We are So Fortunate!

Sometimes something reminds me of what is going on back in the US, and what a tough time some people are having.

I recently got a new blog follower, 62 year old guy who has been unable to find a job. He’s gone through his savings and his house is in danger of foreclosure. He has been looking for many months without success, and is resigning himself to the fact that he may never have a job again. He will need to find a life that he can manage on his social security income, perhaps a life in Panama.

He is only one of many thousands. Yesterday I came across THIS (chart below) on a site I visit occasionally. Their information is from the Economic Policy Institute.  The unemployment statistics don’t count people who have given up on finding a job, the “missing workers”. The EPI says there are almost six million of these people! If these people were counted the unemployment rater would be 9.7%.

missing-workers-by-age

Almost all of us have been through the process of looking for a job. We understand it can be difficult. When it goes on and on there is increasing uncertainty, financial hardship, discouragement, and frustration. And, this affects the working people too. I expect they have to put up with whatever conditions are in the workplace because they don’t have the option to go elsewhere.

Many retirees are looking at other options because it’s just too expensive for them to live in the US. But, what about others who are forced to retire sooner than planned, and use up all their savings while trying to find a job? They not only have a lower income than expected, but they don’t have the safety net of savings.

It makes me wonder how these people will do if they move to Panama (or anywhere else). If people are forced to move because of economic circumstances, can these people make the necessary changes and adjustments and build a happy life? If they are not happy but can’t afford to leave, then what?

I choose to ignore what goes on in the US. There is nothing I can do about any of it so it’s only depressing and frustrating. Once in a while though something gets through to me and gets me going. How is it OK that so many people suffered through the recession and continue to suffer? How is it OK that politicians spend more energy butting heads than fixing problems?  How is it OK that the rich get richer while much of the middle class slides into poverty?  How it OK that our health care system is a mess? or educational system is getting worse? It feels like love and generosity have been overcome by greed and fear.

OK, I’m done. This is why I don’t watch the news or keep up with things up there. It only makes me nuts. Life here is calm. Generosity is the norm. Some people are very poor but education, health care, and jobs are available for all. People can change their circumstances. The government, though far from perfect, is working on improving the lives of the people. I don’t sense the hopelessness and frustration of so many in the US who went to school, worked hard, did the right things, yet still got slapped down.

Every day I wake up to this life here, I am thankful.

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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 Miscellaneous, Panama and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to We are So Fortunate!

  1. Carole says:

    Love your article. You are so right, we are fortunate to be able to survive without depleting our savings. The economy is really bad were we live in the VI. Can’t wait to be in David in 3 days, counting the days before we will be there.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Kris, I just recently found your blog and signed up for your email updates and have to tell you how much I’m enjoying them! I feel exactly the way you do about the news from the States. I moved to the Cayman Islands back in 2001 and never looked back. I had a really good job until 2010 when the government here decided to get rid of all the “ex-pats” in government jobs and just hire Caymanians. I lost a job I loved that paid good money, but it also allowed me to move to one of the smaller Cayman islands and work in a more relaxed job, so everything happens for a reason! My girlfriend Lisa and I have booked a Panama Relocation Tour in July and are really excited. We both want to move to Panama – she’ll move before I do, but I do plan to retire there in a few years. It’s WAY too expensive to retire here in Cayman! I’m 57 now, and will probably stay in Cayman for 3 to 5 more years, but that’s not set in stone! She’s about 8 years younger than me, but is ready to relocate this year. If I know Lisa, she’ll talk me into moving soon too. Time will tell.
    We’ll be passing through David on our tour, and maybe we could look you up if you don’t mind.
    Can you give me a contact number? It would be nice to meet you.
    Take care – hope to meet you next month.
    Diane

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    • Thanks! Glad you are enjoying the posts 🙂
      How exciting that you are visiting Panama. I’ll be interested to hear how it goes. We’re going back to the US in July so I’m not sure if we will be here when you are, but I’ll email you and we can see if it works out.
      Oh wait… for some reason your email didn’t come through with your post. Write me at info (at) thePanamaAdventure (dot) com if you would please, and then we’ll be connected.

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  3. I’m the 62 year old you mentioned. If things don’t change soon we’ll be forced into the decision but, from what I can tell, I wouldn’t mind moving there even without the unemployment problem. I’ve always been the kind of person who is satisfied with what I have. I don’t need much more than a clean place to live and some good people around me. My kids are all grown and living far from us, so we don’t have much tying us down here.

    We’ve considered Belize and, now, Panama. So, who knows where we’ll end up.

    But, at this point in my life I know I’ll never rebuild any kind of savings. So, why wait until I’m 65 or 68 to retire and be broke – and then die in a couple of years. Might as well just go for it now, get by on my social security for a couple of years until my wife can file for hers, and enjoy life a little.

    By the way, I did receive a job offer and start work again next Monday. It’s a six month contract and the pay stinks but better than what I”m doing now. I’m sure we’ll be headed south before too long. Just not quite yet.

    Meanwhile, I surely do enjoy reading about everyone’s experiences in Panama. Keep up the blogging.

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    • Congratulations on the job! Hopefully this will ease things a little while you plan your next move.
      We did the same thing, just quit our old life and left. I turn 62 next month and will finally get SS but these last almost 2 years, we have been living on my husband’s SS (but with my savings covering travel expenses back to the US and other trips).
      If you just want a clean place to live and good people around, you can definitely find that here. These people are warm and friendly and loving and such a pleasure.
      We will keep up the blogging. Glad you are enjoying it 🙂

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  4. Kris, thanks for writing this post. I wondered too about U.S. citizens who are forced to retire and live on a small SS check. When we were in Ecuador, we met some expats who told us horror stories about some U.S. veterans moving to Ecuador without sufficient funds, no savings, etc. They can’t afford to leave the country, or apply for residency because they don’t have enough money for a pensionado visa. So, they are stuck there trying to survive on very little. I was surprised to hear of the number of homeless U.S citizens living in Ecuador. You ask very good questions, of which there are no easy answers. It’s very sad! Your post made me realize how fortunate we are. Thanks.

