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  • Chapter 1: Why I’m Moving to Panama

    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.”

    Canada to Panama

    Flag photo by Vince Alongi on Flickr

    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!

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    Post by Jacki Gillcash

    Jacki is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer, a mother, traveler, and soon-to-be permanent resident of Panama! Meet Jacki>>

    More posts by Jacki Gillcash

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    22 Responses

    1. Jacki says:

      Hi Sherry & Dan! Sorry I didn’t get back sooner – I was on a jungle adventure in Guatemala! That’s one of the fantastic things about living in Panama: close access to all of Central and upper South America! To answer your questions, we ended up settling in Gorgona, mainly because of the international school here. I take it from your message you don’t have children? Because that will definitely influence where you settle. There are very, very few international schools outside of Panama City, and most of them are in the Gorgona/Coronado area. Bocas del Toro is definitely amazing, but I wouldn’t want to live there full time. But that’s just our preference. It is largely a backpacker/surfer haven, and, unless you are living right in Bocas town, it’s a little too isolated for us. There is potential for tourist industry investing, but only if you found the right location. Bocas town is pretty much saturated. But further out on the same island (Colon) I would say there is great potential. It is definitely a beautiful area. But then, there are a lot of beautiful untouched places in Panama for you to explore: the coastline along the Gulf of Chiriqui where the newest Amble resort is on Isla Palenque – from Boca Chica right through to Pedasi – is considered the next “up-and-coming” tourist hotspot. There are also tons of golf courses in the Coronado area, as that is where all the new condo developments are being built (between Coronado and the all-inclusive resort of the Royal Decameron in Rio Hato). Finally, you are correct, prices have risen since 2011, and will only continue to go up. So now is the time to make the leap!

    2. Sherri & Dan says:

      I’m guess you are all settled in panama and loving it.
      We are from Texas, and LOVE Candadians! I just saw this post. We are 90% sure we want to move/invest in Panama. Looking at Bocas Del Toro. Where did you end up living? And do you recommend we check the area out? My husband is a golfer, he is concerned about where he will play golf if we are as far out as Bocas del toro? I golf also but I’m a explorer/nature girl at heart. Our goal is to take advantage of cost of living/investment, live in a desirable/safe area while running our own busines. I’ve heard of 5 other places to consider but it sounds like Bocas is the “Hot spot” for tourist industry investing.
      Any input is appreciated. I am exactly of the vain ” YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE”. I too have family nearby but as you said, it’s only a 5 hour plane flight away from Texas. We’ve been discussisng the Panama area for 5 years. It sounds like prices have risen a bit since 2011? Here it is 2013! Ready to BE there. With Real estate and Executive Personnel recruiting bacckgrounds we are obviously “people” oriented. My husband says I don’t meet a stranger and they are my best friend until they prove me different! Thanks for your time, perhaps we will meet some day. I look forward to your response.

    3. Patty Seymour says:

      Jacki- we also left Ottawa for warmer climes and yes, a more affordable cost of living. We do not regret the decision and make sure we get back to visit family. Our son, now 16, was 2 when we left Canada; he loves to fly up there to visit with his grandparents, cousins and aunts every summer. I wasn’t necessarily looking to leave but my husband was born in Ottawa and while i had lived coast to coast and in-between and was ready to put roots down, he wanted to live somewhere else. We moved to North Carolina where we have easy access to both the ocean (2.5 hrs away) and the mountains (3.5 hrs). The biggest obstacle in moving here was that we both needed to know we had jobs to go to. My husband was able to transfer his high tech job and i landed a job with IBM. As i sit in my family room today looking out at my pool and palm trees expecting a 73 degree day ..oops sorry, 23 degrees (C) i am glad we made the move. Make those dreams a reality. Best wishes!

    4. Jacki Gillcash Jacki says:

      Deborah-where are you in Panama? Where from in Canada? Would love to pick your brain once we’re down there! We have so much to learn.

    5. Rachel Rachel Kowalczyk says:

      Deborah — we’re planning to publish another construction update in the next few weeks, and we’ll begin accepting reservations this fall to stay at The Resort at Isla Palenque. It’s lovely to have you along for the journey — let us know if you have questions as a fellow member of the Panama resort & real estate community.

    6. So many people are making the move to Panama. We are fellow Canadians and have been there 6 years now. We also own a small gated resort there with homes on site. we would love to hear from you how things go.

    7. Jacki Gillcash Jacki says:

      Hi Denice. As Nike would say: JUST DO IT 😉 As for why Panama, did you read my Chapter 2? I think that pretty much sums it up. Still in same hemisphere/time zone, not too far by plane, affordable, safe – and, of course, beautiful 🙂

    8. Denice MacKenzie says:

      Jacki,
      You are a girl after my own heart. I will do this to someday sooner than later. Was waiting for my son to get old enough to do his own thing.
      My question to you of all the places you could go ..why Panama?
      Denice

    9. Jacki Gillcash Jacki says:

      Thanks Vicki – it’s always nice to hear something like that!

    10. Vicki Castillo says:

      You are going to love it here. We have been living in Boquete for almost 5 years and love it more every day. Let me know if you need any info. My family and friends reacted the same way but now are jealous that they cannot join us here.

