At Home In
Aug. 4, 2008
Panama City, Panama
It’s A Journey, Not A
Fighting Back In Costa Rica…
Word Still Out On
Nicaragua’s Coastal Law…
“Kathleen, Make Sure Your
Readers Fully Account For The Cost Of
Living In A Foreign Land”…
is Nicaragua’s premier
private, gated five-star resort
community by the sea. There’s a reason
more than 200 leading business
entrepreneurs, professionals, and
retirees from around the world have
already purchased here…and this
opportunity will be open only a short
while longer. 70% financing makes your
decision to own even easier.
“Every day you make more progress.
Every step may be fruitful. Yet there
will stretch out before you an
ever-improving path. You know you will
never get to the end of the journey. But
this, so far from discouraging, only
adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
Dear Overseas Opportunity Letter Reader,
“Why did you leave Paris? Don’t you miss it?”
“You moved from
Paris to… Panama?”
Yes, we moved from Paris to Panama. And, yes, we miss Paris. But, after three weeks in Panama, we’re more
confident than ever that we made the
The right move for right now. We don’t
intend to live the rest of our lives in Panama. And, during the few years we’re here, we’ll
Paris regularly for visits. We’ve kept
our apartment there, furnished, Internet
connected, telephone and electricity on.
We didn’t walk away from Paris for good.
But we came to see what life is like in
far, I can tell you that it’s hot,
noisy, dirty…and gloriously alive.
Lief and I are doing a hard thing right
now. We’re starting two new businesses
at the same time. I’m getting Live and
Invest Overseas off the ground (thank
you for coming along for the ride), and
Lief is beginning work to develop 500+
acres of rolling beachfront he and a
friend have purchased on the Pacific
coast of the Azuero Peninsula (www.LosIslotes.com).
you could say we moved for business
reasons. Obviously, it’d be a challenge
for Lief to develop land in
Panama from France. I could do
what I’m doing any number of
places…including Panama (but not including France).
The longer we’re here, the more I’m
convinced that, again, this is the right
place for us right now, a great place to
entertain one’s entrepreneurial
inclinations. While in the U.S. and other parts of the world, companies are
cutting back and laying off, here in Panama, the buzz word is growth.
Everywhere you go, you see
infectious. You begin to feel like you’d
like to do a little work yourself.
This is how I see Panama. I’m sure
you could come here, especially to the
highlands…to the interior…and settle in
for lazy days swinging in a hammock.
That’s Panama, too. But,
for us, Panama right now is a frontier of opportunity.
This, then, is the response I offer
daily to friends, acquaintances,
readers, and, even, strangers upon
introduction for why we moved last month
from Paris to Panama.
fear I begin to sound a bit
defensive…but, truthfully, Panama is exceeding our expectations.
What do we do with ourselves here,
friends back on the Continent ask
visit the beach regularly. Lief is back
and forth from Los Islotes and the
Pacific coast at least weekly. Whenever
we’ve a mind to, Jack and I can tag
along for these sand, sun, and surf
lunch on the Amador Causeway…we visit
friends in Casco Viejo…we dine out at
various of the 20 or so restaurants
within walking distance of our
take Jackson to the park. There are two a 10-minute walk away.
“These parks aren’t the same as the
Tuileries,” Jack has observed, recalling
his favorite park in
Paris, “but they’re fun.”
And they’re clean. Maybe the posted
$5,000 fines for littering have
something to do with that.
I’ve been reporting to you that Panama City is noisy and dirty. This is
true, on the one hand. The ongoing
construction work means constant ruckus
and muddy messes at every turn.
the other hand, Panama City is surprisingly clean (that
is, litter- and garbage-free) for a city
growing and changing as fast as this one
What else do we do here?
walk everywhere, ignoring the fact that
Panamanians don’t walk anywhere. They
get in their cars to go across the
street for lunch. And they look at us
funny when we admit we walked over from
our apartment to theirs, for example.
Given the choice of walking or driving
in this town right now, though, I’m
happily hoofing it.
We’re taking Jack and a friend to a
performance of “Alice In Wonderland” at
a local theater. I’m signing up for yoga
instruction (in English). Lief is
working out every morning in the gym on
the roof of our apartment building.
I’m buying fresh flowers twice a week
(even Lief can’t complain when they cost
but a few dollars an exotic bunch).
Jack’s new nanny is helping him to learn
Spanish. I’m meeting with our Panama architect-friend to
begin plans for our beach house out at
spend Sunday afternoons at our rooftop
pool with new friends and neighbors in
our building. Conversation is in
Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and
(occasionally, thankfully) English.
enjoyed our six years of Irish country
Waterford…we savored our four years in Paris…now we’re embracing the adventure of a few years in
For us, this living and investing
overseas stuff is a process…a journey.
We don’t look at any leg of it as an
end…but as a chance.
This is our chance to be at home in Panama.
