Why am I moving to Panama?
Answer: Why not?
I mean, how many reasons does one need to live more affordably in a tropical paradise?
I’ve heard it said that if you’re going to run, be sure you are running towards something, not away from something.
I’ve often thought of this over the last several months as every friend, acquaintance, neighbor and even total stranger I’ve come across expresses the same sentiment when I tell them I am moving with my family to Panama.
“What?!” they say, all aghast. “Why?!”
At first, my husband and I actually attempted to list the reasons why – low cost of living, tropical climate, little-to-no crime, new adventures, etc., etc.
But after awhile, we stopped. Now, when someone asks us that question, our answer is simple, and yet seems to sum it up beautifully. “Just because,” we say.
And you know what? Everyone gets it. They smile, and nod, and say: “Ahh.”
They get it because they’ve all fantasized about it at one point or another. Who hasn’t? Especially those of us in chilly Canada, where six months of dark, grey, freezing, soul-sucking winter is enough to take down even the hardiest of men.
But the reality is, very few of us actually do it. To most of us, it doesn’t seem like a real, tangible goal in life. I mean, the tropics is somewhere where you go for vacation, not to actually live, right? Unless you’re retired, of course.
My husband and I and our group of friends in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada are all in our forties – some of us closer to 50 – and nowhere near retirement.
Everyone is well-established in their well-paying careers, bogged down with car and hefty mortgage payments, 2.5 vacations per year, kids tucked away in good schools, lots of extended family nearby to spend Christmas and Easter with. Most wouldn’t dream of leaving all that.
But my husband and I see things differently.
Which brings me back to my opening thought – are we running towards something, or away from something?
To be completely honest, it’s a bit of both.
We’re definitely running away – screaming – from the harsh Canadian winter.
There seems to be a general misconception that all Canadians love the cold season, that we are these robust, winter stalwarts who embrace the snow and cold and ice with our snow shoes, hockey skates and toboggans.
We don’t. We hibernate for half the year.
It starts in early November, and for the next six months, we gripe about the forecast, rarely leaving home unless we absolutely have to, living in our fuzzy slippers and Warmth-Rate-6 duvets(only someone who lives in a cold climate will get that one) while we huddle on the sofa, remote in hand, in a grey, cloudy funk that doesn’t dissipate until April.
Here in urban southern Canada, winter is less a pretty, white, winter wonderland and more a blustery landscape of freezing rain and black ice.
We’re also running from the ever-escalating cost of living here in Canada. Between astronomical heat and hydro bills and income taxes that drain about 30% of every paycheck out of your pocket, we’ve had enough.
But there are other more personal reasons for our decision – and this is where the “we’re running towards something” comes into play. We decided it’s time to pursue a better quality of life, away from the rat race, with more opportunities to enjoy life every day. I’ve taken plenty of vacations that achieved the objective of “getting away from it all,” but for me and my family, the time has come to exist in the present. To be where we are, and to be happy where we are. And the pursuit of this new way of living has led us to… Panama.
Tune in for Chapter 2 tomorrow to learn some of the reasons my family and I will be coming home to Panama in 2012! And leave a comment if this post struck a chord with you. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s considering a move abroad or traveling to Panama in the coming year!