About Us

For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as I need to know. The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.

– Richard Bode, First You Have to Row a Little Boat

John and Susan in the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal aboard their boat “Compania,” March 2004

Bienvenidos! We are John and Susan Pazera, residents of El Retiro, Colombia. In 2001, after three years as live-aboard sailors in San Francisco, California, we sailed out under the Golden Gate Bridge and headed south. Three years later, after adventuring through Baja and Pacific Mexico, down the Pacific coast through Central America, and through the Panama Canal, we washed up in Tampa, Florida. Although a couple of decades have passed under our keel, the wonders of that sailing adventure sparked a passion for travel and new experiences that still informs almost every major decision we make – including a goal to retire outside the United States.

In April 2015, we achieved that goal by moving with our two dogs from Long Beach, California to the highlands of Western Panama (John officially retired, while Susan would continue to work remotely until 2021). In 2018, the four of us made another move from Panama to Colombia, the jumping-off point for our South American travels. After two years in Medellín, Colombia’s second-largest city, we’ve now relocated to the nearby Andean town of El Retiro.

Our original decision to become expats was in the works for many years. After it came to fruition, we started this blog as our way of sharing our experience. Our hope is that you too will be inspired to jump out of your comfort zone and find the thing that floats your boat — and perhaps even plan an escape of your own!


  1. oldsalt1942 Reply

    You wanna know something? No matter how much you think you’ve pared things down you’ll probably find you’ve brought too much. I came down with three duffle bags and a roll-around computer thingy. I could have gotten away with one duffle.

  2. Bravo! Our attitude about life exactly. Looking forward to keeping track of your adventures in Panama.

  3. For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as I need to know. The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.

    – Richard Bode, First You Have to Row a Little Boat

    As an avid quote collector, this message spoke to me today. It’s interesting how we never know where the ripples in the pond will travel.

  4. Hola Susan & John, awhile back I reserved “First You Have to Row a Little Boat” from our library. When it arrived sometime later I’d forgotten why I’d put it in my qué. We’re both avid readers so By read it first then set it aside for me knowing I would enjoy the contemplative tone. He was correct, it is a little gem chalk full of wisdom. It was during my reading that I remembered the quote on your blog was what brought this book to us. Thank you!
    “Be with what is so that what is to be may become.” Sören Kierkegaard

  5. Hi, you two. I stumbled across your post about a year ago and became addicted. We just concluded our first trip to Panama in November and are planning our next visit. The prize is a move there in about 18-24 months. We are also wanderlusts and dog lovers (three) and your posts are fresh air to us. With that in mind, we’ll definitely let you know when we are next in the area and would look forward to a get together if you like. We already have friends in Boquete and I would not be surprised if you know them! Keep posting!

  6. Mitch Levine Reply

    Hi John..I am so enjoying your blogs about your adventurers and experiences in PANAMA. I am also a Texan who was born and raised here and now at 59 ready for a lifestyle that HAS LESS CHAOS. I would like to plan a trip down to your Paradise but would love some hand holding. I am a single man that will not have to work and loves the water ,scuba ect.I have read about different places but would like a place to start ..not panama city..If you have time could you drop me a line and let me know if 2 weeks 3 weeks ..ect would be ideal when coming down to explore..Thanks in advance..Mitch from Dallas

  7. Hi Mitch, just saw your note – sorry about our delayed reply. If you’ve never been to Panama, you should give yourself at least three weeks to explore the country. A month would be even better. And you really should plan on spending some time exploring Panama City, especially Casco Viejo (the old town) and the Panama Canal.

    As far as settling here, it all depends on your comfort level. If you like the water but don’t mind heat and humidity, check out the Boca Chica area on the Pacific side. The Coronado area, closer to PC, has great beaches but is more developed. On the Atlantic side, Bocas del Toro is a Caribbean-influenced group of islands that is a blast to visit (check out our blog post about our trip to Bocas).

    If you prefer a cooler, more temperate climate, check out the highland areas like Boquete and El Valle de Anton. Boquete has the advantage of higher elevation and cooler temps, but is only a 45-min drive to some nice beaches.

    I am completely glossing over and leaving out many great areas in Panama that deserve a look. My advice is to read every blog you can find and get a feel for what life is like in other areas.

    Keep us posted on your research!


  8. Hopefully we’ll meet you in Boquete soon! We have already bought our house there and will be heading off (in a camper) with 2 big dogs, a cat and a chicken – in July!

  9. John & Susan, I found your blog because I was searching for posts about Cuba… I’m going there during August 🙂 your posts where really useful thanks 🙂 I will definitely start following you 😉 your blog is lovely

  10. Sara Crocker Reply

    John and Susan,
    My hubby and I are planning on moving to Panama later this year and I’m coming to Panama in late May for a reconnaissance trip with a couple old friends. I plan on being in Boquete area from around May 25 – 31. Would it be possible to get together with you to talk about your experience living in Boquete?
    thanks so much and glad I found your blog!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Sara,

      Thanks for visiting our blog!
      Sure, we’ll be in town then and we’d be happy to get together. You can email us at thepazeras@gmail.com and we’ll make a plan.

