Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and we may receive a referral fee (at no extra cost to you) if you sign up or purchase products or services mentioned.
When we first sought out our new adventure, we thought we could basically just pack up and go. I mean, you just sell everything and move to Panama, right?
Ha! Wishful thinking! There’s a tremendous amount of planning involved to make this a smooth transition.
I’ve talked about some of the minutiae we’ve encountered in our planning, but now it’s time for more scoop.
And considering we’re about to embark on a huge adventure, I thought it would make sense to try to update everyone a little more frequently on how things are coming along.
Sometimes I get caught up in trying to stick solely to money topics that I forget our readers also want to know what’s actually going on in our lives.
That’s likely even truer right now due to the bold moves we’re making in life right now. Between having just reached FIRE and our plans to sell off everything and move to Panama, there’s a lot more than the everyday stuff going on.
You’re probably all hoping that we fail miserably so you can tell your friends, “See, I knew this FIRE stuff was garbage! And moving to Panama? I shook my head in disgust as soon as he told us about that!”
Ok, hopefully, that’s not the case, but no worries here. I’m pretty easy-going so if it fails miserably, I’ll be sure to make the announcement here so you can give me the old, “I told you so!”
Just kidding – everyone’s been super supportive thus far and that’s truly appreciated. We’re actually starting to get really anxious for July to roll around. You know how when you plan out a vacation a year in advance and it seems like it’s never gonna get here… yeah, that’s our feeling right now.
It’s all gotta go!
The biggest chore we have right now is selling all our stuff. And I’m learning quite a bit in the process.
What I’ve now grasped though is that my strategy might not have been the smartest.
We’re going to keep a small 10’x10′ storage unit for a year until we decide if we’re staying in Panama for the long haul. If we’re going to stay there, we’ll sell off the remainder of our stuff after that year is up. If not, at least we’ll have some things in storage (like tools) for our next adventure here in the U.S.
10’x10′ is really not that big and that’s where I screwed up a little. My thought was that we should focus on selling the big stuff first.
A dresser can be sold in one shot, but a small box of collectibles takes a lot of time to go through and sell off. In the worst case scenario, we can always toss that collectibles box in the storage unit, but a dresser, on the other hand, occupies a ton of space.
Logical so far, right?
So I decided to start putting things up on OfferUp. If you haven’t used this before, it’s kind of like Craigslist, but probably a little easier to work with. The app is excellent and allows for easy messaging between parties.
It also seems to be a little better on the safety aspect in that they work with local businesses to provide Community MeetUp spots in well-lit areas with security cameras.
Anyway, it’s a snap to use the app and put things up for sale. I added most of our big bulky stuff like furniture on sale to get the ball rolling… and that was my mistake.
I’m newer to selling stuff this way and anticipated some good lead time. After all, we weren’t leaving for a few months so no hurry, right?
Yeah, not so much. All this stuff has been selling like hotcakes!
That’s a good thing overall, but it means we had to empty all our dressers, bookshelves, desk, etc. as the stuff would disappear. I’m a pretty organized person (ok, extremely organized), so this is making me antsy. We have stuff everywhere…
Not the end of the world, but it might not have been the smartest way to do this. However, it’s really pushed us to start selling and eliminating even more junk.
Time to say goodbye to the 2009 Malibu
I learned over time that it’s stupid for us to buy new cars. To us, a car just gets you from point A to B, so why put ourselves in a position of wasting money on car payments?
That’s a tremendous amount of money that could be saved over the years. Since that realization, we’ve been driving our same cars for years now. I have my 2009 Chevy Malibu and my wife has a 2011 Ford Escape.
They’ve served us well over the years, but they’re not coming with us to Panama. So, we have to sell my Malibu before we leave the apartment. When we pack up and go, we’ll take Mrs. R2R’s SUV for our crazy July adventure. Then we’ll sell it in Texas before we fly out to Panama in August.
This should be interesting because after my car is gone, we’ll be a one-car family. I don’t anticipate too many times where this will be an issue since I’m no longer working. However, I have a feeling that Uber and I will be spending a little time together until we leave at the end of June.
I’m Ok with that though. I’d rather put it up for sale now and take our time in selling it at the right price than risk pushing our time of leaving and possibly being stuck with it. I’ll also get to drop the insurance after it sells so that extra month should save us a whopping $48.67.
So here’s what I did. I decided to take the Malibu to CarMax. I’ve heard some good things about that service and wanted to get a quote on what I could get for the car. This would give me a better idea of where I stood. They make you a no-obligation offer that’s valid for 7 days and it saves the aggravation of selling it on your own.
