When you decide to get on the plane to Panama with whatever belongings you deem worthy enough to bring along with you, you’ll probably be feeling a whirlwind of emotions. It’s exciting to start a new adventure, but it can also be scary and sad to think about what you’re leaving in your past life.
Surely, though, if you’ve decided to move to Panama, then this is the right choice for you! You’ll need to navigate many new things when it comes to living in a different country.
Why am I saying all of this?
Well, because an exciting part about living in Panama is all the self-growth and personal development that will happen if you allow it to. Every week, you will be proud of yourself for accomplishing something that you’ve never done before. It’s such an amazing feeling!! There are so many valuable things to be learned by living in a completely different culture and country than your own.
So, what are some valuable skills that you can gain while living in Panama?
You’ll notice that Panamanians are some of the most patient people you’ll ever meet. It seems that no matter where you are–beach, mountains, city–everyone runs on “tropics time.”
Long line at the store? Oh, well. It’s an opportunity to chat with your fellow line companions. Traffic jam? Guess it’s time to enjoy those tunes and wait it out. Delay of some service you were awaiting (plumber, electrician, etc.)? A great opportunity to read that book you’ve had lying around.
Do you see what I’m getting at?
You’ll get quite frustrated if you expect certain things to be the same as they were in the country you’re from. Sometimes systems are less efficient. They may not make sense to you. But, they don’t have to! You need to tap into your patience and not let the small stuff frustrate you.
Think as though you’re on “island time,” even if it’s not technically an island.
Our first skill leads perfectly into our second: flexibility. As you may notice while living in Panama, is that unexpected things can and will occur.
For example, yesterday, I woke up planning to work all morning. However, within thirty seconds, I realized I had no power. That meant I had no internet and no coffee maker.
So, I shifted gears. I decided to go to a cafe that I knew had a generator and had a great breakfast. And you know what? I had a great morning. Friends were there too so we enjoyed a great conversation. By the time I got home, the electricity was back on, and I could get my work done.
Now, this isn’t an everyday thing. But it happens. Rather than stress and check the lights every other minute, be adaptable! Embrace the unexpected and change your plans accordingly!
Once you can do this, you’ll find you’re not sweating the small stuff. An unexpected shift in plans isn’t necessarily a nuisance; it’s an opportunity to do something else!
Ok, let’s use our last example here. So, luckily all of my work was internet-based, so I could adapt my schedule. But, what if someone is waiting on you?
Many people teach online while living in a place with unreliable internet. Sounds stressful, right? Well, in all honestly, it could be. However, most will always have a backup plan, just in case.
For example, get a top internet package for the fastest connection. They might also have their phone stacked with data for those “just in case” moments. So, if the internet goes out, they can just hotspot from a phone.
However, this isn’t foolproof. Ultimately, it’s not fun to depend on something like the internet. If you need to work while living in Panama, look for jobs that will understand your lifestyle and situation. For example, ones that don’t have a strict schedule.
Even if this situation doesn’t pertain to you, the same mentality goes for everything else. Have a backup plan for things that are especially pertinent or time-sensitive. Be able to shift and problem-solve on the fly when it’s important.
There will certainly be some hiccups when you move to Panama, whether it’s language or culture related, it’s bound to happen.
One of my biggest lessons when deciding to live abroad was learning that sometimes you may feel silly, out of the loop, and lost. That’s ok! You’re learning. Everything is likely new after all.
Trying to learn and speak a new language is one of the most humbling experiences. It can feel as though you’ve lost your personality and wits. You’ll learn to listen a lot more. And, you’ll realize that you certainly don’t know it all.
In some areas in Panama you can get by without learning any Spanish. But you’ll enjoy your adventure in Panama much more if you learn basic Spanish.
The first time you order the wrong meal, misuse a word or mess up any other engagement due to language, rather than being upset with yourself, feel humbled. And, then, maybe have a laugh or two about it.
