A reader sent me a newsletter from a site that he subscribes to as part of his research for his retirement and asked me to comment on it. I am always somewhat dubious about how honest the information is on websites that have a vested interest in selling you something or charge for their information. That’s not to say that some of information can’t be valuable, we used some of these sites for our research. They are a good tool, but my opinion is that too often they are skewed to selling you on something you think you need. Particularly sites that sell relocation or real estate tours or seminars. My way of thinking is that if you’re too timid to visit the country you’re thinking about relocating to on your own, then you might just be too timid to move out of your comfort zone.
Rather than quote or copy the article here, I’ll explain the basic context of the article. I will also confide that I sent a copy to my friend and fellow blogger Kris, who lives in David. We both agreed that the article was very difficult to read, hence another reason not to copy it.
The commentary begins with talking about community, culture, and place, although not in those exact words. The analogy used is a recipe, changing the ingredients, changes the recipe. Now, I’m going to be critical of the writing, like Kris, I don’t understand why one would use a recipe analogy, unless he is a chef or cooking is a hobby. But that’s what I was given to work with. The article states that the “spices” in Boquete have changed. Meaning the community. In my case as I don’t live in Boquete, have the “spices” meaning the “flavor” of our area (Pedasi District) changed with the influx of North Americans and Europeans?
We’ve only been here four years, which may seem a long time in some respects, but several non Panamanian people have been here years longer. Things move a little slower on the peninsula, Chitre has grown, us not so much. No one place should ever stay stagnant, in most respects progress is good, although not all good if you’re looking for a little wildness. More people has meant a drain on infrastructure. There are ongoing issues with electricity and water. The resources are there but the people in charge of them haven’t been proactive about making sure everything is in good working order.
Pedasi (and the surrounding communities in the Azuero Peninsula) is determined to keep its culture and folklore intact. That, as well as the beaches and fishing attract the visitors and make people want to stay. The author also laments rising prices but, as Panama’s economy has improved, prices have risen, everywhere.
The one area that dramatic change has happened is the area around Venao, the main surfing area. I was speaking with one of my Panameña friends again about this area further down the coast from us. SU and I had occasion to be in the Venao area in the evening. We noted that the amount of development seems to have necessitated a large amount of lights toward the beach area. We agreed that there is likely more and brighter lighting than the town of Pedasi. There was also a great deal of mangroves removed to accommodate the construction area and view. To understand what happens when mangroves are removed you can read further here. There is a lot of fencing up and the land is flattened for construction, it’s feo (Mom that means “ugly” in English).
Going back to the main theme, after one cuts through all the gobbly-gook in the article, the question is; has an influx of foreigners and the development as a result changed the “flavor” of the area? The author also discusses perceptions of an area for happiness and liking the place you choose in ten years’ time. Can anyone honestly say that anywhere they have lived is the same as it was ten years ago? Perhaps living in a small town one notices it more, or is it leaving and returning that makes one notice the changes? Which harkens back to not staying stagnant and evolving. The author laments for the Boquete of the old days before everyone discovered it in one breath but, I found another article he wrote promoting it as a retirement haven. The writer ends the article claiming he is producing the article based on an investment perspective. If an investment goes up, that’s good. Right? An influx of people is good. Right? Or not…depending on your standards.
When doing research for a home anywhere it’s best to lay out the criteria that you need to make you happy. I think this is what the writer means when he uses the word “variables”. My thought is that one should never chose a home based solely on economics, especially when leaving a comfortable life in your home country. If you’re uneasy about a move, it’s time to regroup and revisit your criteria, and possible changes such as an influx of people and businesses or growth is one of them. Change can also include an adjustment in your own financial circumstances. It’s best to make sure that your finances exceed what is the “minimum” for residency status unless you are willing to compromise on your style of living. And if you prefer a small town where you’re outnumbered by the locals there are still several places to choose from in Panama. Like Richard.
The reality is, there are a multitude of things in Panama that are not easy. Hence the term; “It’s a Panama kind of day.” But, if you’re up for an adventure, if you work well with your partner and you have patience then you have the potential to make a go of it. We’ve managed to muddle through most of it and the good days far outnumber the bad. For now, this is where we’ll be…in the campo.
If you have any further questions, have a personal experience you’d like to share or would like to continue the conversation please leave me a comment. I’d like to hear your thoughts.