Ready to transition from another culture to Panamanian culture?

Blog by Terry Richmeier

For us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, we chose to move to Boquete, Panama for many reasons. Some of which are to leave Corporate America and to live out a lifelong dream. There is a trend that is happening and Expat communities are just one way to go.

First, check out our story and then check out one person’s thought, our friend Joyce Kinner, a recent transplant:

I have been wondering lately what it is about a person that makes the person successfully able to move far away from family and friends and into another culture? This can apply for people moving within the US from one cultural area to another—we certainly felt this way moving from New Mexico to California, but it really is a question when I see people here from various parts of the US and Canada. Some seem to do much better than others.

At first, I thought that maybe people from areas in the US or Canada with diverse cultures, especially a lot of people from Latin America, might do better than others. I suppose that holds true for many, but we know people who are doing very well here and are from the middle of Michigan, Indiana, Alberta and other more typical bastions of stereotypical white culture. Many of my friends in California thought that perhaps those with a more cosmopolitan world view would be happier in Panama than others from a more insular world view, but that doesn’t always hold true either.

There are people who live here in Boquete as if they were living in the rural Midwest. They hang out with only North Americans, visit restaurants with only North American clientele (where all the wait staff speak perfect English), shop at the stores with produce and groceries from North America, learn very little Spanish, and for large purchases run down to our local “Costco” (Price Smart) for that really diverse feeling–:-) Many of these people are quite happy and enjoy their retirement a lot.

Others leave Boquete because it is too much like North America. Currently, many of these people are heading to Colombia, Ecuador or Spain for more of a feeling of being in a different country (or for cheaper cost of living, to be fair).
The majority of people leave here because they feel they need to be back in the US or Canada. This is often for medical reasons—in search of chemotherapy or major health treatment under Medicare or the Canadian Health System. But, there is the final group of ‘leavers,’ that I think show what it takes to survive in a different culture—you need to be independent and flexible about living in the social norms in which you were raised or allowing new patterns of life.

This results in a mixture of independent people from all walks of life living here in a small Panamanian town peacefully, mostly, with the local townspeople. Whether these independent people are here because they can’t afford to retire most places in the US or Canada, or they have a strong desire to travel and see different places, or they grew tired with some state of affairs in the home location—all are independent. Many people say that someone back home, whether parent, sibling, child, grandchild or friend, feels that the ex-pats have abandoned people or country. That is definitely far from the truth, as electronic forms of communication make us pretty much as available as we were before to most family and friends. Discussions about why people moved here, live here and stay here all tend to revolve around the strong desire to do something different with the last years in life—whether that’s hiking new areas, being able to travel more to the southern hemisphere, retire early (or at all), or whatever. The people who are happy here seem to enjoy independence, with, of course, the caveat that no one is ever far from his or her phone and social media activity with family and friends.

So, if you think you have an “adventurous side’ to you and/or are thinking of “something different with the last years in life”, or just want to explore living in a different culture, Boquete is definitely worth a try! Come and stay with us, let us take you on a Boquete Overview Tour, and ask us more about Boquete, Panama and why we love living here while you sleep in an amazing memory foam bed with tea, coffee, wine and beer right at your fingertips. See you soon!

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