Listening to NPR on a Saturday morning and the chat is about 401k’s, “your number”, investment advisors, etc….and then there’s this modern family story in my inbox:
“The Roussel children are no strangers to adventure. Perhaps that’s because Jonah, 11, and Elijah, 18 months, have traveled rather more than your average Canadian youths.
Mom and Dad—Susan, 37, and Denis, 35—are self-confessed globetrotters. It helps that Denis is able to work from anywhere; he’s in marketing and online advertising. And Susan is a certified teacher who loves to teach and travel—a combo that works well, as teaching young kids (in English) is a job that’s easy to find nearly anywhere in the world.
Last year, they decided to do more than simply take a vacation. ”We just decided that we were going to make a move somewhere other than Canada,” says Susan. “We wanted to get away and experience a tropical hot climate for a year.”
The Roussels visited Costa Rica but didn’t find an area that “spoke” to them and their needs. When a family member insisted they check out Panama, Susan balked: “Isn’t Panama dangerous?We had no idea,” she laughs. “We had heard a lot about Costa Rica but it seemed no one talked as much about Panama.”
It seems Panama was meant to be. On the plane back home from Costa Rica, they found an article in the glossy airline magazine. They pored over color photos and read about Panama’s modern infrastructure and excellent residency programs. Though Panama was unknown to them, it seemed incredibly safe and stable.
Denis and Susan started to read about Panama in earnest in the pages of International Living. The Pacific coast beach communities near Panama City sounded ideal, especially the beach town of Gorgona. Adjacent to the growing town center of Coronado, Gorgona is convenient and very affordable.
“We’ve been in Gorgona for about four months,” says Denis. “We are planning on staying until June.” After that, the Roussels plan to go back to Alberta and decide whether to move to Panama permanently.
Even with the tuition fee for a private school… and $1,200 a month in rent for an ocean-view condo that is literally on the beach (the Roussels can step into the sand from the building’s pool area)…the Roussels are saving a lot of money. Their cost of living, says Denis, is about half what it was back home.
Jonah has taken time to adjust. But, says Susan, he is now starting to really enjoy it. “He’s so active here, he has lost weight and met other kids…half the time we look up to find him gone to visit some friend in the building.”
Susan says the locals in Gorgona have been very friendly and welcoming, attempting to teach her Spanish a little at a time. “We’ve also been able to spend more time as a family together,” she says. “We can have fun and not worry it’s costing a fortune.”
In addition, the excellent health care gives them peace of mind, as Jonah has a neuromuscular condition that could require medical attention at any time. “But most of all, we’re happy,” says Susan, smiling at baby Elijah as he attempts to climb everything in sight. “That’s all that counts.”
Crazy? Out of the box thinking? Just not normal? Yes, please.
We’ll never retire. We’ll just keep on living here and eventually way over there too. Love this plan.