Behind The Scenes At Live And Invest Overseas
Lief and me you know.
But we’re just the front guys. Here in our Altos del Golf office in the heart of Panama City, we’re fortunate to be surrounded and supported by a growing team of hard-working folks, some Panamanian, others who’ve somehow landed here in the Hub of the Americas.
Karen and Gary Moseley are a couple of Americans from North Carolina, where they raised three children and Gary enjoyed a long and successful career in the private utilities industry. Children grown and the situation in the States changing dramatically for the worse, from their point of view, a couple of years ago, Karen and Gary began looking around for options.
A mutual friend made an introduction to Lief and me, and, after a few months of getting acquainted, Karen and Gary decided they’d found the option they were looking for. They packed up their home in the States and moved to Panama. Just like that.
Gary came down to work for Lief as Project Manager at Los Islotes, and Karen joined our Live and Invest Overseas team as Customer Service Manager.
Karen and Gary have now been living full-time in Panama for nearly two years. Gary is out on the Azuero Peninsula, on-site at Los Islotes, three or four times a month. Karen is all-out five days a week responding to your inquiries. Karen responds to every single reader e-mail we receive, usually within two or three days. She’s proud of that, and so are we.
As far as we can tell, Karen and Gary couldn’t be happier with the new lives they’ve created for themselves here in Panama. They’ve expanded their horizons and are enjoying a great adventure…while having significantly reduced their cost of living and launching new careers to boot.
While serving in the U.S. military, Chris Powers was stationed in Alaska, where he met a lovely Panamanian girl he decided he wanted to make his wife. The couple lived together for eight years in the States, until the downturn of the past few years caught up with them. Chris was having trouble finding a job he wanted that paid enough to support his now family of six (including two daughters and twin boys).
His wife suggested a new course. “Let’s move to Panama,” she said, “where my family can help with the kids and our cost of living will be much, much lower.”
And that’s what they did, about three years ago. A couple of years later, Chris found us and has been working as our in-house Panama Editor since. You can read Chris’ extended reports on expat and retiree life in this country in our monthly Panama Letter.
Lauren Williamson, one of our two Conference Directors, is from a little town called Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Five years ago, Lauren spent the summer with friends on Panama’s island of Contadora. Together, as Lauren tells the story, they swam, picked shells from the sand, and ate fresh sashimi on the rocks.
Her second week on the island, the handsome Contadora airport agent loading baggage into a 10-passenger Cessna caught Lauren’s eye. Lauren spoke not a lick of Spanish, but, with Jose’s average English, the two managed to get to know each other. Their first date was on Playa Ejecutiva, where, Lauren says, “Jose told me that I would return to Panama and we would have a beautiful family. I left my heart on Contadora Island that summer…”
Fast-forward to 2012, and Lauren and Jose live together in a shoebox-sized apartment in Panama City, speaking, today, 50% Spanish and 50% English. On the weekends, they enjoy DIY projects and travel together to Penonome to visit Jose’s family.
Manuel Moreno didn’t relocate to Panama City. Manuel was born here. Not so many years ago, in fact. Manuel is the youngest Web Marketing Director I know, the youngest member of our staff, and one of the most professional, competent, and knowledgeable web guys I’ve ever worked with, independently responsible for all our web-related activities. His in-house team includes programmer extraordinaire Cesar Serrano and super-savvy, super-creative, super-quick designer Carlos Lopez (both also Panamanian).
Manuel’s wife, Nancy Guzman, did relocate to Panama, from Guatemala. About a year ago, when we were in the market for a Marketing Assistant, Manuel came to us to suggest Nancy. Big fans of keeping things in the family, we were happy to welcome Nancy into our little group.
Nancy works for Harry Kalashian, our Marketing Manager. Harry was a bartender when we met him. Well, in truth, we didn’t meet him. Our daughter did.
While we were living in Paris, and Kaitlin was in high school, she spent a summer with family back in Annapolis, Maryland. During those three months, Kaitlin worked as a hostess at a downtown bar…the same bar where Harry was pouring drinks. The two kept in touch after Kaitlin returned for her final year of school in Paris. Then, coincidentally (or maybe not so), Kaitlin chose to start her university studies at St. John’s College, also in downtown Annapolis.
Two years later, Kaitlin and Harry were still together, but Lief and my situation was changing dramatically. The year before, Lief had left International Living, where he’d been managing their real estate investing and publishing activities for a decade, and now I decided it was time for me to move on, as well. I’d spent more than 23 years as publisher of the International Living group and partner in that business. I was ready for a change.
Regrouping, Lief and I decided we’d launch our own publishing business…but where to base it? Certainly not Paris. Looking around the world map, we recognized quickly that Panama was the most sensible choice.
We shared our plan with our children. Jackson, age 8 and well connected to Paris, where he’d spent the past four-plus years of his little life, was unimpressed. He’d have preferred to have stayed put on the rue de Verneuil.
Kaitlin? Kaitlin went away, relayed the plan to boyfriend Harry, and then came back to Lief and me with a message. Harry would like a chance to apply for a position with our emerging publishing operation.
Never ones to let lack of relevant experience get in the way, we were delighted. In Harry, a smart, ambitious, hard-working American kid, we saw enormous potential. Harry has been our Marketing Manager since day one. When Lief and I moved from Paris to Panama, Harry moved here, too, from Annapolis. Our first two years in Panama City, Harry was not only our Marketing Manager, but our boarder, too, renting our spare bedroom.
Today, Harry is a top-notch Internet marketer (it’s he you have to thank for all the interesting, irresistible offers and opportunities you find from us regularly in your e-mailbox), as well as a full-fledged Panama expat, with a cool loft apartment in El Cangrejo, lots of local friends, and a girlfriend of six years, our daughter, Kaitlin, who joined the rest of us here in Panama City after graduating from college last June.
Kaitlin is also now working out of our Altos del Golf office, preparing for the launch of her new franchise business, AngloInfo.com for Panama, in April.
Rounding out our team today are Panamanians Sharon Marriott (the other half of our top-notch conference management team), Elodia Gomez (who keeps our books and pays our bills), Alberto (I introduced Alberto yesterday…he’s the retired taxi driver-turned-personal driver who keeps us so colorfully connected to life on the streets of this city)…
And Marion de Mena. Marion is our personal assistant and also our Panama Circle Members Liaison. Marion, nearly four decades resident in Panama, has not forgotten her German roots. Marion is the best kind of assistant you could hope to have in this part of the world. She knows everyone in Panama you might want or need to know, knows where to go to accomplish anything in Panama you might want or need to accomplish, yet continues to operate as though she were back in Soest, Germany. “Manana” isn’t in Marion’s vocabulary.