Articles Related to Panama


You don't mind...or, if you do, you're not happy. If you're interested in a lifestyle supported by the diversions and distractions of a big city, Cayo is definitely not for you. If you're delighted by the thought of wide-open spaces where life revolves around the land and where independence and self-sufficiency are prized above all else, then Cayo could be the paradise you seek.

At home in Cayo, the view outside your bedroom window and from your front porch would be of fields and pastures, trees and jungle, rivers and livestock. You'd see Mennonites driving horse-drawn carts and children walking home from school. Everyone going about his or her business, not much bothered by market values, fiscal cliffs, or the mounting deficit. Here, in this land of escape, where life is simple, those things don't seem to matter or even to register.

Living in Cayo, you'd have Internet but maybe not reliable high-speed service. Don't move here if you plan to day trade.

Who Should Retire To Medellin, Colombia?

Medellin is a pretty, tidy city with a near-perfect climate. It's also culturally and recreationally rich and diverse in a sophisticated, developed-world kind of way. On any given day, you could visit a museum or see a tango show. There's opera in season, shopping year-round, and dance clubs, nightclubs, and white-glove restaurants...plus interactive outdoor museum-parks, an aquarium, an amusement park, botanical gardens, a planetarium, a "Barefoot Park" with a Zen garden, and dozens of small, neighborhood parks and treed plazas.

Medellin is an economic and financial center for Colombia, as well as a literary and an artistic one. It's the base for newspapers, radio networks, publishing houses, an annual poetry festival, an international jazz festival, an international tango festival, and an annual book fair. Back in 1971, Medellin was even the venue for Colombia's answer to Woodstock, the Festival de Ancon.

Medellin is a place where things work--the Internet, the metro, street-cleaning, garbage-collection...you can count on these services day-to-day. Taxis are metered, shop-keepers are well-mannered, and the people you pass on the street are well-dressed.

Making this a good choice for someone who wants city life but who also enjoys the out-of-doors (as this is a city best enjoyed al fresco). Medellin is suited to the retiree who isn't interested in hot, humid, or tropical and who appreciates Euro-chic but doesn't want to travel all the way to Europe.

The expat and retiree communities in Medellin are fledgling, meaning that you'd have to assimilate into the local one. This would mean speaking Spanish. If you don't already speak Spanish and don't want to learn, Medellin is probably not your ideal retirement haven.

Who Should Retire To Cuenca, Ecuador?

Cuenca is a colonial city where the cost of living is low and the cost of buying a home of your own is near rock-bottom. The health care is high quality, honest, and super-affordable. As in Medellin, the weather is "spring-like" year-round. Unlike Medellin (which is an emerging retirement haven rather than an established one like Cuenca), the city is home to one of the world's largest and fastest-growing communities of foreign retirees.

On the other hand, you have to remember that, charming as it can be, Cuenca is located in a poor, developing country. In this regard (and many others, too) Cuenca is the yang to Medellin's yin. In Cuenca, as throughout Ecuador, the standards of maintenance for roads, buildings, sidewalks, etc., won't be what you're probably used to and the hassle factor associated with any administrative task will be big.

Expats we know who are happy living in Cuenca are able to consider these annoyances fair exchange for the simple, 1950's lifestyle the city offers. Walking around town (Cuenca is a place where you could live comfortably without owning a car), you'll get to know the shop owners and your neighbors, who will all get to know you, too.

Cuenca will appeal to the expat who wants city life but who also has a sense of adventure and who is up for (rather than intimidated by) culture shock.

Who Should Retire To Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?

Romantic. That might be the best single word to describe Puerto Vallarta. The city also offers shopping and fine dining, boating and golfing, country clubs and community, gourmet shops and designer boutiques...all alongside a beautiful stretch of the Pacific Ocean.

Puerto Vallarta could be called glamorous, but the cost of living and of buying real estate here aren't jet-set. This is one of Mexico's most sophisticated resort spots, with more cachet than Mazatlán and more chic than Cancún. Walking around Vallarta, you get that happy, vacation-time feel that successful beach resorts exude.

