Trinidad-Cuba-2-300x283 So, John - What do you do all day? Panama The Expat Life
Living it up in Santiago, Cuba last December

You would not believe how many times I’m asked that question, now that I’ve retired and moved to Panama. Here’s what I say: every day’s Saturday and I do whatever the hell I want – bwahahaha!

Here’s the less smart-assed answer: I love retirement. I feel busier then ever, but in such a good and fulfilled way. I know there are folks out there who love their jobs so much that they say they’ll never retire, even if it makes sense financially. Honestly, you’re incredibly lucky if you’ve found work that is so fulfilling for you.

For me, it was the exact opposite. I am so glad my time is now my own, and I do not have to answer to a boss or be working for a soulless, profit-obsessed company — which was the case through most of my working life. 3-4 weeks of vacation a year – really?? You have got to be kidding. Like the old Peggy Lee song “Is that all there is?”, I knew there had to be a lot more to life than that.

John-Dogs-Baru-300x225 So, John - What do you do all day? Panama The Expat Life
Walking our kids, and two more (belonging to friends we were pet-sitting for) in the shadow of Volcan Baru

Our answer was to move to Panama, which allowed me to retire early and gave both of us the chance to have an amazing new cultural experience. And I haven’t looked back. I know this choice isn’t for everyone, but it’s doable if you have a thirst for adventure and you’re looking for an early way out of the rat race.

OK, so here’s a day in the life of a happily married, expat, retired guy:

Most cases I get up when Susan does. OK, well, not all the time! I did say most cases – and sometimes I get up before her. (Susan note: this is a matter of some debate!) That was almost unheard-of in my working days, except when I was traveling a lot. We wake up to the most beautiful sound of birds singing. It is amazing to hear the different bird chirps, gurgles, and whistles. We let the dogs out in the back yard and, and it’s a rare morning that one of us doesn’t say, wow what a beautiful morning. We live in paradise!

John-in-Buenos-Aires-300x225 So, John - What do you do all day? Panama The Expat Life
Life is good! Hamming it up in Buenos Aires last year

We get the coffee going — fresh-roasted Boquete coffee beans, I might add! I love to stroll around in the garden looking at all the plants, checking on how they are doing, and making decisions on moving this one or that one as they start to grow and crowd each other out. As our garden grows, one day we will not be able to see any of our back neighbors’ houses. Hopefully it will feel like a private tropical garden someday. We will see – but it’s fun watching it take shape.

After that, and in no particular order, here’s what I do to fill my days:

House/garden projects, shopping, errands, banking, paying bills, maintaining our accounts, walking the dogs and giving them attention, checking with Susan while she is working away to see if she needs anything. Messing about in the garden, watering plants, pruning, trimming. Dealing with any workers and maintenance issues with the house. Hiking, running, and yoga. Studying Spanish. I think I will be studying Spanish for the rest of my life!!

cropped-IMG_3251-1-300x300 So, John - What do you do all day? Panama The Expat Life
With my best friend in Amsterdam a few years ago

Planning meals, shopping, and cooking. I make breakfast, lunch and dinner if we are not going out. (Susan: I’m a lucky girl!) We do not eat out often. The food we eat and that I prepare is healthier and — not to brag, but – in many cases, just as good if not better than what the local restaurants offer.  

Travel planning. Travel is a huge priority for us and I spend a lot of time researching destinations, looking for travel deals, getting stuff booked, and making sure the dogs are covered while we’re gone.

That’s about it. Each day varies. Oh, and as Susan says, I peel the grapes for her!


  1. You two are living life the best way possible! We’re happy for you, and though it can be a challenge to be the “working” spouse, you make it the best you can for her John! It is amazing how the days just fly by. We are glad you’re a planner JP, we’re looking forward to seeing the lights of Medellín with you guys in December.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hola mis queridos amigos! Gracias!
      We are so looking forward to seeing you and the lights in December as well!

  2. Mary Lea (Mimi) Reply

    Great description of your life in Panama, John. I know you stay busy, because you always have a project going when you visit here! You make our lives much easier!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      So true. Thank you for your comment Dymoon. Love your picture!

  3. What an enjoyable read, JP! Sending you lots of love and hugs from San Diego! You are always welcome at our house. Come visit any time! Dag

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you Dagmar! So good to hear from you! Hope you and Andy are well. Please came visit us here in Panama! You are welcome here as well. Better hurry…we are rolling stones as you know, and our next chapter of our life adventure in Europe will be here soon!
      xoxo my dear friend!

  4. Sounds like a very fulfilling retirement, John! Can’t wait for my time to retire as well — which is still many years from now.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you Bama. Looks like you are traveling well for not being retired! Really enjoy your blog post!

  5. Well, that answers that question – haha! Like you, I never had a job I loved so much either (who loves being a pharmacist?) and would argue that those who want to work until they die are either very lucky to have a job they love or NUTS! And isn’t early retirement awesome? I find myself wondering how I ever fit work into my busy and very happy life! Anita

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ha – John feels the same way and I’m looking forward to experiencing that myself! One of these days . . .
      – Susan

  6. John and Susan Pazera Reply

    So true! Thanks for your comment!

  7. Very good reading – thanks for sharing your experiences (I can so relate to the “working for a soulless profit based company bit).
    So what’s this now about wandering off to Europe soon? While I’m happy for you, I hope you don’t take off before I have the chance of visiting Boquette, and getting to meet you (hoping for mid December this year now).
    All the best, Wendy (while I do follow your posts through email, I don’t often get around to responding to them on your blog – my loss).

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hola Wendy, Thanks for your comments. Hope the plans work out for you to be here in December. We will be returning to Colombia for another visit for the holidays. Hopefully we can hook up.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Wait – I think you already did 🙂

  8. It appears that you may have a time-travel blog. I clicked on ‘post’ a minute ago and it says that I posted 5 hours ago.

    Or have you found a way to steal time from the people you entice into posting here?

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ha, don’t know what’s going on there! Sorry about that.

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