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About susanellen40


Preparing to Move Abroad 



Currently Lives:

El Valle de Anton, Cocle, Panama

Citizen Of:

United States

Past Expat Posts:


New Zealand

United States

Some Forum Posts:

Belize: African American moving to Belize:

I would be interested in hearing more about your creekside lots. I have a lot near Corozal, but not sure if I will build on it.

Panama: More brutal robberies in San Carlos:

Unfortunately, I do know some expats who have been brutally robbed. Ty and Michelle, who own Ty's in El Valle, were assaulted and robbed. They were snoozing on the beach near Coronado, in broad daylight, and I think Ty had to have surgery to repair injuries to his hand. My understanding is that the police could have been a lot more helpful.

Panama: Relocation consideration:

I don't know how the insurance underwriting world works, but in the mortgage world that I am in, we use A LOT of contract underwriters, and even some W2 underwriters, who work remotely. You might want to explore that option. Then, you can do what you already do, from anywhere in the world, as long as the client/employer doesn't want you to drop by the office once a week. When I eventually get out of the states (again), I will be doing mortgage compliance auditing remotely, and have starting building my network for that.

Panama: Are there any good christians in Boquete or El Valle?:

First of all, "religious" and "Christian" have nothing to do with each other. that is an ignorant statement. To answer the original question -Yes, EV has as residents many locals and expats who do their best to live by the Word. There is an awesome church that meets I(or used to meet, I am not in EV anymore) in an old candy factory, and the congregants are an awesome mix of Spanish speakers, Kuna speakers and English speakers. I have been there and sung hymns that were translated into all 3 languages! Find Cleo at the Mercado (he's fluent in English, Spanish and Kuna) and he can help you. Go see Michelle at Ty's...she can probably point you to a bible study group. I am really embarrassed that someone in our group called a practice, which she is obviously ignorant of, "poo". That is uncalled for, and indicative of the bias that is rampant world-wide against Christians. When did it become "ok" to be politically correct by not offending anyone BUT Christians?

Panama: tickets are bought:

Enjoy your trip....wish we were there too. Say hi to Meike and Bill at the Balboa! Make sure to get up early and see the agoutis that come into the yard for breakfast....there were babies when we were there last April.

Panama: seasonal allergies?:

HI there, My husband and I moved from TN to Panama and lived in El Valle for 3 months (from Jan - April) and were blissfully allergy free. There are some TN folks living in El Valle, one of whom moved there specifically because he was comfortable there after a lifetime of sinus issues. I'm sure it depends on what you are allergic to, but I know that I was very miserable in Spring and Fall in TN, and did not experience any issues in Panama. We are in AZ now (too young to retire to Panama, unfortunately), and we are dealing with the seasonal stuff here at present. Still better than TN - we lived in central TN, which is a big collection bowl for every allergen you can think of! Best of luck to you!

Panama: Coronado:

Just have to chime in here for a few words, even though we don't live in El Valle any more (at least, for now!)... I am sort of perplexed about the notion of "time" in this thread, as in "how fast can I get to the beach, etc.. Everything slows down in that part of Panama, and that is the best part about it. When we were there last winter/spring, we didn't own a car, and we took the buses all over the place. We could jump on the bus in EV at 9 am and be sitting on the beach by about 10, after a nice ride "down the mountain". The ride is beautiful, the people on the bus are interesting...heck, I even like the music they play. That road is windy, but I have been on many mountain roads in the states that were worse. Mark's right...drivers can be crazy...and not all of them are Panamanian. Not naming names here...hahaha! When we were in EV, we felt like we have the best of both worlds...we could get to the beach and the big stores in Coronado, and then get back to the cool calmness of EV in 30 minutes. No rush, no sense of urgency. Some people want the beach all the time, and I get that (we just bought some investment property on the beach in Belize in fact), but some just want it in smaller doses. When we took our "last" bus ride down the mountain when we left Panama in April, I cried the whole way to Panama City. For those who are searching for that "perfect" place...it's highly subjective and you have to poke around a bit to find your own "happy place". It may be EV, Boquete, Coronado or Santa Fe, where a lot of expats of heading now.

Panama: Single Expats??:

I know both rgpanama and Mark...love you both. Please stop fighting...when you fight it makes me wanna drink! On second thought.... Seriously, love you both and I know if you ever got together, you would have a blast.

Belize: Telephones:

When we lived in Panama, we knew a lot if expats that had Magic Jack. It's like having a US number, so they could talk to their kids back "home". When we move to Belize, that will be our way of calling the states, rather than our Verizon global phones...we found out the hard way how expensive that can be.

