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!!