What exactly is an expat? This is a question that has been asked (and answered) in many different ways, for many different years. And while the definition may vary depending on the source, we can all agree on one thing: to be a responsible, positive, well-rounded expat, it takes some patience and effort. If you’re planning a move to Panama, or you’re a newer expat and you feel kind of stuck, or frustrated, we understand. Here are some tips to help point you in the right direction, and help you become (or plan on becoming) a well-rounded expat.
This is something that, despite pretty much everyone talking about doing, often gets pushed to the wayside as people settle into life in their expat communities. You may not need Spanish to get by if you live in heavily populated expat areas, or parts of the city with an international tourist vibe, but if you want to do your part, it’s best to learn. Learning Spanish won’t just make you more comfortable and convenient with getting around, but it’s also a sign of respect to the local population and country. Our advice is to start learning before you come, and continue during your time here as needed.
With so many international products, shops, and brands, it’s easy to nearly replicate your shopping habits back home with your shopping habits in Panama. While this makes life more convenient, it can also make it more expensive. If you try to shop more like the locals do, you’ll connect yourself more to the people, and their way of life. You’ll also find that you save a lot of money. Best of all, you’ll be putting money back into the local economy, which is vastly important.
Explore the Country:
Panama may look small on a map, but there is so much packed into the isthmus, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not exploring practically every part of it over time here as an expat. Don’t get trapped into staying in your comfort zone or expat bubble when it comes to travel. Ride the bus, hit the beaches, walk the cobblestone streets of the old city, check out an indigenous village, and go coast to coast in search of adventure. The most important part is, have fun! You don’t have to be a tourist to tour, and if you dedicate your time to getting to know your new country, you’ll be much more fulfilled as an expat long-term.
Things are different in Panama than in your home country. This is the case anywhere, and is an integral part of being an expat. Getting frustrated is a natural part of life when you’re out of your element, but if you want the truth, it’s almost never worth it in the long run. Rolling with the punches is the Panamanian way, and will help you enjoy the journey. Being new to a country can be a shock. But if you look at things in a positive light, and learn how to get over the negative speed bumps, everyone will be better off for it.