Hearing What You Want to Believe

Several years ago University of Illinois psychology professor Dolores Albarracín, led the study, later published in Psychological Bulletin, the journal of the American Psychological Association, that analysed data from 91 studies involving nearly 8,000 participants, focused on seeking a definitive answer to a longstanding debate. “We wanted to see exactly across the board to what extent people are willing to seek out the truth versus just stay comfortable with what they know.” Or one might also say, “what they think they know.”

Not surprisingly the research found that people were in general twice as likely to select information that supported their own point of view as to consider an opposing idea, with two-thirds going for supportive views as opposed to a third going the other way. Some people, particularly those with more close-minded personalities, were even more reluctant to expose themselves to differing perspectives, opting for information that corresponded to their views nearly three-quarters of the time.

Sante Fe Panama beautiful but ... Panama Relocation TourIt is my opinion that many times people are so anxious to find the “paradise” that they believe Panama to be, that they accept only what they want to hear, what confirms their existing beliefs. Now I am all for Panama as “paradise,” after all it’s been our experience, and I wrote the book THE NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE: OUR EXPERIENCE LIVING AND RETIRING IN PANAMA. But … BIG BUT HERE … some of the organizations who promote expat living in Panama selectively offer information that glosses over the realities of life in Panama. And of course they do a very profitable business.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat I try to do is give the REAL story and encourage people to move ahead cautiously, checking out things as they really are, spending time actually in the real Panama, not just a fancy hotel room somewhere, with boots-on-the-ground. If you do that there is a good chance that your will decide moving to Panama is right for you, but you’ll know what you are getting into. We all know you take a big risk when you leap before you look, yet it amazes me how many people will pick up and move to another country, usually one that’s hyped as the latest, greatest place to retire, without doing their own due diligence. In the end they head back home embittered, frustrated and having lost lots of money in the process.

Those who do the research and carefully check things out are the ones who come to Panama, love it, and thrive on the adventure!

I didn’t say these things, but here’s what others have to say about THE NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE, and if you doubt it, just check out the comments on Amazon.

The Most Beautiful House in Boquete, Panama FOR SALE 12 A good honest outline of what Panama is really like. I was very impressed with this book, very well written and very informative. Having lived in Boquete, Panama for almost 6 years, travelled around the country and worked here, I have never seen such an honest, complete and straightforward representation of what it is like to live here. Richard writes the truth about subjects that many won’t, and shows very little bias throughout the book. In all of his chapters explaining life, real estate, services, construction and retirement in Panama, he hits the nail on the head and isn’t afraid to outline the fact that Panama may not be for everybody.” Conner

“5.0 out of 5 stars worth every penny, Well written, and informative.” Big Al

“What a fantastic resource from someone who has been living in Panama and knows the eccentricities and nuance of the culture. Whether considering Panama or anywhere else to retire abroad, Richard provides a lot of food for thought. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Richard!!” khfitz6311

“Great Job Richard!“I could hardly put this book down, even though I’ve lived in Boquete for seven years. Richard tells it exactly like it is … how I wish this wonderful tool were available before we moved here. It would have saved a lot of frustration trying to figure it all out for ourselves. This is an awesome book for those thinking of retiring in Panama.” Kathy Donelson

“5.0 out of 5 stars Must-read for anyone contemplating a move to Panama – Richard once again “nails it” with his straight-shooting comments, No rose-colored glasses here – Panama is not for everyone. If you’ve never lived outside the US before, particularly in a developing country like Panama – don’t even think about making a move without thorough research. Richard’s book is one of the best. Extremely valuable advice – take it to heart!” AKD

“Great book! This book is like reading a letter from a good friend who answers the most important questions you would ask if you were thinking of moving to Panama. Like a good friend, he gives you honest answers.” Jubal Atencio

“Reading Richard’s book paralleled the thoughts we were processing trying to determine where to retire and if Panama is a viable option. His book answers the questions about affordability and the mind shift needed for a life outside the USA, and the sacrifices (really just tradeoff’s, good/bad) we’d need to make if we chose to live in Panama. I don’t think there’s anything he missed in his book! From obtaining a Visa, to moving with a pet, to finding the best for an Expat place to fit in and live in Panama. It’s a big book but a fast read. I couldn’t put it down. A must read if retirement in Central America is on your mind.” Margie Casey

“I have to say that what and how you laid out the details is outstanding. You covered the reality of pros and cons. It is by far the best book out there for folks that want to relocate to Panama. We will arrive in April and rent for a year or so.” John & Susan Pazera

018THE NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE is an updating of one of the best books about moving to and living in Panama. Detrich has lived in Panama for a decade and he still thinks of it as paradise. The New Escape to Paradise is a pragmatic and thought-provoking guide if you seriously contemplate moving to a new land. After researching living in Central and South American for more than fifteen years, including some tourist visits, I thought that I knew a great deal of things. As it turns out, my impressions were superficial. If you have plans to live in Panama you certainly should be prepared with this book!” James Fletcher

