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us-crJoanna and Tim:

Joanna was born in Poland and is bi-lingual.  Her family immigrated to the United States when she was 15.  She is now a US citizen and lives in Arizona with her husband Tim.

Tim was born in a small town in OH.  He spent time in Korea while he was in the army and now lives in Arizona with Joanna.

We are a couple of GenX Gypsies, and we love roaming the world.  Until two years ago, we were both IT directors and worked for a major public university in the Mid-west.   We lived the normal, stress-filled, 8-to-5 lives, with majority of our time revolving around work.

But we loved to travel and had dreamt of traveling and living abroad, for years.  Ideally we wanted to live somewhere warm and beautiful – gotta tell ya, the mid-western winters got really old! 

As many other GenX-ers, we were also very worried about retirement in the U.S.A. Our prospects did not look good. The Social Security Administration says this on their website:

“Currently, the Social Security Board of Trustees projects program cost to rise by 2035 so that taxes will be enough to pay for only 75 percent of scheduled benefits.”

Now that’s scary! 

That combined with cost of healthcare in the USA made us very concerned.  And so, we did some research and decided to combine an “early retirement” with moving abroad; somewhere where life is simpler and less expensive.  We were also hoping to gain one major thing: TIME. Read our post on Why We Want to Escape Abroad.

Unfortunately or fortunately, we were only moderately risk tolerant – not the types to sell everything and move to a new country tomorrow.  We also were not the types that have “nothing to lose” and just pick up and go.  We had great respect for those that could do that, but that just wasn’t us.  So, we decided to do this our way.  We planned it out over a 5-year process and began this blog. AbroadDreams.com served as a record of our steps, plan, choosing a country, and actual move aboard.  We hoped that it would help us to realize our dreams and help you do the same along the way.

New Beginnings!

Something happened about 2-years into our 5-year plan, we had a series of bad things occur, family members becoming ill, jobs taking a turn for the worse, death in the family, and our own health issues. We went back to the drawing table and decided it was “now or never”. And so, we chose a country – Puerto Rico – and pulled the trigger.

Today, more than 2 years later, we have lived in Puerto Rico, Spain, and Poland and are back in USA. We still have that “travel bug” and are now planning even more abroad adventures. And, we have truly become the GenX Gypsies. We own nothing, we are tied to nothing, and we live for the adventure and experience of traveling the world. While in Arizona we are exploring the American Southwest and working on building our online business. Our goal is location independence.

We have lived much and we have learned even more over the last 2 years, see post What I Learned After I Quit My Job And Moved Abroad.

And so, we continue to document this adventure and our progress on making this lifestyle come true. We hope we can help you do the same.

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40 comments

  1. Good evening,
    I literally spent a very lazy Sunday afternoon perusing your site. I will be 60 very soon and I am looking into an early retirement abroad. I work in healthcare here in the USA and I was wondering where are the largest hospitals located other than San Juan. I would like to work part time until 65 but planning a move in 2-3 years. If jobs are available there I can bypass private pay insurance until I can use Medicare.

    • Hi Renee,
      Jobs are very difficult to find in PR, especially if you don’t speak Spanish (not sure if you do or not). It is also a different world as far as medical care, than what you’re used to in the USA. I don’t know know what your field is, but nursing care if vastly different, as are the patient care and expectations. The biggest hospitals are going to be in San Juan. And perhaps in Ponce. Those are the biggest cities. We didn’t have a hospital in Luquillo, but there were 2 small hospitals in Fajardo.
      Good luck!
      Joanna-

      • Hi Joanna,

        I have been pouring over and thoroughly enjoying your blog for DAYS- thank you for writing it! One answer I can’t find though: Why did the two of you decide to leave PR? My husband and I fantasize about doing what you’ve done but I’m not sure we have the nerve.

        • Hi Shannon,
          Thank you. We returned to US because of the high taxes in PR. We needed to regroup after we sold a large part of our internet business and figure what we want to do next. We are now in Tucson AZ and loving it! We seem to be naturally embracing a 2-year ON-OFF plan: Two years abroad and two years US cycle. I’m quite happy with that. It’s about the right amount of time before I get the urge to move again 🙂
          Joanna-

  2. Hi Joanna and Tim,

    Your web page is awesome!

    My wife and I grew up in Puerto Rico, but moved to the United States a long time ago. Now we are considering early retirement (or semi-retirement). Like you guys, we want to have more flexibility with our time.

