Remember what I said about not taking any stuff with us? Easier said than done.

With a little over three weeks to go (yikes!), the sorting, decision-making, and packing is in full swing. It’s a bit more complicated than our last “household liquidation” because we don’t have a boat to move stuff to. It’s all about what we want to take on the plane, ship down, or store.

The Pazera household now consists of five piles: the stuff we’re taking with us as checked baggage in three or four rolling duffel bags, the stuff we’re sending down with a shipping company in what’s known as a less-than-container load (LCL), the stuff we’re storing at a friend’s storage unit in San Diego (thanks, Donna!), the stuff we’re mailing to my parents for temporary safe-keeping until we can fly it down there, and . . . finally . . . the stuff we’re selling.

011e0c2aea62c7473596ebcaa8ec65554644e665e0 We Be Packing Moving to Panama
First batch of garage salers unearthing treasures in early March

On that last point — the stuff we’re selling — I’d like to send out a ray of love to the wonderful person who is buying our house. She’s also buying 90 percent of our furniture, which makes the whole “liquidation” task so much easier. This outcome would not have been better if we’d designed it ourselves. All we have left to sell now are a few miscellaneous tables, a chair and ottoman, and a big pile of lovelies that will delight our second batch of garage salers on April 18.

So I just did a quick count and noticed I have just typed the word “stuff” eight times. That speaks volumes about how incredibly difficult it is our crazy, consumerist society (even for John and me) to keep from becoming ruled by stuff, and the ongoing quest for more and more. As it is, we think we’re taking down a fraction of the stuff that many expats move but that doesn’t make it any easier to decide what to do with the polka dot dishes we love, the beautiful Indian batik bedspread, or the hundreds of music CDs (answer: we’re taking them).

I’ll leave you for now with this article, which precisely captured our attitude about the accumulation of experiences, rather than stuff. Even with our five piles, we believe this to our core.


  1. Just discovered your blog and thouroughly enjoy it. We struggled with many of the same dilemas and its interesting to hear how others resolve them. For example, we too have tons of music cds and albums, along with the accompanying gadgets to play them. After first attempting to find the time and energy to copy / transfer the music to an electronic version or pack and ship the stuff to Panama, we recently decided to leave all this behind. We bought three small Sonos wifi speakers that fit in luggage and signed up for Spotify. We are very pleased with this decision so wanted to share the approach for your consideration.

    • See? That’s what I love about blogging – we’re not taking this journey alone but instead get to learn from others who have been there and done that. Thanks, Lisa! We’ve been checking out the Sonos speakers today and they look cool as heck. We joined Spotify recently and actually have a lot of music on our iPhones/iPads that we listen to with our Bose bluetooth speaker – and we also use Pandora and iTunes Radio. The problem with all those CDs is that we have neither the time nor the inclination to figure out which ones are worth saving in some sort of digital format. Just seems easier to throw ’em in a box for now.

  2. I ‘ripped’ all our music CD’s to computer, so it’s all digitized. Had been doing that for some time. Also found a program and ‘ripped’ about 80 of our 200+ DVD’s, so have that too. Probably too late for your time table tho. We came with 4 large suitcases, and have brought back a couple more on a previous trip. Of course we planned to rent a furnished apt. So only personal items were considered to keep and bring.

    • Thanks for the info! Bringing just a few large pieces of checked baggage was our original plan, and we’re moving back towards that direction now. I’m just curious – is there anything you miss and wish you’d taken down, and are there things you took that you later decided you didn’t need?

      • I brought a few hand tools….compact cordless drill + some other smaller things. All that can be purchased easily here. My wife brought one of her sewing machines….hand carried on plane as compact luggage. We had a few other items bundled with a friends palette from Florida. Again nothing we couldn’t get here. Shipping is about $5-$7 per lb. from Miami and there are sources for smaller packages. Palettes can be combined with containers if necessary but we haven’t had the need. With family still in the US, we can have them send things if needed.

        We returned for a visit to the US….sorted final items in storage, cleaned it out, and brought several more things via our airline baggage. My wife loves her Food Saver, vacuum sealer. Brought rolls of the bag material, and can order more when needed to be sent to Panama. She brought another sewing machine, serger. And we have 1 larger and 2 medium size pictures we had in our home which makes it a little more familiar here. Boquete has an excellent custom frame shop, mats and glass, so can roll and put in tube some artwork. Its easy to do photos of family, etc. here. I bought a printer/scanner at PriceSmart (Costco like) in David, and used that for printing pictures. Department stores have frames as well.

        We returned after 6 months in 2013 for Xmas holidays and picked up a few things. We were back for a visit in Aug. 2014….and a few more things brought back. And since we have had to return again, as mentioned earlier, for a period of time, may find a few more small items to bring back….some clothes, etc. There are many places in David to shop for clothing, but the sizes are confusing, and shoes, at least mens are quite narrow.

        Of course we have our iPhones (change sims), iPads, my MacBook Pro. There are ample furniture, appliance, etc. stores in David. However we rent a 2BR, 2Ba furnished apartment, and are quite comfortable. It was our desire to not leave problems for family to deal with out of country……property especially, so do not plan to buy any. No repairs, no taxes, no maintenance problems, easy to move if problems in any area we pick to live.

  3. Wow! How time flies! You will soon be in Panama with your luggage in hand. We be waiting for you in Central America. Happy travels. You are going to need a long vacation after all the work you have done to prepare for your move.

  4. Bring the batik….dump the music, seriously. It’s all in Spotify, or make them into MP3’s and put them on an external. It all easy to get again these days even grateful Dead bootlegs are on Roku!

  5. Janis Peace. Reply

    Hey Susan and John!
    All sounds good! You are getting there with “The Stuff!”
    Hope to see you before you leave!
    Do I still have an overnight bed???
    Happy Easter to you and The Girls!!
    Love Janis. XOXO

  6. Diane Randall Reply

    I’m excited for you! I’m visiting Boquete in September to see if this is where I want to retire in a year. I would love to touch base with you while I’m there to talk the talk and see what all I’m missing.

  7. Hi Folks,
    Great blog, and so useful. Thanks.
    We’ll be in Boquete next week, to decide as to where we’d like to live.
    We’ll sell our house asap and have no idea how to dispose of all our ‘stuff’.
    Shipping a 40ft container from Vegas will likely cost a bit less than $20,000 after all the duty etc. So ebay, yard sales, Goodwill and Craiglist will have to do.
    I’m going to hold onto your email address if I may and hope to catch up with you in a couple of months time.
    Derik & Limei

  8. Hi, just saw your comment. Glad you like our blog! You’re probably in Boquete now, as we speak, falling in love 🙂

    We decided to go the Craigs List-yard sale-Salvation Army route and don’t regret it a bit. Moving in 8 days with just the luggage we can bring with us.

    Please stay in touch and keep us posted on your plans. I just took our email off your message so let me know if you need it again.


Your comments rock our world!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It
%d bloggers like this: