-Where were you born?
Prince Edward Island, Eastern Canada
-In which country and city are you living now?
Panama City and Taboga Island, Panama
-Are you living alone or with your family?
I live with my family, in the beginning it was an adjustment for our son, but he loves it here in Panama now.
-How long have you been living in Panama?
We have been here permanently 3.5 years, but purchased our property some 7 years ago.
-What is your age?
50, but I feel younger and younger.
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Panama?
Several years ago we were living in Japan and decided to look for a growing country that seemed prime to invest in, set up a business in and to live in.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
It took a long time and a lot of red tape and lawyers to organize our visas, but we have them now.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
Panama offers good and economical options for medical insurance in the country.
-How do you make your living in Panama? Do you have any type of income generated?
I built our Bed and Breakfast Inn on Taboga Island: B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical. Cerrito has been operating for the past two years now and also has several vacation apartments for guests looking for cooking facilities and privacy, as well as longer term. I derive my income from our B&B business plus I am now developing several other tourism related businesses. One of my passtimes is my active blog: Destination Panama Blog, which offers stories, insider tips, guides as well as lot of information for expats, residents and visitors to Panama.
-Do you speak Spanish and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
Although many people in Panama speak English, I feel it is very important to learn Spanish, first to show respect and then to be able to handle difficulties/opportunities which arise. I also do feel it is very important to respect the culture of the country where you choose to live. I have lived in a number of different countries and have found that adopting that policy has helped me immensely. My Spanish is not great and I do have to study more, but I have enough to handle almost any situation, have conversations and do business in Spanish. People here are very forgiving, as long as they see that you are trying to communicate in their language.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
My immediate family is living in Panama with me, but I do miss all my other family and encourage them to visit. Favorite activities include hiking, boating, snorkeling, blogging as well as enjoying life in a Latin American city.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
Yes, I am working on new business plans now for us in Panama.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
We have purchased both a condo and land. A condo with 2-3 bedrooms can run from US$100,000 and up depending on the neighborhood. We bought an older condo and I renovated it completely.
-What is the cost of living in Panama?
Cost of living can be very economical as long as you are not buying American and European products. Then prices are the same or more.
-What do you think about the Panamanians?
I love Panamanians and they have treated us very well. We have some great relationships.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Panama?
There are not many negative aspects to living in Panama. The only one is that we have had to learn to be aware of our personal security again after many years of living in Japan where there really is not much crime to speak of. It is important to relax and learn to wait, patience really is a virtue here. Learning to see poverty, not just ignore it, and do what we can to help whenever we can.We try to assist the people who have touched our lives here who are less fortunate than ourselves.
Positive aspects are so many for me I have written a number of articles on them. Some people find me too positive but that is part of my personality.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Panama?
If you are interested in living in Panama come and visit for a while to see if you like it, enjoy the climate, the people, and other things the country has to offer. Learn at least some Spanish. Don't expect it to be incredibly cheap, it is not. Do not trust people who befriend you right away, like anywhere there are a lot of scams, people who will try to overcharge you, etc...Get references for everyone you do business with. Come with an open mind, enjoy the people, accept their culture, and try to understand their lives and point of view.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Panama?
- http://www.cerritotropicalpanama.com: Our B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical Taboga website. With additional info, photos, and stories on Panama and Taboga island.
- http://destination-panama-blog.com: My Panama Blog. Information Blog on Panama. A Life & Travel Guide with Tips on Panama for Vacationers, Panamanians, and Expats. Listings for Hotels, Restaurants, Doctors, Tours, Vacation Escapes and more.