Tuesday, Oct 10, five years ago was when I arrived in Panama intending to make it my new home. Joel followed in November after wrapping things up in Florida.
I came with few expectations. I figured there would be problems with the language barrier (there were). I knew there were comfortable homes and stores that sold pretty much anything I would need so I wasn’t worried about setting up my new life. The people we had met on visits had been nice so I wasn’t worried about getting along. I figured I’d just move forward and just let things unfold.
I never expected it would be this good though. I never expected to feel happier and more comfortable here than I ever did in my native country. How could that be? Why is that?
- People accept and respect you as you are. Nobody cares about your religion, politics, net worth, appearance, relationship status, how you spend your time, or any of the things we judge people by in the US.
- Of course no place is 100% safe but we worry much less about our safety and property than we did anywhere in the US.
- There are no hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, or other weather disasters. After living in tornado alley and hurricane prone Florida, it’s a great relief to be here.
- It’s warm. I do not like to be cold. I am very happy at 80+ degrees in shorts and t-shirt.
- It’s affordable. It’s a relief and peace of mind to have enough for everything you need and most everything you want.
- As one of the uninsured for most of my life, it’s a huge relief to have competent and affordable health care available.
- We live with happy people. Greetings are genuine and smiles light up like sunshine. People don’t get upset and life unfolds at a relaxed pace. So, the water isn’t on today, or there are weeds in the yard, or potholes, or the neighbor is blasting music. The strongest reaction is probably an eye roll. It can feel inefficient and messy at times but I’ve come to love it.
- Panama is a gorgeous country with mountains, beaches, and everything in between. There is always a new bird, bug, fruit, story, recipe, remedy, or cultural belief to learn about so it’s endlessly interesting.
Of course there are downsides. No place is all rainbows and unicorns or the paradise some publications promise it will be. You have to be prepared for many things being quite different, and sometimes confusing and frustrating. But if you can just go with it, it can be a great experience. It’s one of those things you have to experience to understand fully but now that I understand, I definitely plan to stay.