“This is a comprehensive, boots on the ground book about what it is like to live in Panama. The only way to learn more is to come here and stay awhile. I can’t think of anything Richard didn’t cover.” Judy Sacco

“A must read: great book, especially helpful if you are considering moving or retiring to Panama. I loved all the insight to their experiences and can’t wait to experience the country myself.” Joan Egizili

“I gave this book 5 stars because it answers all the questions about living and retiring in Panama with the pros and cons.” Gillberto Smith

“Excellent. An outstanding, insightful book about the author’s experiences in Panama. It is a very sobering look at his and his family’s experiences, both the good and the not so good. The reader can tell they’ve landed in their paradise. My wife and I are considering relocating to Panama and we’re using Richards book as one of our primary sources of information for an anticipated visit to the country next year. Because Richard does not sugar coat life in Panama, rather he tells it like it is, we feel like we have a more realistic expectation of what life is like in Panama. He most definitely has us studying up on the many aspects to be considered.” Daniel Bridges

“Richard really knows what he’s talking about. Down to earth, no sugar coating. The book lays out both the good and not so good of living in Panama. I highly recommend it.” Steve McVicar

“You provide a lot of useful information. Overall it led me to decide against Panama, except maybe as a tourist for a month or two. Too bad! I had high hopes.” Ida Freer

THE NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE is a must read for anyone thinking/dreaming about retiring to Panama. We’ve been researching for two years and will be retiring to Panama in six months. The information in this book is highly informative, current, and down to earth. Richard tells it like it is about Panama and retirement in Panama, and, I enjoyed reading about his life and his family.” Allison Guinn

“Part philosopher, part psychologist, part historian, part travel guide, and part economist, all describe Richard Detrich as he weaves his tale of life in Panama. He tells it ‘like it is’ without the hype. THE NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE is a must read for anyone who is considering relocating to another country whether it’s Panama or somewhere else. Interactive exercises will give you insight into what you want out of your life and your next adventure.” Kristin Stillman
“Extremely helpful. No bunnies and rainbows here, both sides of the coin are exposed. Like any country, Panama has it’s issues and beauty and Richard gives insight to the reader/expat on both so we don’t arrive and end up shocked to find bugs in our paradise. Good job.” Dorothy

“What a wealth of information. This is the perfect book to read if you are considering a move to Panama or just want to know all about Panama from an insider. After living in Panama for just a few months, this book addressed aspects of life here that I am experiencing or will experience as times goes on, giving me insight as to what to expect. For my friends who live in Panama vicariously through me, I have highly recommended they read this book.” Lorelei

“This book has everything and more than original book had. It is so current, that you will think you are reading the morning newspaper. If you have the original book, now is the time to upgrade. The book itself is also much improved over the original book with very few typos left for us nitpickers to pounce upon. Once you start reading this book, it is extremely hard to put down until you have finished it. If the book wasn’t so entertaining to read, I would say that it should be considered as the text book for Relocating to Panama 101. Panama is not for everyone, this book may save you thousands and thousands of dollars down the road. Get it! Read it!” Larry H

“Besides almost living in Panama for ten years, building a home in Panama and owning a business in Panama, Richard has traveled extensively lecturing about Panama on cruise ships. His second book, an updated version of the original, has more insight into the good, bad and sometimes even ugly about expats living and retiring in Panama as well as wonderful stories about his life along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it very useful in regards to my future retirement to Panama. Highly informative, entertaining and a great read!” Allison W. Gunn“Thinking of moving to Panama? Read this book first! It could save you a lot of time, money, trouble, and worry. Not only is the book entertaining, it’s full of really important information for people considering making a move of this magnitude.” E. Bolton

Mr and Mrs Claus Come To Visit“He’s amusing and informative. He doesn’t write seriously, yet covers all necessary ground to give us an accurate picture of life in Panama without blinders. All pertinent questions are covered informatively and accurately, giving you a clear understanding of the reality you would experience.I strongly recommend The NEW ESCAPE TP PARADISE. It’s a great read!” Doug Tyler

Great Videos About Life In Panama

Here are some great videos about Panama and life in Panama …


An Expat Helping to Transform a National Treasure

Savannah Jane Buffett (Jimmy Buffett’s daughter) visits Panama City to meet KC Hardin, a 39-year-old American who went from being a corporate lawyer to a youth hostel owner to restoring historic buildings in Panama City. Panama City has given KC many things including a beautiful wife, who is a Panama City native and has a thriving restoration business built with a social mission. Visit the Panama Canal, the Danilo Perez Foundation, and many other amazing places that KC’s company has rebuilt.