Believe it or not, I have less than 80,000 miles on it so that should keep the value from being too horrible. Kelley Blue Book suggests a trade-in price of $3,615, but those tend to be pretty high from what I’ve seen (reminds me of Zillow!).
Funny enough, though, I was at my cousin’s house and was telling him and his girlfriend our CarMax plan. Before I knew it, they were discussing her car lease ending in May and how they want a used car… and my car might be great for what they need.
I told them I still wanted to take it to CarMax first just to get an idea of what they were offering and in case they would throw an overpriced offer my way.
My expectations were low, but I was hoping for something above $2,500. Well, they offered me $3,000. That works for me!
I let my cousin know and he said, “We’ll match that.” Fair enough – I’d rather sell to them anyway. And his girlfriend’s a notary so that’ll make the transfer even easier.
So probably later this week, bye-bye, Malibu! You’ll be missed!
The July adventure – the ACTUAL start of our pack up and go…
I talked about our change in plans a couple of months ago. Since our lease at the apartment is now up and we’re now going month-to-month, we decided to end our lease a month earlier because… well, why not?!
So we finally got our entire adventure mapped out. We’ll be floating around Ohio for most of July before making our way to South Carolina and then Texas. Here are some of the places we’ve got lined up:
- A week or two at Kelleys Island
- A day at Cedar Point
- A couple of days at Great Wolf Lodge
- 3 or 4 days of camping
- A couple of days in Columbus for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
- Possibly a night to stay with some family in southern Ohio we don’t see that often
- A week in Cross Hill, South Carolina (vacation with family)
- Lunch in Atlanta with an old friend
- A few weeks at our new home in Leander, Texas with my brother and sister-in-law
Along the way, we’ll be vagabonds and stay at different places and hotels as we go. Even with all the places we’ll be visiting and the cost of the various hotels, we should still come out to be at almost the same cost of where we would have been if we just stayed in our apartment!
The latest scoop on solving some other problems
Communication will hopefully be a little easier for friends and family once we move with a change I made. If you read my recent post, Using Google Voice to Stay in Touch While Living Abroad, you’ll see how we were able to leverage Google Voice to simplify things dramatically.
We’ll count that as a definite win!
Virtual mail for our physical address
Another interesting puzzle we had to figure out was how to handle our physical mail here in the U.S. That becomes extremely important as we establish residency in Texas before leaving for Panama.
We’re moving in with my brother and sister-in-law come August, but I don’t want them to be stuck with our mail once we leave. My goal is to try to be as invisible to them as possible so we don’t drive anyone nuts. And a PO box wouldn’t work well because we’ll be in Panama and won’t be able to pick up our mail.
So I dug into a bunch of different online virtual mailboxes. The whole idea is that a business (maybe a UPS store) issues you a suite number based off of their address. That becomes your new mailing address.
When mail comes to them addressed to you at that address (the key being the suite number), they then scan the envelope and let you know via email, text, or their app. You can then choose what to do with the mail – trash it, shred it, open and scan it, or forward it to a different physical address.
I compared a number of them and spent way too long reviewing all the details like I always do. They all have their pros and cons and you’ll find folks who love or hate one over the other. However, for our needs, I decided to go with Anytime Mailbox.
One of the offerings that separated them from the others was that you can swing by and pick up a piece of mail if needed. The location I chose is about 10-15 minutes from my brother’s house, so that could come in handy. A good example would be when we receive a replacement credit card for one that expires.
They all have limits and they nickel and dime you on things, but it should suffice for our purposes. I’ve already moved some things over and I love that I can check my mail from anywhere.
I have some financial documents already going there because we’ll need those to be in place when we get to Texas. I have my brother’s house as the physical address and the virtual mailbox as the mailing address. That way, when we get there, I can print off statements to use as proof of residence when getting our TX driver’s licenses.
Although Boquete, Panama is a pretty big expat community, English speakers are still the minority there. My understanding is that the population is about 30,000 and 4,000 are expats.
When we go to the grocery store, a restaurant, or anywhere else, folks working there will almost always speak Spanish. Although we can get by with a few Spanish words and the help of Google Translate on our phones, it will be tremendously easier to know how to speak the language.
I took a couple of years of Spanish in high school, but as I learned when we visited Panama in 2017, there are definitely some cobwebs around those memories. And Mrs. R2R and Faith are brand new to the language.
So we’ve been spending some time trying to get a little better with our Spanish skills.
Right now, we’re using apps on our phones to learn and our daughter, Faith, is using them on her Kindle Fire. We’re all using Drops, Mrs. R2R and I using Duolingo, and then I’m also using Memrise.
