It wasn’t the howling wind that sometimes characteristic of this summer time in Chiriqui . . . but Baru, one of our Dalmatians, who refused to pee when he went out before we went to bed, decided that he needed to pee in the middle of the night, so he came to my bedroom door and barked. Only twice since I wake easily. Usually if this happens I manage to stumble out, not easy since I have to carefully remove the wedge between the door and the frame to keep it from rattling all night in the wind and keeping me awake. So usually I stumble out, open the door, make my own trip to the bathroom, let the dog back in, lock up and stumble back into bed all in the dark. As long as my wife hasn’t left a chair in the way, or a box out, and I don’t look at the time, I’m usually fine. But let me have just a moment of compos mentis and my mind starts to whirl, like bumping a computer and having it spring to life without provocation. And that’s when thing start to go bump in the night.
I know, it can happen anywhere. I think it’s a natural part of growing older. So, how much time is left, really? How much money is left really? What if this happens or that happens, then what? Who can you trust? What can you trust? Will there even be a pension or social security and what will what little you’ve accumulated actually be worth? Will it last? How safe are your supposedly “safe” investments? And who, if anyone, can you trust, including yourself . . . having just watched as a grim reminder “The Iron Lady” about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher slipping into senility. I mean it can happen to any of us, all of us . . . at some point we may lose it and then what?
And what to do about medical care . . . as long as we’re here in Panama, hopefully we can manage, but what if the time comes when we have to return to the States? Then what? And what about Medicare – and parts A, B, C, D ad nauseum? My daughter Noelle once assured me not to worry if I get old and senile because she will just stick me in the kitty litter box, turn on the sun lamp and tell me I’m at the beach.
All of this is exacerbated somewhat . . . actually a whole lot! . . . by living as an expat in a foreign country. Yes it’s paradise, but . . . things change . . . physically, personally, and in terms of the country itself.
One of the things I learned in my MBA program was that you always need an exit strategy. That’s true in business as well as personally because we all make an exit at some point. Ideally with some forethought and planning that exit can be a smooth as possible.
This comes to mind because we have had a number of friends who due to serious physical changes, challenges and complications, and the mysteries of insurance and medical benefits have had to suddenly pick up and leave paradise and return to the States for care. But deciding on an expat lifestyle is an adventure. And what would an adventure be without some risk and a lot of challenge? Who wants to slip into “old age” just “giving up” and sitting in a rocking chair in the place you have always been?
Panama Relocation Tour
Today I’m making my way to Panama City to join the Panama Relocation Tour as we explore some of the options for escaping to Paradise. My friend Jackie Lange organizes these tours and whenever possible I either join the tour, or at least have everyone to our home for wine and cheese. This time we have 1 repeat couple who have been here on two previous tours [People will often come several times before actually making the move.], a couple from Alaska [where it's 18 degrees Fahrenheit today!], four other couples, four singles and one “soon-to-be single”.
Everyone who comes on the tour gets a copy of my book ESCAPE TO PARADISE: LIVING & RETIRING IN PANAMA and usually by the time they come are following this blog, so for me it is like meeting old friends.What makes this tour different for other tours, like those sponsored by organizations like International Living and Live & Invest Overseas? On the Panama Relocation Tour nobody is selling or pushing anything! The tour gives you the opportunity in one week to visit some of the most popular places for expats in Panama, and, most importantly instead of meeting real estate sales people and developers, you get to meet real expats who will give you unfiltered insights into the joys and challenges of expat living in Panama.
By contrast on tours that promise to “give you a complete introduction to current opportunities for living, retiring, investing, and banking” . . . guess what? You are going to meet sales people who have paid the tour promoter to be on the agenda and give you their sales pitch. “Opportunities” is a code word for sales presentations. One organization promises that in a 2.5-day “conference” in Panama City . . . “Join us and discover everything you need to know about Panama to help you decide if it’s your ideal retirement or relocation destination . . . Come away with all the knowledge and contacts necessary to make your move happen with confidence.” WOW! “Everything you need to know”"! “All the knowledge and contacts”! All for $1,095 which of course does NOT include meals or the hotel ($125 a night including breakfast),
Don Winner [www.panama-guide.com] said about these tours, and one promoter in particular whose name I have changed to “Tour Sponsor” . . .
[Tour Sponsor] is all about making money – for [Tour Sponsor]. The people who attend their conferences have to pay [Tour Sponsor] in order to attend. The speakers who make the presentations have to pay [Tour Sponsor] for the privilege of being able to present their goods or services before the captive audience. [Tour Sponsor] will only steer you towards those real estate products or service providers who pay them a percentage. As far as they are concerned, if a developer is not paying [Tour Sponsor] to promote their developments, then they either don’t exist, or they are substandard, or otherwise undesirable for whatever reason. In short – it’s a great deal for[Tour Sponsor]. They make money from everyone, all around, from all sides. Whether or not it’s a great deal for the attendees is open for debate. [Tour Sponsor] does advertise and promote Panama far and wide, so they have served the purpose of brining a whole lot of people to Panama who otherwise would not have come, so they have that in their favor. Well, assuming you see more expats in Panama as a positive thing, I guess I should say. And they also give attendees a room full of experts for rookies to interrogate – and I guess there’s no harm in that, as long as the attendees recognize the inherent bias – and they understand that they are not getting exposed to the full menu of options (because they are not hearing from those who have not paid to be there.) . . .
So . . . you pay your money and take your choice.
When Rebecca was here visiting earlier this month we had breakfast on Sunday morning at Central Park Cafe right on the plaza in the center of “downtown” Baja Boquete. When we came our breakfast of omelet with everything, hojaldra, orange juice and coffee was $2.50 and now it’s $4.50, but still a great bargain!
And although I hate hair cuts, it’s a bit easier and a whole lot cheaper in Panama. $3! Was when we came, and still is the same. OK, folks back in the US of A . . . what’s a haircut run where you live??? Just click on the little comment cloud to the right of the title above . . . and let us know!