A Teenager’s Expat Experience in Panama

A Gringo’s Life In Boquete Panama

From Canada to Running A Bed & Breakfast in The Pearl Islands

A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words

Life in Panama Offers Choices

Message for Expats from Bob Adams of Retirement Wave 

Is Panama for You by Bob Adams of Retirement Wave


Bob Adams of Retirement Wave on Cost of Living in Panama

Jeff Lane of Retirement Wave gives a younger persons view of what there is to do in Panama

Cost of Living in Panama

Future of Panama Economy by Patrick Dixon


Boquete Panama

Panama City and the Pacific Beach Communnities

The NEW Panama City

Coronado Panama If You Like Hot Weather

Motorcycle Ride Through Boquete

Volcan, Bambito and Cerro Punta 

David Panama Tour on a Motorcycle


OK it is a party town!

And, in case you wondered, the difference between “Nightclubs” and “Discos” in Panama City …


The Little Engine That Could

Like thousands of kids I grew up with THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD by “Watty Piiper” but the problem that after over 100 years, nobody knows for sure who Watty Piper was, although it’s generally assumed there never was an author named Watty Piper, but after all these years nobody knows for sure who wrote the book.

But it inspired me!  And like the Little Engine That Could I was, and frankly still am, motivated by the thought, “I think I can!  I think I can!”

I’ve always thought a takeoff on the title of this ever popular kids book, long before all the technical hoopla that kids have to put up with today … I’ve always thought that a good description of Panama would be THE LITTLE COUNTRY THAT COULD.

1867panama_railroadI KNOW it would be an apt description of the Panama Railroad that really was the LITTLE RAILROAD THAT COULD.  Eclipsed, as usual, by its younger sibling the Panama Canal, while this year the Canal celebrates its 100th Anniversary, the Panama Railroad, and its current lineal descendant, the Panama Railway, celebrates its 160th Anniversary!

In many ways the construction of the railroad was even more challenging and interesting than the construction of the Panama Canal. That’s why in my book PANAMA CANAL DAY I have an entire chapter about the Panama Railroad, telling a fascinating story that is often ignored.

I think it can be fairly argued that the fantastic achievement, which it was in its day, of linking the oceans together, and the Panama Railroad making Panama a crossroads, inspired the courage and commitment to create the Panama Canal.  With the Canal and Panama’s unique geographical location [Location! Location! Location!] it has become possible for Panama to be what it is today, “The crossroads of the world.”

PRR in jungle

That, “I think I can!” spirit, is a motivating factor in Panama’s success in the world today: nothing seems to daunt the spirit of Panama.  It’s interesting that the video progress reports on the expansion of the Canal often refer to “our new nation.”  Of course Panama as independent country and not a vassal of Spain or Colombia is over a hundred years old, yet, after the dictatorship and the turnover of the Canal, in many ways Panama really became a new and independent nation and after a few transition years things really began to happen.

Panama is in the midst of grappling with what afflicts most Latin countries, but few ever attack, and that is corruption.  It happens everywhere, including [Wake up folks!] the US, but in a country of less than 4 million people it is a little harder to hide.  It is becoming apparent that the Martinelli administration was possibly even more corrupt than its predecessors and the current administration is trying to sort all this out.  Hopefully the current President, Juan Carlos Varela, will manage to keep his hands clean and become the exception to the rule.  Maybe Martinelli was lining his pockets, but his “Just do it!” and “Get ‘er done!” attitude of just going ahead and awarding contracts without years of meetings, studies and committees, while it opened the door to wide-scale corruption, did get things done!

Look at this tiny little squiggle of a country: a massive $6 billion expansion of the Canal coming to completion, scores of architecturally interesting towers dotting the skyline, a brand new subway with line 2 near ready to start, two new bridges under construction or ready to begin across the Canal, the fantastic Costa Cintera, the expansion of the Pan American Highway nearing completion, multiple new hospitals across the country under construction, and a long-range project to clean up the Bay of Panama moving toward completion, and the former Fort Howard being developed as a new, planned community called Panama Pacifico, another expansion of Tocumen International airport which just can’t seem to keep up with the additional traffic created by Panama’s Copa Airlines and our geographical position as the “Hub of The Americas”..

Look at what’s on the drawing board and being planned: a new, massive LNG terminal, a brand new major container port on the Pacific near Agua Dulce, a possible container and cruise ship port in Puerto Armuelles, the renovation of the City of Colon, thousands of new homes being constructed by the government to continue Panama’s long-range plan of creating a strong middle class, and the Canal de Panama already working on yet another expansion project to accommodate the ships already out there known as the New Panamax vessels.

This is an exciting country and at the heart of all this, at the heart of Panama, is that “can do” attitude, and a general positive and upbeat feeling about the country and life here.   Maybe that’s why for the second year in a row, Panama WINS the Global Well-Being Award!

All important stuff to consider if you are thinking of an expat lifestyle or retiring to another country. Plus, Panama, which has always been the crossroads of the world attracting people from all over the world, puts out the welcome mat for foreigners. There are more skilled jobs than locals to fill the019m. Assuming you have a clean police record, you are welcome in Panama. There are work visas, visas that will enable you to build business in Panama, and visas for retired “Pensionados” that even entitle new Pensionados to the same discounts and benefits that Panamanian retirees enjoy.