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Retired Expat Life In San Francisco, Panama City, Panama

“Kathleen, I attended the Live and Invest in Panama Conference the beginning of 2010. I was looking for a reason not to move to Panama.

“Now, here it is more than two years later, and here I am.

“I retired the end of last year, at 54. Today I am living in an apartment across from Parque Omar.

“My wow moment was when I woke up Dec. 16 (my last day at work was Dec. 15) and work was gone. I loved what I did and was well paid, but I felt it was time to begin my new adventure.

“What have I learned my first three weeks here?

“Panama is hot and humid. I knew that, but living it is a different thing. If you like the snow and winter, Panama is not for you. Still, I’ll take Panama over Chicago winters any time.

“I am still in transition. Working with my attorney for my pensionado visa and my Panamanian driver’s license. For me, the biggest challenge has been getting all the documents finalized. I relied on my attorney to guide me through the process. Everything I’ve needed has been addressed except opening a bank account and clearing the shipment of my household goods through customs. I knew I had to have patience, and the first three weeks have proven this.

“I’m glad I didn’t bring a car to Panama; some of the biggest discoveries I’ve made have been just walking around. I am now accomplished at dodging holes and cars. The sidewalks are not so pedestrian-friendly, so I focus on looking down so I didn’t step into one of the numerous traps you encounter while walking. Looking down worked until I banged my head on a pipe sticking out across the sidewalk along Via Israel.

“Walking helped me discover how nearby things are. The grocery store El Rey is only five blocks away. The Multiplaza Mall not much farther.

“Another discovery I’ve made is the importance of making plans in the morning to avoid the afternoon rain this time of year.

“I have the impression that a person can sort of get by with English only, but not so much. This just emphasizes that I do want to learn to speak Spanish. While I have been able to get by without much Spanish, I feel lost at times…”

–Bill B., Panama

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