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Susanna Perkins

Columnists > Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins

If I Knew Then What I Know Now. . . What Would I Do Differently?

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday February 18, 2014 (21:52:41)   (4322 Reads)

Susanna Perkins

In one month, we’ll celebrate our second anniversary as expats.

Two years. . . sometimes it feels like a very short time. Sometimes I feel as though I’ve been here forever. As I round off the second year of our living overseas, I find myself asking, “if I knew then what I know now, what would I have done differently?” I’m not talking about “if circumstances were different” types of pondering. But if I were moving to Panama today, with a full understanding of the life I’d lead here, what would I do differently?

I came up with three things, of very unequal importance.

Bring fewer clothes    more ...


Columnists > Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins

Applying For Residency In Panama

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday January 15, 2014 (12:33:45)   (4654 Reads)

Susanna Perkins

We’ve been living in Panama for almost two years now. Even though we’re here full time, year round, officially we are tourists. We’ve made no effort to “regularize” our status, as they say in the immigration biz, because we weren’t ready to commit to staying here.

When we arrived, a tourist visa let you stay in the country for six months at a time. Renewing it was easy – you made a border run. It was a simple, straightforward process that took us 5+ hours of driving each way, but only had us at the Panama/Costa Rica border crossing for about an hour.

A pain, but not a problem.    more ...


Columnists > Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins

Christmas in Panama, or, What the Heck Am I Doing Here?

Posted by: Jamie on Tuesday December 17, 2013 (15:19:20)   (2713 Reads)

Susanna Perkins

My husband and I really detest the cold weather. Back in the early fall of 1988, we looked at each other one blustery morning and asked, “do we really want to go through another winter?”

The answer was an unequivocal No!, so we put our house on the market and moved with our (then) four kids to Central Florida.

Contrary to popular belief, it can get cold in the Orlando area and even freeze (although nothing like the bone-chilling temperatures of the Northeast). Every winter my husband would say to me, “I don’t think we moved far enough south.”    more ...


Columnists > Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins

Bon Appetit, Expats!

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday November 20, 2013 (08:58:26)   (2163 Reads)

Susanna Perkins

I devoured my French ham and cheese dinner crepe like a starving refugee as my husband inhaled his Japanese noodle dish. I certainly wasn’t actually starving, but we were starving for the tastes of home.

We’d been living in Panama for a year and a half, and this was my husband’s first visit back to the US in a year. We had arrived in LA the afternoon before for a week-long visit with our son and daughter-in-law. The first thing they told us on arrival was, “We’re taking you to Santa Monica for dinner. There’s a food court overlooking the ocean where you can get lots of different types of food so we thought you’d like that.”

Were they ever right! We buzzed around that food court like kids in a candy store. Italian! Japanese! French crepes! American hot dogs and hamburgers! More, more more! My husband opted for Japanese, and I dived into the crepes.    more ...


Columnists > Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins

A Tale of Two Countries, One House, And No Documents

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday October 15, 2013 (22:34:18)   (2996 Reads)

Susanna Perkins

Before we moved to Panama in the spring of 2012, we sold off pretty much everything we owned. Some went through ads on Craigslist or eBay, but most of our worldly goods went to others in the course of a single-day estate sale.

Trouble was, we still owned the house itself. The real estate market was so depressed at the time we didn’t dream of selling it, so we found a good rental agent who in turn found us an excellent tenant.

One year later, the real estate scene was looking better so we decided to put the house on the market.

The internet is a wonderful thing. Thanks to modern technology we were able to sign all the listing agreements through an online service. When the first offers came through, we could respond virtually to those as well.    more ...


Columnists > Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins

As An Expat, How Do You Bloom Where You’re Planted?

Posted by: Carole on Monday September 16, 2013 (20:23:33)   (2215 Reads)

Susanna Perkins

I have a confession to make. Contentment and I are not good friends.

I’m good at starting new things. I’m not good at long-term maintenance, whether it’s a job, a house, or a geographic location. I envy those who are content with where they are, but I’m not usually one of them.

Even before I came to Panama, I moved frequently. As a child, I lived in five different towns in two different states. After moving out of my parents’ house I lived in eight different homes in three different states.

My travels eventually took me to Central Florida, where I stayed for nearly 25 years (in two different towns). Orlando is the city I feel most deeply rooted in, with Boston a close second.    more ...


Columnists > Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins

Technology – As An Expat I Can’t Live Without It

Posted by: Carole on Thursday August 15, 2013 (20:23:32)   (2154 Reads)

Susanna Perkins

Several years before we moved to Panama I traded in my desktop computer for a large laptop. With a 17-inch screen, it was quite adequate as a desktop replacement and I worked happily with it for about four years.

Occasionally when I traveled I would complain about its weight – 10 pounds all by itself. In the laptop bag, with all its accessories and other paraphernalia, that could shoot up to 25 pounds. Have I mentioned that I’m small? And no longer young?

Last fall I traveled back to the US and, after hauling laptopus gigundicus through several airports, I vowed “never again!”

This spring it was acting up a lot, so before my trip back to Orlando last month I ordered a new laptop. It’s not quite as big, and only half the weight. My talented son volunteered to juice it up for me by swapping out the hard drive for a solid state drive and turning the original drive into a portable backup drive.    more ...


Columnists > Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins

Fuzzy Slippers And Home

Posted by: Carole on Thursday July 18, 2013 (22:14:10)   (2248 Reads)

Susanna Perkins

A funny thing happened on my way to Orlando last week. My flight landed at Orlando International Airport. I made my way through customs and immigration, retrieved my bags, then headed for the main terminal. If you know the Orlando International Airport, you know that monorail shuttles carry passengers between the main terminal buildings and the gates.

I waited for the shuttle, anxious to get my ride and settle in for some very necessary sleep. The monorail arrived, and I scurried on board to grab the prime (and only!) place to sit at the end of the car. Then those magic words came over the speaker system. "The shuttle will be departing momentarily." Suddenly, I was home.

Even though I've been living quite contentedly in Panama for well over a year, Orlando still feels like home to me.    more ...


Columnists > Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins

Expats, Big Brother The NSA Is Watching You

Posted by: Carole on Thursday June 20, 2013 (22:08:48)   (6882 Reads)

Susanna Perkins

NSA spying is all over the news today. If you believe the allegations, the NSA and the FBI have been harvesting massive amounts of data from emails, social networks, phone calls and other communications for years.

They say they’re only monitoring communications from overseas, not targeting US citizens.

However, if you’re an expat from the US – or an expat in the US – that means you!

How to stay in touch with friends, family and business in your home country has always been an issue for expats.    more ...


Columnists > Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins

Rent Before You Buy In A New Country

Posted by: Carole on Thursday May 16, 2013 (11:53:27)   (3305 Reads)

Susanna Perkins

For years I’ve been advising expats, “rent before you buy.” I’m so glad I followed my own advice, because my husband and I have just become poster children for renting first.

If you’re expatriating because your company is sending you overseas, you probably don’t have a lot of choice about where you’ll live. But if you’re like a growing number of expats, you’re choosing to move, and choosing where to go. Picking a country is relatively easy – climate, cost of living, and distance from your home country are all measurable and quantifiable. But narrowing down your choices to a specific city, town, or neighborhood gets a bit harder. You really don’t know until you’ve lived someplace for a while whether it suits you. That’s why it’s smart to rent for a while.

We’ve been in Panama for just over a year. Picking the country was a fairly easy process of elimination.    more ...