Looking for an adventure and a better quality of life, I made the decision to relocate to Panama. I published a post shortly after moving, "Why I Relocated to Panama."
Many of you kindly wrote to me with words of encouragement, asking me to keep you posted. Now I’ve got the lay of the land, I’m writing this update to respond to that request.
These are my three biggest challenges with Panama; I feel this information will be more helpful to those of you looking for a back-up plan, investment opportunity, or contemplating retirement.
The internet in Panama is slow. And I mean "Dirt Slow!"
Download speed is adequate in most areas. Enough to stream NetFlix. The challenge is upload speed. If you work online, services like Skype and GoToMeeting will sputter like an old car. Connectivity is not strong either. Remember dropped calls on cell phones back in the day? Need I say more.
The solution is to use company called PaNETma. They install a dish to connect you to their high-speed internet service. You'll pay a premium, but it's worth every penny.
You can get by speaking with basic Spanish. However, if you want the best experience, I’m discovering you really have to put in the effort to learn. And for me at least, it’s not easy.
I've hire a bi-lingual local as an assistant. This option isn’t for everyone, but it makes the adjustment process a whole lot easier. Having a local on your side collapses the learning curve and opens doors. For example, if you need to find a good restaurant, get your driver's licence, or locate a doctor.
Cutting-edge doesn’t exist in Panama. Many of the products you’re used to buying at BestBuy are not available in Panama. Most expats bring gadgets back in their suitcase.
Since I need to order bits and bats on a regular basis, I setup local mailbox with a forwarding address in the United States. This enables me to purchase directly from Amazon.
No situation is perfect. It's easy to miss the creature convenience and creature comforts of the United States. Some expats move back, others perpetually complain. When I look at the Pros and Cons, Panama is the best place for me. So instead of complaining, I create these workarounds.