The first week after I moved to Panama, I went to the grocery store to buy sugar to mix with water for hummingbird feeders. I have hundreds of hummingbirds! I did not even think about looking up the word for sugar. At the grocery store, I saw a big bag of white glandular stuff and a domino on the bag. It must be sugar, right? Nope, when I got home, I looked up “sal” and discovered I bought 5 pounds of salt. It was a good learning lesson. Now when I make my grocery list, I always look up the Spanish word so I would know exactly what I am buying. Learning through living in Panama! (I donated the bag of salt to a local restaurant)
When it comes to cultural nuances, learn to listen to the locals and what they tell you about their beautiful culture. Remember that Panama is now your home too, so you’ll want to understand cultural nuances. You’ll probably even fall in love with the many local traditions you encounter.
Living in a new country is a humbling experience for sure. You’ll grow so much if you can embrace the fact that you don’t know it all. You’re learning.
You’re living the adventure you’ve been dreaming of! Don’t let the little learning curves get in the way of being thankful for the new life you can now lead in this beautiful country.
Embrace the simple things in your day-to-day life: the morning walks on the beach, fresh juice at a local stand, welcoming neighbors, enjoying the sunset, and consistently beautiful weather.
While you may initially be frustrated by the slower pace of life, you’ll probably soon grow to appreciate it. It will remind you to stop worrying about efficiency and productivity and embrace being in the present moment.
Gratitude is the most wonderful skill you can have in your toolbox. If you’re able to practice gratitude regularly, then you’ll be a much happier, less stressed version of yourself.
When you move to Panama, you’ll have experiences you could never have where you live now! You may see a sloth climbing on an electric wire, a woman riding her horse down the street with two kids and a dog, see a graceful quetzal bird, see 10 guys standing in the back of a truck while it goes down the highway at 100 km, see “Diablo Rojo” buses with creating art, young children riding their bikes all over town in total safety, the list goes on and on. Each new experience will enrich your life and remind you of what true living and freedom are all about.
You’ll be amazed when you watch a parade that seems to last forever and the pride that Panamanians have towards their country. This is especially true in the month of November, when there are at least two Independence Day parades.
Try waking up each day in your new home and thinking of three things you’re grateful for before getting out of bed. You’ll notice throughout your day that you’re able to tackle each situation from a positive angle.
So, practice that gratitude and enjoy your new life!
Learning is fun!
Ok, so maybe you’re retiring in Panama and are thinking, “I don’t want to learn anymore; I just want to chill out on the beach.” I get it! You want a slower pace of life and to enjoy the simple things.
But, by embracing a new culture, you will learn something new each day. It doesn’t have to be considered “work.”
Learning is a part of this new adventure.
I remember the first time I ordered a meal in “not-so-good” Spanish, but they actually understood what I was saying. I felt 10 feet tall.
Since 2010, I have learned a lot of new things in Panama. I’ve had many new experiences that have made my life richer. Each experience I’ve had is another thing I can teach you about how to get things done in Panama so you can avoid costly mistakes.
Embrace the new learning experiences! It’s sure to be a fun experience. And, you’ll gain some of the amazing skills we mentioned (and more!) along the way.
Is Panama Right for You?
Instead of just moving to Panama, it’s a good idea to visit Panama first. This will allow you to “test drive” Panama to ensure it’s a good fit before you go “all in” with a move to Panama.
Visiting Panama alone for the first time can be a bit intimidating. We can help!
Join us for an all-inclusive 6-day, 7-night Panama Relocation Tour. Once you arrive in Panama, we’ll take care of everything else. Our friendly bi-lingual driver will meet you at the airport and take you to the hotel where the tour group stays the first night. We’ll make all hotel reservations, pick great restaurants, arrange for you to see rentals in each area, and meet an immigration attorney and real estate agents.
You’ll visit all the most popular places to live in Panama! While the bus is moving from one location to another, it’s like a rolling seminar to teach you everything you need to know to have a smooth, hassle-free move to Panama.
Once you see how beautiful Panama is, I think you will be excited about starting a new life in Panama!