Alice: Permanently Panama
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Panama, etc.
I’m a 20-something web entrepreneur who moved to Panama on a whim in 2012 – about 5 seconds after graduating college. These days, I spend my time devising content marketing strategies for brands in Panama – and working on a few of my own web ventures (when I’m not surfing, traveling, waterfall-hunting, and running around like a hot mess on the Cinta Costera, that is.)
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started Permanently Panama about a year after moving here. I wanted to create a platform that offered advice on not only living in Panama, but living well in Panama via non-traditional career options and entrepreneurial pursuits.
I want to show people that living abroad isn’t reserved for the retired or the rich and careless – it’s a lifestyle that can be feasibly achieved in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I recently wrote a guide on “How to Start Freelancing in Panama” which got some great responses. I think the ability to create a self-sustaining income stream is a really important thing for anyone to have – especially expats living abroad. This is something I talk about a lot on the site, and this article is a great starting point.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Panama differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Well, growing up in South Florida I feel like I kind of cheated on that one. The climate and even to some extent the cultures are very similar. I don’t remember experiencing much culture shock when I got here – though funnily enough, I now get culture shock upon returning to the U.S. Every time I go back, I feel further and further removed (and grateful for it!).
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Panama? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was 21 when I arrived in Panama – I don’t think I was fully prepared for ANYTHING. I definitely made a lot of stumbles figuring things out, and there were a lot of trial-and-errors. There still are. But honestly, I wouldn’t change any of it. Every hiccup I’ve had, and continue to have, makes me a more resourceful and self-reliant person. That’s one of the reasons I came to begin with.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Oh, God. This one actually happened the other day. I was sharing a meal at a fancy restaurant with a bunch of Spanish businessmen – new clients of mine. My Spanish isn’t great, just good enough so I can communicate albeit with horrible grammar and frequent slipups (I’m working on it.)
At one point, someone compliments me on the appetizer I had picked out. I meant to say “thanks, I have good taste” in a coy, joking manner, but what I said was “thanks, I have good flavor.” You cannot imagine the hilarity that ensued.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Panama?
- Create your own revenue stream. Don’t look for a job or rely on your savings – those are both unreliable and overrated. Figure out how to make money on your own terms and you’ll know what it really means to “live in paradise.” My site offers a few solid ideas for doing this.
- Don’t trash-talk locals or their custom, neither in person or online. It makes you seem uppity, ignorant, and racist.
- “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” If it won’t matter in 3 months, don’t get pissy about it.
How is the expat community in Panama? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Oh, the expat community here is golden. Like, I’ve literally been moved to tears by the benevolence of the expat community.
How would you summarize your expat life in Panama in a single, catchy sentence?
Surf, eat, write, sleep, repeat.