Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why We Moved Out Of The U.S.......

There are many reasons to consider leaving the country in which you were born.  Some people move abroad for a new love, retirement, jobs, change of scenery, fun and adventure or even political reasons.  Despite the way Americans felt about the man in the White House, they chose to keep him there for another four years. 

Our reason for moving our lives to Panamá had absolutely nothing to do with our dislike of our country or the way things were progressing.  Whether we like or dislike the President of the United States had nothing to do with our decision either.  We moved to Panamá simply because it was a place with a lower cost of living where we could afford to retire on Clyde's pension.  And not only could we afford to retire, but we were able to retire early and take advantage of all that life has to offer.

Although we're residents of Panamá, we are and always will be citizens of the United States.  The U.S. Government knows where we are and they still tax us on any and all money that we make, including Clyde's pension.  They know how much money we have in banks in the states as well as our bank here.  We're not here hiding from the U.S. Government or from anything or anyone else.  In fact if we were hiding I certainly wouldn't be blogging about our daily lives here and putting it all online for the world to see.

There seems to be a misconception as to why people like ourselves chose to move abroad.  We get asked by blog followers and others that we meet about this very issue all the time.  And that's why I chose to write this message letting everyone know. 

But everything in life is a give and take and by leaving the U.S. we've gained some things and given up some others. 

Infrastructure:  Although the main roads in Panamá are pretty good, the secondary roads can be covered in dirt, full of potholes, steep, muddy, overgrown with grass or non-existent.  But since we don't pay taxes here we have no right to complain, although sometimes we do.

Postal Service:  The entire country of Panamá has NO door to door mail system, and yet it survives nicely without one.  Our bills either come to us online through email or someone sticks a paper copy in our front gate for us to pay.  The bill is taken to a local grocery store that has a "Pago" station in it where bills can be paid in person.  Do we miss our mail you may wonder?  Absolutely, positively, NOT!!!  But when we do need to receive something through the mail we have to use a pricey Americanized mail service.   Many taxes are added on to the shipments and we've paid over $100 to receive one small, lightweight package.  So needless to say, don't ship us anything unless we ask for it.  There are mailboxes available in these mail service stores and also through the local government but since we have no need for one, we don't have one.

Air Conditioning:  In order to live frugally here we choose to live without air conditioning.  Panamá is hot and humid year round with temperatures ranging from 75 at night to around 90 during the daytime.  We've accustomed ourselves to living without it and enjoy receiving our $30 electric bills which is the reward for our new found lifestyle.

Hot Water:  Homes here are usually not plumbed for hot water like they are in the states.  Our house is plumbed only in the kitchen sink and shower in the master bath for hot water.  All bathroom sinks, our washer and guest room showers have cold water only.  Clyde did add a "suicide" shower head to his shower giving him lukewarm water.  With this type of apparatus the water is heated as it goes through the shower head, also causing some danger to the person below should they touch the connections, hence the name.  We bought a small on-demand hot water heater that runs on propane and hangs outside the kitchen window. 

Electric:  Although the country does have electric throughout, it tends to come and go at whim.  Several times throughout the day the power will go out for briefs moments, just long enough to set the microwave clock to zero.  Because of this all major appliances are plugged into surge protectors to help protect them.

Water:  Our water is provided by the town we live in and is said to be some of the best drinking water in the world. It costs only $7 a month but like the electric, tends to go off at random.  Imagine standing in the shower all soaped up and the water goes off?  Imagine not being able to fill the washer on the weekend because too many of the neighbors are also washing clothes? Yes that's life in Panamá.  To take care of this many expats including us have installed water tanks with pressure pumps.  When the city water goes out we have a reserve tank to pump water into our house at a higher pressure too. 

But on the upside we have world class health care here for a fraction of the cost we'd pay in the states.  We also have low monthly expenses, perfect weather year round, a short drive to both the beaches and the mountains, an abundance of cheap, fresh produce, plenty of fresh fish, U.S. television stations, all of the American fast food restaurants should we want them, and so much more. We've given up a few things but have gained so much, the best one being that we are retired early and having the time of our lives in Panamá....along the gringo trail.

We are now offering our first year in Panama at our new website!

It is in an easy to read format and if you sign up,
will have a FREE bonus video
"Why we chose Panama"
Check it out!

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