Travels With Jim and Rita

Episode 02 - Living Without Borders in Our Golden Years

January 26, 2024 Jim Santos, travel writer and host of the International Living Podcast Season 1 Episode 2
Episode 02 - Living Without Borders in Our Golden Years
Travels With Jim and Rita
More Info
Travels With Jim and Rita
Episode 02 - Living Without Borders in Our Golden Years
Jan 26, 2024 Season 1 Episode 2
Jim Santos, travel writer and host of the International Living Podcast

Send us a Text Message.

Embark on a remarkable odyssey with us, Rita and Jim Santos, as we chronicle the seismic shifts of trading a brick-and-mortar life for a boundless horizon of international retirement. Our hearts racing and our house on the market, we sit down with nomadic trailblazers Todd Hilton and Daman Morris—veterans of a seven-year, 28-country sojourn—to gather pearls of wisdom on embracing the vast unknown with open arms. Their candid revelations about the emotional whirlwind of goodbyes and the adrenaline rush of new beginnings are both a mirror and a map for our own impending leap into the great wide yonder.

As the atlas unfolds across our conversation, we stitch together a quilt of tales and tips from life on the road. From Todd and Daman's impromptu coffee shop encounter leading to a Mexican home, to our shared strategies in stretching travel points and unraveling the intricacies of living abroad, the essence of slow travel retirement comes to life. Join us in unraveling the tapestry of a lifestyle that trades convention for cultural immersion, financial strain for simplicity, and the familiar for the extraordinary—demonstrating that adventure isn't just the preserve of the young, but the young at heart.

Support the Show.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/2292506/supporters/new
https://www.jimsantosbooks.com
http://jimsantos.net
https://www.youtube.com/@jimsantos508
jim@jimsantosbooks.com

Travels With Jim and Rita +
Become a supporter of the show!
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Embark on a remarkable odyssey with us, Rita and Jim Santos, as we chronicle the seismic shifts of trading a brick-and-mortar life for a boundless horizon of international retirement. Our hearts racing and our house on the market, we sit down with nomadic trailblazers Todd Hilton and Daman Morris—veterans of a seven-year, 28-country sojourn—to gather pearls of wisdom on embracing the vast unknown with open arms. Their candid revelations about the emotional whirlwind of goodbyes and the adrenaline rush of new beginnings are both a mirror and a map for our own impending leap into the great wide yonder.

As the atlas unfolds across our conversation, we stitch together a quilt of tales and tips from life on the road. From Todd and Daman's impromptu coffee shop encounter leading to a Mexican home, to our shared strategies in stretching travel points and unraveling the intricacies of living abroad, the essence of slow travel retirement comes to life. Join us in unraveling the tapestry of a lifestyle that trades convention for cultural immersion, financial strain for simplicity, and the familiar for the extraordinary—demonstrating that adventure isn't just the preserve of the young, but the young at heart.

Support the Show.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/2292506/supporters/new
https://www.jimsantosbooks.com
http://jimsantos.net
https://www.youtube.com/@jimsantos508
jim@jimsantosbooks.com

Jim Santos:

Welcome to Travels with Jim and Rita. I'm your host, jim Santos, and in this podcast series you can follow along as my wife, rita and I work out our crazy plan to outfox the real estate market in the US and actually increase our retirement nest egg by spending the next three years or so living abroad and exploring the world. Are we bold, forward thinking pioneers or just plain nuts? Let's find out together, shall we? Episode 2 Getting Started.

Jim Santos:

Welcome everyone to Travels with Jim and Rita. I'm Jim Santos and today I'll be catching you up on how things have been going the past week or so as we continue our mad scheme of selling our home and living abroad for a few years for fun and profit. The first I'd like to introduce you to Todd Hilton and Daman Morris. Rita and I met Todd and Daman in Ecuador several years ago when they were just starting out on their own roving adventure. Now it has been at least seven years or so since they sold everything and set out to see the world. Since then they've been to at least 28 countries and we're catching up to them in San Miguel Allende, in the Highlands of Mexico, to talk about their very early days, when they were where we are now. Come on, todd, welcome to Travels with Jim and Rita.

Todd Hilton:

Hi Jim, Hi Rita, Hi.

