Monday, September 30, 2013


That's it, and many thinking people have stopped using it since I first railed against its use and the whole concept of retirement back in the 1970s. This was originally based on much research that showed retirement was deadlier than most diseases--that people who retired into a so-called life of leisure, often died within a few years, having lost their passion for life.

As a writer, I am lucky to have a profession that has a long history of non-retirees. 

When I meet someone new here in Panama, I am often asked if I retired here. A fair question as I have passed the stereotypical retirement age. But like most people in the creative arts, whether it be music, writing, theatre, painting, etc., the word "retire" is not in my lexicon. I am writing more and involved in more projects now than at any time in the past forty years. As a result of all this, my income is entering an impressive upward spiral, and projections are it will increase at least tenfold by the end of 2014.

However,  as a sort of objective bystander, I can say that retiring in Panama is a great and affordable adventure. I have a few retired friends who love the lifestyle, the bargain/booming economy, and the tropical climate. 

I do have to pay for my prescription drugs, though they are cheaper here--the same for doctor visits. No Medicare coverage or Affordable Care Act here (tho I can fly back to U.S. for any major medical needs under Medicare) and Sara Lee and Stouffer's prepared foods are much higher priced. But the average quality restaurant meal is well under $10, and produce and local meats are cheaper than fast food in the U.S.

Panama can be a great place to live, if you enjoy the things that are very reasonably priced here. But it is not as well-organized as the U.S., or as fast-paced. Anyone who moves or retires here without checking it out with a personal scouting expedition first is a fool.  I came for a visit last October for ten days, but was planning to move here in February. I knew, however, that I could easily pack up my two carry on bags and two checked bags and move somewhere else if I didn't like it. I wasn't relocating a family or a whole house full of possessions. And I wasn't planning to retire anytime ever. 

This is a great place to not retire to. Even though you can't get a job if you are not a resident or citizen. If you can earn a living through some creative activity you can market online or through agents outside of Panama--or simply if you are lucky enough to have passive income coming in that will let you live comfortably (about $2000 to $3000 per month will do nicely, tho it can be done for half that with a bit of belt tightening), life can be a relaxing tropical dream.

And the biggest selling point is not bargain prices, or a happy-go-lucky culture. The best thing going for you coming to a foreign land with a new langauge to learn is that much research has shown that your brain will stay more youthful and grow more creative when challenged by learning and speaking a new language and being forced to even modestly change your lifestyle in a new environment.
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