Learning about what it is like to be an Expat is daunting. Believe me we know. There are TONS of places on the internet that tell you this and tell you that. Some of it is true, a lot, well is just showing the “sugar coated” country.
Folks, we have seen many people head back to the US with their dreams dashed and I know of at least 5 couples in the last 60 days who bailed. A few of these couples we tried to help and gave them warning, but they did not want to listen. One couple we know is paying a high price and will probably loose tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars because they did not listen to our advice.
All these people who could not hang; they did things the “Lone Ranger” way and that is the last thing you want to do. To be a successful expat you need to have a safety network for your first year living outside the country.
You will have questions like…
- Where do I pay my bills?
- What is the best place to shop for groceries?
- How do I get phone, electric and water service?
- What is the best pizza in town?
- Who is the best doctor, dentist or veterinarian?
And the list goes on…
Every country that Tracye and I have visited and relocated to, we have always hired an expat consultant to answer questions, introduce us to the right people, fill us in on what we need to know.
Over the years we have learned some real insight into being a true expat and we have successfully helped folks ourselves.
Here is what Dave & Carol said…
Ray and Tracye were great hosts. The day we arrived they met us at the B&B and we went for a late lunch. Mar y Tierra was a great everyday restaurant that served wonderful “tico” food and the ceviche is to die for. We got to sit and get to know the Gano’s and they answered all kinds of questions. Ray even gave us some quick “survival Spanish” lessons which I still remember, K S S O, see Ray, still remember 🙂 We are excited about them moving to Panama, we want to come back down for another visit to look at the Boquete area.
Ray & Tracye are very knowledgeable about a lot of topics. Ray has a Bible Prophecy & Survival website (http://www.prophezine.com) that has some great information. We now understand why they are here and their mission that God called them to here in Central America. They are good solid Christians and want to help other Christians who see the need to get out of the US.
Contact them and hire them, they are worth every penny and then some. We now have some good people we call friends in Central America and we know that they are there for us.
David & Carol M – Independence, MO
Now that we are in Panama, we want to expand on what we were doing in Costa Rica. We want to help people who are feeling the need to get out of the US, and try to make that decision and process as smooth as possible.
Costa Rica is great, but the country is restrictive in who they allow to immigrate. They basically want retirees and they have set up a great immigration plan to help folks in that category.
Tracye and I are not in the category and will not be for some time. This is why Panama is so attractive because Panama wants people like us who are income earners and will come live and spend our money as well as create new jobs and businesses for the country of Panama.
Tracye and I are living the life that so many people just dream of. Here is the secret; YOU can live that dream too if you have that adventurous spirit and willing to take that step of faith. If you are reading this, you have that adventurous spirit. All you have to do now is take that step in faith.
Our Advised Steps
What we have learned in our travels and adventures is that there are steps to take in becoming an Expat. You just don’t pack it all up and jump on a plane to your designated country and hope it all works out. That is a recipe for disaster.
We have put together a proven set of steps that will put as many of the odds in your favor so that you can learn what it is like being an expat, what to expect, how, and where you can live.
Step 1 – Hire an Expat Consultant
We did the same thing 7+ years ago when we hired an Expat consultant and it was money well spent. Based on our experience and the experience talking to other expats, those who make it, get a consultant to help them.
That is what Tracye and I want to be your consultant , to help answer questions and clear up some of the grey areas in this life changing process.
Step 2 – Ask questions
IN FACT, ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS. Ask a whole month’s worth of unlimited questions. We charge $50.00 for the entire month and we will answer as many questions as you want to send us. We do ask that you give us some time and we will get back to you within 48-72 hours. But a lot of times we get back almost that same day.
If spending time writing emails is not your thing, we can help with our phone consultations. We charge $50.00 an hour with a two hour minimum. I have done these sessions in the past and what I do is record the session and send it to you in an unedited MP3 format. Believed me, I will be throwing a LOT of information at you to the point that your brain becomes pretty worn out; you will be glad that you have this MP3 to listen to again and again.
Again we did the same thing and we found that once we moved, we were WAY MORE informed than other expats who just did it the “Lone Ranger” style trying to get information on their own via Facebook or forums. The problem with that is you ask 20 people, you get 20 answers.
