Is Panama the Right Place for You?

You may have heard that Panama has a wonderful year-round tropical climate, beautiful beaches, friendly people, and a low cost of living. You may be thinking of retiring or buying a vacation home here and wondering whether this is the right place for you.

If so, you are already asking the wrong question.

What you need to ask is not whether Panama is the right place for you, but whether you are the right person for Panama.

The difference between these two questions is important. The first assumes there is a list of objective requirements (good climate, friendly natives, etc.) such that, if Panama (or any other country) satisfies them, then you will be happy here.

That is an illusion – just like the illusion of a perfect spouse, a perfect home, a perfect anything. Nothing is ever perfect. There is no paradise -- at least not “out there.”

Some people are happy pretty much anywhere. Other people find a way to be miserable anywhere they go. That’s just the kind of people they are – not happy unless they are whining or complaining about something.

Yes, Dorothy, the old cliche is true: Happiness is about what’s inside, not what’s outside. Some people have everything and are miserable. Others have nothing and are happy. It’s all about attitude, people!

And that’s exactly the point about moving to Panama (or anywhere else). Some foreigners come to Panama and are happy here; others complain endlessly and are miserable.

So, why is it that some people come here and enjoy their new lives, while others can’t stop complaining about their new country?

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the answer is: It’s not about Panama -- it’s about you.

What you need to think about is whether you are the kind of person who can move to Panama and be happy.

Here is a brief questionnaire to help you decide:

  1. Do you like change? Do you enjoy leaving the comforts of home and all the familiar surroundings?
  2. Are you open-minded and willing to adapt to the customs of a different country where people do not always do things the way you do them back in Kansas – where, for example, they may not return phone calls, emails, or show up for appointments?
  3. Can you laugh when the repairman tells you it will take 3 days to fix your lawnmower, and it actually takes 3 months?
  4. How about when your cleaning lady tells you she can’t come to work tomorrow because she has to go to the hospital to visit her sick mother – the same mother who died once last year, and twice the year before? Are you still smiling?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, then you may be the right person for Panama. If you answered “no” to all or most, well, then, my advice would be to stay in Kansas.

Allen Rosen