We’re not aiming to become fluent, but we want to be able to effectively communicate without too much of a struggle there. “Otra cerveza por favor” will only take us so far… or is that good enough?!
Time for the travel rewards to pack up and go, too!
A little less than a year and a half ago, I started us down the path of credit card travel rewards. I first realized just how much money we were leaving on the table by not taking advantage of this opportunity after listening to a ChooseFI podcast.
I dug into things further from there and we began our journey to build up our travel rewards.
Over that small time frame, we’ve built up:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: 232,490 points (these are hugely valuable!)
- United miles: 97,465
- Southwest points: 100,122
- American miles: 66,376
Additionally, that garnered us a couple of cards to reimburse us for the Global Entry passes for Mrs. R2R and I. That includes TSA Pre✓, but it covers international travel and customs expedition as well! We still had to pay for Faith’s, but two out of three ain’t bad… that saved us another $200.
Another benefit was that we received a handful of passes to allow us a couple of stays at the United Club – perfect for the long layovers in Panama City for flights to and from David, Panama!
I had signed up for the Southwest Plus card when they ran a promotion to be able to get the Companion Pass through the end of this year. That means we basically get a buy-one-get-one on any tickets we buy. That’s exciting as we travel back and forth between Texas and Ohio when we come back to visit.
However, Mrs. R2R recently signed up for the Southwest Plus card through my referral link. That will give me another 10,000 miles which will give us a total of just over 110,000 total points. That’s an important number because that will ensure we have that awesome Companion Pass through the end of next year, too.
Once we get that, we’ll be done for now. We want to a break so we can focus on the big move instead of maximizing rewards. But once we get settled, we’ll more than likely begin again.
We haven’t changed our spending habits at all and this small amount of effort has given us thousands upon thousands of dollars in value in return… extraordinary!
You can find the cards we used and recommend here. Any cards you sign up for from the links there won’t cost you anything, but it will help keep this blog up and running.
Moving the businesses
Ugh – this has been on my mind for a while. I currently have three small LLCs and I’m trying to figure out how to handle them…
- Do I leave them here in Ohio? Does that mean I need to register them in Texas as a foreign LLCs there?
- What about the rental property LLC where all business is done in Ohio (that’s the only property we have)? Do I have to do anything with that one?
- Would it be better to convert the LLCs to Texas entities? More costly, but simplified in the end?
I could go on and on, but the gist is that I’m not qualified to answer all these questions. It would be nice to move them as a sign to the state of Ohio to say, “Yes, I’m actually moving my state of domicile to Texas and not just trying to avoid taxes.”
I’m currently talking to a couple of business attorneys to try to figure this out, but I’d imagine that in the end, it’s not going to be cheap.
If that’s an area of expertise for you, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In between all this fun, some things have stayed pretty consistent. Mrs. R2R and I are still working out on a consistent basis. I’m also obviously still working on the Route to Retire site. New site design still to come!
And Mrs. R2R is feeling pretty confident about what she’s come up with for homeschooling our daughter. She’s currently working on writing a post to tell you more about that in the near future.
So, pack up and go? Yeah, right. But at least we’re getting closer to making this happen. The anticipation is growing daily!
Thanks for reading!!
26 thoughts on “We Thought We Could Just Pack Up and Go…”
Hey Jim, so much planning and so much excitement!
On the rental property…..we JUST went through this 🙂 We live in Colorado, have one rental property in Nevada and one South Carolina. Then I run an S-Corp here in CO. We ended up with an LLC in NV, and an LLC in SC. (We could have set up a 3rd LLC in CO, but it’d just be a shell company to hold the other 2) According to the 3 lawyers we used (one in each state), the LLC that held the property had to be in the state where the property was located – and then you *could* have the shell in the state you lived if you wanted. Instead of that 3rd LLC, we dumped the 2 LLCs into our Trusts. (and then we hired a new CPA here in CO, and she said she could have set up these 2 LLCs for much cheaper than the lawyers…..so there’s that tidbit too 🙂
Thanks, JP – that’s definitely helpful!
Jim, I can’t imagine going through all of that. It was hard enough when we “simply” moved from our Atlanta home to our retirement cabin in the Appalachian mountains! At least you’re retired now, just think if you were trying to do all of this while you still had that J.O.B. It sounds like you’re making good progress, interesting to watch the developments. Sorry we’ll miss you when you’re down this way, we’re departing on The Great American Road Trip on May 13th! Less than 2 weeks away! Woot Woot!