Step 3 Plan A Recon Visit
There is nothing like feet on the ground for you to get the full idea if being an Expat is for you or not. It is easy to watch all the You Tube videos, read all the guide books and get the stars in your eyes. We got that way with Jamaica when we were considering there as a place to expat. Boy, were we in for a HUGE surprise. Yes it is beautiful, yes the people are on the nice side, but step off the beaten path and you are asking for nothing but trouble. We learned that one first hand when we were almost ambushed by a bunch of men. If it wasn’t for this gal selling bracelets kind of stepping in, who knew what would have transpired. She helped us get out of there in one piece.
We were being “Lone Rangers” and we almost paid a high price for it too.
So, if you are interested in living an expat life, the best person to give you the skinny is another expat.
There is a lot to see and a lot of friends we can introduce you to, so you can get a true grasp of what it is like to live here in Panama. This will also give you a chance to talk to other expats and ask them questions too.
Step 4 – Trial Run Living Here
It is a good idea to do a trial run and spend about 30 days – 90 days living here. You will get a good feel of what it is like living as an expat, the goods, the bads and the uglies too. This is something that a lot of folks skip on if they have made multiple recon trips. In both cases you will get a good feel and something we recommend you doing. Again, your key issue of being an expat is remaining to be an expat. If you skip some of the things we advise, you are putting yourself at risk to returning to the US within a year. We have seen it happen to many couples and most of those did not listen to us when we have had their ear. The sad thing is that they blame the country for their horrible time when they should have better educated themselves and also listened to advise given.
Step 5 – Residency Trip #1
So, you have come down for a recon or two or spent some time down here and you love it. If you have spent time here, we have probably already introduced you to our attorney, real estate person, and other important connections that you will need to know. Living as an expat is all about networking and staying abreast of the ever changing information.
If we have not introduced you around yet, this is the trip that you need to do. We can help you open a bank account, introduce you to our immigration attorney, our GREAT real estate person and just about anything else you need to start getting your feet on the ground.
If you are coming down for residency, you will also need to have your paperwork in order and believe me there is a lot. Wedding certificate, passports, driver’s license, back ground checks. Oh, bringing pets? There is paperwork for that too. You are kind of paper worked to death and if you do not have it in order and proper dates adhered to, you will be having a very bad day.
Once you have submitted the residency paperwork you will eventually have to travel to Panama City where our attorney will meet you and guide you through the process there. This time frame is up to you and the attorney, but we are putting you in very trusted hands. They are the ones who helped us.
Step 6 – Find A Home & Get Stuff Turned On
So you want to make the jump but where are you jumping to? We have a great Real Estate agent that is the best in town. He can help you find the home, furnished or not furnished and keep within your price range.
Here is our home and the view from our back yard…
A lot of the homes already have the electric and other utilities turned on, you just have to get things put into your name. This can be a hassle at times, but we can also help you with that.
Step 7 – The Move Down
Well you stepping out in faith and taking the plunge? So who do you hire to move your stuff? How much stuff do you need or want to bring? Is it worth shipping your car or should you buy one here? There are a ton of questions that need to be asked and first and foremost finding a good mover that will get you from there to here. Again, we are here to help advise you as to movers, times of the year, idea for cost, what you should and should not bring, etc.
For us, we sold a LOT of our stuff. You may want to take advantage of de-cluttering your life and weed out stuff that you just never use or will ever us again.
For example, all that leather furniture, not a good thing to bring down to the tropics. Why? Leather attracts mold and it will get moldy in several weeks. You can bring it with you if you love babysitting leather furniture and keeping it treated, or you can sell it and buy furniture down here that is built to withstand the tropical environment.
The great thing about selling a lot of your stuff is that it will help pay for your shipping container and possibly instead of a 40 foot, you only use a 20 foot. That is money saved and plus selling all our stuff, helped pay for our own shipping container.
Step 8 – Getting To Know Your Neighbors
This is one of those things that you really need to do. See, this is one area that will send you back to the faster than molasses in January, that being not getting to know people and integrating yourself into the expat community.
Listen, you want to be a lone hermit, you could have done that in the US.
Let us introduce you around or maybe even let us host a welcome dinner with a number of friends that are good to know in town.
All in all, Tracye and I are here to help. We know what it is like and we have “been there, done that, got the T-shirt” to prove it.
We have a lot of information that we can offer via our website. One great place to start is our free newsletter. We send out information pretty regularly and if there is a special article the crosses my desk, I send those out right away. So make sure you subscribe.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and please contact us if you have any questions.
Ray & Tracye Gano
Expats & Adventurers