I’ve been composing this post in my head for a few days, and since a couple of commenters are asking for Part 2, I guess I’d better go ahead and actually write it! Part 1 was related to the beginnings of my career, and this series of synchronistic events relates to my retirement – kind of tidy “bookends”, don’t you think?
When I first thought about retiring, I knew the only way I could afford to do it was to find someplace where the cost of living was lower, and that would most likely be somewhere other than the United States. I started researching, and the first country I considered was Uruguay – it was said that living there was like living in the US in the 1950s. That sounded attractive (and the Italian-inspired architecture there is amazing), but the more I read, the less I was impressed. And besides, it was so far away that I’d likely never have friends come to visit.
Continuing my research, I discovered Panama – many more plusses here! Same electrical system, same currency, no hurricanes, no tornadoes, no ice and snow, mountains or beaches within a couple hours from anywhere in the country – and they have a lot of benefits for retirees. That ticked pretty much all of the boxes. I came across Panama Relocation Tours, which promised lots of information and no sales pitches – just what I needed! So I signed up and came to Panama on the tour in February 2018. I was not disappointed – best money I ever spent!
As soon as I returned from the tour, I started preparing the paperwork required. One of the items on the list was an FBI report requiring submission of my fingerprints. I decided to go to Dallas to have them prepared digitally, since that was supposed to have better results than the standard ink-on-paper type. That done, I was on my way back to OKC, when I was involved in a five-car pile-up on the highway just outside the Dallas metro. This happened about three months before I was scheduled to move to Panama.
I was hit twice by the Suburban that was behind me. The first time was on the back corner, which spun me 90° and caused me to hit the car in front of me broadside. The Suburban was still in motion and hit me a second time on the driver’s side, spinning me around another 90°. Both of my side-impact airbags deployed, and I felt like a bobblehead toy, getting bounced around.
Remarkably, none of us involved in the crash went to the hospital, including the guy who caused the wreck. The son of the people in the Suburban took me to their house while we figured out how I could get home. They ended up taking me to the airport, since I was much too shaken up to drive to OKC in a rental car. Nice people!
My insurance company (unsurprisingly) totaled my car. Fortunately, I had a friend who had a car he wasn’t using, so I drove it for the remainder of the time before moving to Panama.
I’m detailing this car wreck, because most of the synchronistic events center around it (although there are others). Here’s the list:
- I found Panama Relocation Tours, which gave me the exact information I needed to follow to acquire residency in Panama in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible
- Since my car was totaled, I didn’t have to make a car payment or pay car insurance for three months
- My friend had a car I could drive during that time, so I didn’t have to rent a car (saving me a lot of money)
- I received free chiropractic care for two months, because I had whiplash from the wreck. The chiropractor also worked on my lower back that had bothered me off and on for 10 years or so – bonus!
- I was planning to sell my car to a friend when I left, and the insurance gave me $2000 more than I was going to sell it for
- I had bought gap insurance at the time I bought the car (which I had forgotten about), and received an extra $500 from that
- I wanted to sell my house, and I made a lease-to-own arrangement with the same friend who loaned me his car, and he gave me a $10,000 down payment on the house before I left
- I just received a call from my insurance company a few days ago (two years after the accident). They were doing a final settlement with the responsible party’s insurance, and it looks like I’ll be getting my $500 deductible refunded.
- The company I worked for in Oklahoma fired the person they hired to replace me, and asked me if I would consider working remotely. I agreed, and that has worked out well, providing extra income.
So this turned out to be a very “lucky” car accident, both financially and physically, since I wasn’t badly injured and got free medical care. I had a friend who provided transportation and relieved me of dealing with selling my house, and I had unexpected income from my former employer.
It’s like the universe was literally throwing money and opportunity my way, indicating to me that I was definitely on the right path by moving to Panama. And I love it here – I have made many more friends here than I had in Oklahoma, the climate is lovely, and I have the freedom I came here to find, being able to structure my life as I see fit.
Our virus lockdown is being scaled back quite a bit starting tomorrow. No more two-hour windows only three days a week. We will now have a simple curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Masks and social distancing are still required. Hopefully, people will be responsible so they don’t rescind the freedom of movement due to a spike in cases!
But I’m still a happy camper, however the pandemic (and life in general) unfolds. I’m grateful for the good things in my life, and don’t obsess over the negatives. That’s a good way to be, in my book!