And that's the would-be retiree overseas who should consider Puerto Vallarta--the beach-loving soul who likes the idea of retirement as a perpetual, fully appointed vacation.

Who Should Retire To El Cangrejo, Panama?

El Cangrejo is the expat hub of Panama City and a top choice for a comfortable, affordable, downtown-city-living experience. In El Cangrejo, you're smack-dab in the middle of everything Panama City has to offer.

This is one of the few neighborhoods in this city that is walkable and where you could get by without a car. It's also the only neighborhood in this city I'd describe as "cool." Over the years, El Cangrejo residents I've known have included a Chilean artist, a corporate transplant from Canada, many young Panamanians bucking the tradition of living with their parents through their 20s, retired hippies from the States, an entrepreneur from Serbia, and an Irish writer.

Panama City is the region's melting pot, and El Cangrejo is where the most interesting of the many transplants to this town choose to settle.

It's also Panama City's red-light district, the center of its prostitution (legal in this country) and casino trades. El Cangrejo's streets are lined with nightclubs and cafes, restaurants and pubs, plus low- and mid-rise apartment buildings. This isn't flashy Panama City (you find that in the high-rises along Avenida Balboa and in Punta Pacifico) and it isn't power Panama City (that's in Altos de Golf). El Cangrejo could be called the soul of this city, a good choice for the retiree with an open mind...

Who doesn't mind heat and humidity, congestion and traffic, noise and litter. These things, too, are all a part of the scene here.

Kathleen Peddicord

 

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Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader, 

Where is the best place in the world to retire?

That's a tricky question to answer, so I suggest coming at this from a different angle. Rather than trying to identify the world's top retirement haven, consider instead who's best suited to retire where.

A short list of top retirement options in the Americas right now would include:
  • Cayo, Belize
  • Medellin, Colombia
  • Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • El Cangrejo, Panama

Which one of these places is the best choice? It depends on who you are.

Who Should Retire To Cayo, Belize?

Belize is a retirement, a tax, and an offshore haven. This is a sunny country where the folks speak English and value their freedom and privacy. Belize is easy to get to from the States, and the people living here are welcoming and hospitable once you've arrived.

On the other hand, this is a small country where the infrastructure is most kindly described as "developing."

The cost of living can be affordable, even low, but not if you want to live a more developed-world lifestyle that would mean buying lots of things not produced locally. Anything imported comes at an inflated price.

My favorite part of Belize is its Cayo District. No infrastructure, limited services and amenities, and little market demand could be interpreted as negatives, but, in Cayo, these things are a big part of the appeal. Once you get to Cayo, you don't mind that there's no infrastructure. You don't mind that the culture is more concerned with country living than consumerism.

You don't mind...or, if you do, you're not happy. If you're interested in a lifestyle supported by the diversions and distractions of a big city, Cayo is definitely not for you. If you're delighted by the thought of wide-open spaces where life revolves around the land and where independence and self-sufficiency are prized above all else, then Cayo could be the paradise you seek.

At home in Cayo, the view outside your bedroom window and from your front porch would be of fields and pastures, trees and jungle, rivers and livestock. You'd see Mennonites driving horse-drawn carts and children walking home from school. Everyone going about his or her business, not much bothered by market values, fiscal cliffs, or the mounting deficit. Here, in this land of escape, where life is simple, those things don't seem to matter or even to register.

Living in Cayo, you'd have Internet but maybe not reliable high-speed service. Don't move here if you plan to day trade.

Who Should Retire To Medellin, Colombia?

Medellin is a pretty, tidy city with a near-perfect climate. It's also culturally and recreationally rich and diverse in a sophisticated, developed-world kind of way. On any given day, you could visit a museum or see a tango show. There's opera in season, shopping year-round, and dance clubs, nightclubs, and white-glove restaurants...plus interactive outdoor museum-parks, an aquarium, an amusement park, botanical gardens, a planetarium, a "Barefoot Park" with a Zen garden, and dozens of small, neighborhood parks and treed plazas.

