Want to Live in Panama? Part Two

There are many reasons people decide to live in Panama.  Some are personal and some are practical.  If you’ve been reading the blog you know our reasons for choosing Panama.  It was all about an affordable lifestyle in a warm environment.  There are many like-minded people in our little community and there are also people that we know are running from whatever life holds for them in their home country.  Such is life.

I could go ahead and list the reasons why anyone would want to move here; Panama is safe, it’s close to Norte America, it has no hurricanes or earthquakes and the list goes on.  You can find any of those reasons on any real estate or relocation website, just Google it as SU is fond of saying.

With this post I’m going to give you the reasons why you might not want to sell everything you own and make the move here without trying it for at least six months.  These are not necessarily in order just how they flowed from my little brain:

  1. You’re enthusiastic but your spouse isn’t so sure, or vice versa.  You both have to be on board 100%.  And if you’re not sure, then be honest.  You owe it to yourself and your significant other;
  2. You expect perfect customer service  no matter what where you are.  If you’re the type that sends your meal back because it’s a touch over done (I’m not talking burnt, still edible) or you expect everyone’s meals served at once (you know who you are), then Panama is not for you.  One word, patience, if you don’t have it (and a sense of humor) then you’re screwed in Panama;
  3. Prepare to live cheaper here but don’t be cheap.  If you’re that guy who asks for a Jubliado Discount on a $5.00 meal then a bunch of us are pretending we don’t know you.  Yes, there are discounts available when you have the Pesionado Visa but the Government does not reimburse the small business owner for that discount.  The same goes for your $45.00 room.  Really?;
  4. If you can’t handle being frustrated, bewildered, angry, sad and happy then don’t move to Panama.  Sometimes you will experience these emotions all within a half an hour;
  5. Don’t bring your prejudices with you.  There are poor people, gays, and people of a rainbow of colors and ethnicities here.  If you can’t get used to it, stay home;
  6. Don’t expect to live here and then go ahead and berate Panameños for being lazy, uneducated, dirty, drunks, noisy etc. etc.  Again stay home.  The Panameños will thank you and most will say a prayer for you and your ignorance.  The rest of us might just tell you to go home because we aren’t so kind-hearted;
  7. Please don’t move here and be that lazy, uneducated, dirty, drunk, noisy or grumpy Gringo.  Especially the drunk part.  Liquor is cheap here; if you can’t control your consumption of it then perhaps you shouldn’t live here.  Just sayin’;
  8. Don’t assume that the locals are always out to get you because you’re a Gringo.  It’s called Getting Gringoed here.  If you are getting ripped off maybe it’s because your reputation precedes you.  And if you think that the price is too high check out other establishments.  And if you don’t get Gringoed every once in a while then you haven’t experienced Panama.  Just don’t use the service of that person or business again or call them on it.  And make sure you tell all your friends, it will at least make you feel better even if it doesn’t get your money back;
  9. If you can’t afford to have an escape fund then you can’t afford to live here.  Yes, you should be able to afford your day-to-day expenses but you also should have to have some money set aside for at least a plane ticket so you can leave Panama if you need or want to;
  10. Although most websites will tell you Panama is safe, don’t come here and leave your common sense at home.  Would you really leave your bike unlocked on your front lawn all night at home and expect to find it there the next morning?  Again, really?  That’s equivalent to leaving your Mercedes running in the driveway in Norte America.  Why leave a bike laying around for a Panameño whose main mode of transport is a bicycle;
  11. Please don’t move here if you don’t want to learn at least a bit of Spanish.  How many people complain in their home country about people coming from _____ and living in _____ for ______ years and not speaking a lick of ______?  It’s courtesy to learn the language, most of us would expect as much from immigrants to our home country;
  12. You might not want to move here if you expect perfect weather for 365 days of the year.  I’ve mentioned that we live in the Dry Arc of Panama but during wet season it is wet.  If you’ve read any of my posts about mold and mildew you’ll understand what it’s like.  And if you haven’t read them; find them and read them.  Then hopefully you’ll understand what it is like. And it is worse in other parts of the country.  Better yet, do at least come for a visit during Wet Season and see for yourself;
  13. I implore you not to move here with your pet or get a pet after you decide to move here and then choose to move somewhere else and leave your pet behind.  Panama has enough abandoned animals to fill an Arc.  Dusty and El Gordo have recently had a little gato dropped in their driveway and it’s not the first time they’ve had an animal dumped on their doorstep.  This one was lucky they had room for her and now she is enjoying her new home.  We see animals every day that we’re sure don’t have homes and Panama does not need any more;
  14. It might not be a good idea for you to move here if you only want to frequent Gringo establishments and hang out with Gringos.  Why don’t you just stay at home if you want to be with people the same as you all the time?  Ask yourself if you really want to soak in the culture of Panama or if you just want a Little Norte America transported here;
  15. If you want to move here and have a house full of servants and you can afford it, fill your boots.  Please don’t treat them like chattel.  A bit of kindness goes a long way.  And if you are one of those people who have a bit of extra money don’t think that because you do it will earn you respect.  It doesn’t, it’s how we treat others that earns respect;
  16. If you’re moving here thinking that you can make a change in the way that Panameños think or do things, think again.  They are strong willed people.  They’ve had enough people, churches and countries telling them how to do things over the years and they just want to be left alone to do their own thing.  Encouragement is good, supporting their choices is good, imposing your values is wrong.  They will most likely just find you amusing;
  17. Don’t expect all the roads to have signs on them or the drivers to follow the speed limits or traffic rules.  Don’t expect to know what town you’re in all the time when you’re travelling in Panama.  If you do then you’re in for a rude surprise and you should probably travel somewhere else; and
  18. If you expect the electricity to work when you want it to or great water pressure 100% of the time then don’t move here.  You can also include the gas stations having the type of gas you want, the bank machines having money in them, finding the same food as in your home country etc. etc.

