The other day I was enjoying dinner at one of my favorite Coronado restaurants, Luna Rossa, when I ran into a group of retired expats enjoying the great food and drinks.
It was a group of about ten, who were seated at a communal table so I took the opportunity to ask them a few questions.
“How do you like living in Panama?”, was my first question and it resulted in chuckles and smiles.
Leaving For Chile
The first gentleman, who appeared to be in his sixties, motioned to his wife and said, “tomorrow we are leaving for four months to go and kick around Chile. Nice of everyone to turn out and celebrate our next trip,” he continued, raising a glass of pinot noir. I wondered how leaving was a positive response to living in Panama.
“Panama gives us a wonderful, affordable base to travel the world,” his wife said. “We just spent three months in Southeast Asia. Singapore was great to visit, but you’d need to be very, very wealthy to have Singapore as a base,” she laughed. “Two beers cost $30!
“We enjoyed Vietnam and Cambodia, but you couldn’t find common things like toothpaste. In Panama, it’s pretty much just like what we enjoy in Canada.”
“Everything is safe here so when we lock the door and leave, we know people are around if something happens,” she continued. I smiled thinking it would be a luxury to take long visits and really get to know a country.
“Another thing that people don’t think about when they are planning a home base is how accessible the airport is. Let’s face it, Tocumen International Airport is the hub for Central America. They have over eighty direct flights going all over the world including Frankfurt, Paris, Sao Paolo and Amsterdam. The other day someone booked a direct flight to Los Angeles for less than $275 round trip and we went direct to Paris last year for $650 round trip,” he continued.
A Beauty Consultant
“I have a business in skin care,” said a woman who appeared to be in her late forties. “I’m one of those people who take orders for moisturizing cream and products that boost the growth of eye lashes. I do everything pretty much on my phone and the rest is on the computer,” she continued, motioning expressively with her hands.
“My time is my time, so I can pick my kids up from school and have a snack ready for them when we get home. I’m a single mother and Panama allows me to provide them with an incredible bi-lingual education, a great varied lifestyle, plus income to travel. I make enough that we would be okay in the States, but here, there is just more disposable income and less drama.”
“I sell products and I get a commission on the products I sell. It’s also called Multi-network Marketing, because I also receive a revenue stream from other distributors on my team. I work with them every day, planning promotions and helping them with marketing. The products are fabulous and I’m finding there are plenty of Panamanian women interested in products that protect their already fabulous skin.”
“I’m pretty pale,” I said immediately. “Maybe we should talk about those products.”
“Absolutely! See, it’s easy if you work the business and you know your products are absolutely first rate. Not everyone has to work a nine to five!”
We’ll Be Here When You Return
Another couple seemed anxious to contribute information about their Panama life. “We don’t want to pick up kids from school because we’ve done that. We don’t want to wander around South America or Southeast Asia. We’ve traveled a lot in our 60 years of marriage, so we’ll just be here when you return,” said a man who laughed easily.
“We love the people in Panama. They are simply kind and non-judgmental,” his wife offered. “Before we decided to retire away from our children, we always laughed about keeping lots of friends around, so someone could go and pick up our prescriptions. We didn’t want to be dependent on the kids. They have their own life, their own kids and their own careers. In Panama, we don’t have to rely on friends, because we can provide employment for someone to clean our condo and run errands. It’s really inexpensive.”
“I like the warmth,” said another. “I think my joints do better and that makes it easy to play 18 holes of golf. I’ve made a lot of friends, in the four years since I moved to Panama. I think if someone is going to retire in another country, they sort of have a can-do, adventurous attitude. I like that.”
But, What About The Internet?
I was thanking everyone and getting ready to leave, when a woman from the next table grabbed my attention. “The internet is fantastic,” she said. “Anyone who needs to use the internet, it’s just fine. We FaceTime with the grandkids and stay in touch easily. It’s not exactly like being down the road, but it’s close.”
The Internet brought on a round of comments. “It’s gotten so much better in the last few years,” said an older gentleman. “I remember when it was slow, but now I don’t see any difference from what we have in the United States. Some guy on our floor rents properties he owns in Miami through the internet. He’s always looking at his phone.”
The evening turned out to be incredibly pleasant. Everyone interacted easily and laughed hard. The food was wonderful and the wine flowed from bottles purchased at the restaurant and some brought in by a guest, who enjoyed no corkage fee. “Have a great time in Chile,” I said as my eye caught the incredible pastry case.