    I ran into your web site by chance. It got us considering moving to Puerto Rico. You might find it ironic that you guys know more about living in Puerto Rico that these two natives. We visit frequently to see the family, but we are more like tourists when we are there.

    We are doing a similar analysis to what you guys did. Also considering a five year window for the transition. Your information on cost of living is very helpful. We have started asking friends and relatives in the island about insurance costs. I was surprised to find that they were much higher than what you report on your site. They were comparable to our costs here in the US (for the same coverage).

    I’m also trying to find out what our tax situation would be. We would be using our retirement money (in 401Ks mostly) and that seems to be subject to federal income tax, even if you are living in the island. Did you consult with a local accountant for the tax situation?

    Thank you for sharing your story! It is an inspiration!

    Best Regards,

    Carlos F. Vicens

    • Hi Carlos,
      Welcome to our blog! So, glad you like it. We actually just started working with an accountant, so I will have some posts about that soon too. And I also now have first hand experience with healthcare and health insurance here on the island – posts on that coming too. Let’s just say that we have learned A LOT in the time we’ve been here and things don’t always appear as they are.
      Stay tuned for more..
      Joanna

  3. Hello! We will be in PR in July 2016 to see homes for sale, and I have a question about schools – are there any public schools appropriate for elementary children who do not yet speak Spanish? Or are private schools our only option? Our main area of focus is Fajardo, though you have us very interested in Luquillo now 🙂

    • Hi Jackie,
      We do not have small children, so I wouldn’t be able to comment on your question but I do know that all public schools are conducted in Spanish.
      Joanna

  4. Joanne and Tim…

    Love what you two have done, and admire your courage to change course at such a young age
    PROUD of you…
    Jer : )

  5. Hi Joanna and Tim,

    Great Blog! My husband, two children and I just moved from Minnesota to Luquillo, PR in August (we are staying at Sandy Hills). We are here for a one year family sabbatical. My husband has family here on the island and we have met a few families through our kids’ school, but we are still getting to know people here in town. It would be great to meet up sometime. We are enjoying our time here so far!

    Take care,
    Meredith

    • Hi Meredith,
      Thanks for your kind words. We would love to meet you guys. What a nice way to spend a sabbatical! I’ll email you to the address you provided and we’ll go from there.
      Cheers!
      Joanna

  6. Saw some of the your articles about PR. My husband and I (60ish) also live/retired in Luquillo since 2008.
    Would like to meet you. My husband (William Atwater) from TX was director of the US Army Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen, MD, for many years, after leaving the Marines to go back to school.
    I am from San Juan and my mom lives in Playa Azul.
    No, PR is NOT for everybody!
    Laura

  7. Tim and Joanna, I began reading your blog a few days ago and… what a wealth of information! My husband and I are considering moving to Puerto Rico in the next few years and yours is the place online where I have found more detailed information about every process of the transition. Your blog should appear on the first page of Google results, but I found it on the third page. Please keep this up, as I will keep reading and preparing how to go about moving there should our decision settle for Puerto Rico.

  8. Hi Tim and Joanna,
    Sally and I are sitting in a hotel room in Panama City waiting for the log jam that is immigration paperwork to break loose. I was looking for cellphone info and came across your post. Thanks for the heads-up. In a few days we will be in Boquete and looking for a longer term rental. We decided we did not want to work till we tipped over and after 3 years of research and wandering around have taken the leap. I will probably start a blog soon to pass on the things we have learned on our adventure. If you have not found Chris Powers of Panama for Real, take a look he has lots of in depth info and videos.
    Thanks again,
    Rick Flaherty

  9. Hi Joanna and Tim,
    Thanks for stopping by LifeTransplanet.com. We are happy that our site was inspirational and helpful in considering the move to Puerto Rico. We love it here!

    I thought a few of our posts might be extra useful to you including this one about the cost of living in Puerto Rico:

    http://www.lifetransplanet.com/2014/02/18/cost-living-puerto-rico/

    As well as how we managed to retire in our early thirties:

    http://www.lifetransplanet.com/2014/03/29/myths-about-financial-independence/

    It is so cool to see others like us on the journey to adventure and life outside the cubicle!

    Hope to see you on la isla del encanto soon!

