I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted on the blog. It's not because there has been nothing to report. On the contrary, there has been SO much going on that I haven't had (or taken) the time to get it all written down. The longer it went, the more behind I got. With the start of a new year, I decided it's time to get caught up. Over the next few posts, I'll bring you up to speed on the highlights from the past year and a half or so. Things have changed dramatically in our situation, as you'll see...
Let's begin where I left off: in May 2015...
May was our 5th month in Panama. By then, we had decided that Panama was the right choice for our retirement destination. We had put together a plan:
- Stay in Panama until the end of 2015.
- Go back to Maui in January (2016) to get the house ready to sell.
- Sell the house, personal property, and the car.
- Move back to Boquete, Panama
As the saying goes, the best laid plans...
One of the condos in the complex where we had been living came up for sale. When we left Maui, we had both said we didn't want to buy any foreign real estate - just rent. However, we started to consider purchasing the neighbors' condo. It was an upstairs unit, which we would want, along with a larger floor plan, fabulous view and a number of upgrades. It was in the building next door - directly across from our rental condo. We also started thinking we might want to go ahead and put our Maui house on the market, rather than waiting until the beginning of 2016.
Our plan got revised. We looked at the condo for sale and began discussing possible options with the owners. We also decided to start the ball rolling on selling our Hawaii home. Tina left near the end of June to fly back to Maui for a month, in order to get the house ready to put on the market and sell our personal property and car.
Tina was in Maui, working her tail off, almost this whole month. She was selling just about everything in the house, along with fixing up the interior and exterior to get it ready to "show". Our friends were still renting the house and had the garage packed out with their own furniture and furnishings. When Tina sold our couch, for instance, our friends replaced it with their own couch from the garage. Tina was the Queen of Craigslist - often meeting with several potential buyers a day (and dealing with the "flakes" as well). She signed on a friend of ours, who is a long-time Maui realtor, to handle the listing.
We had purchased a "new" car (2012 model) only about 4 months before we left Maui on our unexpected Central American adventure. Tina was now trying to sell that car, since it was not practical to try to ship it to Panama. She hadn't had many potential buyers for the car but ended up finding a buyer just before she left. She got the check from the buyer literally in the morning of the day she left Maui. Crazy!
To appreciate how much effort this took, think about trying to sell or clear out EVERYTHING you own from your house, fix up the house inside and out, and sell your car in just a few weeks (while you aren't even living in your house). This trip to Maui was not a vacation. In fact, she never once made it to the beach. When I encouraged her to take a break and hit the beach, she told me she hadn't even packed a swimsuit. That's focused!
Some people had asked why I didn't go with Tina. I had offered but Tina said she was fine with handling things on Maui. If you know Tina, you know when she is focused on a goal, she can be incredibly efficient and productive. I would likely have slowed her down. Back in Panama, I was in the process of negotiating the purchase of the condo, which ended up having a few challenges along the way. Buying a property in Panama is a much different process than in the U.S. For starters, as a foreigner you can forget about getting a mortgage. This would be a cash deal. Most of the process is handled by lawyers, not realtors.
Tina returned to Panama at the end of the month, very tired, but with the Maui house ready to go on the market.