by Gary Stamper
|The sun illuminates "rainshine" falling on the mainland through a hole in the clouds|
It's been almost a month since I've posted here since I've been posting snippets of my journey on my Facebook page. FB's perfect for snippets, but here's a blog on a bigger subject (Note: I'll also repost this on my FB page with a redirect here).
I've been inspired to write about this because of the FB response to those snippets and photos. So many of you have asked how I did this and how envious they were that I seem to have found my own personal paradise, so let me start this off by saying:
If I can do this, anyone can do this.
If you want something like what I've done, you have to want it bad enough to make it happen and not let anything get in your way, including naysayers, money, and self-doubt.
|The rewards can be immense, but there's a cost, too!|
What about your partner if you have one? If they're not on board, what will that mean to you? Will you need a job or will you be retiring or are you self-employed with the ability to work from anywhere as a digital nomad?
Yesterday, I met Lora from Colorado who has been in Panama for two months, now. She applied online from Colorado and wrangled a job related to real estate sales at one of the larger resorts on one of the other islands. Like me, she speaks little Spanish. She's married and she and her husband are working out how they maintain two residences and time apart, both traveling back and forth.
The process of just figuring out what works for you and what doesn't will be a tremendous growth opportunity for you and the people in your life whether you decide to go or stay. Whatever you decide, you will know yourself better.
What's my dream?
If you've traveled, you're at an advantage over someone who hasn't. I'm not what I would call a world traveler. I've been to Scotland twice, traveling through Heathrow and Amsterdam airports. I've also traveled half of Canada, been to Hawaii twice, Costa Rica, and made numerous trips to Mexico on both coasts and led a tour of Mayan Sacred Sites in the Yucatan. I have, however, traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean, which played a major role in my choice of Bocas Del Toro, Panama.
That choice, though, was not made lightly. I spent a year researching locations before I arrived in Panama.
I had initially chosen Cuenca, Ecuador, as my destination. Why? There were several reasons. First, I knew and very much liked and respected someone who had ex-patriated there. Cuenca also had a large ex-pat community and the cost of living was rated as one of the lowest in the world, meaning my money would go a lot further there... an important consideration.
So I began looking at the Ecuadorean Pacific coast, particularly 7-8 beach towns, but eventually came to realize those weren't the beaches I was looking for.
What I realized then was these were not the white sand and clear turquoise waters I was actually longing for, For that, I'd have to return to the Caribbean I loved so dearly.
I returned to the online website, International Living, and did a search on Caribbean Beach Towns and immediately found what I was looking for: Bocas Del Toro, Panama!
|Bocas Town Business District|
Just as I started to dive into scheduling a March exploratory 2-week trip to check it out... you guessed it... COVID 19 hit and I had to cancel my plans, thinking it would be October or November before I'd be able to get there for my exploratory journey. I was partially right.
Panama reopened to tourism on October 12th and I jumped on what might be a window and arrived in Panama on November 3rd. Good thing... the US was about to explode once again in COVID cases and I figured being locked down in Panama at the beach if it were to happen again would much better than being in the US, so I came to stay, not as an explorer, but as a resident and immediately obtained a temporary Resident Visa. There would be no going back.
I highly recommend International Living for research on your perfect Retirement or Get-out-of Dodge source, or if you'd just like to improve your quality of your life on the same funds you now have. They have a tendency to gloss some things over and paint a rosy picture, but you can find negativity in lots of places if you want to know about the downsides of ex-patriating.
Whatever you choose, invest some time in your future. Even if you decide to stay where you are, you'll have the peace of mind that comes from being informed.
Me? I'm absolutely delighted with my choice!