An “expat” is the nickname for an expatriate or someone who has moved from their home country to a foreign country. In Panama, we have a lot of expats from many different countries. Some make a smooth transition to living in Panama but unfortunately some do not.
I’d like to tell you the true story of two different expat couples to illustrate how to make the transition to living in Panama easier and how to avoid some pitfalls too.
Expat Couple #1 came on a Panama Relocation Tour. They spent 6-days touring Panama during an all-inclusive tour all while learning:
♦ which reliable and affordable attorney to use to get your Visa in a week
♦ what their Visa options are, which one is the best fit, and why they need a Visa
♦ how to find a rental & what not to do when renting
♦ which questions to ask and what to check out before renting
♦ how to bring their pets in to Panama (and get them out of other countries)
♦ how to save 30%-50% on health insurance
♦ how to get a Panama driver’s license
♦ what to do if you get pulled over by the police in Panama
♦ how to bring precious metals in to Panama
♦ the unique micro climates in Panama
♦ which towns/elevation have their ideal temperature
♦ which towns are the most affordable yet still offer the amenities you need
♦ what NOT TO DO and what to AVOID
♦ and much more!
Because they took a Panama Relocation Tour, they were completely prepared when they moved to Panama. They know what to do, when to do it, and how to relocate to Panama so the whole transition was smooth and easy.
Instead of renting a car then driving around Panama, those who take a Panama Relocation Tour get to sit back and relax in a very comfortable bus while our professional driver takes care of the driving.
Expat Couple #2 did not have such a pleasant experience. They did not go on a Panama Relocation Tour. Before moving to Panama, they did spend a week driving around Panama to decide where they wanted to live and talking to as many expats as they could find. But they had no clue how to get things done once they moved to Panama. They purchased a used car in Panama City when they arrived in Panama the second time. Little did they know that it is better to buy a car close to where you want to live because they will have to go back to Panama City every year to get their annual registration OR pay a lot of money to get their registration moved to the city where they live.
Next, they drove to Boquete where they rented a house after seeing an ad online. They signed a one-year lease by email, paid a $1000 security deposit through paypal, then paid the first month’s rent when they arrived. After a month of living in the house, they realized they made a big mistake. The metal roof is extremely noisy when it rains. To make matters worse, their neighbors have 6 dogs who bark all the time and roosters too. So, after a month, they moved to a different house (losing their $1000 security deposit because they broke their lease).
They paid $2000 to an attorney in David to get their Pensionado (retiree) Visa. But, unlike Expat Couple #1, instead of getting their Visa in a week, it has been 2 months and they still don’t have their temporary Visa let alone their permanent Visa. It is very possible that the attorney just took their money but they will never get a Visa. Yes, that can happen in Panama.
Expat Couple #2 went to one of the most expensive insurance brokers in Panama to get their car insurance and their health insurance. They paid WAY too much for both. This alone cost them an additional $3000! It is so sad. By the way, it is better not to use an insurance broker when buying health insurance in Panama.
After another month in Panama, Expat Couple #2 does not like the second house they rented either. They decided the weather is too cold and windy in that area even though they love the house and the views. They paid $800 for the security deposit and signed a one-year lease. They will lose another $800 if they move out early.
Now, in total frustration, Expat Couple #2 is moving back to the United States after being in Panama just a few months. They lost $1000 on their first rental, they will not get their $800 security deposit back on the second rental, they lost $2000 paying the wrong attorney to get a Visa, and they will likely lose $3,000 to $5000 when they sell their car. They will not be able to get a refund on the extremely expensive health insurance they purchased.
Luckily, they did not rush in to buying real estate. They would have lost even more money if they tried to sell the house quickly. And they did not ship down their household goods to Panama since the houses they rented were completely furnished.
It’s too bad they did not take a Panama Relocation Tour because they could have saved all the frustration and avoided losing all that money too. During a Tour, we educate people about how to avoid all these costly mistakes and how to get everything done an easier and more affordable way.
You don’t know what you don’t know! Mistakes can be expensive.
A Panama Relocation Tour is not an expense, it is a WISE INVESTMENT in your future life in Panama. If you’re considering relocating to or retiring in Panama, you should consider taking a Panama Relocation Tours to avoid ending up like Expat Couple #2. We still have a few spaces available for 2018 Tours.
To Life in Paradise,
P.S. Next Article – Amazing Incentives for Agriculture Businesses in Panama.