Jim Santos:

Now I wanted to talk to you too, because I'm going to interview you for the International Living Podcast a couple times, and I know you were pretty early into this roving retirement thing. When we first met you in Ecuador, it must have been six, seven years ago.

Todd Hilton:

Seven years. It'll be seven years in February. You've been traveling Hard to believe, isn't it? Yeah, it's very hard to believe.

Jim Santos:

What I wanted to talk to you about, though, is that we're now in those very early days. We've got the house on the market. The recent cold snap has kind of held up housegoers for a while, but pretty soon we're going to be getting offers, and it's all kind of a little overwhelming and a little frightening to be taking this step to selling stuff and then moving. Now. You guys actually sold everything, didn't you? We?

Damon Morris:

sold everything, jim. We don't have anything left in California at all, but memories. Yeah, but memories.

Jim Santos:

So when you left, were you planning to just never go back to the States again, or just indeterminate?

Todd Hilton:

I would say that we probably were thinking we were not going to return, but we weren't 100% for sure. But it was our goal to find somewhere internationally to live, but we just didn't have an idea as to where.

Damon Morris:

Right, and I think also, jim, in my mind I think we were thinking like three years of traveling without let's go see, travel the World and also see where we actually can lay our heads of, where we can retire at, and so we were giving ourselves a window three years, yeah, we told everyone three years, and next month, on the 17th, it'll be seven.

Jim Santos:

So three-ish, Three-ish yeah we were kind of in a different situation though, because we're well, for one thing, we're what? 15, 16 years older than you were when you first set out on this. So for us we are looking at. We do want to return to the States at some point. We also have four kids and nine grandchildren, but we will occasionally be going back to sea and we can't stay out of their lives forever. So we're looking at putting some stuff into storage and then moving on, but still we're selling our home and we're selling our car.

Jim Santos:

And that can be a little frightening. I mean, we really love our home and love where we are now. How?

Todd Hilton:

did you guys feel about that?

Jim Santos:

You were happy where you were, when you sold everything.

Todd Hilton:

We were very happy.

Damon Morris:

Well, we were very, very happy. We love, we put a lot of sweat and Equity into our house.

Damon Morris:

We didn't really want for anything and need anything in our house. So, yes, we really enjoyed what we were saying, but at the time we just was looking for another way of living. We were just had gotten to a point where we were just kind of thinking there's got to be an easier way to live, less stressful way to live, and so I think that was our pretty much driving force that got us through it, exactly Because it was very overwhelming and very scared to get rid of everything.

Todd Hilton:

It was a very good thing. I'm very much a house person. That's my security, that feels very comfortable to me. And when we decided to Do what we were gonna do, we put the whole, we put the whole race on selling the house. I mean, if we could sell the house for you know this amount of money, then we'll do this. And we talked to our, our agent and said, oh, you know, this is what we want to list our house for. And he said absolutely not. He said you know, you're gonna price yourself out of the market. Then we're gonna have to take it off the market. You just don't want to do that.

Todd Hilton:

And we were at that time in the process of Going to get our own real estate license because we were gonna do real estate. So we had a pretty good pulse on what was going on in the market. We told him no, we, we want to put our house on this market for this amount. And he said okay, if anyone can do it, it'll be you guys. And we put our house on the market on a Thursday and on Sunday it sold for 10,000 over the askings. So that was our sign that we were supposed to do that was there still that little pang of fear.

Todd Hilton:

When you know, as soon as the house went into, I was just I think we both were, but I could speak for me.

Damon Morris:

I was in panic because it was like we had a whole house full of furniture and we didn't really walk through what we were gonna do. So you know, but you know what I guess we'll be in that doing, though, because we had a lot of stuff we did, I did and we did to get rid of stuff because, different from you and Rita, we didn't want anything in storage. So we didn't want, so we wanted to get rid of everything.

Damon Morris:

So we did put price tags on Our things that we were trying to get rid of, and so when certain people were coming in, With the house when they were looking at the house, people were inquiring about the price tags, and so we actually were able to get rid of things based off of that as well. Before the house even sold, and when and why the house was in escrow, we were still selling, getting rid of things.

