What’s Your Passion?

“So many choices. What do you suggest?”…wondered one dear reader yesterday.

If you have a particular agenda, your challenge is mitigated. If yours is a strict and modest budget, for example, you must choose a country where the cost of living is low (Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Thailand, or India, say).

If you intend to start a business in your new life overseas, then your top choices are entrepreneur-friendly jurisdictions (Panama is the front-runner).

If you have an ongoing health concern, then you can think about moving only to those places that offer top-notch medical facilities (France boasts the world’s best health care).

If you’re moving with children, international-standard schooling options are the make-or-break issue (Panama and Costa Rica offer great choices in the Americas).

But what if you’re not limited in any of these ways? What if you’re not restricted by cost of living or health issues or school-aged children or the need (or desire) to start a business and earn a living?

Well, then, you could go anywhere.

And that’s the trouble.

What do I suggest?

“Your new Correspondent, Sol Maria, has almost convinced me to choose Uruguay, at least as a first move,” wrote a friend earlier this week.

“My father has some relatives in Montevideo, and I’ve made a couple of Internet friends there, so I know a few people already…”

That’s what I suggest.

Cast your net. Read these dispatches (every day!). Join country-specific yahoo groups. Read books by others who’ve done what you’re thinking about doing. (Our Correspondent Paul Terhorst wrote a book called “Retire at 35” when he retired at 35 more than 20 years ago. Correspondents Akaisha and Billy Kaderli have also written a book about their retire-early adventures, called “The Adventurer’s Guide To Early Retirement.” And I’ve just begun work on a “how to retire overseas” book to be published by Penguin Books next year…)

Keep an open mind and explore the possibilities until you find a place that catches your fancy.

Friend and part-time Nicaragua expat Jay Snyder explains that he was inexplicably drawn to Central America. The places he read about captured his imagination, and he wanted to know them firsthand.

Friend and full-time Uruguay expat David James says that, after years of bouncing around the Americas, he chose to settle down in the “Switzerland of South America,” because he was struck by the orderliness and peacefulness of Uruguayan life.

Expat friends in Paris moved from the States to Paris years ago (and stayed), because, well, it’s Paris.

Another friend has settled on the west coast of the Azuero peninsula because he likes to fish (and the fishing in that part of Panama is among the best in the world, he assures me).

When she and her husband launched new lives on Ambergris Caye, Belize, Correspondent Ann Kuffner fulfilled a lifelong dream to live someplace where she could scuba dive every day.

I’ve known artists who were drawn to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico…enthusiasts of the Great Outdoors who chose New Zealand…wine-lovers who settled in Mendoza, Argentina (and love it)…

Intrepid Correspondent Paul Terhorst thrives on exploration and discovery. So he hasn’t settled anywhere. He and his wife Vicki have been perpetual retirees for more than two decades, moving from country to country and from continent to continent as their wanderlust inspires them.

Likewise, Lief and I don’t think we’d be happy living in any one place for the duration. Our ultimate retirement plan is to follow the seasons each year, moving among the places where we most enjoy spending time (springtime in Paris…summer in Istria, Croatia…September/October in Buenos Aires…and Panama’s Azuero Peninsula during winter in the U.S.).

What’s your passion?

If you could fill your days any way you wanted…what would you do?

Start with that.

Kathleen Peddicord



“You wrote yesterday about the upcoming presidential election in this country, Kathleen,” wrote a Panamanian friend this morning.

“Martinelli will bring a change. I’m sure of it. I’m voting for him because we (Panama) need a serious, committed leader right now…someone who will not allow himself to be manipulated by nagging and protesting and lobbying. That is the way of Panamanians, but we need a strong president who will ignore those things, stay his course, and get things done. Many will not like it, but it will work. Martinelli is a businessman. He does not need to be president. He wants to be president, and he wants to make Panama a better place.

“I am a Panamanian, and I want safety in my country, as it was before. I want more job opportunities for young professionals. I want my government to make me feel proud of my country.

“A lot of investment has been made in improving Panama City…making it a ‘nicer,’ prettier place to be. This is great, but it is more important that those of us living here feel safe and proud.

“The economic growth this country has enjoyed for years will continue if the right decisions are made now. If not, then we are looking at down times just like most of the rest of the world. Who will want to invest or live in Panama City if crime escalates further?

“I can’t wait for May 3.”


“Kathleen, a comment and a question:

“I have plans to move to the Americas with my two sons (ages 13 and 15). This is not a retirement case, not yet. Interested in Panama City.

“You are extremely positive on Panama. I think it would be more realistic with some comments regarding the downsides. For example, increasing crime rate in Panama City…Colon not a beautiful city…bug problems…Panama City being exploited with high-rise buildings everywhere…etc.

“According to your opinion, what could be the negative variables living in Panama City for a well-traveled, cosmopolitan, European family?

“Your newsletter is truly very good, and you have an enthusiastic and personal writing style. Keep up the good work!”

— Mikael S., Europe

Panama downsides:

Panama City is hot, humid, noisy, and dirty. The former two things are the way it is (this is the tropics, after all). The latter two are side-effects of the ongoing construction boom.

Colon is not any place you’d want to live. Neither is Arraijan (to give another example). Remember, that, while we rank Panama as the world’s top retirement haven, that is not to say that every place in Panama makes sense for everybody.

Crime is a growing concern in the capital. Panamanians are appalled and outraged by every single incident. Frankly, I’ve never witnessed a stronger reaction against crime anywhere. The Panamanians are not standing for it.

There are bugs at the beaches…snakes, spiders, and scorpions in the jungle. But you didn’t need me to tell you that.

More when we convene our Premier Live & Invest in Panama Conference here in Panama City May 14-16. Time is running out to register…and places are filling. Full details here.

P.S. Another Panama pointer: Not every pre-construction offer is a good deal. One longtime reader has quite a tale to tell to make this point. He’ll join us in May to share his Panama pre-construction wisdom (earned the hard way) with fellow conference attendees.