I am Ross Richard Blankert.
I and my spouse Janice flew to Panama with our suitcases and our cats May 2, 2012. We sold all our things before we left Washington state including my Model A Ford. The big challenge was to get our cats out of quarantine and through the expensive process of getting them into the country. Then people do not wish to rent to you if you have pets. A dog is really a no no. I had a friend to pick me up in Panama City.
They actually want to rent their rent house to us but we stayed for a month or two and decided against living anywhere near Panama City.I managed to buy a car with cash and got our stuff and drove 8 hours to David Panama. I wish we had gone to a smaller town in the mountains right away. It is very hot in David. We had contacted a Real Estate lady on the net and she helped us find a place to live.
When living in a Spanish speaking country, learn Spanish. Panama is a Spanish speaking country. Most do not speak English. All the sites that told about Panama lied about the language barrier and cultural differences. If you want to move to Panama or any South American or Central American country, start learning Spanish. It will make life much easier.
I don’t do the drinking scene. I don’t drink at all. I don’t go out at night partying. There is very little crime outside of Panama City and Colon. Don’t go walking down the street at 3am stumble-drunk . People are poor here. Don’t flash your money. A man here will shovel cement for 8 hours for $20. Hence you must be respectful of people’s feelings and don’t brag about how much money you have or make.
Most folks are as good and decent and hard-working as anyone I ever met. I tutor children here in math. The kids are absolutely great. They have a mother and a father and grandmother and grandfather and aunts and uncles who all take care to watch the kids and make sure they mind. Hence children are well-behaved and respectful.. It is a Catholic country and folks do normally go to church. I go to the English mass and meet other Gringos (Americans and Canadians) at church.
Life here is a lot slower. Most people in the sleepy little town I live in (Boquete) are not in any hurry. There are tourists here from many countries. There are many permanent residents like myself from the USA.
I lived most of my life in the United States of America. In Panama, there are many races represented. Black, White, Brown, Red, and Chinese. They are all mixed up over the years and it is true that people here don’t give a damn about what race you are. The Chinese tend to stay with themselves but even they mix up sometimes. I felt that everyone is mad at everyone else in the USA. The government and political parties are deliberately trying to marginalize every group and set one person against the next. It is not like this in Panama.
In Panama, everything is about family. Family takes care of family. Grandma will take care of her grandchildren when mom and dad are working. Folks live together and take care of each other. Say this about the USA culture.
I live 30 minutes from David. It is the third largest city with two malls and lots of stores of all kinds. But you need to know where the things you want are sold. There is no Walmart YET. They are coming. We have a store called Pricemart which is like Costco. Some businesses cater to expats with special products that are brought in special for them from the USA. Sixty Five percent of all the food is imported from the United States.
Your cost of living depends on your lifestyle here. If you have a car, a maid, and insist on eating out every night, you costs go much higher.
Personally, I have an old used car, my wife cooks pretty good, my rent is $450 a month with two bedrooms, two bath, and hot water for showers (not a standard feature in most homes)
A normal home in Boquete will cost about $1000 a month rental. You can buy a very nice home for 130k to 250k.
We get no hurricanes. Rain storms in rainy season which might take the power out for a little while. We have cable tv and internet and phone on the cable, and other varieties of all that modern stuff.
My plan is to live here until I die. I love it here. It is paradise and I did not have to die to get here.
Yes you can drink the water. It is safe.
We get many small earthquakes which we rarely feel. The buildings are built to stand and are all concrete and steel and well constructed.
Getting you residency is tricky and you need a very good abrigado (attorney) to help you. The rules change weekly and it is difficult to get everything done correctly. I will try to attach a picture of my little house I am renting. It is very quiet and private. Any questions you can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org