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Saturday, August 11, 2012

My name is Chris, and I'm an expat

Hi everybody,

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. This is my first post, but I write freelance about living here in Panama, so you can be sure there will be many more posts to come.

So first off, what is an expat? Well, expat, being short for expatriate, worries some people. They don't like the label and don't want anyone thinking they're part of an expat society. Yes, technically the term expat does mean someone who is expatriating, or leaving their country behind to establish a new one.

However, the term expat nowadays isn't quite so extreme. It's used now as a loose term, meaning anyone who lives outside of their home country. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have no desire to go home one day, and it definitely does not mean that you hate your country.

In fact, many of the expats living here in Panama, are ex-U.S. military members. Many of them were based here in Panama, back when the U.S. occupied this country. Many of them fell in love with this beautiful country while spending time on the base here, many of them met their best friends in this country, many of them even met their wives while living here. So they've moved back to Panama with only the best of intentions, wanting to live out their retirement days in peace and tranquility, where their retirement dollar could be stretched much farther than it could back in Miami, Florida, or Chicago, Illinois, or anywhere else their lives were originally based from.
Some expats are not living a retired lifestyle here, but were sent here by American corporations to run their Panama-based branch. Dell has a huge center here, mostly customer service and sales, but I know there are Americans and Canadians here often because of this. Tons of other foreign businesses are based here and have sent employees to Panama.

Expat does not mean American or Canadian necessarily. I just recently visited a small town in Panama where I met an Australian couple, a French lady running her own business, a Spanish lady running the local newsletter, an American couple selling real estate, and a team of Israeli developers building a new beachside community. People from all over the world are looking for an exciting new place to spend their future.

So being an expat is not a bad thing. It's a great thing. And although having a steady retirement income will definitely make life easier in Panama, many people, younger than you'd think, are making the move, running their internet based businesses, doing online teaching, or even teaching English as a second language here. Being an expat is a daily challenge, especially if you haven't learned the local language, but it's a rewarding lifestyle, where at least here in Panama, the mindset is work to live, not like in the U.S. where it always seemed to me that everyone was too busy living to work.

So if you haven't already joined us here in Panama, keep checking my blog, for info that may help you finally make the decision to "Just do it!"