Money, Money, Money

It’s pretty much impossible to live without money in this day and age. Money buys us necessities, luxuries, lifestyles we like (or wish we had), and gives us a sense of security if we have some in the bank. Many of us face retirement without enough money to feel comfortable or too often, without even enough to pay for basics. Costs go up faster than income. Income often doesn’t allow enough for immediate needs, so forget putting aside enough for retirement. Even those who saved and did everything they thought was right, many of them lost so much in the recession as home prices plummeted and investments evaporated. Women are usually in worse shape since they earn less, and often miss years of work to take care of children, parents, or others.

Now of course this is only my perspective from my limited experience, but it seems people move from their home country because they want adventure, they want a similar life for less money, or they want a life they can afford at all (this is us). Unfortunately it seems like more and more seniors in the US are struggling to get by. Many may consider moving, but many others don’t have the means to consider it, and wouldn’t be suited for it for a variety of other reasons.

I’ve run across some articles that has gotten me thinking on this whole money subject.

This one is about the cost of living in various places, including Panama.  The Panama page seems quite accurate (imagine my surprise to see I’m one of the sources!) If you are thinking about relocating, this looks like a very good resource.  (but, one inaccuracy, the weather in David is NOT like Boquete! David is HOT.)

This article is about people in the US who may never be able to retire.   I was talking to a Panamanian who lives in the US and she said seniors can get jobs (unlike Panama, where she says people over 50 may have a hard time finding a job). She sees seniors all the time working at WalMart and supermarkets. Yes, true, but is this something they want to do, or have to do to survive? It certainly wouldn’t be my choice. And, what if they are unable to work? The article says a lot of the problem is people having fewer children, and there are less immigrants so there are fewer people paying into the system that supports the older people. Immigrants? I know people have strong opinions on this subject, but I never thought about it affecting retirees in this way.

And then, really sad 😦   This article is about homeless seniors in California, but it happens everywhere. I read somewhere that around 50% of homeless people are over 50. I talk with every homeless person I come across in the US (and there were a lot on my bike trip a few years ago). Every single one, with the exception of one younger couple I met, looked to be at least 50. Every single one had a story of a disaster pushing them over the edge – a major health problem, a job loss and couldn’t find another, and no safety net, no family or others to help. Once you’re down, it’s almost impossible to get up again. There are programs to help but not enough, and the waiting list can be years. It’s 10 years for low income housing in Washington state!

OK, enough doom and gloom. Our life here allows us to live really well on what we have, without the stress of worrying about making the bills every month. That’s a really big deal and we thank our good fortune every single day.


As for life at the moment, it is Thursday 1/12. Where on earth has this whole month gone??!  There was the famous Boquete Flower and Coffee fair the last couple weeks, so Boquete was pretty crazy. The weekend before last it was cold and raining which may have slowed down the crowds. Last weekend it was still damp and chilly but not enough to slow down anything. It took us 45 minutes to get from Alto Boquete down to the Brewery in town, and that was with convincing the police to let us go straight into town when they were diverting everyone on to a side road that went directly to the fair.

We went to the Brewery very early, thankfully, and made it in time to hear the Black Cherries. They are a Panama City band of 4 kids, 14, 14, 15, and 16 years old, with girls on drums, bass, and vocals!! Yay! I was quite impressed with them, very good musicians and really nice people too. Then, we played the rest of the evening to a big crowd and had a really good time. By the time we left, well past midnight, the streets were calmer but we could hear the music from the fair booming in the distance. I think many of the expat locals got pretty tired of the loud music until all hours of the night, but it’s a thing every year so if it’s a problem, that’s a good time to take a mini vacation elsewhere.

Down here in David, it’s been hot, dry, and windy until first of this week. We had some very pleasant cloudy days and then today, a great surprise! It rained! Not just some sprinkles… it RAINED like a Panamanian downpour. I think it started around 3:30, so loud on the tin roof I couldn’t listen to my book. It’s now 7:30  and it’s still raining, not hard but a nice steady rain. We don’t expect rain in the summer so this is a real treat. I’m sure the plants and wildlife appreciate it, and it should cut down on the possibility of brush fires that are pretty common in dry season.

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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11 Responses to Money, Money, Money

  1. Anonymous says:

    Haven’t read your blog in awhile. Really liked this one. Stop by one of these days…


  2. catfriend99 says:

    Hmmm… it;s been quite some time since you updated your cost of living page.

    A couple of things: First, I disagree with your friend about jobs for older people in the US. One might be able to find a minimum wage type job at or older than retirement age, but those don’t pay enough to live on. A lot of those people are supplementing their meagre social security checks with these. Getting one of these jobs also assumes someone is healthy enough to do the work. Not all older people are.

    Speaking as a woman over 50 I haven’t been able to find a real job for years. I’ve been officially rejected by two this week, and these were jobs for which I was very well qualified. I am willing to bet money that the people they get for those jobs will be under 40.

    I live in the Seattle metro area. This is supposedly a hot job market. But what I see in reality is that the big companies you hear about import people from around the country and the world. They don’t hire older local people, qualified or no. I believe my odds of starting a successful freelance business in Panama are higher than obtaining a job here.

    And yes, money is important. There is no way I could afford to stay in the US on what I will get from SS, even if my house is fully paid off. Fortunately expat life beckons. Also fortunately, since I live in a hot real estate market I’ve ridden the equity train far enough that I could sell my house today and have enough to live well on overseas until SS kicks in. (Still plan on earning money with a business.)

    Here’s a link a NYTimes article you might find interesting:


    • Thanks so much for your comment!
      Yes, I agree about the job for older people. I don’t think many/most of them are doing it by choice, but by necessity and yes, what happens if they can’t work? And, even if they can, should someone be forced to work in their senior years? If I was still in the US, I would still be forced to work too, which I would resent.
      I’m sorry, but unfortunately not surprised to hear about your trouble finding a job. My Seattle daughter works for Microsoft and tells me of the may Asians and Indians she works with, and I see that when I’m out and about around town. I should ask her about people over 50, especially any new hires. We have had many over 50 friends in Florida with similar stories, pretty much impossible to find jobs.
      Interesting, and sad article. Those people have more money than most to survive in expensive NYC, but what a time in life to find yourself scrambling for housing. We’ve seen that in FL too, seniors who thought they found inexpensive housing in a trailer park, to only have it sold out from under them.
      What peace of mind to live here! If something happened to our house, we could find many others for the same price or less. Best wishes for your future move, that you also find peace of mind.


  3. Richard says:

    I have long contended that if you’re over 50 and lose your job you will NEVER find one again that will pay you as well as the one you lost If you can find one at all. Pretty much if you lose a job when you’re over 50 you need to create YOUR OWN JOB! Maybe become a bass player in a band or something like that.


  4. oldsalt1942 says:

    What life for most people boils down to…Go to college, get a degree or two, pile up crushing debt from student loans and then spend the rest of your life getting up every morning to build someone else’s dream.


  5. It’s the American dream! Go for it, and you will find happiness…. um… maybe… or maybe not


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