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Selling everything and just taking off and leaving is a dream a lot of folks have… even if it’s just a fleeting thought.
To actually do it though sounds crazy. Who would do something like that?!
Yeah, we were those people. We got rid of just about everything we owned and headed to Panama in the summer of 2019.
At the time, we were just going through the checklist of moving preparation to make it happen. One of the biggest items on that checklist was to get rid of most of what we owned since almost every place in Panama is fully furnished.
That meant getting rid of our house, cars, and just about everything else that comes to mind.
When all was said and done, we took two suitcases each on our move and left behind a 10’x10′ storage unit that wasn’t even stuffed full.
What we didn’t realize at the time though was just how liberating selling everything we owned would be.
Selling everything… well, almost everything!
When we decided to move to Panama, we resolved that it would make more sense to get rid of most of what we owned and start from scratch.
Some of the reasons were financial. For instance, the housing market was looking good (who would have thought it would keep booming though?!). We also didn’t want to pay big monthly costs for a giant storage unit for so much stuff. Storing everything including our cars just didn’t seem like a smart idea.
Shipping everything to Panama didn’t make a lot of sense either. The cost to ship a container to Panama is very expensive (think $10-20k). Even if we went that route, American furniture doesn’t do well there because of the humidity. And Panamanian cars are different than what they offer in the U.S. so mechanics may struggle to work on them or have a hard time getting replacement parts.
But in general, eliminating all the baggage from our lives and starting over seemed to be in line with the whole idea of moving forward with our new adventure.
So that’s what we did – we sold the house, sold our cars, and sold most of our possessions. Selling everything was a much more time-consuming endeavor than we had thought about, but we got it done over many months. Except for the house and cars, we used OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace to sell the majority of our stuff. There was also a lot of word of mouth through friends and family to make it happen.
What we couldn’t sell, we gave away or donated to charity. Eventually, most of what we owned was gone. It was almost a little eerie in a way at first.
That said, we decided to keep some things in a 10’x10′ storage unit including:
- Memories – old photo albums (though I’m working on scanning all those)
- Tools – these sell for pennies on the dollar but are expensive to buy
- 2 bed frames and headboard/footboard sets
- 2 bikes
- 2 TVs
- A few small bins of clothes (mostly cold-weather clothes for visiting in the winter… brrr!)
- Camping/Road trip equipment (for when we’d visit the U.S.)
The thought was that we’d keep the storage unit for a year to determine if we were going to stay in Panama. If we decided after that time that we were going to make Panama our permanent home, we’d eliminate everything in that storage unit.
If we decided we’d be coming back, however, having some of these items in storage (along with our 2 suitcases each) would give us a little bit of a head start in getting situated again.
A feeling of freedom we weren’t expecting…
Selling everything made sense in our situation and that’s why we did it. Moving to a different country – one in which places are generally fully furnished – helps to justify eliminating most of what you own.
But a repercussion we weren’t expecting was the freedom it gave us.
Logically, it makes sense, but it wasn’t why we did it and we didn’t really consider that benefit at the time.
While in Panama, one of the big perks we gained is in moving while there. Think about it – when you live in a place you furnished yourself, moving is a real pain in the #$%! You almost always need to have a place beforehand to move to or you’ll be moving multiple times with a storage unit or one of those PODS in between. Additionally, if you’re my age, offering friends pizza and beer to move ain’t cuttin’ it anymore… time to bring in a mover!
But when you’re in a fully-furnished place and assuming you’re not buying a ton of junk while there, moving is soooo much easier. You pack up your two suitcases each (or whatever you have) and go. Imagine not feeling stuck in a place simply because you know it would be too much of a headache to move.
That’s an amazingly liberating feeling, my friends!
We’re moving into a new condo next month and I can’t imagine that it’ll take more than one or two trips in a small SUV to move everything. That includes a few ottomans and deck chairs that we’ll be selling before we leave Panama next spring. Crazy, right?
Another benefit of selling everything and getting rid of a lot of your clothes is that when you’re traveling, you have a lot less to choose from. That makes packing a little more streamlined to do!
Of course, when you have less stuff, that means there’s less to clean up. Imagine limiting the number of kids’ toys everywhere simply because there aren’t as many. That means more room to store everything as well.
Things somehow seem a little simpler when you have less junk surrounding you. A small burden that you may not even know you had just seems to melt away.
If Panama’s on your radar as a possible place to retire to, check out Retire in Panama Tours. It’s a first-rate way to see different parts of the country, learn about the pros and the cons of living here, meet other ex-pats living here, and gain a lot of the right resources to make the transition easier (immigration attorneys, for example).
Oscar, Rod, and Megan are great people, too. They have the knowledge to guide you through Panama, answer your questions, and ensure that Panama’s the right place for you. Check out Retire in Panama Tours for more info!
The downside of selling everything you own…
Selling everything has been unexpectedly liberating though we do have a slight problem because of it. We’re moving back to the U.S. next spring and finding a furnished place in the States is a little harder than it is in Panama (especially at the prices we have there!).
Chances are we’re going to end up with an unfurnished apartment when we first move back. That means we’ll largely be starting from scratch on furniture and other “stuff” like kitchen supplies.
But we’ve learned quite a bit over the past several years. First off, we’re not going to build up a ton of junk again – we’ll get what we need but not stuff we’ll rarely use (if ever!). We’re also probably going to look at buying furniture second-hand. There’s a massive premium for new furniture and it resells for next-to-nothing so that’s a no-brainer!
And we already bought a 2012 Honda Pilot for the awesome 40-day road trip we took last year. We love this car and, with us being retired, we’re not anticipating getting a second vehicle.
So yes, selling everything doesn’t come without a few issues, but nothing major. And there’s no way that I’ll get caught up in having a bunch of useless junk anymore.
Owning stuff is like a giant anchor in life – I’ll take the freedom of possessing little and doing a lot any day! The benefits and flexibility work well in our lives.
I hadn’t really thought about this as I don’t know much about the topic, but this philosophy seems to follow some of the ideas behind minimalism. I’ve never considered our family to be minimalists and that wasn’t the intention per se, but maybe there’s some overlap in this newfound freedom.
I don’t expect everyone to eliminate all of their possessions – it’s simply not something that’s going to happen for most folks. But for those of you who do get rid of a lot of the clutter and stuff in your homes, you’re in for a real treat. The freedom you gain from an undertaking like this is such an unanticipated pleasure that it’s hard to go wrong.
Have you ever considered selling everything (or a lot of it!) to reduce the amount of clutter in your life?
Plan well, take action, and live your best life!
Thanks for reading!!