I’ve been thinking a lot about tomorrow lately and any regrets I would have if that day never arrived.
There was a touchy-feely show on back in the 80’s called Highway to Heaven. I was only a kid back then, but I used to watch it all the time and I loved it.
I’ll wait while you laugh at me.
Yeah, well, it gets worse.
I was pretty excited to see that it showed up on Netflix at some point so now I’ve been watching the series all over again.
Um, yeah, I have problems.
For some reason, I decided to look up Michael Landon and find out some of his background.
If you aren’t familiar with him, he, unfortunately, died of pancreatic cancer at age 54.
One thing that got my attention was an interesting quote he said publicly once he learned more of what was to come:
“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day.
Do it I say! Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.”
For whatever reason, that really struck me. Maybe it’s because reading that quote couldn’t have come at a better time for us.
We’re struggling to decide what we want to do right now – stick around and stay the course or take a chance and move to Panama.
Staying the course
Probably the easier of the two choices would be to just keep going and doing what we’re doing. Our net worth is strong and we’re on track to be able to retire with no changes to our cost of living in just over seven years (while I’m barely still in my 40’s).
To cut that down, we’ve considered downsizing to a smaller house in the same area. In other words, the mortgage is the cost we need to eliminate in order to make our plan work.
Either way, we already know the area including the good and bad about it. On top of that, most of our family and friends are here.
We also have a pretty clear path for our seven-year-old daughter. She could continue in the good public school system she’s in and then, assuming it’s what she wants to do, move onto a good state university.
And if she’s got that entrepreneurial spirit in her, there are so many fantastic opportunities that I now see in front of me that I didn’t when I was younger. One of those opportunities could be to continue down the rental property path that we’ve got going if that interests her.
In other words, once we quit our jobs, we know a lot of what to expect – we can see the road in front of us.
However, just because it might be the easier route, doesn’t mean it’s the only or the best path…
Trying something different
Both Mrs. R2R and I have spent our entire lives in the same area in Ohio. That familiarity I mentioned is nice, but every year when it snows and snows, I just wonder “What the #$%^ am I thinking staying here?”
My brother took a chance and moved to Florida over a decade ago with a girlfriend at the time (now his wife). He was young, not tied down, and didn’t have any kids.
In other words, if you’re going to leave and try something new, that was the time to do it. He’s a smart guy – not as smart as I am, of course 😉 , but still a thinker!
Like I said, I hate the winter. But what do you do? I’m at a different point in life than my brother was. I have a very secure and stable job and a daughter who’s now in school and starting to make some friends.
If there’s ever a time not to get the heck out of dodge, it’s probably now. Yet… we’re still intrigued.
Mrs. R2R and I talk almost every single day about the idea of moving to Panama. We made the trip earlier this year to check it out. It’s a simpler life for sure, but that’s what’s hooked me… that and it would be about half the cost of living for us and 75-degree weather year-round!
Leaving the area is one thing… but leaving the country??! This is crazy to even consider… but we are.
Additionally, although we’d be putting a lot of what we know behind us, that might not be a bad thing in some instances. A perfect example of this is health care. I do love this country, but we really can’t get our heads out of our @#$es to get this straightened out. And I’m not so sure that we can. Companies and lobbyists have gained too much power.
It’s to the point where health care at the top level is no longer about taking care of people – it’s now only about the dollar. And it’s only going to get worse.
That said, health care in Panama is a dream. Many expats don’t even get insurance because the health care is just that cheap even without it… and it’s good. Many of the doctors train in countries like the U.S. or France and the quality personnel that comes out is strong. I’m sure there are still some quacks like here, but if you do your research and get referrals, you’re going to be in a great position.
And, most importantly, we could be financially independent much sooner than later and I’d be able to quit my 9-5 job. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do anything else (i.e. this blog or something part-time), but it would be because of interest and not economic survival.
It’s not all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows though.
There’s a giant disparity between the rich and the poor in Panama and you can see it everywhere. It’s actually pretty tough to see.
And it rains… a lot. Of course, I’ll take rain over snow any day. And the rain is almost on a schedule versus… much better than waking up to go to work and finding out that there’s over a foot of snow in your driveway!
What if we don’t like it?
Then there’s the haunting of all the questions and “what ifs.”
It would be an expensive move down there. What if we make the move and decide to come back? It’s going to be another expensive trip to move back.
What if one of us loves it there and the other doesn’t? Is that going to cause a big rift in our marriage?