Todd Hilton:

Yeah, I'd say we were still selling things up until, I mean, we closed in 30 days and up to the last weekend we were still Trying to get rid of stuff and it got. But you know what, when you, when you sign, on to this and you sign mentally, sign on to the back that you're letting your possessions go. It's difficult in the beginning and I fought it like a fish on a hook right.

Todd Hilton:

But after about two weeks, all of a sudden, you just release it and you just realize this is just stuff and we were able to just start literally giving stuff away Penny's on the dollar. People were buying things Whatever was affordable to them. Great, take it. I tell this story all the time. We had a refrigerator out in our garage, as people do. You have an extra refrigerator and it was loaded with beer and booze and racks of ribs and everything in the freezer and we totally that just was not even on our radar. So on the last weekend somebody who we said we would sell that refrigerator to showed up at our garage sale and they said, okay, well, we're here to get the refrigerator. We're like, oh my God, we didn't even think about it. They bought a refrigerator for 50 bucks, completely loaded with food. We just said we just let it go and we just said take it. That's where you get to when you're doing this.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, we've got a freezer full of food right now too, and a bunch of stuff on racks in the garage, so we've been wondering about what we're gonna do with all that food if we get an offer now and we have to get rid of everything in 90 days.

Todd Hilton:

That's it. Well, the person who bought our refrigerator for $50 got it fully loaded, but you know it is that concept of letting go to Jim.

Damon Morris:

That's the whole purpose of it. As well you might. It's gonna take a while to get there, but once you start determining what you're gonna keep and what you're gonna let go, it just becomes easier.

Todd Hilton:

Right and you'll find that the universe gives back to you. I mean, I can say wholeheartedly that the things that we gave away in physical items we got back in so many different ways Ease of travel, things that were presented to us oh here, stay here. I mean I can't give an example. I was talking to my head, but things came so easy to us and I write that up to the fact that we gave out to the universe, right.

Damon Morris:

And not to just get too spiritual on it, but it is a way. Once the universe realizes that that's what you wanna do, thanks, to open up and it just becomes easier. And Todd is exactly right, we just thanks as soon as, when the house sold 30 days, we were living in an apartment for six months.

Todd Hilton:

Like a flop house.

Damon Morris:

Yeah, the mattress on the floor, a folding card table, two metal chairs but everything else came easy after that, and then we just realized you know what, if we need that stuff, we would just come back and get it again, right?

Jim Santos:

Well, getting back to when you were selling your house, what was the housing market like at that time? You said your realtor thought that you were asking too much for it.

Damon Morris:

It wasn't a good, it was a. It was an upward tick.

Todd Hilton:

It was starting to go up, but we I mean at that time we sold it for 408.

Damon Morris:

408 at the time.

Todd Hilton:

Yeah which now you can. We look at that house now on the market it's like 780. Yeah, right, and we say to ourselves all the time man, should we have held out? No, no, because for an extra 300,000, you couldn't have bought seven years of these memories.

Jim Santos:

Right, yeah, that's one of the things that's kind of prompted us to be taking this move is the current housing market, because it's kind of at a peak right now. We feel like it may start dropping soon.

Damon Morris:

Right, right.

Jim Santos:

But right now we can get probably about 65, 70% more than what we paid for our house just a few years ago.

Damon Morris:

Then I would say go for it, right.

Jim Santos:

That was kind of the thing it's like. Well, you know, you put that money in account, it earns some money while you're traveling, Right? Maybe we should take a closer look at this.

Damon Morris:

Like we said, Jim, there's no regrets. Yes, I mean, if we could have did that whole crystal ball thing to be agreed with, it made sense at the time for us. No, because we actually wanted to do it in our early 50s and I'm getting ready to hit the 60 mark here in two months, so I'm so glad we did it when we did it Right?

Jim Santos:

Yeah, well, I'm B66 this year, Rita 72. So you're a couple of young guys, you know.

Todd Hilton:

Yeah Well, trust me from this perspective we're all young.

Jim Santos:

Now, prior to this, did you have a lot of experience with international travel.

Damon Morris:

Yes, we had done some international travel before.

Todd Hilton:

And we enjoyed traveling.

