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From The U.S. To Costa Rica And Now Panama–Why This Seasoned Expat Chooses Chiriqui

“‘The main thing expats need to understand before moving to Panama,” reports Panama Letter Editor Rebecca Tyre in her April issue (due out later this week), “is that you can’t change the locals. You must accept their culture and enjoy it. Too many people move here with the idea that they will be able to change Panama and make it more like the place they left. They seem to forget that left wherever they came from for a reason. No place is perfect.’

“That’s David Fuhman’s advice to anyone considering a move to Panama. David has been living here for four years. Originally from the United States, David owned a bar and restaurant in Costa Rica before making the move to Panama. A Chiriqui resident, David said it was friends who first convinced him to give Panama a shot, and he’s glad he did.

“‘The best thing about living in Panama is that it’s peaceful here. The people are wonderful, and everyone gets along with one another. Also, there’s very little industrial pollution in Panama, which is another benefit.’

“Though just 47 years old, David obtained a pensionadovisa, which allows him to take advantage of the many discounts that come along with being a ‘pensioner’ in this country. The process of obtaining his visa was lengthy and required stacks of paperwork, but the time and effort was worth it, David says.

“David has some friends in the expat community, but spends most of his spare time socializing with Panamanians. He speaks some Spanish, enough to function in this Spanish-speaking country. Plus, he explains, ‘learning the language is not as difficult as many people fear.’

“David co-owns Hostal Boquete, a beautiful, recently renovated inn on the Caldera River in downtown Boquete. During his four years in Panama, David says the main changes he’s noticed are the constant building taking place and the appreciating cost of living. Though prices have increased, David says life in Panama remains much cheaper than a comparable life in the United States.

“‘I think Panama prices are a lot lower than in the States. Property taxes, for example, are much higher in the United States than in Panama. Food, too, costs a lot less in Panama than it does Stateside.’

“David is very content with his life in Panama and has no plans to leave. Of course, though, not everything about life in Panama has been an easy adjustment. David says the worst thing about living in this country is the way people drive.

“‘They don’t follow the law, and you can never predict what a Panamanian driver’s next move could be. Moreover, in Panama City, there’s just too much traffic. Too many cars, buses, and taxis.’

“On living in Boquete, David says life is calm and peaceful in this mountain town. The main downside is the inconvenience is having to travel 40 minutes down the mountain to the city of David to buy certain things that you just can’t find in Boquete. ‘The diversity of goods and services available in Boquete has increased greatly since I moved here,’ David reports, ‘but there are still some items you just can’t find in Boquete.’

“David’s favorite thing about life in Panama’s most established expat haven?

“‘I feel very safe here,’ he says. ‘The police do a very good job making sure I continue to feel that way. I’m very happy here and really can’t find much to complain about. That’s when you know you made the right move.'”

Kathleen Peddicord

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