P.S. We don’t imagine an end to our
living abroad adventures, but we do have
an idea of how we’d like them to
organize themselves ultimately. We’re
working toward being able to divide our
time each year among a handful of places
we most enjoy, moving with the seasons
and changing circumstances. One of these
places is Paris, which is why we’ve kept the apartment there, fully
outfitted and awaiting our regular
visits. Another of these places is Buenos Aires, where we have an
apartment with friends, rented when
we’re not in town. We also intend to
spend time long-term in Istria,
Croatia (where we bought an old
stone farmhouse a couple of years ago);
Panama (where we’ll begin
building our family home at the beach at
Los Islotes later this year); and
Charlottesville, Virginia (where
we’re thinking we might finally be able
to afford the colonial-era home we have
in mind sometime soon if U.S. property
markets continue along their current
---------- Turn-key Retirement
Here’s How You Can Afford To Retire
left San Jose
last Sunday to come to visit you and
Lief in Panama,” writes friend and Costa Rica
Correspondent David Stubbs, I was
concerned about what my family might
face the four days I was gone.
two attempts to break into our house in
the two days before I left for my trip.
Then, again, while I was away, Sunday
night and, again, Monday, two more
contracted with a security company for
armed guards around the clock.
Fortunately, these guards were in place
in time for the Monday break-in attempt
and were able to stop the thieves from
smashing spotlights illuminating some of
the large trees on our property.
today, two guys came to my land in the
middle of the day to steal slabs of
slate. I guess they had an order for
some and didn’t want to pay for it…
safety concerns you hear about here in Costa Rica are not exaggerated. We’re fighting back
by hiring armed guards. And I expect
this current spate of incidents will
pass. Not because the local police will
catch the criminals, but because we are
making it too risky and difficult for
the thieves to get what they want from
us. So they’ll move on to someone else
who is less well defended…”
Nicaragua’s National Assembly
broke last month without passing the
much-anticipated “Coastal Law.” The
verdict is out still, therefore, until
the end of this year or 2009, on where
private property ends along this
country’s coastlines and public access
begins. Is it 30 meters from the
high-tide line? 50? 150? Where can
construction begin? And where can public
beach-goers be kept out?
already built along Nicaragua’s glorious coast, you should be ok, even if
it turns out your house sits in the
restricted zone. The Nicaraguans are
working hard to assure investors that
the law, whatever it turns out to be,
won’t be applied retroactively.
of a Reforestation Visa, Panama’s best residency option, is scheduled to
double Aug. 26, 2008.
you’re thinking of settling in the
world’s premier retirement and tax
haven, act now.
United Nature details here.
“Kathleen, just a note to say how much
local inflation and the decline in value
of the Greenback are affecting the cost
of living in
Puntadel Este, Uruguay. We bought our house there about
two-and-a-half years ago. The cost of a
gardener has doubled and is now about
$96 per month. It now costs about $50 to
drive from Punta del Este to Montevideo (thanks to gas prices).
Tradespeople all want higher wages,
citing the weak U.S. dollar. Restaurants
are much more expensive than two years
ago (thanks to food prices).
sure your readers fully account for the
cost of living in a foreign land. Today,
in my opinion, Punta del Este, a great
and beautiful place, is as expensive and
in some cases more expensive than, for
example, South Florida.”
heard this from friends living in Uruguay, as
well…that the cost of living in this
country has risen both in dollar terms
and in peso terms. Inflation has been
running high while the dollar has
course, though, not only
Uruguay is experiencing inflation right
now…and I can’t imagine a gardener in South Florida makes less than $96 a month. Though I’m sure
you’re right, dear reader, when you say
that some things in Punta del Este are
more expensive than in, say, Florida. But a life in Uruguay offers
advantages beyond an affordable cost of
point, though, dear reader, is
well-taken. When you move to a country
that uses a currency other than the
currency in which you earn your living
or realize your investment returns, that
currency can move against you. This
happened to us big-time in
Paris. While we continued to earn much
of our income in dollars…the dollar lost
50% of its value against the euro…and,
unfortunately, all the shopkeepers in Paris insisted we shop with euro…
Europe, you can prepare for this risk by investing in
the local currency. We began investing
heavily in euro about four years ago.
This isn’t a great idea in most
Latin America countries, though.
answer in this part of the world can be
to choose a country where you’re able to
spend the currency you earn.
make an international move, you should
do so with the realization that you may
want (or even need), eventually, to make
another one. If you’re living on a
careful budget, and the cost of living
in your adopted homeland changes
dramatically, thanks to currency
fluctuations or inflation, the answer
may be to move again.
Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar…and so does
living in Argentina for two
years left the country earlier this year
for cost-of-living reasons. They
identified a place they enjoy where the
living is still super cheap: Thailand.
---------- Borrow To Buy In
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Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, and beyond. Attractive terms.
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