Medellin is an economic and financial center for Colombia, as well as a literary and an artistic one. It's the base for newspapers, radio networks, publishing houses, an annual poetry festival, an international jazz festival, an international tango festival, and an annual book fair. Back in 1971, Medellin was even the venue for Colombia's answer to Woodstock, the Festival de Ancon.

Medellin is a place where things work--the Internet, the metro, street-cleaning, garbage-collection...you can count on these services day-to-day. Taxis are metered, shop-keepers are well-mannered, and the people you pass on the street are well-dressed.

Making this a good choice for someone who wants city life but who also enjoys the out-of-doors (as this is a city best enjoyed al fresco). Medellin is suited to the retiree who isn't interested in hot, humid, or tropical and who appreciates Euro-chic but doesn't want to travel all the way to Europe.

The expat and retiree communities in Medellin are fledgling, meaning that you'd have to assimilate into the local one. This would mean speaking Spanish. If you don't already speak Spanish and don't want to learn, Medellin is probably not your ideal retirement haven.

Who Should Retire To Cuenca, Ecuador?

Cuenca is a colonial city where the cost of living is low and the cost of buying a home of your own is near rock-bottom. The health care is high quality, honest, and super-affordable. As in Medellin, the weather is "spring-like" year-round. Unlike Medellin (which is an emerging retirement haven rather than an established one like Cuenca), the city is home to one of the world's largest and fastest-growing communities of foreign retirees.

On the other hand, you have to remember that, charming as it can be, Cuenca is located in a poor, developing country. In this regard (and many others, too) Cuenca is the yang to Medellin's yin. In Cuenca, as throughout Ecuador, the standards of maintenance for roads, buildings, sidewalks, etc., won't be what you're probably used to and the hassle factor associated with any administrative task will be big.

Expats we know who are happy living in Cuenca are able to consider these annoyances fair exchange for the simple, 1950's lifestyle the city offers. Walking around town (Cuenca is a place where you could live comfortably without owning a car), you'll get to know the shop owners and your neighbors, who will all get to know you, too.

Cuenca will appeal to the expat who wants city life but who also has a sense of adventure and who is up for (rather than intimidated by) culture shock.

Who Should Retire To Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?

Romantic. That might be the best single word to describe Puerto Vallarta. The city also offers shopping and fine dining, boating and golfing, country clubs and community, gourmet shops and designer boutiques...all alongside a beautiful stretch of the Pacific Ocean.

Puerto Vallarta could be called glamorous, but the cost of living and of buying real estate here aren't jet-set. This is one of Mexico's most sophisticated resort spots, with more cachet than Mazatlán and more chic than Cancún. Walking around Vallarta, you get that happy, vacation-time feel that successful beach resorts exude.

And that's the would-be retiree overseas who should consider Puerto Vallarta--the beach-loving soul who likes the idea of retirement as a perpetual, fully appointed vacation.

Who Should Retire To El Cangrejo, Panama?

El Cangrejo is the expat hub of Panama City and a top choice for a comfortable, affordable, downtown-city-living experience. In El Cangrejo, you're smack-dab in the middle of everything Panama City has to offer.

This is one of the few neighborhoods in this city that is walkable and where you could get by without a car. It's also the only neighborhood in this city I'd describe as "cool." Over the years, El Cangrejo residents I've known have included a Chilean artist, a corporate transplant from Canada, many young Panamanians bucking the tradition of living with their parents through their 20s, retired hippies from the States, an entrepreneur from Serbia, and an Irish writer.

Panama City is the region's melting pot, and El Cangrejo is where the most interesting of the many transplants to this town choose to settle.