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    • Homeless expats in Ecuador?? Oh my, what a nightmare. I can see living on not very much but never thought about people getting in that much trouble. Yes indeed we are fortunate!

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  5. oldsalt1942 says:

    The sad facts are, that once you hit 50 your chances of ever getting another job, other than working as a bag person at Publix or a greeter at Wally World, if you get fired or laid off are close to zero. Ain’t going to happen, pal. The only thing you can do is to start your own business. Not as easy as it sounds, but it’s pretty much the only way you’ll work again.

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    • I know. We’ve had friends around our age in that situation. Some were successful, if you define success by finding a job, any job, no matter if it’s a suitable one for them. The majority are doomed though.

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  6. Hugo Ernst says:

    Without getting too religious, a simple Amen. Next year, we will arrive, and then too, we will try and ignore the news.

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  7. sunnymikkel says:

    After the dot.com bubble burst in 2000 I was working 5 different minimum wage jobs 7 days and 6 nights just to pay for a shared room, food and child support and I was one of the lucky ones!

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  8. John & Susan says:

    What a great country… and I mean Panama! Been there 3 times so we can say that.
    Soon to be retired there.
    Great report Kris! Old Salt is spot on as usual.

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  9. Robert & Helen says:

    If you are unemployed in the US, try to get a degree in Spanish. Panama needs urgently 2,500 English teachers.

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    • I think it’s possible to get certified to teach English as a second language and find work all over the world. But, you have to want to live in another country. If you want to stay in the US and work in your chosen field, then things might be more difficult.

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  10. My daughter and I talk about the troubles here in the US on a daily basis. We personally are not in any financial crises but there are precious few in our circumstances. We have the means to bail (barring catastrophe of course) and have been researching various places. Our biggest problem is worrying about leaving my mother behind although she wholeheartedly supports us “getting out while the getting is good” (her words) She’s a firm believer in younger generations doing whatever it takes to protect and stretch their finances.
    The middle class is evaporating quickly here and I see no end to it.
    Depressing as all hell!!!!

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    • Parents are a concern for many of us. My husband’s mother is 94 and was with us for the first 6 months. Now she is back in the US in independent living and that is working out well. Thanks to the internet and technology you can communicate and give a lot of assistance from afar. I know others though who have returned to care for parents. How good that your mother supports you doing whatever you need to do.

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  11. Karen Ama Panama says:

    What a sad but true article I also know many people in this situation. My brother-in-law being one of them. He is a paralegal and was downsized at 59. He will be 62 this year but would still like to work but there just aren’t jobs that will hire him. In Madison we have the UW and people graduate and stay and are willing to work at jobs way below what their degree calls for just to get a job. My company had a job opening for a janitor not long ago and over 200 people applied! It’s crazy. I also count myself fortunate that I have a great job and am looking forward to the move to Panama. Many people would not be willing to leave the states and the dentist who works at my facility said “shame on you, Americans should live here in America where they belong.”. But I don’t agree, obviously, or feel like I want to live here anymore.

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    • oldsalt1942 says:

      Hopefully your dentist will never leave the continental United States. He’s sure to be one of the “Ugly” Americans that give US a bad name.

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    • I doubt there is anyone who hasn’t had problems, or doesn’t know many others who have. It is a shame and I don’t know if anything is going to change in the foreseeable future.
      Shame on you?? Sheesh. Shame on him. We are ambassadors hopefully sharing what is good about Americans, and improving ourselves and enjoying life in the process. I agree with oldsalt. Don’t let him out of the country.

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      • Karen Ama Panama says:

        I couldn’t agree more! I work with people from all over the world and find it fascinating to get to know them. The dentist is already retired and works in our nursing home once a week to fund his and his wife’s vacations around the world. Kind if ironic isn’t it. No worries of him moving to Panama but I would avoid him like the plague if he did!

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        • Interesting that he travels all over, but would never consider living anywhere else. Also interesting that working one day a week is enough to fund all that travel. Oh well, not our problem. We will enjoy the opportunity to live in Panama!

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          • Karen Ama Panama says:

            I know it’s funny! He is an Independent contractor and makes something like $200/hour. Well a 9 hour day once a week would add up fast. They hire people that way because it’s cheaper than paying benefits.

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  12. Noreen says:

    Hi Kris, I get your e-mail updates and follow your blog which I enjoy immensely. My husband and I were in Panama in February and saw Karen and her husband in Pedasi. Our closest friends moved down in November 2013 so we are slowly researching before we decide to move permanently or just winter in Panama. Maybe we will meet sometime when we are down your way.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kris, I’m biding my time…I’m 60. Won’t apply for pensenado until 66. Hope to move down by 63 or so, live on my own money until…That gentleman needs $1,000. per month. If I were to collect at 62 I wouldn’t meet the requirement (almost). 66? Easy. Anyway I’m having a heck of a time with my itinerary for my first visit this upcoming Abril- Mayo. I hope to meet with you in two yrs. as your my ideal of retirement. Thank you, David.

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    • Yes, $1000/mo for an individual and $1250 for a couple.
      Let me know if you come to this area on your upcoming trip and maybe we can get together. As for the itinerary, don’t worry too much. I think if you can see some of the country and see if you feel good here, that’s the main objective. If you move and after a while decide there is another area you like better, you can always move.

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