Countdown: Why Did I Ever Think Moving Right After Christmas was a Good Idea?

Countdown to expat moving dayLast week we skipped the Countdown post because we were doing the 12 Days of Christmas guide to expat gift-giving, so we’ll combine weeks 6 & 7 this week. In this installment we’ll review the steps we took over the last two weeks toward getting ourselves moved from Orlando to Panama.

At this point, I’m wondering seriously why we thought moving a month after Christmas was a good idea. . .

Weeks of December 11 and 18

House Repair

Fortunately, we’re pretty well done with this category. We don’t have any more repair projects, although we do have a few things left on the list. They include items like spackling and touch-up painting over holes in walls where we’ve pulled out picture hooks and such.

Of course there’s always more cleaning. . .

Packing and Organizing

My husband has finally started organizing his stuff. I’m relieved, because I can’t do all of it for him. He’s going through work-related papers, books and — most importantly for him — his tools.

The tools are proving to be a big stumbling block. He can’t imagine a life where he won’t need them, so he wants to bring them with us somehow. I don’t see it happening, at least during our initial move. Maybe later when we ship the few things that we want to keep.

Another issue is his bicycle. He’s an avid cyclist, and wants to take his good road bike with him. I think he’d do better to just replace it down there. I’ll let you know how that plays out.

Selling Stuff

I called a half dozen estate sales agents last week. One of them came to the house, and told us our house was too small for a worthwhile sale. I got the impression if we’d had it stuffed to the rafters with antiques or original art she wouldn’t have found the size a problem. Nevertheless, she did put us in touch with someone who will buy the entire contents outright, then transport it to his warehouse and sell it at auction.

If we don’t find a better solution, it’s a reasonable fallback.

Renting the House

People are starting to come look. According to the rental agent, we can expect activity to increase after the first week in January.

Moving the Pets

Last week the dogs went to the vet for their regular checkups and dental cleaning. We wanted to get it done well in advance of the move. Unless one of them gets sick between now and February, we should be able to take them in for their health certificates and not have to worry about any other pet health issues.

And they seem to be adapting quite contentedly to their new kennel arrangements. They’re all going into the right kennel each evening, and we’re not hearing any more complaining.

Maintaining Our Lives

Now that Christmas is over, one of the larger hurdles I’m facing is our taxes and the financial aid forms for our college student daughter. I need to have them all done before we move, so I’m starting the preliminary organizing now.

My plan is to get everything done early in January, even before we have all the proper IRS forms (1099s in our case, since we’re both technically self employed). As soon as we have the official forms everything should be ready to go.

I’ve also switched all the house-related bills (mortgage, electric, water, etc.) to an auto bill pay offered through our credit union. I still need to set up electronic billing for a couple of them so we don’t need to rely on postal mail for any house-related bills once we’ve moved.

Just before the holidays we had a nice visit with a friend from out of state. We hadn’t seen him in several years, but he was visiting family in North Florida and drove down to spend a few days.

We’re currently in the northeast with three of our five children. I figure it’s the last Christmas we’ll spend in the cold for quite a while, and it has been cold, for sure. Zero degrees when I went to bed the other night. . . Right now we’ve got big, fluffy flakes drifting lazily down and accumulating on the roads.

We have plans to visit the in-laws next month and during January we’ll also spend as much time as possible with local friends.

The Panama End

Last week I made contact with someone who can help us find a furnished house or apartment in Panama. Next week I plan to get back in touch with some of the people we met last year, and ask them to start keeping their eyes and ears open for furnished rentals in the area.

I feel like the juggling act is going to get much more challenging once we get home from this Christmas break. . .


  1. Best wishes to you. I understand what you are going through. I tried to part with my ‘stuff’ before we moved to Nicaragua. I just haven’t been able to let go, yet. So, we have house sitters (good friends) who stay at our house, collect our mail, and we don’t charge them rent. They only have to pay for utilities. Several weeks ago, they called us to tell us that a letter came from our bank. The bank is remodeling the room where our safety deposit box is located. They needed us to go to the bank and transfer all of our stuff in the lock box to a new one. If we couldn’t go ( which we couldn’t), they were going to send all of our stuff in the safety deposit box to Orlando for safe keeping. Fortunately, our friends staying in our house came to the rescue. I sent them a letter requesting permission to have them take our key for the lock box to transfer the items. No problem!
    It’s wonderful having people we can trust stay in our house. We have encountered several bank, credit card, and other problems that we could not take care of without our friends’ help. They are even taking care of our cat.
    As far as packing, we purchased 10 plastic airline regulation trunks from Lowes and Wal-mart. Ron could fit all his tools in the trunks, and with a little shifting weight in the trunks, we had everything we needed for our first move. 4 of the trunks were free check-ins, and we had to pay for the other 6. But, the cost of having our things with us and the peace of mind was much better than shipping stuff. I’ve heard horror stories. Plus, the trunks are end tables, coffee tables, and storage places here.
    Good luck with your move. Remember to breathe! 🙂

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