Damon Morris:

Yeah, but to say a lot of experience, I'll speak for me. No, I think my first experience of traveling internationally was like in 2003. 2003. Was my start of it. I went to Europe and then when Todd and I got together, we did a little bit more traveling and we went to Indonesia, bali, indonesia, and that's about it, really the rest of stuff which is kind of traveling around in the United States. But those were my two big hoopla's of traveling international and I had been.

Todd Hilton:

I probably got to travel above. Early in my 20s. I was Traveling around, and so I've always enjoyed travel, but never in my most wildest dreams Could I have thought I'd live internationally.

Jim Santos:

That's one advantage that we have over you, at least right now, is that we've done enough international travel and, as you know, we lived in Ecuador for six years. Yeah that that part of it has almost no anxiety whatsoever. Yeah, the thought of going someplace to a different country where we don't speak the language. You're living there for three months or so it's. It just sounds exciting. It doesn't sound like it's a big deal or anything exactly right.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, but that, but that step of selling the house when there's really nothing wrong with it. We absolutely love it and I just upgraded my kitchen during the the end of the pandemic Garnet finally got the hang of sourdough bread, and that's not something you can continue while you're on the road. You really need to be, yeah. So now you guys have been in Mexico for quite a while now, have you? Yeah, yeah, full?

Todd Hilton:

time, full time. We've been living here three years now, but we first came in 2019 and you know we tell people all the time Mexico.

Todd Hilton:

You know is right next to California. So to us it's not really international living. We never looked at Mexico as being international, it's just like our neighbor. And so we actually came to Mexico on a whim, because we were running out of space on our passport and we didn't want to. Where could we go and get the longest bang for our buck? And in Mexico, oh, you can stay for six months on a, you know, a visa, not even visa. It's just that's what you get, yeah yeah, yeah and.

Todd Hilton:

When we came in 2019, we spent six months and it was amazing. I mean, we discovered this culturally rich Environment. I mean it's just. Everything is a celebration. I mean the colors, the food, the happiness in people here.

Todd Hilton:

We were welcomed With open arms you know we were nervous because it was, you know, a politically rough time. When we came here we weren't really sure you know how we were gonna be received right. And we were received graciously, with open arms and it was an eye-opener to us and we left Mexico after six months. We went to Costa Rica and then we were gonna head off to Europe. That was our plan, but COVID hit.

Jim Santos:

Shutdown the world.

Todd Hilton:

So we were stuck, if you can use the word, stuck in Costa Rica for six months, couldn't get in or out. And then when we finally got out, you know we had to go back home and Quarantine like the rest of the world. And it was so crazy in the States because in Costa Rica it wasn't like that. I know, I'm off on a tangent, sorry, but in Costa Rica wasn't like that. And so we came to the States and it was so crazy. We both said, well, if we got it, Shelter in place.

Todd Hilton:

Let's go back to Mexico, and We've been here ever since.

Damon Morris:

So it's really like our we call it our land in place. We traveled down from Mexico, and so we're using this as a home base and then travel from Mexico to different places. Yeah, and then travel from Mexico to different places.

Jim Santos:

And when you were doing the, the roaming deal that should going from place to place, did you have any special ways of looking for discounts or bargains on flights?

Damon Morris:

You know what, jim? I wish we had like this, this whole like process of what we did, but we really used our points.

Jim Santos:

We were like heavily on points.

Damon Morris:

We had a credit card that we were using and we we used our points and we we were trying not to be a perfectionist with it as far as, like, where do we go next? We got to go here because of this season. We literally just booked it and used our points and we used Airbnb and we got great deals on Airbnb, and I think that's part of that process that Todd was talking about. When we let it all go, it made everything a lot easier. We'd never had any problems getting any cheaper flights, we never had any problems getting a deal on Airbnb and it just all worked out for us.

Jim Santos:

Yes, yeah, we've been using Airbnb the past year or so. We used it in Europe this fall and we're staying in an Airbnb right now in Panama City and we'll be in one in Playa Coronado. Actually, we make it as a semi gal, allende. We're also in another Airbnb there Great. Yeah nice. Did you guys have any particular tips to how you Found places? Do you do any negotiating on the prices or have you just been lucky?

Todd Hilton:

Well, you know, airbnb, it's not negotiable.

