How I Built My New Life Overseas In Just 52 Days


Where Do I Start?

I’ve always hated the question “Where do you want to be in five years?” If you’d asked me that question five years ago my response would have been “Here in Hawaii.”

When we first arrived there we were always asked, “Why did you come to Hawaii?” To which I would always reply, “I came here to die.”

Which would almost always prompt a follow-up question, something like, “I’m sorry, what’s wrong?”

“Oh, nothing is wrong, I just came here to die. Hopefully it will be a long time from now.”

Hawaii was where we went to spend the rest of our lives. Or at least that’s what we thought when we moved there…

Once upon a time, long, long ago… in a far, faraway place called the Hawaiian Islands… there lived a couple named Carolyn and Dusty.

The Big Island had been suffering through several years of drought. It was so bad that it was now classified as severe drought.

It was not a good time to be living in Hawaii. Not even on the best of all the islands: the Big Island. Aloha Airlines had gone out of business and tourism was drying up faster than the water was disappearing.

Needless to say, this was not a fairytale. It was quickly becoming a living nightmare.

Plus, I was unemployed—even after returning to school to complete my master’s degree.

Hotels and local businesses were closing up so fast that finding a job was more difficult than picking the lucky lottery numbers. (And Hawaii doesn’t even have a lottery.)

What we needed was an escape plan. So I started researching… I started to plan our move overseas. We were living “overseas” in Hawaii, but I wanted out of the United States altogether.

Having spent 30+ years in the U.S. Navy, I knew that I could live anywhere in the world. My wife, on the other hand, only knew life as it pertained to living in Southern California.

The question then was how to figure out where she would want to live. Right back to the beginning again… where do we start?

During my research I just happened to receive an email from Kathleen Peddicord, publisher of Live and Invest Overseas. Voilà, we had our answer!

It was an offer to enroll in her new “52 Days To Your New Life Overseas” program. It provided 52 comprehensive daily lessons on how to kick-start our new life overseas. A step-by-step course that was full of personal advice, insight, and specific, actionable recommendations from someone who had actually already done the things we were planning to do.

The course prompted us to ask ourselves all kinds of thought-provoking questions that I knew were going to help bring clarity to our decision. It asked all of the questions that I wanted to ask… but did it without upsetting my wife.

Instead of us arguing, or her feeling that I was talking down to her about the potential issues we’d face overseas, the decision-making process became what it should have been all along—a conversation. Instead of her thinking “Why are you asking me that question,” it became “OK, let’s answer this question together today.”

Things like:

  • How will we decide on a location—what should we consider and what should be compared between potential destinations?
  • What does our retire-overseas nest egg amount to on a monthly basis… and how much will it cost us to live where we want to live?
  • Can we get legal residency where we want to live?
  • What about our new tax liability in our new country of residence?
  • Do we need insurance? Could we possibly go without insurance in our new home? (The answer is yes.)
  • What about our finances—how do we get a bank account, pay our local bills, continue to pay bills back home?
  • Should we take our IRA overseas with us?
  • What should we bring with us—should we ship a container… or start from scratch after relocating?
  • How do we keep in touch with our loved ones from overseas without spending a fortune?
  • Can we get mail in our new home?
  • Would building our own home be feasible? Advisable?
  • Could we work in our new home if we wanted to?

At this point, we had more or less decided we wanted to move, but our big push to actually take the leap came only after attending a conference. In 2012 I heard about Lief Simon’s Offshore Summit.

As a result of attending, we knew that we had to take action now.

For several decades I had played with the stock market. Yep, I was one of those guys that spent all day, every day trying to figure out where the next great money-making stock was.

Hey, it served us well. It’s what helped fund our new life overseas.

But I was growing weary of the market. I knew that things were going to change. Worse, we were worried as to what would happen to us if we stayed in Hawaii—not a state where you can live well on a measly retirement plan. People there work two and three jobs just to make ends meet.

As an investor, I was extremely concerned as to the direction our government was headed. I knew that the U.S. dollar was not going to be the world’s supreme currency forever. Something was going to have to give.

I didn’t know when, I just knew that it was (and is) inevitable.

Armed with all our new knowledge and motivation, we started narrowing down our choices. Prior to attending the conference, we had already ruled out Mexico and Belize.

Panama had risen to the number one spot after Costa Rica abolished their jubilado program.

Now, more than three years later, we’ve been happily relocated to Panama, have built our own house, live well on just our pensions, and have even found a new supplemental career in freelance writing.

That’s where we started… but our story is still unfolding here in our personal paradise.

Come down to meet us and we can share more of our story with you.

Dusty Tubbs
Panama Insider




About Author

Dusty Tubbs

After he’d been in the U.S. Navy for more than 30 years, Dusty decided it was time for a change. Retiring from the Navy, Dusty next became a professor for the Ventura Community College District before going to work with a big box retailer. The downturn in the economy in Hawaii, where he was living at retirement, prompted Dusty and his wife Carolyn to seek new opportunities and new adventures overseas. The couple moved to Chitré, Panama, in 2013, where they are now full-time residents and adventure seekers and Dusty is reinventing his life as a freelance copywriter and photographer.