      Just curious – how did you find out about us? A big bunch of people subscribed to our blog today and we’re wondering if it got mentioned somewhere else.


  11. Over and over again your blog gets KUDOS from us, always positive “glass more than 1/2 full perspective” and a delight to read, refreshing and welcome!

    MUCHAS GRACIAS AMIGOS keep it up!!!! You are among the elite of “positive thinkers loving life”.

    Cathy & Larry

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, dear friends! I think we’ve learned a lot of that positivity from you two 🙂 See you soon.

  12. So inspired by your life story and embracing of happiness. You are living the way most of us only dream of but are, sadly, too afraid to follow your example. But by choosing what is safe and predictable and boring, most of us lose out on the wonders life offers us. Your Richard Bode quote is a beautiful invitation to everyone to accept the call to live life fully. I will try to remember it and let it guide me into my own road to retirement!
    Thanks for being such a positive example of how to live life to the fullest.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much for your note! We wish you all the best as you plot your retirement adventures. Making the decision is the hard part – the rest is easy!

  13. Christy Kolb Reply

    Found yaz on Expat and followed here. I can’t wait to get to Panama myself! Thank you for your information and inspiration! I’ll be there as soon as I can!! 😊 ChristyK

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Christy! Glad you like our blog. Let us know if you have any questions about expat life in Panama. Cheers, John and Susan

  14. Hello John and Susan ~ Just wanted to say hello and thanks for stopping by at One Road at a Time. It’s nice to meet you. We have not yet traveled to Panama, but we’ve heard many good things about the region and look forward to making the journey one day. And, even nicer to have a local contact when we do. Safe Travels – Patti

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Glad to “meet” you, Patti. Your story sounds so similar to ours – we’re also from the Bay Area and committed to seeing as much of the world as we can, while we can 🙂 We hope you make it to Latin America one of these days and we’ll be following in your footsteps in Europe someday. Buen viaje!

  15. What a lovely blog you have here:) I will be sure to follow your adventures. Have a very Merry Christmas and lots of great adventures for 2018 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Gilda! Happy New Year. We’re glad you like the blog! We just got back from a three-city tour of Colombia – posts coming soon.

  16. Roger Imerman Reply

    Great blog! You’re welcome to join my hiking group in Boquete – Take-A-Hike. We hike 3 days/week.

  17. Hello Susan, hello Jhon!! Nice to get in touch with you guys. Do you have any email or wsp to get in touch with you, please? Thanks for your time and attention!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi, and welcome to our blog! We are in the process of adding more contact info to the blog, but in the meantime you can use our personal email: thepazeras@gmail.com.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Deb, and welcome to our blog! Ditto to you – and your blog name rocks 🙂
      – Susan

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks! Welcome to our blog 🙂
      – Susan

  18. Loving your blog so far. Long Beach I have great memories of and SF…….love the West Coast. I have Columbia on my list to do so will be catching up with your posts both old and new. I’m from the U.K.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you so much for visiting our blog! We’d love to meet you if you ever make it to Colombia 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Teddy – so great to hear from you! Hope life is treating you well in Albuquerque. Where in Panama do your friends live? Come down and see us in Medellín!
      John and Susan

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Patti & Abi! Welcome to our blog 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We were so glad to be able to spend time with you both! And I know our paths will cross again one of these days 🙂

  19. jetsetforgood Reply

    Great website! Informative and love your layout 🙂

  20. You had my attention at ” jump out of your comfort zone and find the thing that floats your boat”. Kindred spirits!! 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      THANK YOU! We feel likewise about your blog 🙂 Thanks for the visit!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Aww, thanks! Welcome to our blog 🙂

  21. Hi John and Susan, just started following you. We too are just about to follow our dream. We retired at Christmas and ready to head off on our travels, no doubt we will be put of our comfort zone at times, don’t you just love that part of travel! We see that you asked to view the blog worldisouroysterblog but this is our old one, if you are interested, our active blog is thehungrytravellers.blog Happy travels Michaela and Phil 😀

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hello Michaela and Phil, and welcome to our blog. And – more importantly – congratulations on your retirement! 🙂 We’ve followed your blog and look forward to tracing your travels. Any plans to come to South America or Colombia any time soon? If so, we’d love to meet you.
      John and Susan

      • Hi John & Susan, great to hear from you! South America and Columbia are definitely on our list but don’t know when yet, South East Asia first and then gradually make our way round the world, would love to meet up somewhere on our travels. Thank you for following. Keep in touch Michaela and Phil 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Welcome to our blog and thanks for reading!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Gracias! Bienvenidos a nuestro blog 🙂

  22. I love your story! Bravo for making that move and changing your life. Changes are widening our perspectives and enriching our souls! Good luck! 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks for your comment! These are interesting times, indeed. Hope you and yours are staying safe!