It's also Panama City's red-light district, the center of its prostitution (legal in this country) and casino trades. El Cangrejo's streets are lined with nightclubs and cafes, restaurants and pubs, plus low- and mid-rise apartment buildings. This isn't flashy Panama City (you find that in the high-rises along Avenida Balboa and in Punta Pacifico) and it isn't power Panama City (that's in Altos de Golf). El Cangrejo could be called the soul of this city, a good choice for the retiree with an open mind...

Who doesn't mind heat and humidity, congestion and traffic, noise and litter. These things, too, are all a part of the scene here.

Kathleen Peddicord
Read more...
 



"Also," Jerry continued, "you have to be careful about subcontracted labor. We were happy with the work our builder and his crew did themselves. However, our builder used subcontractors for the electrical and the plumbing. Those guys didn't have any idea what they were doing, and the builder wasn't on-site regularly enough to monitor them. I should have been at the building site every day during those stages."

Good advice.

I've told you already about the groundbreaking event we held last weekend at Los Islotes. Saturday morning, the mayor, police chief, and other government officials joined Lief, me, our family, friends, and the Los Islotes crew to throw the first shovels-full of dirt and take a few swipes with a bulldozer. Then we drank a champagne toast and enjoyed a bar-b-que lunch at our rancho overlooking the ocean. It was a great day at the beach, and we really enjoyed the great show of local support.

Then the reality of what we'd undertaken began to settle in.

Monday morning after the groundbreaking, we met with Alberto, who will be our builder for this project. He had questions about some details of the plans our architect Ricardo had provided for him.

"The plans call for all the steel to be sandblasted," Alberto said. "I have to tell you, we don't do that in this part of the country. We don't even have access out here to a sandblaster."

"We'll provide one for you," I replied. "We've been building in Panama long enough to know that we want to do everything we can to guard against rust."

"What about the concrete block?" Alberto asked. "The specs your plans call for, again, aren't really available out here. Local blocks aren't going to be nearly the density you're asking for."

"Right," Lief replied, "the local quality isn't what we want, so our Project Manager Gary is prepared to make his own. He's shopping for a block maker now."

"How big a crew will you need?" I asked.

"At least 15 guys," Alberto replied, "and they'll need to be able to stay on-site."

"Yes, we understand," Lief said. "Gary is scouting out a piece of land nearby Los Islotes where we plan to build some worker housing."

"My biggest challenge right now," Alberto continued, "is logistics. I need to figure out how to get all the materials I'm going to need delivered when I need them."

"We agree," Lief offered. "But Gary has been planning for this for some time. He has some systems in place and can work with you to create whatever others you might need."

"Your plans call for hardwood for the window and door casings and frames. What kind of wood and what finish do you want?"

"Mahogany with a waxed finish," I replied. "Varnishing doesn't work in this climate."

"What about the roof?"

"Red clay tiles. We'd prefer salvaged tiles from an old structure somewhere. Could that be possible?"

"Possible, maybe," Alberto replied, "but I don't recommend it. It's tough enough in this part of the world to lay a roof that doesn't leak under the best of circumstances. Salvaged tiles will have cracks and chips that will make it even harder to make the roof watertight.

"I have to add," Alberto continued, "that I'm a little nervous. Your specs are for a very high-end house. This will be like nothing else that has ever been built in this part of this country. There's nothing else like this on this coast anywhere. I don't want to disappoint you..."

"What do you think?" Lief asked me after we'd left the meeting.

"I think Alberto is a good guy. He has years of experience and lots of connections in this part of Panama. And he has the right sensibilities. He understands our affinity for the Spanish-colonial style and our intention to use only real materials--wood, stone, clay tiles, etc. I think he gets us. And he wants to do a good job. He wants us to be happy.

"So onward," I said.

"This will go wrong a hundred ways," I continued. "We'll have every problem we can imagine and many we can't right now. It will take longer than we expect and cost more.

"In other words, it will be like every other construction project we've ever undertaken.

"But this guy Alberto, I can work with him," I concluded.

"And this time next year, the next 12 months will be behind us, and we'll have our Founder's Lodge."

