Our Friend, Totsie, disappeared from Asheville, but we found her in Panama. Here is her story.
Part 1: Making the Decision
“Wanda fell and broke her (other) arm. She is doing better but can’t remember why she has a cast on her arm.” This email came after we made the decision to move to Boquete, Panama and help take care of my 83 year-old mother-in-law, Wanda. It sealed the deal for us. We said we would come to Panama for a year.
How it came to be:
My husband, Winn, and I had toyed with the idea of moving to Boquete after visiting there in January 2011. Winn’s brother, Kevin, and his wife, Tammy, had been taking care of Wanda for three years and had moved their whole family, including three school aged children, to Boquete about a year before our visit. Their decision to relocate there was based on Tammy’s parents, who had retired there, and their own research on cost of living, quality of medical care and the desire to scale down their expensive lifestyle in the states.
Winn and I have a web development business. I started the business in 1996 and he joined me in 2006. We re-branded the company in 2011 from Totsie.com to Webonobo and positioned it to be “Local Global Mobile Web Solutions”. We also had our site translated into Spanish to attract clients who needed multilingual sites. We had always been told “Oh, you could do your business from anywhere in the world.”, so now seemed to be the right time to see if that was true.
Our original thought was that we could move to Boquete, live near Kevin and Tammy and help take care of Wanda while continuing our business. We knew we would have a cable internet connection and with modern conveniences like Skype, we could still have personal connections to our clients.
The deciding factors:
One factor in our decision to move was that our business had slowed, like most businesses in the states, and while we still had a stable roster of 60+ clients which we host and support, the requests for new sites had slowed to a trickle. Even though we had re-branded and felt positive about the new direction, we were still in the early stages of marketing our new global potential.
Another important factor came when I had a reading with an intuitive in Asheville who helped me admit the fact that I was personally burned out. Being entirely self-taught, self-motivated, self-marketed, I had been working long days for 16 years and even though I thought I had a few good business years left in me, the truth came out in the reading and I had to admit that I was just plain tired, that I had become one-dimensional in giving all my energy to the business and what I really wanted was a big change in lifestyle.
When I told Winn about my true feelings he immediately said “Absolutely, no problem, I can take over the business. I want you to rest and find yourself.” His next thought was that HE wanted to meet with the intuitive. In truth, he had been wanting to change the hectic lifestyle we had created but hadn’t figured out how to make that happen. So now he was motivated to not only take over the helm but also to do it in his style and at his pace.
And yet a third factor is the fact that I turn 62 on March 6, 2012. Yes, I’m a baby boomer. It seemed unreal to me that people really used to retire at 62 but here I was actually considering it! Of course I would have to give up the CEO position in the company and work less hours to qualify for Social Security but that quickly became a no-brainer. Winn, being 5 years younger than me, still felt excited about our rebranding efforts and could see himself running the business with me as co-pilot.
Running the numbers:
Winn loves spreadsheets so he spread us out in all the ways he could think of to evaluate the wisdom of our move. No matter how you sliced it, it looked like a really good idea!
Based on Kevin and Tammy’s experiences and cost of living, he decided that (as the new CEO) we could offer our services at a lower rate to our clients since our cost of living would be lower in Panama and that would create a win-win for our clients, who had smaller marketing budgets because of the downturn in the economy, and us who had lower living expenses. We could continue running the business, just on a smaller more sustainable pace. We would be living internationally which could eventually meet one of our rebranding goals which was to produce multilingual sites for international clients. We both got excited about the positive possibilities of this move and after we found a great renter for our house-someone I already had an acquaintance with who is in our industry-we felt like the light was green to go.
Part II – Next Monday! In the meantime, Happy Birthday Totsie.