  23. Jeannie Fridmann Reply

    Hi Susan and John! I got to your blog via a post by my friend Linda McKee, who I met in Panama when I was trying to decide where to retire. I ended up in Colombia and have been there for 5 years now. I was going to live in Medellin, but believe it or not, when I went for the 4th time checking out property, I decided it was too hot for me! Most people who live there still seem to think the weather is springlike, but I find it eternal summer. Have visited a few times over the years and it still feels hot to me! I ended up going to Bogota and then 4 years ago moved to Villa de Leyva, a small but (previously) popular tourist destination. I’m signing up to follow your blog now. What made you decide to leave Panama and move to Colombia? I have a beautiful place and when people can move around again, you are most welcome to visit! Right now I’m in the US as I decided to be close to my daughters and mom for this unreal time of pandemic. Had no idea things would turn out like this when I made the decision. This country is totally going to hell!! Well, hope to meet u one day! Best, Jeannie

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Jeannie – so glad you found our blog! Linda and Eric are great.

      Funny you mention the heat here in Medellín – we have been here for a year and a half, and it is a lot warmer here than we expected. Of course, the temperatures have been rising here like everywhere else due to climate change. You’re not the first person that’s started calling Medellín the City of Eternal Summer! We live in Laureles in the middle of the city but we’re giving some thought to moving higher up in the outskirts, where it’s cooler and the air’s better. Possibly by the first of next year.

      Villa de Leyva is high on our list of places to visit, along with the other Colombian “patrimonio” towns. Thank you for the invitation – we look forward to meeting you! With the pandemic, we’re going to focus more on seeing everything we can here in Colombia and possibly doing some other land-based trips in South America. International air travel will probably be out of the question for quite a while, at least for us.

      To answer your question, we loved living in Panama but after living in a tiny, rural town for three years, we were craving big city life. We had visited Medellin and fell in love with it for many reasons. Two other big reasons are the cost and quality of healthcare and the overall cost of living, which is quite a bit lower than Panama.

      Thanks again for getting in contact. Hope to meet you soon! And good luck weathering COVID and the other craziness that’s happening in the U.S. Stay safe and be well.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much 🙂 It’s an interesting life, for sure. Welcome to our blog!

  24. I love your story John & Susan. And I love, love, love the opening quote. Look forward to following along on your exciting journey.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you so much, Madhu! I love that quote too. It’s great advice for anyone, whether they travel or not. Hope you and yours are well!

  25. Stanley Lundstrom Reply

    I am very interested in moving to Colombia thinking somewhere in the Medellin area. Very interesting that some people finding it is maybe too warm in Medellin I now live in Kingman, Arizona and like it here but I must have some nomadic blood in me. I also lived in Ecuador for a very short time but came back to the US. I am now in a quandry of residing in Panama or Colombia,however, after all the information I have been gathering I believe Colombia is the one for me. I am very concerned about taxes in Colombia as a resident and think Panama is better in that respect. Maybe dont become a resident and travel to both areas as I have been thinking about that sort of a situation and possibly keep my place in the US until I make a permanent decision. As you can see my delimna. Any help and advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated and I did not wish to talk so much about myself. Thank you.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hello Stanley, and welcome to our blog! If you currently live in Arizona, the temps here in Medellin will feel like heaven to you 🙂 And as far as taxes go, you are correct that expats in Colombia are required to register and file a tax return (not necessarily true in Panama). However, so far our tax bill has been very minimal.

      Have you visited Colombia or Panama? It’s really critical that you spend time in both places. Visit different cities and different parts of the countries. Stay in different neighborhoods, not just the touristed areas. And check out the social media forums for expats in both places (there are many of these on Facebook for instance).

      Good luck with your decision.
      John and Susan

  26. Greg and Mareohel Reply

    Hi John and Susan,

    Enjoyed reading your blog and glad to hear you’re now able to get out and enjoy the Colombian countryside. My wife and I are planning to make a trip to Panama soon (looking into applying for a Friendly Nations visa). We’ve been living in her native country, the Philippines, but bc I’m unable to get insurance coverage here, we’ve been looking into other options. I read that local Panamanian insurers are required by law to cover pre-existing conditions after a 2-year waiting period, but wonder how likely it is as a Type 2 diabetic to get approved for a policy?