Belize: Single lady moving to Belize:

Hi! While I am no expert on Belize, I can tell you that there are some wonderful expats in the Corozal area. We just got back from viewing our lot in the Orchid Bay settlement, and we met some awesome folks. Get on the Yahoo groups and search for Corozal women's forum...It's a good place to start. We aren't ready to retire yet, but it was reassuring to visit and meet so many like-minded people. Gives hubby and me even more reason to look forward to the time when we can retire to Belize.

Panama: How does one obtain a police record?:

So sorry to hear this! Where will you go....back to the States?

Panama: What would YOU have brought with you?:

Hi Diane, I would be thinking about those little "can't live without" items that you take for granted are available in the states. For me, this was facial toner! Yes, you can get it, but it's expensive ($7 in the drug store in Coronado, but no generic "Walmart" brand). If there is a special brand of food, cosmetic, motor oil, etc that you like, jump on this site and ask if that item is available in Panama. Tom and I are back in the states currently, but when we come back to Panama, we are going to be sure to bring a meat tenderizing hammer (could not find one in El Valle, Coronado or Penonome...probably can find it in PC but not taking chances cuz that Panamanian beef can be tough). We are told that good tube socks are hard to come by (Mark, look for them soon -- sending to Deb's mailbox), and NO Twinkies in Panama (no Hostess cakes sold there, but Bimbo cakes are). Yes --you can get Hellman's mayonnaise!! In case that's a concern as it was for me. At the last minute, we decided to buy a used net book for about $100, and this saved my life because my laptop crashed during the trip and I needed a back while it was in the shop being repaired. One very essential thing, if you haven't gotten one yet...Magic Jack (and I think you want the "Deluxe" or whatever the best one is called). It gives you a US number so you can call the kids back home and not pay a fortune. The idea is that the thing that may be ubiquitous back at home, might be unavailable in Panama, so if you are pretty much packed and ready to go, start drilling down to see what little things you can't live without. By the way, Tom and I are in AZ where we are doing contract work, and we are still joyfully living out of the same 5 suitcases that we brought to Panama. If you are going to move around a lot from town to town, bring as little as possible, and even then you will probably give some of it away after you say to yourselves, "why they heck did we bring this"? So...also be thinking about what NOT to bring. You will not need as many clothes as you think, and whatever you need as far as clothing, you can get it at the many malls in PC. We gave a bunch of clothes away to the lady at the market in El Valle who sells clothes and she was perplexed but grateful. Some of the dang things still had the tags on them. Have a GREAT trip!

Panama: Panama vs. Nicaragua:

I have never been to Nicaragua, so take this with a grain of salt and in the spirit of helpfulness with which it is offered... Last winter, my husband and I were going to visit some friends who live in Managua as they were welcoming a new addition to the family. We were going to stay in a hotel because their home was already crowded. The husband is from a working class area of Brooklyn, NY and the wife is Nicaraguan (basically, they are not just off the turnip truck this morning) and they know the place very well. When we told them where we were planning to stay, they said no, no, that's not a "safe zone"! Apparently, it is well known what places are "safe" and which are not. A safe zone is a place where the police regularly monitor and control crime; other zones, not so much. As for places like Granada and Leon and small towns, we were told that it is safer, but "don't let your guard down there, either". There is also crime at the beach, San Juan del Sur, for example. As it turned out, we ended up not going to Nicaragua, but hope to visit some day. Probably won't spend much time in Managua except to see friends. As others have stated - definitely exercise caution. Cheap rent is not worth your life.

Panama: mailing boxes:

You'll find everything (almost) that you need) for less than the cost of shipping stuff. Allbrook Mall is a great place to shop, and there is a new mall on on the highway heading west from PC which is either open now or soon will be. (The bus doesn't stop there, so if you don't have a car, Allbrook is your best bet.) There is a Conway store at Allbrook which is basically Target, and another place called El Costo for inexpensive stuff. There are also the pricier stores at the malls in the city.