    -Cassie

    • Hi Cassie,
      I discovered your blog yesterday, went through it pretty thoroughly, and read those two posts. They were great. Thanks for posting such great info. I’ll email you off-line, so we can connect.
      Joanna-

  10. hi guys!! your blog is great !!! I was especially interested in PANAMA because we are actually going there for a week in September. Something that I thought maybe you knew was “luggage storage”. we are going to colon for 1 night, so we didn’t want to lug our bags around there, so we wanted to go by bus and in some other post I heard they have an overnight luggage storage space at allbrook bus station or airport. Do you have any insight on this matter? if not thanks anyway , your posts are excellent
    🙂
    nicol

    • Hi Nicol,
      Thanks for reading. I don’t know if they have overnight storage for luggage. We didn’t look for that, but I believe they do have storage, just not sure if it’s overnight.
      Joanna-

  11. Cześć Joanna,
    Przypadkowo natrafiłam na Twój blog i bardzo mnie zainteresował. Jestem z Polski, ale już dziesiąty miesiąc w podróży po Central Ameryce. Ja jestem już na emeryturze i też szukam taniego i przyjemnego kraju dla swojego ostatniego etapu życia. Jeśli Wy w Ameryce obawiacie się o swoje emerytury, to co mają powiedzieć Polacy o swoich? System emerytalny sypie się na całym świecie 🙂 Z obserwacji w mojej podróży wynika, że dużo Amerykanów osiedla się w Cancun w Meksyku, w Belize i w Boquete w Panamie. Boquete ostatnio straciło trochę na opinii po tej tragedii z dwiema dziewczynami z Holandii Lisanne i Kris. Jeśli zainteresuje was ta historia, wejdźcie na mój blog “Na łączniku dwóch Ameryk”. Pokazuję tam zdjęcia i piszę relację z podróży po Gwatemali, Belize, Meksyku, Kostaryce i Panamie. Cały czas szukam swojego miejsca na Ziemi, ale myślę, że przeniosę te poszukiwania do Azji. Tajlandia jest super! bardzo mi się tam podoba, mogłabym tam zostać na zawsze (mój poprzedni blog, do którego link jest w obecnym blogu, opowiada o moich podróżach po Sri Lance, Tajlandii, Malezji,Singapurze) Obecnie mam już bilet do Nowego Orleanu, gdzie polecę z Panamy w pierwszych dniach sierpnia. Marzeniem mojego życia było zobaczyć Nowy Orlean i posłuchać jazzu w kolebce! właśnie będę to marzenie realizowała. Jeśli jesteście zainteresowani moimi podróżami, to proszę piszcie do mnie maila, ale po polsku, bo ja nie znam języków! Mam kilka pytań do Ciebie Joanno, ale to potem, jeśli nawiążemy kontakt mailowy, ok?
    Swoją drogą to zabawne, że cały świat marzy o życiu w Stanach Zjednoczonych, a Wy szukacie innego kraju do życia 🙂 🙂 🙂
    serdecznie pozdrawiam,
    Zosia

    • Droga Pani Zofio, Stany Zjednocxzone to wspaniały Kraj do życia ale niestety bardzo drogi dla emeryta, ponadto północ Stanów przez niemal pół roku jest zasypana śniegiem. Dlatego cześć Amerykanów postanawia przenieść sie do cieplejszego klimatu.

  12. WOW! That is AWESOME! Kudos to you both. Interestingly enough my previous wife, who recently passed away after a 3 yr battle with cancer, is from Jeromesville, OH. My current wife is from Grand Rapids, MI. We are planning to relocate long term to Boquete, Panama on 3/20 with our 4 yo daughter. Crazy, small world! We wish you both the best. Let us know if we can help in any way when/if you end up in Boquete. – B

  13. Hi Joanna and Tim,
    My fiance and I are moving to Panama within the next couple months so Iv’e been learning all I can from New Hampshire. I just started reading your posts and found them so helpful and to the point, I will be following and maybe I can be of assistance to you both after I settle in.
    I was reading the blog on Cell phones but wasn’t able to comment there so I appologize for listing the question on the about section. I read recently that Verizon and Movistar are somehow intertwined but not sure how. Is that why you posted the Verizon service map? Have you heard anything on this?
    Thank you,
    Stacey…I love, love your photo tours.

    • Hi Stacey,
      Thanks for commenting. I’m jealous, you guys are ahead of us. Are you moving for a job or just for fun? We would love to partner up and swap info about Panama.
      As far as Verizon and Movistar, I’ve not heard about this but it would make sense. Verizon already partners with carriers in Mexico. What it usually means is that Verizon will have plans that carry over to that country. But the plans tend to be expensive and would only work for us as a vacation solution, not so much long term. But like I said I’ve not heard anything on this in Panama yet, I’m only speculating.