I’m sure I’ve painted a rosy picture of life here and it isn’t entirely correct for all areas of the country but I’m pretty sure I’m close.  Some of you are wondering why we live here if there are so many negative things about Panama.  We don’t view them as negative, just different.  As someone told me very recently, SU and I are adaptable and fearless.  We’ve met other wonderful people here who are like-minded.  Perhaps if you’re not ready to go with the flow and be adaptable and fearless Panama is not the place for you.


About indacampo

You'll find me at https://indacampo.wordpress.com/ blogging about Panama...and other things.
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6 Responses to Want to Live in Panama? Part Two

  1. Douglas says:

    “That’s equivalent to leaving your Mercedes running in the driveway to a Panameño whose main mode of transport is a bicycle”

    You’re not suggesting that just because a Panameno rides a bike that he would be tempted to steal a car that’s running are you? I’m sure there many would never consider such a thing.

  2. Douglas says:

    please insert tongue in cheek for previous comment

  3. Thank you for providing this checklist of all the things I’ve heard from various other expats who have chosen to leave their home country to experience a life abroad. As I am nearing my departure from all I know here in California for a new life in Panama its good for me to hear all these very realistic things and to be honest with myself about how I will feel about many of the points you make. I’m pleased to say, I’ve not a doubt that I’m a great candidate for diving into a life in a different country. Although many of the points you make may sound difficult or annoying , I have a very clear realization that moving to a different country, any different country, is just that,”DIFFERENT”. And I’m ready to learn and assimilate and to do my best not to expect life in Central America to be “anything” like life in California. If I wanted my life to stay the same it would make sense to just stay right here and continue doing what I’m doing. I really appreciate your insight and your very valuable words of wisdom from your first hand experience . Someday I hope to write a post like this one and that I will inspire a future expat to spend time really , honestly looking at themselves and possibly re-affirming a long planned and carefully researched dream and then smiling as that aspiring expat realizes , ” yes!”, “I feel good about what I’m about to do!” Of course, others may say, ” yuck!”, ” that sounds just horrible!” That’s really your point, I know 😬. You are a kindred spirit and I’m looking forward to seeing what my experience will look like. Thanks for this post, it was thought provoking and also very “Babble” provoking!😇 Lol! Cheers! Keep writing !!!

    • indacampo says:

      Gracias Holly! 

      I bet there will be people that you meet here that will also make you shake your head.  My husband thought it sounded like a rant but I told him it was my blog and I could write what I wanted to!  I’m glad to hear that it was helpful to you!



  4. joeltc1 says:

    Wow! You sure tell it like you see it, and I applaud you! Maybe Kris and I can get together with you and your husband sometime, we’d have a few things to talk about for sure;)

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions for my blog, I need all the ideas I can get!

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