Our goal in moving to Panama was to live within our income following the big financial meltdown in the US. We’ve met that goal easily – and so much more!
Life is all about options and choices – that’s true whether you’re an expat or not. But by embracing the options available to us as US expats in Panama, we found much more than just financial benefits.
I believe that widening your options by choosing to live outside your home country is a smart thing to do.
Choosing to live in a new country – embracing those additional options – is not always easy. Sadly, one of the things that makes it more difficult than it needs to be is the attitude of (mostly) well meaning friends and family back home.
My mother-in-law accused me of being upatriotic after we announced our decision to move abroad.
A reaction we frequently heard was, “Of course, I want what’s best for you and if that’s what you think you need to do it’s ok. I just want you to be happy.” This sentiment was invariably accompanied by a total lack of comprehension.
The unspoken subtext was, “Personally, I think you’re absolutely nuts.”
We’ve been in Panama a little over two years now – since March, 2012. During that time we’ve had fun and frustration, joy and sorrow, and all the normal events, feelings and emotions that are part of life.
- We’ve celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, job changes, and other life milestones
- We’ve mourned the death of our oldest dog
- We’ve made new friends
- We’ve learned (a little) more Spanish
- We’ve become less stressed – a lot less stressed in my case
We’ve actually seen more of our grown children since moving to Panama than we did while we were still in Florida. That’s because we now have some discretionary funds we use for travel – when we were still in the US, we were struggling to pay the bills with nothing left over.
Back in the US of A
We’ve been back in the US for the past month.
First, we had three important family graduations. Our youngest son and daughter each graduated from college, one in Rochester, NY and the other near Boston, MA. Our granddaughter also graduated from high school.
We visited with my elderly uncle, who’s been in a full-time care facility for the past year and a half.
We got to visit with all of our kids – even the son in LA, who flew East for a quick visit.
We saw some friends we don’t get to see often enough.
We stopped off in Virginia to visit with my sister and her husband, and spend some time with their kids and grandkids. I was especially happy to see my niece, who’s a chiropractor. (That’s one thing we don’t have enough of in Panama!) I was much better adjusted when we left there.
We spent some time with my husband’s family in the Atlanta area.
So far – and we’re not done yet – we’ve added more than 5,000 miles to the rental car’s odometer.
Back when we lived in FL, we would never have been able to take a trip like this! We can do it now because:
- Our cost of living is so much lower in Las Tablas, Panama
- We found a terrific housesitter through the TrustedHousesitters.com [aff] website who’s taking great care of our dogs while we’re away. She gets a place to stay, and we get our house and pets looked after. It’s a big win for all of us.
- Living abroad has changed our thinking about what’s important
Studies of elderly people near the end of their lives indicate three main areas where they wished they’d done things differently. They wish they had:
- Not worked so much and spent more time with important people in their lives
- Taken more risks
- Been truer to themselves and not let others dictate their life choices
Moving abroad strikes me as a wonderful way to learn these same lessons, while you still have time to do something about them!
Remember, it’s all about choices and options.
All sorts of people choose to live the expat life. In Las Tablas, we’ve met people who
- Live in Panama full time
- Come to Panama during the winter months from the US and Canada
- Pass through as part of a full-time traveling lifestyle
We’ve been full-time expats for a while now, and we’re seriously considering switching things around to do the snowbird thing. (That’s one of the reasons for our extended time in the US right now.) My husband has an opportunity to invest and work with his brother for a while, and if we can make the numbers work, we may spend part of our year near Atlanta.
The jury’s still very much out, but I’ll keep you posted.
Remember, it’s all about options. . .