Damon Morris:

Well, there's work around. Yeah, there's work around with it. What we would do, um, you know, if you're not used to using Airbnb, that's why it's, I'll be tell people. It's always cheaper to travel when you go long periods of time, right, because you stay at Airbnb. And you stay for what? Past 28?

Damon Morris:

days I think you can get anywhere between 30 to 50% off of a regular price and so, based off of that, we would do that. Or if there was a opportunity that we had Saw a place in Airbnb. You can also reach out to you know to like if you're in the house manager like the house manager or whoever's hosted, and saying, hey, can I come over and take a look at the place?

Todd Hilton:

That's what. That's what we did.

Damon Morris:

And so what happens is we got a chance to look at the place and then, once we were there, then we asked the person with the owner, or would you be willing to make a deal? I'll have Airbnb, yeah. And so by doing that, we were able to get a couple of good deals. By doing it that way.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, so that helps. If you're already in the country, it helps yeah that was gonna be the caveat I was gonna say

Todd Hilton:

so if you can get something you know for a week, you know whatever, just minimal, and then start looking around at Airbnb's, contacting them and saying what we said, so it didn't look questionable. So we said, hey, we've got friends who are coming to stay with us and we'd like to come and look and see if the apartment is, you know, good for them. Can we meet? And they'd send someone Over and then we'd say, okay, we like it, would you be willing to do this off Airbnb? A hundred percent of the time people say yes, yeah, right.

Jim Santos:

Now you're not still using Airbnb. Are you in Mexico to have you?

Damon Morris:

know, no no no, no, now we found a house that we're renting right and that that, too, is just due to Having resources of friends and resources of people that you meet. I mean, that's how you also can find good deals too.

Todd Hilton:

So yeah, depending on who you are, where you're at. We literally met the people who introduced us to this house. We're not them in a coffee shop, you know. We're just having breakfast and and we, as we do here in Mexico, everyone just oh, hey where are you from?

Todd Hilton:

Let it out, you get to talking and Within probably three weeks, he put us in contact with the woman who owns this house and we asked if we could rent the house and she said, yes, here we are, and that all came from just someone we met in a coffee shop. So If you're just opening yourself up to the universe in that way, the universe makes everything good for you.

Jim Santos:

You have to be.

Todd Hilton:

You have to be open to it.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, and that all started seven years ago with that decision to just make that leap yeah. Was there a point in those first 30 days? And you're packing up and closing the house where you finally did get some kind of Peace with yourself and understand that you know, yes, this is going to be something good for us.

Todd Hilton:

I'm seriously within the first two weeks. I mean, the first two weeks during escrow was tough and when, probably I'm gonna say two weeks came and I'm gonna speak for me on that, I Was able to release it. Go, this is gonna be great we're. We're heading into the right, into the right direction. What do you think?

Damon Morris:

I think for me, jim, it was, my mind was a little bit later. It was like after we sold our car, that was like, oh, wow, okay, so this is for real. And but we celebrated because, we think, because we had some good friends, we have a friend that allows to use their car for 30 days, I and so I remember we actually were celebrating and we were sitting in the park a lot of a movie theater because we had just sold our car, and I think that feeling was like, wow, okay, we have gotten rid of all the big ticket items, this is for real, this is actually happening and we're ready to go, and so we were celebrating by going to go watch a movie. And then, of course, the adventure started. And the adventure started and it's been an adventure ever since. And, yeah, I think people just have to trust and, if it's in them, to just try, because at the end of the day, if it doesn't work out, you always get to come back, you always can go back. It's nothing permanent, you can always decide to

Todd Hilton:

go back and do your whole life, if you like to. But I'm gonna venture to say that once you release everything, you're gonna feel an immense sensation of weight loss because all of a sudden we weren't paying property taxes house insurance car insurance. You don't even realize all these things that you're paying on day to day until you get rid of yourself, and then it's like wow, so you take all that money that you were paying for, then you can add that to your travel as well.

Todd Hilton:

Perfect example. We did a little cost evaluation, probably within our first nine months and for that amount of time in the US it was like $47,000 we'd spend for taxes and all that and we spent I think it was 16,000.

Damon Morris:

Yeah, about 16,000.

Jim Santos:

16,000.

