So… yeah. We’re moving to Panama for a couple of years. (Sort of a figurative “pause” in life.) Let me answer your first question with a question for you…
But seriously, you probably have a few questions.
I went over this a while back, when we were thinking of moving to our property out in NE Arizona. The same reasons are in play, only with a bit more to it. We’ve always wanted to give the girls an experience outside the American middle class suburbia experience that they are used to. And with Haley 2 years away from high school, we figured it was as good a time as any to make it happen. Spanish must be taken in school now-a-days and we thought we could kill two birds with one stone by moving to a Latin American country. The culture is sufficiently different from what they’ve been raised in and while they are learning to appreciate another culture, they can be learning Spanish with much more effectiveness than they could here in the US.
We’re also not blind to the opportunity it provides us to save some money, too. There’s a reason so many retirees move to Latin American countries. It’s exponentially cheaper to live. Most “gringo” retirees live a very good life down there for less than $1500 a month. Including full healthcare, rent/mortgage, food, gas… the whole enchilada.
Plus, we’re adventurous people. Plain and simple. Whenever possible, we try to take the path that is more exciting and shun the path of least resistance. We know that that kind of thing isn’t for everyone but for us, it’s part of the excitement of living. And since we’re not tied to one location for earning our living, it just makes sense to shake things up when we can and when it makes sense.
Arizona will ALWAYS be our home, though. We will retain our phone numbers, a postal box and have our things stored here. And when it’s time to push play on our Panama pause, we’ll be right back to our old stomping grounds since this is where our heart is.
That depends on when we’re ready to go. But we’re thinking it’ll be around mid October time frame.
There are a few countries that were in the running for this trip. Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador and Panama. Those are all great countries for ex pats. However, Panama edged them all out, in our opinion, because of a few reasons.
The infrastructure is considered to be the best in Central America and the crime is very low. Also, they use the US dollar as their currency and it’s a good country to be centrally located in for travelling to South America as well as the US.
They’re on East Coast time and it’s a 2.5 hour flight to the US mainland (Florida.) Yet you can fly to much of South America direct, on short flights as well.
It’s a good balance between being able to live VERY cheaply and still have many of the amenities that we’re used to here in the US. Their healthcare system is considered top notch and health insurance for our entire family will be 1/4 the price it is here, and that’s with NO deductibles. Haley will need braces while we’re there and the cost of braces will be 1/4 to 1/3 of what it will cost here. Indeed, Panama’s healthcare tourism industry is growing tremendously.
They have the fastest growing economy in Latin America (predicted for 2014) and it is a great place for western entrepreneurs to bring new and fresh ideas as they have no impediments to starting and running a business.
There are some downsides, of course. No place can be perfect like AZ. (haha!) They have bugs the size of volkswagons. Snakes and spiders (big ones). Mosquitoes. Humidity. A lackluster sense of customer service. They call it the manana mentality. It can be done “manana” (tomorrow).
But we can live on a beautiful beach (50 ft from the front door) for $1000 a month in rent. Indeed, we can live on basically a couple grand a month, all in. That covers up a LOT of the downside, as you can imagine.
That’s it for now.