Is this a good move for our daughter? Is it selfish on our part or are we giving our daughter an opportunity she might not get otherwise? Would we homeschool her or send her to school there? What if she struggles with either one of those?
If we decided to come back, do we now need to go back to work because the cost of living goes back up? I’m practically throwing up just thinking about that idea.
These “what ifs” go on all day, every day with my wife and I… but are we just trying to talk ourselves out of it?
Anytime there’s change involved, we as humans seem to have a tendency to come up with reasons why the change would be bad. We try to find all the downsides and possible negatives.
I think we do this as a method of deflection to make us feel better about just sticking with what we know. It’s easier for us to focus on the today that we know rather than the scary unknown of tomorrow.
If tomorrow never comes
Here’s the thing – as nervous as we are, I wouldn’t want to look back and wish we had given it a shot. If tomorrow we found out we had some terminal disease and had just a year or two to live, we wouldn’t be asking all these questions.
We’d just do it. We’d go and live like there’s no tomorrow… so why not do that today?
Originally, our plan was to take another trip to Panama in another year or so to really figure out if we want to do this.
Now, however, we’re thinking about just shooting the j and going for it.
Here’s the thought – we’re considering selling our house in the spring. Fingers crossed that the real estate market continues to be strong at that time. Then… we go.
The smart move is to do this now before our daughter is old enough to start making solid friendships at school. At that point, it would be a major struggle to get her to go along with the idea. Right now, she’s all about it.
And, just because we make the move doesn’t mean that it needs to be permanent. If we hate it, we can always come back.
Once there, we would start with renting, somewhere between Boquete and David.
Our plan would be to give it at least a year. I think with everything being new to us, we’d probably feel a little out of place for the first few months. A year should be a good amount of time to become a little more settled and get a solid routine in place.
After that, we make a decision to either buy a house/condo or figure out a new plan to come back to the States. If we decide to stay in Panama, we’d hopefully have a better idea of the best area to buy – possibly the Alto Boquete area. This is an area just outside of Boquete and less than an hour away from the beaches and hotter weather.
The whole idea is scary as hell, but I think we need to start living like there’s no tomorrow. You only get one shot at this life, so I want to make sure that we make the most out of every minute of it.
So that’s where we’re at. It’s quite possible that a year from now, I might be writing my first post on a Panamanian Internet connection! 🙂
Have you ever considered making a huge change because you would regret it if tomorrow never comes?
Thanks for reading!!
23 thoughts on “If Tomorrow Never Comes…”
You made me have a flashback to the 1980’s by mentioning Highway to Heaven. I think we have to enjoy life everyday. I am working on focusing on enjoying some of our money now. We save over 50% of our income. Part of me wants to save 60% or more. I am close to FI, but will work for 11 more years. We are talking about traveling more this year. I need more balance, but that is a good problem to have.
That’s an awesome percentage of income to save, Dave!!
I hear ya on the good problem to have – us savers get so in tune with accumulating money that sometimes we have a hard time doing a little spending to enjoy the moment more.
I say “go for it!” You never know for certain if you like a place until you’ve lived there anyway!
It’s better to try and “fail” than to have never tried at all!
What’s the worst that could happen?
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. 🙂 It would definitely be a big change, but I hope we make it happen at least to try it out.
Any chance for a sabbatical at work or a work remote option to test the water? But I agree with Tako, better to take risks than live with regrets. I’ve never been to panama, but visited Costa Rica many times an love it there. How are schools down there?
I would love to do a sabbatical, but my position is a little unique. There’s no one to really fill my role as a manager, so they would need to train someone to fill it. And if we took all the time to do that, it would probably end up being my replacement.
The public schools are all Spanish-speaking and mostly native Panamanians, but the private schools are supposed to be very good and not too expensive (I’m told around ~$2k/yr?). However, for at least the first year, I would want to explore the idea of homeschooling – it’s something that really intrigues me.
Oh man, now you have me jonesing for Panama. It sounds awesome.
I FIREd at 52 and now I’m 57. The older I get the more I agree with just-go-for-it attitude. Whenever I imagine myself on my death bed, I wonder if I regret more trying something new or not trying something new. Every time I regret the not trying something new more.
I took a leap of faith when I FIREd and I’ve never regretted it. Nobody wishes they had worked longer on their deathbed.
Go for it!
