After A Little Time Apart, Panama Feels More Like Home

On Coming Home To Panama

 “I don’t know if I should tell you guys this or not,” began our 17-year-old son Jackson as we exited Tocumen International Airport and began the drive to our apartment in Panama City…

Uh, oh, I thought…

“But now, for me, Panama is home,” he continued, calming my apprehension and getting my attention at the same time.

“I know I’ve always said that I think of Paris as home,” Jackson carried on, “but, really, I grew up in Panama. Most all my memories of being a little kid are from Panama.

“I know my way around every inch of Panama City,” Jackson continued with a big smile. “I’ve got loads of friends here. Everywhere I look I remember something fun. This is my town.”

Lief and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows. This revelation was news to us.

“And that’s ok,” young Jackson added. “I’m ok with this being my home base. I’ve missed Panama these past two months we’ve been away. I’m really excited to be back.

“Look,” he continued, holding out his phone. “I have messages from all my friends here asking if we can get together tonight. Is it ok if I go out?”

Lief and I were a little surprised by Jackson’s enthusiasm but share it. After two months in Europe, we, too, are delighted to return this week to the Hub of the Americas, where we feel established, settled, comfortable, welcomed, and at home… just like our son, it seems.

These past two months traveling in Europe, Lief and I have felt adrift. I’m a big fan of habit. I count on it to keep me on point. When we left Panama late June, Lief and I walked away from all routine built to that point… and our lives have continued to unravel since.

On one hand, I embrace the freedom. Following Jackson’s graduation from high school in June, we’ve enjoyed a level of flexibility heretofore completely unknown to us.

“Want to go watch the Palio in Siena?” Lief asked in July.

“Sure!” I replied… and we went. No children’s schedules to coordinate, no office staff to manage (all the office staff was back in Panama City)… why not take off for a horse race in Italy?

After two months of that level of liberty, Lief and I are ready for some workaday responsibility.

“Put us to use!” we’re begging our Panama City team now that we’re back among them. “What can we do to help?”

We’re digging in… and downsizing.

As empty-nesters we no longer need the big apartment where we’ve lived with Jackson all these past years… so we’re swapping those 450 square meters for a one-bedroom loft apartment down the road. The movers are packing all around me as I write.

In fact, we’ve owned the little apartment we’re moving into this week for more than 14 years. Lief bought it as one of our first investments in Panama… and he bought it solo, informing me after the fact that he’d signed us up for a pre-construction unit in a new building going up on Panama City’s Avenida Balboa.

Lief made the purchase, eventually took delivery of the apartment, and then organized the furnishing and decorating before I laid eyes on the place.

“What’s a wife to think,” I remember writing to a friend at the time, “when she shows up to see the apartment her husband has purchased in a foreign city for the first time to find that the place has been outfitted as a bachelor’s pad? Should I be worried?”

In truth, Lief set up our Pacific-view apartment not as his man cave but for rental. The property has served well in that context, earning us 12% to 18% net return per year ever since. Plus, today the apartment is worth more than two times what we paid for it. Not a bad buy…

Especially as now, finally, as long planned, the apartment will also be serving as our Panama City address. Our plan from here on out has us coming and going regularly from Panama. When in the country, we’ll divide our time between the office in Panama City and our Los Islotes development out on the Azuero coast. When in Panama City, Lief’s first foray into Panama property markets will be our home.

Better run. My marketing staff has requested a meeting. It’s great to be back.

More on our return to Panama tomorrow…

Kathleen Peddicord

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