What Do You Do When Your Pension Won’t Pay For Your Retirement? Start Over From Nothing (And Have The Time Of Your Life)
Edward Coleson worked as a firefighter in Corpus Christie, Texas, for 26 years. Over the past few years, as retirement was drawing near, Edward and his wife Kerry came to a realization that was a bit of a shock:
They wouldn’t be able to retire on Edward’s pension. It’d barely cover their basic expenses…and the home equity and investment accounts they’d figured would supplement the pension were going to amount, it became clear, to much less than they’d been counting on.
To continue enjoying the standard of living they’d been living, one or both of them would have to keep on working.
Edward and Kerry met about eight years ago. Finding “the one” at this later stage of life was a surprise for both of them, a gift that they didn’t take for granted. As they explain it, once they’d found each other, they “went crazy,” doing everything they could think of to embrace their new life together–sky diving, salsa dancing, rock climbing…
When the reality of their retirement prospects in Corpus Christie began to set in, they didn’t hesitate. They took action. They’d only just started their lives together. They weren’t about to let something like a global recession get in the way of the future they had in mind. Rather than moaning and groaning about the challenges facing the retiree in the United States right now, they opted out.
Not out of retirement. But out of Corpus Christie. Out of the United States.
One month ago, Edward and Kerry moved to Capira, Panama, a small town about an hour outside Panama City. This puts them near enough to the big city but also near the beach and, important, in a region where it’s possible to live a full and interesting life on very little.
Edward and Kerry understood the choice they were making. Capira is no expat community. Living here, they knew they’d be forced to learn to speak Spanish, for they’d be living among Panamanians. They’ve settled in an all-Panamanian development, where their rent is US$300 a month for a small house with a garden.
Edward and Kerry are having all their personal stuff shipped to them from Corpus Christi. Until it arrives, they’re making an adventure and having a great time starting over from nothing. They refer to themselves as “babies.”
“We’re having to relearn everything all over again. It’s like we’re seeing the entire world for the first time.”
Shortly after they’d arrived in Panama, Edward lost his passport. They panicked, thinking their visa paperwork would be stuck as a result. But they had a good lawyer and already have managed to obtain their pensionado visas.
As pensioners, they’re eligible for 50% off the cost of hotel rooms during the week. Starting last week, they’re using this discount to stay at a Panama City hotel (for just US$34 a night) Monday through Thursday. Friday, they return to their Capira rental home.
Why come to the city each week? For their Spanish language classes.
That’s how I came to know of Edward and Kerry. They are classmates of my daughter, Kaitlin, who is also focusing on her Spanish study this month. The trio is participating together in a month-long total immersion program, Edward and Kerry to prepare for their new retirement lives in small town Panama.
And recent university graduate Kaitlin to gear up for the launch of her own emerging Panama adventures…