Haha, I’ll see you down there! 😉
“Nobody wishes they had worked longer on their deathbed.” Ain’t that the truth!
I have the same thoughts about wondering what I might regret when I’m old and gray and I do think that this would be one of those things if we don’t give it a shot.
I have to be very honest with you, and I know I will sound like a prick. But life is too short to live in Ohio all your life if you got wanderlust. There is a reason why Ohio is so cheap in places like San Francisco or Honolulu or San Diego or so expensive. The quality of life is so much better .
I’ve been to Ohio, the Midwest, lived on the East Coast for 10 years, and I can honestly say if you can leave your family behind, there’s a great big world out there that you’ll love.
Give it a shot! You won’t regret it.
I live for hearing the honesty and you definitely don’t sound like a prick. I will say that Ohio is beautiful 3 seasons out of the year. The problem is that that stupid cold weather ends up taking up almost half of the year.
As far as family goes, it ain’t like it used to be… we’re now all carrying around pocket-size devices that can bring up a video chat in an instant. It’s not perfect, but it’s still something.
I let Mrs. R2R know that the king of FI is pushing for us to give it a shot. We’ll see if that motivates her as much as it did me. 😉 Thanks, Sam!
I totally hear you on three seasons of year. But how about this, imagine if you could only be awake or happy for 75% of the year? The other 25% you were just hibernating or just miserable. If you move to let’s say Hawaii, you can be happy 100% of the year and extend your life by 40%!
You’re preaching to the choir, Sam! 🙂 I’ve been wanting to get away from the crap weather for years now, but it’s a tougher idea for Mrs. R2R to commit to. Fortunately, the idea of the perfect weather in Panama AND financial independence makes it much more appealing (for both of us).
What I need to figure out now is how to present this to my boss. I’ve read your book and I actually think they’re going to make me a good offer or possibly even offer a piece of the pie to stay. I’m interested to see how it plays out.
OMG! I love this. This is how I feel! Thank you!
I’m in Michigan and I feel your pain. 😉 And I loved Highway to Heaven too.
If your wife is completely on board I say go for it. I would think the experience and lessons your daughter will have there will be invaluable. I’m optimistic by nature and anything big I’ve done I’ve not regretted. I know I would have regretted not trying or doing them though. Everything always has a way of working out.
Well said, Amy! And I like that I’m not the only one who liked Highway to Heaven! 🙂
Awesome article! Recent retired educator of 30 years and 52 years old. You definitely impire me me to take action! Since you have visited Panama – can you give insight on what you are planning your monthly expenses will be not factoring in education. Wondering if my pension would be enough to be comfortable.
Thanks again and keep on keeping on!
Hi Kelly – glad you liked it! The cost of living in Panama is definitely something that will vary depending on your needs or tastes. For us, we’re not very extravagant or big spenders and I would anticipate that our costs would run around $25-30k a year. But that can get thrown off depending on real estate where you can find some very basic housing or something at the complete opposite extreme.
If you’re interested, I would strongly suggest paying a visit. Best case, you find a great place to retire. Worst case, you have a wonderful vacation in a beautiful country.
Hope that helps!
Maybe have a look at a book on living in Panama by Richard Detrich. Good information and insight on the realities.
I actually follow his blog, but I’ll definitely have to check out his book – thanks for the info!!
I love this so much. All the scary questions. Those all go through my mind as well, but I really want to experience life elsewhere. Our story is very similar to yours. We have never moved far from family and we now have a family of our own to consider.
I didn’t realize that the healthcare would be cheap enough to plan to pay out of pocket – that’s awesome! So excited for your family.
I’ve wanted to move for a long time, but never felt comfortable pulling the trigger, scared of the unknown. But with road tripping, and then spending two weeks in Hawaii, I’m ready to have a bigger leap. Maybe not a permanent move, but an extended stay in another country! We are looking into opportunities in Panama!!!
That’s exciting, Jaime! Now I’m excited to hear where you guys are going to choose for your next adventure! 😉
Healthcare is a huge reason that makes this worthwhile for us. It’s weird to think that it can be so much cheaper elsewhere and still be very good, but we seem to be the ones out of touch here in the U.S. In a weird way, I’m actually looking forward to going to the doctor when we’re down there just so I can experience how this whole system works there – I’m a little off like that!
If you decide on going somewhere else or you’re undecided by the time we get down there in a couple years, we’d love to have you and Chris visit at some point.
Thank you Sonya and thanks for stopping by!