      Anyway, good luck to you guys and Stay in touch!
      Joanna

  14. Hi Joanna,

    When you get to Boquete, please come by and say hello. We would like to have you over for cocktails or coffee. Your choice! 🙂

  15. Hi I have a big problem with install store app’s in my surface rt may I have god friends “email” to salve my problem
    Excuse for comment here

  16. My husband and I have our house up for sale and as soon as it sells, we will be moving our family to Costa Rica. We love the country and the way of life. My husband will be working with 119 ministries who relocated down there almost a year ago. We are very fortunate to have friends and a support system in place, it will make the move much easier.

    Good luck in your venture!
    Aliisa

  17. ¡Hola! Joanna and Cindy:
    As I wrote you before, have you considered Xalapa(Jalapa), Veracruz, México? Checkout my articles on Mexconnect.com!
    Xalapa has been my home for the past 40 years, and though it has changed very much, I still love my adopted home very much.
    Feel free to get ahold of me and we can talk directly by phone(magicJack) or Skype.
    ¡Mucho gusto y hasta pronto

    • Hola Roy!
      I would love to hear more about your experience of living in Mexico. We’re particularly interested in healthcare (quality and costs), safety, and cost of living.
      Joanna-

  18. Hi Joanna,

    I too am on a 5+ year plan to retire south. I am a IT manager too (working with GIS) and my husband is a scientist. What I have been doing for the last 5 years is taking 4 or 5 weeks off work and going to live in the city (with a family) and go to Spanish language school. I get to know the language, the city, and make new friends. My first year I spent in Costa Rica. Definitely on my list still, but Mexico has moved ahead. Here is why: Prices have gone up in CR, too many Gringos, the food is too boring. Pluses for CR are health system, highly literate society, and lots of land in conservation. Right now, the top of my list is Queterero, Mx. Mexico is going to be hard to displace from the list, but I’m going to Ecuador soon.

    I didn’t see if you intended to try and work. If so, CR may make sense as Intel has a big presence there. I also think Queretaro may be of interest because of all the multinational companies.

    Did you mention if your Spanish is sufficient to negotiate well? That’s been my quest for the last 5 years to speak it well enough to conduct business.

    Good luck with your quest. I love your blog and will be following along eagerly.

    • Hi Cindy,
      You sound very much like me! We are just beginning in this process but your language school idea is exactly what we plan on doing! I’m very familiar with Mexico, have been traveling there for the past 8 years, and also love it. Right now it is probably at the top of my list as well, but we have yet to visit Panama and Ecuador and probably Nicaragua (based on lots of recommendations from others), so we’re reserving judgment. The only work we plan on doing once we pull the trigger is online. Otherwise, we’re considering it our retirement. I have some Spanish from years of learning no my own and visiting Mexico but I have a long way to go.

      I’m so glad that there are others out there just like us with the same dream!
      Joanna-

  19. Joanne: Have you considered Xalapa(or Jalapa), Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. It has been my home for the last 40 years and has been a wonderful place for me to live. Give me your phone number or Skype if you would like to talk directly with me. I have a lot of articles on MexConnect.
    ¡Mucho gusto y hasta pronto!

  20. Hi Joanna and Tim,

    My name is June and my partner’s name is Andrew. We live in San Francisco, CA and we too are looking to retire in another country. We are early 50’s and hope to make the move in 3 or 4 years. We have been to Costa Rica 3 times in the last year and will be going again in a month. We traveled to many areas in CR and finally settled on an area during our 3rd trip. We too were surprised by the cost of living compared to other Central American countries but after weighing the pros and cons, we feel better about CR’s government, somewhat green status, and the literacy of the people. We just purchased a small piece of property at the Southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula; a piece of land that borders Cabo Blanco Reserve. If you have questions, please feel free to ask us. We would like to network with people during this adventure!

    Best of luck to you! Your dream is a good one. We only live once.

    June and Andrew

    • Hi June,
      It seems that you and Andrew are a step or two ahead of us in this process. I am happy to hear that you figured out a way to make Costa Rica work. We are also hopeful. We will explore at least 3 other countries before making a decision but we did love Costa Rica!

      Best of luck to you two.

      Joanna
      PS. Check us out on Facebook at abroaddreams.com

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