (GDL) in Guadalajara, Mexico. Google Maps shows the drive from the GDL airport to Chapala is about 34 minutes so that’s hopefully a nice easy drive.
  3. Time to enjoy a week or two at an Airbnb in Chapala!

Here’s where it gets even more fun!

  1. Fly from Guadalajara airport to Cancun International Airport (CUN). That’s right… a stop-off in Cancun!
  2. Stay at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun for a few nights living the life. Hopefully, the spring breakers will be gone by the time we get there!
  3. Fly from Cancun back to Cleveland. Southwest flies between the two locations so that’s another win. We’ve got a ton of Southwest frequent flier miles and the coveted Southwest Companion Pass so that should make it a free flight back for barely any miles used.

And that’s it – the whole enchilada!

Things don’t always work out the way you planned, but with a glass-half-full attitude and a little creativity, it’s not hard to turn lemons into lemonade.

It’s possible we’ll tweak these plans along the way since nothing’s set in stone yet after Valle del Rio. However, I’m more excited about our moving plans now than I ever was. Enjoying every step along the way makes this adventure worth riding!

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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16 thoughts on “Our Moving Plans Changed Again… and That’s OK”

  1. Nice plans. When you come back the States is it for the long term? Or do you have the next plan in motion, like Mexico scoped out?
    Would love to hear more from you about the homeschooling and social aspect for your daughter….

    1. We are moving back to the States for at least a year or so. Beyond that… time will tell. Fortunately, that’s what’s nice about the flexibility we have – we can check things out, explore, and we don’t have to have a long-term plan in place. With Mexico, I really haven’t dug into much with it, but I just thought it would be fun to see what all the hullabaloo is from other folks. No plans for living there, but, I guess you never know! 😉

      Lisa’s written a few posts about Faith’s homeschooling, but her last one was from last June (My Homeschooling Review After One Interesting Year). Since she really runs most of the show on that front, I’ll see if I can convince her to write another one!

  2. Hey Jim, we’re moving to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico with our kids in November and are super excited, we recently went for a week to check it out and find a place to live etc. We’ll check out Lake Chapala whilst we’re there!

    1. That’s awesome, Rachel – I hope you guys love it there! I’ll be curious to hear what you think of both areas while you’re there. Feel free to shoot me an email sometime with an update!

      Best of luck!

  3. I love a good adventure – guess that is one of the top perks of financial freedom! It allows you to go with the flow and look at the positive side of things more easily. Sounds like it all worked out.

    Like FI-Mom, I’d be interested in hearing more about how homeschooling has gone. We have a 5-year-old, and not wanting to disrupt school and the fear of homeschooling (because it sucked homeschooling a preschooler) is making the slow travel/ temporary international living situations less appealing for when my partner joins me in early retirement (or switches to a remote part-time role). Even though both of those things really excite me.

    1. Homeschooling’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. But a preschooler might have been a different ballgame altogether. I would bet it’d be somewhat easier as he/she has gotten a little older though. Maybe worth considering at some point down the line – even if it’s just for a year to try it out.

      But even if you do go that route, you’re absolutely right – kids make the idea of slow travel a lot different. There are a number of things that Lisa and I would love to do or places we could go, but they just don’t work well with a kid-in-tow. The good news is that if you find the right places to go and things to do, you’ll have even more fun as a family than you probably would otherwise! 🙂

      Also, I mentioned to FI-Mom, Lisa’s written a few posts about Faith’s homeschooling, but her last one was from last June (My Homeschooling Review After One Interesting Year). Since she really runs most of the show on that front, I’ll see if I can convince her to write another one!

      1. Thanks! I went back and read that post, and loved the honesty of it. If Lisa’s ever up for it in the future, I think an update on the second year (and if it got any less stressful) would be interesting. I still haven’t closed the door on a year abroad, but Mr. RFL still needs some convincing. 🙂

        Best of luck with your move back to the states!

        1. If you have adventure-like personalities, the first year abroad is definitely the most fun since everything’s new to you and you get to spend time exploring everything in the new world around you. As far as the homeschooling goes, that’s probably going to be a little different for everyone just based on parenting style and the kids themselves. Regardless, I think the homeschooling has been a success here thus far. I’ll put another bug in Lisa’s ear for a 2nd-year wrap-up on things! 🙂

  4. Excellent. México and Panamá are at the top of our prospective retirement locations. I appreciate you doing the advance scouting. Have you thought about checking out San Miguel de Allende as well?

    1. Honestly, I don’t know very much about Mexico at all. This just seemed like a fun trip to check out Lake Chapala (and Cancun) before moving back to the U.S. Since we haven’t done much research and we’re just going off of what we’ve heard from others, we don’t really even have any expectations. Regardless, I’m sure it’ll be fun!

      So getting back to your question about San Miguel de Allende… I don’t know a thing about that city. But I’m now going to save it to my notes to dig into at some point down the line! 🙂

  5. Was just thinking that show days and everyone being work from home must put a real spanner in the works for show days and having agents and people tour around your property while you’re at home the whole day.

    Cool to see you found a new place that looks great.

  6. I’m late to this party, but we just came back from a little over a month in Playa del Carmen. We spent a week at The Fives Resort and loved it, if you’re thinking of doing an all-inclusive in that area. My wife did a girls’ trip at Atelier and said she liked The Fives far better. I did a write up on my blog if you want to take a gander.

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