    11. c moore says:

      Hi, It sounds like a wonderful idea. I did the same 10 years ago, but now im in Europe. I loved my time there, but relationship and Business has brought me here. I have 2 beautiful titled lots in Bocas Del Toro on Isla Colon (with water & elect. available) that i thought i would keep forever, but it looks like i will sell them now.( I also had Building plans approved 7 years ago with all stamps,etc..) it is possible to build 2 Homes and share the W/F Dock!. They are ocean front (mangroves) with my Dock leading to the Bay and space for 2 Boats, Ithere view is of the marina & The village of Isla Colon!. Its 300 meters from the Airport!. I would like to sell them now, so if u know any1 interested plz send an Email to cmcostarica@yahoo.com

    12. Rachel Rachel Kowalczyk says:

      Jacki – I am so excited to hear stories from your new life in Panama once you’re really, truly, finally there! Such a dramatic move is sure to involve some growing pains and learning experiences… maybe not so fun for you to experience, Jacki, but fun (and helpful) for all of us!

    13. Jacki Gillcash Jacki says:

      Yes, yes, what Rachel said. And believe you me, it does take a LOT of “extra effort” to start anew in a new country – hmmmm, sounds like a future posting, perhaps? 😉

    14. Rachel Rachel Kowalczyk says:

      Thanks, Brenda! Sometimes our dreams are the only thing that keep us going in the daily struggle to survive. You gave me this impression from your comment about how your retirement escape fantasy is constantly on your mind. Constantly on my mind? My “retirement plan” to become a Yellowstone park ranger.
      But I’m lightyears away from retirement, so I appreciate Jacki’s perspective of embracing adventurous risk-taking no matter what your stage in life is… because you only live once. I think the real challenge is to put in that extra effort to turn your dreams into reality in the here and now. In many cases, it is possible to bring your work life and your dream life into closer harmony.

    15. Jacki Gillcash Jacki says:

      Brenda: My point was, why wait until you retire?? 😉

    16. Brenda Robertson says:

      Love’d Rachel’s comment & quote from “The Red Shoes” I feel the same way ” I don’t know exactly why either, but the thought of living in a tropical climate, all year, absent of snow, Leaving the rat race of Washington D.C. behind when I retire is constantly on my mind. I’m beginning to research now in order to prepare.this site is encouraging .

    17. Jacki Gillcash Jacki says:

      I hear you Julie! Cash flow is what is preventing us from moving earlier (well, that, and the fact we want our son to finish his school year). It’s -9C here today, snow and ice on the ground, and grey, grey, grey. I don’t know if that’s considered “mild” for a Scottish winter. Here is Canada, that’s not too bad for January. Still too cold for me! 🙂

    18. Julie says:

      My eldest son lives there and I am visiting this year no matter what. It’s all about cash flow or would be there already! Youngest at uni in Scotland and waiting for him to finish. Only thing is I am not independently wealthy and have to work! That is what is keeping me in cold, dark Scotland. Mild winter this year but the darkness and grey skies are oppressive!

    19. Jacki Gillcash Jacki says:

      Hey Bonnie. I thought my article explained “why Panama” – affordable, tropical paradise, modern, safe. If you’re considering Central America, Panama is the only way to go. If you’re still hesitating about making the life change you’re so obviously craving, consider that not one person I know who has made such a change has ever looked back on it and thought “Wow, I really wish I had never done that. I so regret it.” Even if, for whatever reason, you find yourself back in Canada a year or so later, it is very highly unlikely that you will look back on your experience and regret it. There may be parts of it that you didn’t really like, or maybe it wasn’t the ideal you thought it was going to be. But regretting the entire experience? I highly doubt it. As my husband says: You only live once. And as cliched as that is, it forms the fundamental basis for why we, as humans, make these kinds of decisions. We really do only have THIS ONE LIFE – and it is too short not to make the best of it. 🙂

    20. Bonnie says:

      You certainly resonate with me Jackie!
      My husband and I are also plotting our escape from cold, wet, grey Canada, BC may be warmer, however we do not see much sun in the winter months.
      We have not settled on a final destination yet, although Central America does has a pull for us.
      Why did you choose Panama?

    21. Rachel Rachel Kowalczyk says:

      I’m with you on that Emily. The best things in life cannot ever be fully broken down, analyzed, understood, with every reason enumerated. A quote from one of my favorite movies, The Red Shoes, that reminds me of Jacki and her husband’s “Just because” rationale for moving to Panama:

      Boris Lermontov: Why do you want to dance?
      Victoria Page: Why do you want to live?
      BL: Well, I don’t know exactly why, but… I must.
      VP: That’s my answer too.

      I think a lot of the best entries so far in the Life-Changing Travel Contest are similarly searching for something, drawing descriptive circles around why a moment was so meaningful, but the traveler might never fully understand why that particular moment resonated so powerfully with them.

      Jacki, I’m looking forward to following your story!

    22. Emily Kinskey Emily says:

      I love the rationale “just because”…because, why not do something daring and beautiful with your life! Cannot wait to hear how the adventure unfolds.

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    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.” [caption id="attachment_14173" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Flag photo by Vince Alongi on Flickr"]Canada to Panama[/caption] 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! [post_title] => Chapter 1: Why I'm Moving to Panama [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => chapter-1-why-im-moving-to-panama [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2012-08-27 11:11:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2012-08-27 16:11:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://amble.com/ambler/?p=14102 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 22 [filter] => raw )

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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.” [caption id="attachment_14173" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Flag photo by Vince Alongi on Flickr"]Canada to Panama[/caption] 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! [post_title] => Chapter 1: Why I'm Moving to Panama [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => chapter-1-why-im-moving-to-panama [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2012-08-27 11:11:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2012-08-27 16:11:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://amble.com/ambler/?p=14102 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 22 [filter] => raw )

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