Ugh, that would have been a pain doing your move with that J.O.B. in the way at the time. Have fun on the road trip!!
Slow progress is still progress Jim! You guys seem to be moving forward in every post… this plan is gonna happen!
Speaking of which — Are we still meeting up in Austin, TX this summer? I’m really looking forward to it! Funny enough, we’ll be staying really close to Leander! 🙂
I have a note in my calendar to hit you up as we closer to our time out there so we can figure out a day to meet-up. I’m looking forward to it and that’s awesome that we’ll be in the same area, too!
I’ll echo Fritz’s comment, I can’t imagine all the little things you have to think about and deal with. Like the LLC for instance, something I would have never thought of, but what do you do? It’s an epic task you have, and I am perfectly content reading your blog and living vicariously through you 🙂
Haha, live vicariously all you want for now, Dave. But once we get settled and start posting about how great it is, you’re going to have to do all those same things I’m doing when you move down and join us! 😉
Nice job with the Malibu. It’s a win-win.
I think it’s really cool that you’ll live a nomadic lifestyle for a little bit. It’ll give you a taste. You can see if you like it or not. I would love to do that for a while, but Mrs. RB40 doesn’t like it. I might have to do it alone. 🙁
I’d like to read more about the LLC at some point. Seems like it’s easiest to just leave it where it is. Or maybe move to Nevada or somewhere more tax friendly.
I have a call with another attorney next week about the LLCs. Once I’m done with that and figure out a firm game plan, maybe I can write a post about what I’ve learned.
I’ve moved my S-Corp across state lines before and will probably do it again later this year. Yes, it can be a headache… Good accountants help keep all the paperwork straight. Best of luck to you with that part.
Looking forward to your wife’s homeschooling post. Which grade will your daughter be starting?
Thanks, FE – I do have a good accountant so that’s a definite plus!
Our daughter will be in the 3rd grade this fall. She’s a good, smart kid and I think she’ll actually do very well with the homeschooling, but time will tell! 🙂
Thanks for sharing updates with us! I most likely will never move to Panama, but I am learning so much from your posts.
Thanks, Tre – I’m learning a ton as we go, too! 😛
The LLC holding Ohio rental real estate will still be taxable to Ohio (which may mean you will have to file an Ohio (non resident if you get your residence changed to Texas) return). Though the rental might qualify for the Ohio Business Income deduction to eliminate any tax being due to Ohio. Changing to an out of state LLC for the property may make it more difficult (complex) to sell or finance the property without adding much if any benefit.
That’s some valuable information – thanks so much, Jeff! I’m talking to another attorney next week and I’ll make sure to bring this up.
Congrats Jim. This is really starting to get exciting now. I had a thought on selling your Ford Escape. There is a large used car super store in Houston called Texas Direct Auto. I sold a 2009 Ford Escape to them a couple of years ago. They were a couple of hundred dollars higher than Carmax. It might be worth giving them a try. It worked well for me.
I will absolutely did into that – thanks for the thought!
Perfect planning with all points properly laid out, thought well ahead of move. Good luck with your new location
Haha, definitely not perfect, but I do want to share everything we’re learning along the way. Hopefully, that can help someone else out looking to do something similar. 🙂
But my simple question is that if you relocate to locations like columbia south carolina, somewhere in tenessee like chattanooga tn closer to atlanta ga it would be safe continuity of current education system as well as you can peacefully live for $30k per year. What makes you move outside of USA?
Very true that we can find a place that could be somewhat inexpensive here. In fact, if we decide to move back to the States, we’ll probably end up in Tennessee. Initially, our plan was to move to Panama as a geoarbitrage strategy for me to be able to quit my job sooner. However, we’ve saved enough that we can live comfortably here in the US regardless. But we still want the adventure and the cultural experience and that’s why we’re doing this. Additionally, it’ll make our dollar stretch even further while we’re there. I like to say that I’d rather go there and move back because we hate it than to be older and wonder “what if.”
That is an adventerous thought. good luck dude
Much appreciated – love it or hate it, at least it’ll be a great adventure. If it doesn’t work out, at least we gave it a shot and won’t wonder “what if” down the line about it.
I’m dying to hear about your experience in Boquete. We traveled there in October 2018. (You and I exchanged some messages about housing costs awhile back.) Safe travels until then!
Thanks, Lindsey – I’m dying to get there! The anticipation for this has been stronger than we’ve ever had for anything before. But for as much work as it’s taking us to prepare, I guess that makes sense! 🙂
I’ll be sure to post a lot about the good, bad, and ugly when we get there.