Get useful expat articles, health and financial news, social media recommendations and more in your inbox each month - free!

We respect your privacy - we don't spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

±Compare Expat Providers

Expat Health Insurance Quotes

Foreign Currency Exchange Quotes

International Moving Quotes

We're very social! Follow Expat Focus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+

Expat Focus Facebook PageExpat Focus on TwitterExpat Focus Pinterest PageExpat Focus Google+ Page

Notify me when new content is added about a country

±Expat Focus Partners

Expat Experiences

Panama > Expat Experiences


Al McCullough, Panama

Posted by: scar on Sunday July 19, 2015 (14:20:57)
Al McCullough
Al McCullough

Who are you?

Hi there, I’m Al McCullough, also known as…the Panama Dude.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

My wife, Shelly, and I moved to Pedasi, Panama in August of 2014. We always had desk jobs back home in Canada, and neither of us were keen on spending any more time at work than necessary. So we quit our jobs, sold all our stuff, and moved to Panama to figure out what we want to be when we grow up.

What challenges did you face during the move?

We rented our house back in Canada just before we left. A month after we got to Panama, the renters left and our house sat empty for several months. Oh, and we lost a piece of luggage, but the airline got it back to us.

Are there many other expats in your area?

Yeah, a whole bunch. Pedasi is a pretty popular and sometimes transient expat destination.

What do you like about life where you are?

My life is pretty laid back now - not that life was overly complex back in Canada. It’s less about how much money and stuff you have here, which is awesome. There’s no keeping up with the Jones' and worrying about having the latest and greatest TV or tablet or fancy car. Heck, many of the expats don’t even have smart phones!

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Negative people. Make the best of your situation, folks. And if it gets to the point where you start complaining every day…time to move on, hombre. Sure, we have bad days, and I do my share of complaining, but I always try to find the brighter side of things. That’s why my blog is a weekly sitcom of my life here.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

Everyone here speaks another language - WTF? Kidding. I can’t say there’s been one thing that’s been tremendously different. I mean, people complain about the service in restaurants a lot, and sure, it kind of sucks, but I’ve had bad experiences back in Canada too. And the driving here is kind of crazy, but there’s no road rage. In Panama, the heat can sometimes be overwhelming, but in Canada it can unbearably cold in the winter. Things become a trade-off, you just have to change your perspective. But if there was one thing I’d say has been hard getting used to, it’s probably the impromptu fireworks being set off at all hours of the day and night. Still don’t get that…probably never will.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Don’t pack much. Seriously. Travel light. All those dresses you ladies thought you’d wear…you won’t. And guys - those dress shirts, suits, etc…donate them. Panama is pretty hot. Even in the highlands you might only need pants and a sweater at night occasionally…unless you have some blood flow problems and your hands and feet get cold a lot, then if so, bring socks and mittens, and maybe a toque. I’d also say rent for a year before you buy. Real estate agents probably hate to hear that (and me for saying it), but I’ve seen a few people go all-in here and they’ve regretted it. It’s not that Pedasi and Panama aren’t great places, they are, just hold off on putting all those eggs in that one basket until you’ve spent a year here.

What are your plans for the future?

Not sure yet. We’ve started house and pet sitting quite a bit, so travelling around some more might be in the plans. Just as long as the temperature's above 10 degrees Celsius I’m happy.

Al shares more information about life in Panama through his blog, panamadude.com.

Link  QR 

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Aetna International

Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

AXA - Global Healthcare

As the global healthcare specialists for AXA, the world’s number one insurance brand, we can help you get fast access to expert medical care, whenever and wherever you need it. All our plans include evacuation and repatriation, a second medical opinion service and extra support from a dedicated case manager if you’re diagnosed with cancer. You’ll also have 24/7 support from our caring multilingual team - we’ll always remember you’re a person, not a case number.

Bupa Global

Bupa Global is one of the world’s largest international health insurers. We offer direct access to over 1.2m medical providers worldwide, and we settle directly with them so you don’t have to pay up front for your treatment. We provide access to leading specialists without the need to see your family doctor first and ensure that you have the same level of cover wherever you might be, home or away.

Cigna International

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.