Todd Hilton:

It meant it's been nine months so we told ourselves we're practically paying us to travel Right.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, that's where we're at now, and it's pretty exciting to think that the money that you had invested in the house can actually be back at home earning you interest and earning you money while you're out traveling and enjoying yourself.

Todd Hilton:

Yeah, exactly.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, so hopefully that'll be enough to get us through those first very scary 30 days.

Damon Morris:

Yes, it should be. I mean, it definitely is. I mean, when we started traveling, we started a budget of about maybe 2,000 a month and I would say now, with today's inflation, we're probably now at about 2,400 a month. And that's with everything your rent, your insurance, your groceries, your entertainment. We give ourselves an allowance for the whole month to do whatever we want to do with it and paying the housekeeper Also. We're big TV junkies, so that includes all of our streaming. We have everything you can think of for streaming. All that's included and we're at about we're now at about $2,400 a month. And we were that was our house mortgage.

Jim Santos:

Right, I was gonna say a lot of people have mortgages that are about that month.

Damon Morris:

Right, right, right. So $2,400 for two people a month, I think that that's a, even though it used to be about 2,000, I still think that that's a really, really good deal.

Jim Santos:

So, all in all, you guys are pretty happy with the decision you made seven years ago.

Todd Hilton:

I couldn't imagine it any different. The only regret is that we didn't do it sooner.

Jim Santos:

Well, we've been chatting with Daman Morris and Todd Hilton about those early scary days when they first started out on their own plan to explore the slow travel, or rowing, retirement lifestyle. Todd Daman, always a pleasure to talk to you and Rita, and I look forward to seeing you when we make it to Mexico this spring.

Damon Morris:

We're looking forward to it. That'd be nice.

Jim Santos:

Okay, follow up time. First of all. No, we haven't changed our minds. We're still waiting to see how the sale of our home goes. There's been a bit of a delay on that front, caused by the Arctic blast that swept south last week. We did have one showing before the weather changed and we received an offer from that visit. However, it was a low ball offer that was so far off we just rejected it without a counter. However, it is encouraging that the first person to take a look also made an offer.

Jim Santos:

Unfortunately, the weather changed drastically and our neighborhood was hit with a foot of snow and seven consecutive days of sub-freezing temperatures. Keep in mind that this is a part of eastern Tennessee that, for the six previous winters, never got more than a half inch of snow at a time and rarely sees temps below freezing during the daylight hours. Road conditions have been terrible, most secondary roads unplowed and iced over, and no one is going out and looking at any homes. So let's pause for a moment here to congratulate Rita and me on deciding to spend the winter here in Panama, where it's currently 91 degrees. Warm. Weather is on the way back this week, so we should start to see more action soon.

Jim Santos:

Meanwhile, we're finishing up our third week in Panama City and still enjoying our test drive of nomadic life, in spite of a recent junkyard fire that coated the city in foul-smelling smoke for a couple of days, we're still within our $3,000 a month budget, even though we splurged on $100 meal at the Hotel Centrale in the Old Town and a $50 lunch at PF Chang's in one of Panama City's modern malls. We visited the Canal Museum, took a ferry to Tobago Island for a day and went to the Mura Flores Canal Lock, but since we continue to take advantage of the local mercados, we should be okay. In fact, tonight I'm making barbecue shrimp with some of the $4 a pound shrimp we bought the other day. Now we'll face bigger budget challenges in February, when we transfer to a bigger and better appointed condo in Playa Coronado. Speaking of budgets, next time we'll go into more detail about how we decided on our budget and just what that includes. Thanks all for now.

Jim Santos:

Thanks for listening to Travels with Jim Enredo. So what happens next? Well, honestly, we don't have a clue. Remember, in the immortal words of Spinal Tap, it's such a fine line between stupid and clever. Be sure to like and subscribe so you can find out along with us which side of the line we are on. You can find my books and audio books at JimSantosnet, or email me with any comments, questions or suggestions at Jim at JimSantosBookscom. If you're looking for more information about life overseas and travel in general, remember I also host the International Living Podcast, available through the internationallivingcom website and all major podcast platforms. Until next time, don't forget we travel not to escape life, but for life, not to escape us.

Selling and Letting Go
International Living and Travel Tips
Exploring the Slow Travel Retirement Lifestyle

Podcasts we love