Panama: Health Insurance in Panama:

Yes, I believe it is only at the airport...and they don't alway automatically give you the paperwork. When you get your passport stamped, they should hand it back to you with a little folder that has all of the info and a little insurance card that (presumably) you would present if you need medical care. The reason that I say they don't automatically give it to you is that when we have come in on that crowded late night Sunday night flight from the states, they must sometimes forget to give the ins info out because they just want to get everyone through! But, coming in at a less hectic time, they seem to just automatically give them out. :)

Panama: by hand or machine wash:

Ok, I'll chime in... When in Panama, my hubby and I would put our clothes into a big plastic tub, fill it with water and detergent, and take turns stomping it ("agitation"!). Then, rinse and hang on the line. Every now and then, we would bring it over to a nice neighbor lady's house (she had a washing machine and a super fancy clothesline). Once in a very blue moon, we would haul it over to the lavanderia. We would watch it like a hawk after hearing about people's blue jeans going missing. Now we are in AZ (USA) for the next few months, and we have a real honest-to-goodness washer and dryer! Laundry is not an all day affair any more, but it's not as much fun. And I thank Sailor Jerry in El Valle (who might still be in town unless he is off on a new adventure) for the stomping idea. Great way to stay in shape. Before he gave me that idea, I was using a big stick to swirl the clothes around...looking like the 3 witches (the witches who shared an eye) in MacBeth, over my cauldron ...chanting spells...hair of rat, tail of newt, eye of toad...etc. And that is my tale of expat laundry. Might have to walk up to the store and buy some wine now.

Panama: Help find logging in July:

Have you tried www.airbnb.com? They have rentals by the night, week, month, etc.

Belize: New things I been wondering about:

Hi there, I am usually over on the Panama forum (lived there for a bit, "practicing for retirement"), but I noticed this thread and had a comment/question. In Panama, lots of expats have Magic Jack (Deluxe or Pro, I think it's called) so they can call friends and family in the states. It's like calling them from a US number. I wonder if anyone in Belize uses Magic Jack? You have to buy it before you leave the states, by the way.

Panama: PC in Nov - Taxi questions:

Where are you staying? Your hotel/guesthouse can possibly arrange a taxi for you. If you don't have a place yet, consider the Balboa Inn. It's in the former Canal Zone, convenient to both downtown and Albrook, and the owners are fantastic. They will arrange a taxi for you for $35. They are used to having guests arrive on the late flights, so it's no big deal. Also, they arrange tours and serve a pretty decent breakfast (included in the reasonable room rate.) You can watch the agoutis play in the yard while to eat breakfast. Tell Mieke and Bill I sent you! (I am not affiliated with them - it's just that it's the best place I have found, and we stay there whenever we are in PC now.) If you want to be very close to the airport (like if you have an early flight out of PTY in the morning), the Riande is nice (tho expensive...about $150/night), and they have a free shuttle to the airport. But, I have left the Balboa Inn at 4 am in a taxi (they arrange that too for you at $30) and there's no traffic on the roads then so it's not a hassle at all.

Panama: Tocumen-Corredor Bus Schedule:

Budget about $35-$40 from Albrook to Tocumen. I have done this ride a few times, always in the daytime, and that's the average. If you go at night, or during a high traffic time, the driver might want more. And carry small bills (Balboa coins, singles, fives)...even a $20 is often verboten with these taxi drivers!


Or buy him a new windshield. :)

Panama: Maintaining a US legal residence:

I receive my mail in TN, at my ex's house. (We are amiable -- in fact, I just did his taxes!). Even though I am in AZ working a contract job right now, my legal residence is TN...no state income tax there either!

Panama: living on social security alone:

It seems like it would depend on the size of the check. IF there is SS by the time I retire (not counting on it), I will receive a very good amount (about $2300 for me, plus hubby's) and might be able to live well on it in Panama if inflation slows down there. If my check was $1000/ month, AND my house in Panama was paid for and didn't require costly upkeep, it could be done. There wouldn't be a lot of fancy travel and restaurants, though.

Belize: Looking for a contact:

Hi there, I just purchased a lot in Orchid Bay (today!), sight unseen. Crazy, I know. My husband and I lived in Panama (and we love it), but Belize has 2 things we want/need: it's still a tax/banking haven, and is English-speaking. We will be coming down to visit Orchid Bay in August. We probably won't build our house for several years, but want to know all we can about the community. What do you like most about it? Are most of the current residents full-time or part-time? Are there grocery stores nearby? Whatever you can tell me about Corozal and Orchid Bay would be much appreciated!

Panama: Social Security checks:

Food for thought...even if your bank doesn't have an ATM fee, there will typically still be an "international fee", which can be in the $10 range for a $300 withdrawal. I use a debit card from an international "virtual bank" (i.e., no brick and mortar) and I still have this fee as my account is tied to my US residence. This $10 is in addition to what the ATM charges. Not a pretty picture, so when I get back to Panama I will be opening a local account.


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