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Kris and Joel, Panama

Who are you?

I’m Kris, a retired nurse from the USA, married to Joel a retired home remodel and repair guy and musician, who still enjoys making music.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

We moved in October 2012 from Florida to David, Panama. We were tired of working and couldn’t afford to retire in the US, so we needed an alternative.What challenges did you face during the move?

Downsizing and getting rid of all our “stuff”, house, cars, and other possessions took time and effort. But, moving anywhere is a lot of work and afterward you need to learn your way around in your new area. Some people thought we were pretty crazy to be moving out of the country.

Are there many other expats in your area?

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There are other expats in the David area but most are integrated into the Panamanian community, and there is very little “expat community” here. I spend the majority of my time with my Panamanian friends.

What do you like about life where you are?

There is so much to like! It is affordable, our main reason for coming here. But, I didn’t know how many other benefits we would find. The people are warm and friendly. The country is beautiful and we like the warm climate. Life is more relaxed and less stressed. Fresh fruit and vegetables are grown here in Chiriqui so we have them available every day. David is big enough to have everything we need on a daily basis close by, but we are on the edge of the city so we have a beautiful, green, quiet neighborhood to live in. It’s a really good life here.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

You are more likely to be disturbed by barking dogs and crowing roosters, and that took a bit of getting used to. Otherwise we have found some things to be a bit different but nothing to really dislike. Getting things done can take more time or have different processes, and of course learning a new language is a challenge.

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

We feel so accepted here. These people are very nonjudgemental of differences in color, appearance, religion, financial status, lifestyle choices, age, etc. Older people are very respected here, which makes growing old here a much happier prospect.

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

Learn the language. You don’t have to be perfect or close to it, but the ability to communicate will change your experience as well as make many things much easier. Be kind, polite, and friendly and this will be returned many times over.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to travel and explore more of the world, but we plan to continue living in Panama. We are really happy here.

Kris and Joel share more information about life in Panama on their blog, The Panama Adventure.