    Lastly, was wondering what the chances are for my wife, who’s background is in the restaurant and bar industry, to find a job in a place that’s popular with expats like Boquete, El Valle, or Puerto Armuellos. Her English is pretty good, but she doesn’t speak any Spanish. Are there perhaps bars or restaurants that mainly cater to English-speaking expats where the lack of Spanish wouldn’t be an issue?

    The best of luck in Colombia and thank you for any advice you can provide!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Greg – welcome to our blog! Panama is a lovely place and we hope you get to explore it soon as a possible expat destination. Per your question about insurance, the companies vary concerning pre-existing conditions. World Wide Medical, which we used, does cover them after a two-year waiting period as you mentioned. Since we haven’t lived in Panama for almost two years, things might have changed. Your best bet is to go there and get the “lay of the land.” We can also put you in touch with a great agent, Gloria Detresno. She can give you the updated info on health insurance. And here are our blogs on this topic (with the caveat that the info is a few years old): https://latitudeadjustmentblog.com/?s=Health+Insurance

      Per your wife’s desire to work in an English-speaking bar or restaurant, it entirely depends on the type of residency you’ll get. I do believe the Friendly Nations allows you to work, but I’m not very familiar with it. Again, check with some folks on the ground there for the latest info. And YES, there are plenty of places that cater to expats, especially in Boquete and the Coronado area.

      Hope that answers your questions! Good luck 🙂
      – Susan

  27. I am interested in the info on the finca near Medellin. We would like to spend 4 weeks around that area next summer with our dachshund and all I have found so far do not allow pets. Any help would be appreciated

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hello – sorry we’re just now replying. We’re not sure which finca you’re talking about. The best way to find long-term vacation rentals around here is through AirBnB or Booking.com. Good luck!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hello Dhirendra, and welcome to our blog! Thank you for your kind comments. It’s really all about attitude, right? Hope you and your family are also healthy and safe. Have a lovely weekend!

  28. How fortunate for you that you’ve made the moves you’ve made in order to live the dreams you’ve dreamed. Wishing you all the best in your part of the world and looking forward to more posts showing me what we’ve missed.
    Thanks so much for following Oh, the Places We See. We’re enjoying retirement as well!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you so much! We’re so glad to be connected to your blog. Have a wonderful (retired) day! 🙂

  29. Hi guys,

    I don’t find a way to contact you on the blog, so I’ll leave a message here.

    I thought about you two when this query came up with HARO (Help a Reporter Out) this morning. Not sure if you’re interested in sending a pitch. If they pick you for the feature, it’ll give exposure to your blog (or business)…

    3) Summary: Couple That Moved to Colombia

    Name: Kimanzi Constable NextAdvisor

    Category: Travel

    Email: query-e8vq@helpareporter.net

    Media Outlet: NextAdvisor

    Deadline: 7:00 PM EST – 23 August


    I’m writing an article for NextAdvisor, the financial vertical
    of TIME, about a couple that moved from the U.S. to Colombia
    specifically for a cheaper cost of living. If that’s you, this
    would be a full feature of your story published on time dot com.


    You must be willing to share specific details in the article:
    your cost of living in the U.S., how you make a living, your
    cost of living now, etc.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Liesbet! Thanks so much for this. I subscribed to HARO for a little while, but we never seemed to see a topic that applied to us. We will contact this source and see if we can help with the article. FYI, for the future, you can send a private message through our blog by clicking on the Contact Us button in the main menu of our blog. Send me a message and I’ll send you our WhatsApp, email, etc.

  30. Vern Verling Reply

    Hi you two, this is Vern and Cheryl from Dream Catcher – SF. We are getting ready to sail our refitted boat to our new home in Florida. Planning to transit the Canal mid January ish. Would love to hear from you about your fascinating journey .

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Vern and Cheryl! Hello. So great to hear from you! You’re sailing Dreamcatcher to Florida?? We transited the canal way back in 2004, so we wouldn’t have much current info or advice. It was one of the coolest experiences of our sailing time, though! Just curious – how did you find our blog? Fair winds!
      – Susan

  31. Lots of familiar names in your comments. We have a couple of great American friends who made the leap here from Atlanta, but it seems a good idea to me to explore South America. Hope you enjoy your stay in Portugal. It’s a lovely country..

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Jo! We are so looking forward to visiting Portugal as “first-timers.” I know we’ll fall in love as you have. Best wishes, Susan

  32. Hi John and Susan. Your story is so interesting. Like you my husband and I are moving from Panama City to El Retiro, Fizebad Seniors. If you have any tips about buying a Car and getting a drivers license, would love them.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi, Sue Ann! Thanks for your comment and for visiting our blog. It’s so strange – we were just talking about Seniors Fizebad the other day and wondering how to acquire one of those apartments – so we have something to ask you about too! I have lots to tell you about getting a car and license, but it’s better to do that in a private message. Do you have an email I could use? Ours is thepazeras@gmail.com. Welcome in advance to El Retiro!

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