Six Months. Has it been six months already?!

Six months ago I picked up my suitcase, a computer bag, and a carry on and left the life I knew behind. I took a Greyhound bus to Ft Lauderdale, and a plane to Panama City.

I remember that trip, remember being so excited. This was the real deal. I was going to Panama to live! Could I manage? Could I do what needed to be done? We had been talking about this for so long, planning it, working towards it. Had the actual day arrived? I hadn’t planned on going by myself, but I had done all I could in the US and getting things ready in Panama made sense. But, how long would it be until we were back together?

The first thing I learned is that you cannot buy a one way ticket to Panama, not unless you are a legal resident. So, after buying the cheapest return ticket the agent could find, I was allowed on the plane. The second thing I learned is you can buy a phone as soon as you arrive in Panama, but it won’t necessarily be charged up and ready to go. But, I managed to get a short call through to my friends, and the rest of the trip proceeded without a problem.

As it turned out, things fell into place very easily. Friends asked their mechanic about a car, so he sold me his wife’s car. I had emailed my housing requests to Eduardo Horno, an agent who helps with rental properties, and the first house he showed me was just perfect.  A trip to the Do-It Center had me fixed up with appliances, beds, pots and pans, and all the essentials. Of course there was still more to do, but little by little I learned my way around town, got life organized, made friends with the neighbors, and got settled. My Spanish wasn’t great and that made things harder, but I was so thankful that I could at least communicate some. I was getting by!

Things in the US also went much faster than anticipated. The house sold quickly so I ended up going back to the US for closing, and then I was there to assist Joel and his mom on the trip down. We were actually apart only three weeks, and then all of us were here in Panama.

So, what do I think after six months living here? How has reality compared to what I thought it would be?

It has been better than I expected. Life feels calmer, more simple. Part of it is us, no jobs to worry about, no home owner concerns, enough money to cover expenses. We have a lot less to worry and fret about, less to manage, less weight on our backs.

Part of it is the country. The people are so warm and friendly, and have welcomed us and gone out of their way to be helpful. What we need is available in the stores here. The internet works, electricity is reliable. We have barely begun to explore the country but we are already happy with the beauty and opportunities to have fun right in our backyard. The weather is a bit hot at the moment, but generally we climate suits us and we don’t worry about hurricanes or other natural disasters, or snow and ice.

What are we missing here?
Mail as we knew it. It takes a while to get mail sent here, but now we have a mail service so for a bit of extra money this has improved.
Reliable water. Especially now in the dry season the water tank runs dry at times, but we have learned to keep water on hand, and it’s not as hard to deal with this as one would think.
US TV. Something went on with the cable service here and they do not make the major US networks available. But, we never watched much TV before so we don’t care. And, I discovered some shows we watched occasionally, like Pickers or Pawn Stars are available here dubbed in Spanish.

If I had it to do over, would I do it? Would I do anything differently? 
Oh yes, oh my goodness yes I would do it!
Differently? Not really.
We could have drawn up power of attorney papers so Joel could sign my name at closing for the house. We didn’t realize how slow it would be to send papers back and forth.
I could have bought a phone on a previous trip so it would be charged up and ready to go. It was frustrating not to be able to contact the friends who were waiting for me at the other end.
I could have bought a round trip ticket so I wasn’t stuck making a last minute decision, but this was only a bit of wasted money.
But these things are minor in the big picture, and I have no regrets about how we managed the overall move and transition.

It will be interesting to see how everything feels at the end of our first year. We’ve been here long enough that what is considered the honeymoon phase should be over. But also, since Joel’s mom as recently returned to the US, this is another beginning with our changed living circumstances.

I think I can say with confidence that we are doing very well in Panama, and that we will continue to be happy here!

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
This entry was posted in expat, expatriate, mail service, Panama and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Six Months. Has it been six months already?!

  1. Alastair says:

    It doesn’t seem like it’s been six months

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  2. Kati says:

    Glad you decided on Panama, Kris. My husband and I would love to meet you. Please come to Dolega for a visit.

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    • Kris says:

      Dolega? You are right up the road from us! Sure, we’d love to meet you too. Email me at MsKris941 at gmail dot come and we’ll work out the details.

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  3. sunnymikkel says:

    Just so that you and others that read your blog may understand, a round trip ticket is not required if you buy it through United, even if the actual flight is with COPA. We just did this for our flight to move to Panama in August.

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    • Kris says:

      Really?! I just flew United/Copa back to Panama about 3 weeks ago, and they demanded to see my return flight in May before they would let me on the plane. I asked if I could have gotten on board without that and was told no. Are you a resident or do you have documentation allowing you to stay in Panama? At this point, I do not so this is why this is required of me, as I understand it.

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  4. traveller says:

    Sounds great! It takes courage to move to a new country, it’s very hard to leave people you love and places you know so well behind but when it works out, it’s extremely fulfilling! Well done and hope your honeymoon with Panama turns into a solid marriage:)!

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    • Kris says:

      Thank you! I think we are lucky because we have moved within the US and left old lives behind and it all worked out, so we figured we could do it again. And, we did and I think it is becoming a solid marriage 🙂

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  5. I really enjoyed this post. I am a latecomer to your blog so it was a good summary! Time flies when you live abroad 🙂

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  6. excellent blog ! We’ve been in Ecuador for 16 months now and time does fly. I think we’re just finished the “vacation” mode.

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    • Kris says:

      Are we supposed to finish vacation mode when we are retired? I kind of have in mind a sort of permanent vacation mode 😀

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  7. Dale Boyd says:

    You guys are still my heroes. I am so glad everything is working out for you. Be safe and be well.

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    • Kris says:

      Dale, my friend!! How are you? How is everything? You should come down. It’s a good life here. I can see you on your bike, and there are horses.

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  8. Amy the Daughter says:

    This is a great blog post mom! I’m glad everything went as well as it did. I remember when you first started talking about moving out the country. It sounded so daunting at the time, but you guys have made it look so easy. I think a lot of people don’t live their dreams because of “the fear of the unkown.” You and Joel embraced this and never looked back! Incredibly inspiring!!

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    • Kris says:

      Oh my thank you 🙂 Actually the hardest was dealing with things in Florida, but we would have done that no matter where we moved. The main challenge for me here is the language barrier. Otherwise it’s just getting settled in a new place, pretty much the same process no matter where you go. I think it was way easier than putting everything you own in a car and setting out alone from the east coast to CA where you didn’t know anyone, and your housing arrangements fell through. You made that work out! Now that is fearless for sure.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Indacampo mentions that he has temporary residency status. Is that difficult to get? I’m interested in moving either to Ecuador or Panama. Panama is a little more enticing at the moment because of the possibility of getting a Panama passport. Can you tell what’s involved both for temp residency status and getting a Panama passport? Thanks.

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    • Kris says:

      You can stay here on your US passport for 6 months, but your drivers license is only good for 3 months. Then you have to leave the country and get your passport stamped, and reenter again. There are various processes for being a resident and you have to consult a lawyer. Google Panama Residency Requirement and you should get some basic info. It’s a bit of a process and paperwork and all that, as one would expect when doing this sort of thing anywhere. I expect that you have to be a citizen here to get a Panamanian passport, and I think that takes years and of course has requirements.

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