- Location: Panama
- Age: 66
- Retired At: 62
- Marital Status: Single
- Profession: Retirement Lifestyle Coach
After working more than 40 years in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors as a paralegal, a management consultant, and a housing developer/owner/manager of more than 200 affordable housing units, Joyce decided to take an early retirement. Well, semi-retirement. She is a retirement lifestyle coach helping others with their retirement goals, specifically to live overseas. It’s perfect since she has lived in several U.S. cities and abroad. She’s never been married and doesn’t have children, so the lifestyle of living abroad felt right for her. We talked to Joyce about her retirement.
Retirement Awaits: What does a day in retirement look like for you?
Joyce: It begins with a purposeful but leisurely start to the day where I review and prioritize the day’s “to-do list,” which includes planning my menu or some meal prep for the day’s home-cooked meal. Then, it’s generally followed by my online work activities in short 1- to 2-hour intervals throughout the day. This is if I do not have scheduled shopping or sightseeing trips.
Your Retirement Plan
Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?
Joyce: In hindsight, I wish I had, but I really did not. I had always told myself that I would never “retire” and that I would keep working, doing something as long as I was physically able. But when circumstances began to present in my situation and I saw the handwriting on the wall, so to speak, I started making the moves necessary to achieve my goal to retire outside the United States.
Since it was just myself to worry about, I was able to apply my logistic skills to make it happen as soon as possible. From my decision to definitely move abroad permanently, to actually landing in my new adopted country, it took all of 3 months. I had previously downsized, sold my home, and many of my furnishings when I relocated from South Georgia to Orange County, California, 6 months earlier.
Best Part About Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best part about retirement?
Joyce: Not having the rigid structure associated with the American working-class culture. Not having to commute long hours. Having the freedom and peace to do what you want, when you want, and not feel guilty that you are not “working.”
Challenges In Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in retirement?
Joyce: For me, it was adjusting to slowing down my pace and expectations and simply embracing new experiences with gusto and childlike enthusiasm. Now that I am settled into my semi-retired lifestyle, I find my biggest challenge is learning the local language, which in this case is Spanish. I am a slow work-in-progress for sure.
Cost Of Retirement
Retirement Awaits: We want people to understand how much retirement really costs. How do you manage your money now? Do you have a budget, meet with your advisor on a regular basis, etc?
Joyce: I handle my finances pretty simply actually. I have never consulted a financial advisor but I do budget. Living here in Chiriqui, some 7 hours from Panama City, I find that I can live comfortably on much less than what you may believe. I have a budget of less than $1,000 per month which covers all my living expenses.
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone about to retire?
Joyce: Spend time deciding what type of retirement lifestyle you want to have. This may seem to be a basic requirement, but it is an important one. Knowing how and where you want to spend your golden years is the first step toward creating the retirement you want.
Things I Wish I Would Have Known
Retirement Awaits: What are a few things you wish someone would have told you about retirement/this season of life/transition?
Joyce: I wish I would have been told that retirement, especially early retirement, may cause you to fade out of the loop with your family and friends, especially if you move overseas, so be prepared for that.
I wish I would have known that making friends at this stage would be challenging because you are no longer interested in a lot of the things required to have an active social circle.
Exhibiting patience, being patient, and trusting your inner guidance to lead you will serve you well as you navigate the best retirement lifestyle that suits you.
While it may not take a lot of money to retire, it does take a lot of grit and self-confidence to retire overseas.
Retirement is not the end of your former life, but a fresh new beginning.
Best Retirement Vacation
Retirement Awaits: What is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?
Joyce: I really can’t say I have a favorite yet, although there is one place I have gone back to and enjoyed both times. The thing about living here in Panama is there are a lot of great vacation spots, so I am still on the lookout for my all-time favorite. Belize is another vacation spot I have also enjoyed and considered a retirement destination as well.
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