I can hardly wait.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. You can find out more about the long-term plan for Los Islotes here.

 

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On Christmas morning, from beaches, piers, and coves around the country, people of all ages gather to immerse themselves in waters of around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (maximum).

"Swim" is a bit of a misnomer. There is no particular distance that you need to cover, nor any agreed-upon duration you must stay in the water. You simply join the crowd of people running toward and then into the water (cheered on by well-wrapped-up spectators), screaming as their bodies hit the ice-cold sea. A quick splash of the arms and legs, then back in to shore to dry off, wrap up, and enjoy a hot drink or a shot of whiskey.

Wetsuits have appeared on the scene in recent years, mostly among the kids, but it remains an unspoken rule among the hardy adults taking part: Traditional bathing suits only.

Our four Christmases in Paris were all about the lights. Each year, starting in November, Boulevard St. Germain, just a few blocks from our apartment in this city, is strung with tiny white lights. The trees and the building facades are covered with them. Each morning and again each evening as I'd walk Jackson, aged 4 through 8 at the time, to and from school, we'd linger at the intersection of rue du Bac and Boulevard St. Germain as long as possible, looking up and down, up and down, slowly, working to fix that magical view in our memories. "It's a fairy land," 4-year-old Jack declared it one morning. I see it still.

Twinkling lights and decorated shop windows. This time of year, storefronts throughout Paris are draped with pine garland, and displays feature green trees flocked with white and trimmed with red and gold baubles. No one does shop windows like the French do shop windows, and no others compare with the shop windows of central Paris at Christmastime.

My fondest memory of Christmas in Panama, where we've been living for the past five years, is of our son's annual Christmas pageant.

Jackson, now 14, attends Panama City's French school, l'Ecole Paul Gauguin. Four years ago, this meant he went to school with about 75 other children. Today, Jack is part of a student body that numbers more than 600. I was surprised when we arrived to discover that Panama's French school had 75 students, many, also surprising to me, Panamanian. Why would a Panamanian family, living in Panama City, choose to send their children to a French-language, French-curriculum school? I still don't know the answer to that question, but today dozens more Panamanian families are opting for this approach to educating their kids.

Of course, all the students at Paul Gauguin aren't Panamanian. Jack is one of the few Americans. In addition, there are kids from families that call themselves Spanish, Mexican, Colombian, Irish, English, German, Chinese, Japanese, Canadian, and, yes, French. The parents of these wandering youngsters are in Panama as entrepreneurs, like Lief and me, or because the international companies they work for have placed them here. And, again, their numbers have increased eight-fold while we've been part of the charming community they create.

L'Ecole Paul Gauguin is growing, and Jackson is growing with it.

Jack came to me this week to tell me he needs a red Santa hat and a green polo shirt. Would I please find these things for him at the mall this weekend?

"Ah, for your Christmas pageant?" I asked, excitedly. "Great. When is it? Dad and I always really enjoy the show."

"Parents of the older kids don't really come to it, Mom," Jackson responded. "Only the parents of the little kids come to watch. I just need you to get me the hat and the shirt."

Our first year in Panama, Paul Gauguin's Christmas pageant took place in the 300-year-old Teatro Anita Villalaz in the center of Casco Viejo's Plaza de Francia. Even back then, when the student body was much smaller than it is today, it made for as eclectic a collection of small children as you might ever find. Jackson introduced us to his friends from all over the world, some have names I couldn't pronounce even after Jackson repeated them for me three or four times. Finally, embarrassed for me, he gave up, suggesting that, if I have something to say to a particular child, he'd be happy to relay the message for me.

Some of these children, then and now, have lived in three or four other countries already, though they've only barely begun their little lives. Most speak Spanish and French; others also speak English, Italian, German, Japanese, Chinese... They switch among languages effortlessly and manage to communicate among themselves cheerfully and with far less misunderstanding than you might expect.

