|American expat Lisa has lived overseas before; now she and her husband are located in David, Panama, where they specialize in the real estate business. Here she shares information and tips that expats and those considering a move to Panama might find helpful, as well as what she likes the most and the least about living in Panama.
-Where were you born?
Chicago, Ilinois, USA
-In which country and city are you living now?
David, Republic of Panama
-Are you living alone or with your family?
With my husband and sometimes my children
-How long have you been living in Panama?
Off and on for five years.
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Panama?
I've lived overseas most of my adult life so it was natural to go ahead with a country I'd never been to before. Panama is kind of Wild West with lots of opportunity and chances to do things I couldn't do in my home country.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
-How do you make your living in Panama? Do you have any type of income generated?
I am the marketing consultant for http://www.buyingrealestateinpanama.com . We broker real estate in the interior provinces of Panama. I didn't find a job, I created one.
-Do you speak Spanish and do you think it's important to speak the local language? Please add your thoughts on local customs and whether it's important for expats to respect/observe local customs.
I speak broken Spanish. It would sure help if I was as fluent as I was when I got out of college--passed the test for advanced language. Ha! Of course, you have to observe local customs, but you can vent privately if you don't respect them.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes? Describe your favorite recreational activities there or those that are available.
I always miss my children. For recreation, I am a fishing addict.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
Right now, to grow our business and survive these difficult times. It isn't the greatest atmosphere for real estate right now, but Panama may fare better than other countries.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
There is a lot of variance...depends on where you live and how you live. A home in David, Chiriqui Panama can be really cheap to rent (like $350 a month) if you go local or up to $1500 if you go posh.
-What is the cost of living in Panama?
Pretty low in general. Maybe two thirds of what you would spend in the US and that's living fairly high on the hog.
-What do you think about the locals?
Locals are very sweet and friendly, but gossip and stretching the truth is a way of life. Gringos are targeted and that's just a fact. If you don't nail it down, it is likely to be stolen. But violent crime is very unusual.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Panama?
Positive: cost of living, unbelievable natural wonder, laid back lifestyle, cheap food and drink.
Negative: lack of culture (arts in particular), a culture that embraces deceit, damn hot.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Panama?
Visit many times. Do your research. Don't fall for hype or slick-willy cowboys. Find people like you and who think about the things you think about. If you're retiring, find an older person to talk to. If you're 30 something forget what the old folks say.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Panama?
My real estate website is http://www.buyingrealestateinpanama.com.
My blog is http://buyingrealestateinpanama.blogspot.com.
I also read Sam Taliaferro's Panama Investor Blog every day.