By the time you read this, I’ll be tossing the last few items into my suitcase and heading for the airport. Today I fly to Panama to attend the Live & Invest in Panama conference, followed by a week exploring the country.
This is the culmination of a decision made in January, just a couple of months ago. But in another respect, it’s the culmination of nearly five years of research and planning.
That’s about when I started reading some of the expat websites and thinking about retiring outside the US.
I had an idea that I wanted to live in another culture, to experience a very different way of living.
When I started my plans, though, I had no idea that expatriating would become the only retirement option available to me. My crystal ball didn’t show me the financial meltdown of 2008-2009 and the disastrous effect it would have on our finances.
If your expatriation journey has turned into a multi-year ordeal, take comfort in the knowledge that it takes the average first-time expat about five years to go from the initial idea to living in their new country.
Will I Really Move to Panama?
Do I know whether I’ll ultimately move to Panama? Not yet — but I should have a darn good idea by the time I return from this trip.
We’re scouting to see whether
- We can see ourselves living in Panama
- If yes, what part of the country is most appealing
There are lots of ways to accomplish this expat thing. My husband and I met last weekend with a retired couple who live in our area. They’ve made multiple trips to Panama and already have their pensionado visas. They’re just not ready to make the jump full-time yet.
Because of the aforementioned financial meltdown, we don’t have the luxury of making multiple trips to explore, or spending months in the country then heading back to the US.
Our Exploration Phase
If the answer to #1 above is yes, we’ll decide which part of the country to base ourselves in for the next phase of our plan. Instead of making exploratory forays from the US, we’ll find a mid-term rental of 3-6 months in the area we like best.
From there we’ll explore the area. If we decide it’s the place for us, we’ll look at a long-term rental or possible purchase. If not, we’ll find another mid-term rental in another part of the country. Wash, rinse, repeat until we find the place we want to settle down.
If the answer to #1 above is no, we go back to our list of possible countries and reassess our top choices.
But we’re hoping that Panama, which meets all our criteria on paper, gives us the warm fuzzies when we’re there.
Follow our Panama Adventure
If you’d like to follow our Panama explorations, I’ll be posting in a couple of places.
- Email. If you received my free e-book and have been getting my occasional emails, you already have instructions on how to get the email updates from Panama. If you haven’t, sign up to get the e-book. Along with the e-book’s information about portable careers to support you overseas, you’ll receive emails a few times each month, and you can ask to be on the Panama email list as well.