That first year, on stage in the grand old theater on the Plaza Francia, the young but worldly bunch from l'Ecole Paul Gauguin, Jackson among them, performed Christmas songs in Spanish, French, and English, including some we recognized and many we didn't.

"Children in Palestine and children in Israel, children from the Americas and also from China, this day, let us think only of Christmas," began one song in French.

At Jackson's birthday party last month, I had a chance to speak with some of his classmates' moms. Some have husbands working with the UN and other international organizations who have been posted in Panama for a year or two. Others are here for work related to various of this country's many infrastructure projects. They and their children have migrated to Panama from Mexico City or Caracas, Buenos Aires or Santiago, Paris or Madrid...

Lief and I worry sometimes about the life Jackson is living. Born in Ireland, he's since lived (and gone to school) in Paris...and now Panama City. He's an American by birth though his only experiences of the United States are his annual visits to see his grandmother and cousins in Baltimore. If you were to ask him, Jack would tell you that he's Irish, with the second passport to prove it. I wouldn't call him American or Irish or French either, though the parents of his friends are shocked always to discover that Jackson's parents are American, not French. "But Jackson is French, is he not?" they ask us, trying to make sense of Jack's perfect Parisian French in the context of our American English.

"No, he's American, like us," I explain, not sure how else to describe him.

Jackson is a little guy without a country but embracing the world. And, at the French school in Panama City, he's found about 600 other little guys and girls just like him who, one evening each year, join together to fill the tropical night with the sound of Christmas songs from around the world.

We'll spend Christmas Day this year with my family in Baltimore, my home town. I appreciate the chance to return to the place from which I launched my adventures overseas some 16 years ago at this time of year, the season for remembering and for taking stock. Where will 2014 lead us? I can't wait to find out.

On behalf of the entire far-flung staff of Live and Invest Overseas, please accept our warm and heartfelt wishes for a Merry Christmas, wherever you find yourself enjoying it this year, and our sincere hope that 2014 is the year your far-flung dreams of adventure overseas begin to come true.

All the best from our family to yours. We so appreciate your coming along with us for this ride.

Merry Christmas!

Kathleen Peddicord

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“If I had to start over today,” Lief said, “I’d scrape together whatever nest egg I could, and I’d invest in a rental property, something that would generate enough cash flow to pay my bills. I’d live as cheap as I could and put aside every dollar of rental cash flow I could until I had accumulated enough to purchase a second rental property...and so on. 

“After I’d built a small portfolio of cash-flowing rental investments, I’d make an agricultural buy—timber, say, though that is a very long-term investment. You can get much nearer-term yields from coconuts, coffee, cocoa, and bamboo, all of which I’m either already invested in or looking at closely right now. 

“If it were just me, I’d continue living super-cheap, saving every possible dollar for additional cash-flowing investments. However, it’s not just me. My lovely wife makes sure that at least some of my income is diverted into non-cash flow-producing investments—like summer vacations and new living room furniture,” Lief continued with a smile in my direction. 

“Where would you make your first buy?” our friend wondered next. 

“If I were making the first investment of my career right now,” Lief replied, “I’d be shopping in Panama City or here in Medellin. Both are good markets for generating rental cash flow.” 

“I want to get rich,” our young friend interjected. “Where could I make more money quicker? In Panama City or Medellin?” 

Lief and I looked at each other. 

“It’s not easy to get rich quick investing in foreign real estate,” I offered. “Frankly, I don’t believe it’s easy to get rich quick investing in anything, but focusing your investment efforts on foreign property means adopting a long-term perspective.” 

“Right,” Lief agreed. “It’s very possible to realize an immediate return from a foreign property investment. That’s one reason I recommend rental properties—you can get a cash return right away. However, rental cash flow isn’t going to make you rich, at least not quickly. And the return from an agricultural investment is even less immediate. It takes 20 years to realize the return from an investment in teak, for example. So you’re making those kinds of buys for different reasons—for diversification and, mostly, to build legacy wealth. 

“But none of this is a formula for getting rich in a year or two or even three, thinking realistically. Global property investing is a way to get rich slowly. However, it’s real wealth, not paper wealth. It might take you five or seven years or longer to build a portfolio. I’ve been at this for more than two decades now. I’ve built wealth, yes, but I didn’t do it quickly. 

“When I was closer to your age,” Lief continued for our young friend, “I shared your eagerness. Like you, I wanted to get rich quick. That thinking led to the biggest mistakes of my investment career. I think of those now as my ‘greed’ buys, and they cost me big-time. 

“Now I’m not tempted by the idea of striking it rich or hitting it big time. Now I’m very happy to buy for a reasonable annual return. I look for a minimum of 5% to 8%.” 

“Is that what you’d be looking for in Panama City or Medellin if you bought today?” our friend asked. 

“One reason I like those markets is because it’s possible in both of them to beat my minimum return expectation. Buy the right thing for the right price in either city, and you could see annual cash flow of 10% to 15%. In today’s world, that’s nothing to sneeze at.” 

“Where do you see bigger upside potential?” our friend continued. 

“I see Medellin as a market for steady growth. Property values have appreciated in the three years since we invested here, and I believe they will continue to do so, but, again, at a slow, steady rate. 

“Panama City, on the other hand, is a boom town. It has seen one boom, which was followed by the slowdown of 2008/2009. Now I think we’re leading up to another boom. About two years ago, prices in Panama City began appreciating again, slowly. When the Canal expansion project is finalized, though, I think we’ll see another pop. This will happen in 2015, and not only Panama City but the entire country will benefit. The Canal expansion is a big deal. 

“I see more dramatic upside potential in Panama than in Medellin for two other reasons, as well. First, Medellin is still suffering from the Escobar Factor. This misperception will continue to keep the average foreign retail investor away for some time. We still get readers asking about Noriega in Panama, so Medellin’s got a ways to go before it will shed this stigma. 

“The other reason Panama offers more upside is because it’s still the Wild West. Real estate in Panama, including in Panama City, is a cowboy’s marketplace. In Medellin, on the other hand, the real estate industry is more developed, more sophisticated, and more controlled. Prices in Panama are all over the place. It’s impossible to say what something ‘should’ cost. It’s a free-for-all. That kind of chaos creates opportunity.” 

Kathleen Peddicord

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Then we suggested that maybe Jack could work to develop the business with his older sister. We were living in Paris at the time, and Jack’s sister Kaitlin was in the States for college. The two would hold business meetings during holiday breaks, but progress was slow.

Earlier this year, Kaitlin and Jack (now 13) reconnected on the idea and have been working together in earnest since to launch their enterprise. The marketplace website is under construction, fulfillment systems have been put into place, marketing copy has been written, and the whole family is now involved in sourcing products. We have our marching orders in the form of the Trader Jack’s Bazaar Mission Statement:

Ever on the trail of the world’s most awesome stuff. 

This weekend the trail has led us to Medellin, Colombia.

Colombia is one of the five countries Kaitlin and Jack want to represent on their website for the launch (the others are Ecuador, Panama, Kenya, and France). They’ve also designed some Live and Invest Overseas-branded products, including the De Leon Duffle and the Pickwick Pen.

The focus here in Colombia is on cow hides and leather products. Kaitlin, Jack, and Lief met Friday with our local source and stocked up on inventory. Our timing for this buying trip, coincidentally, couldn’t have been better. The exchange rate between the Colombia peso and the U.S. dollar is more in favor of the dollar-holder than it has been in the four years we’ve been focused on this market. Our dollars today buys us 2,000 pesos, meaning the cow hides and leather products we’re buying are about 12% cheaper, thanks to the currency fluctuation, than they were when we last priced them about five months ago.

Kaitlin and Jack hope to have the Trader Jack’s Bazaar website live in time for this year’s holiday shopping season. Meantime, you can take a look at their Facebook page (here) for an idea of what’s to come.

Kathleen Peddicord

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.

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