Sell Everything or Pack Up a Container
This question we always get asked, but really we cannot answer for you. It is a personal decision, depending on your lifestyle, and a lot on your personality. I moved here with 2 very large suitcases, and had 2 large boxes shipped at a later date. I am the type of guy that does not get attached to things, so selling the car, all my furnishings, donating my books, and winter clothes was really right for me.
When I got down here, I started with renting a furnished place. More than half the rentals in Panama are furnished. And when I say furnished, not just furniture and appliances, but even pots & pans, plates & cutlery, coffee maker, toaster, some will even come with towels and sheets. Then I started acquiring a few pieces myself, in about 3 years, I move to an unfurnished home, and have all my own furnishings now. For myself personally, I feel I save probably close to $8,000, not bring my car or home furnishings.
But for some this is not the answer. Some people have really nice furniture, maybe some antique pieces, and high end appliance, and if you sell them, for less than half price, you will have to buy again here, and will cost you new prices again. A 40 foot container should be enough for most peoples’ worldly possessions, and will cost you $3,000 – $8,000 to get down here, depending on where you live now.
So look at the cost of what it will cost you to sell everything, and buy new, or fill up that container. If you are moving here on a Pensionado Visa, you get a $10,000 duty exemption on all your belongings you bring into the country.
Your car is a different story. Unless you just bought it, and its brand new, selling and buying again used here, is probably a good idea. It will cost $3,000 – $5,000 so ship your car here, so sometimes it just makes sense to sell your at home, and buy a used car here. Also, some cars here, that you have in your home country, are not that popular here, so getting parts for them can be a problem.
What About My Pets?
Now for other pets, you need to check regulations, to make sure it is feasible, you can contact us here at Retire in Panama Tours, and we can see if we can get you more information from per transportation services that we have connections with, on the importation of animals other than dogs and cats.
For those of you with dogs and cats, you have two options, doing it all yourself, see this article, it simple, but still complicated with many steps that have to be done correctly and on time. Or, you can fill our our contact form and ask for more information about hiring a pet relocation service. If you come on one of our Retire in Panama Tours, and decide to do it your self, we will be there to assist you through the process.
This can be taken care of once you have moved here, as if you are over 50, you will require medical exams here in Panama. In preparation for you moving to Panama. make sure you have something temporary set up, one travel health insurance I have used for many years is IMG Global. If you have health insurance in your home country that covers you internationally, you will be fine, as you will be covered as you are going through the residency process, and you can get your insurance here.
You can buy 30 day, 60 day health insurance, and easily renew it for more time while you are here. On our tour you are going to learn a lot about health insurance, and you will have enough information on what type of insurance you feel comfortable with living in Panama. Once you are here, and have selected the health insurance plan that is right for you, the entire process will take from 30 – 60 days, from forms, medical exams, to acceptance.
There are 3 main options for Health Care in Panama.
1) Self Insure – Many expats choose this option, if they have the money. Basic Healthcare is very inexpensive here, with Doctor visits $10, specialists $25, blood tests $12, even surgeries are much less than in North America
2) High Deductible or Disaster Type Insurance
You can select deductibles of $10,000 to greatly decrease medical premiums, so you are basically self insuring unless there is a major event, then your maximum out of pocket is $10,000. There are also plans, that I know of that some people have, 65 years old, that offer major event only insurance, which is popular with some expats. These work like doctors visits, lab tests, minor hospital visits, you break a leg, you are paying for it, you have a heart attack, or get a bad illness, or in a car accident, the insurance pays for it.
3) Full 100% Coverage
This is complete peace of mind, and if you have the budget for it, probably the best plan. This type of world wide coverage will cost you about $2500 a year, depending on age, for 100% worldwide coverage.
Staying in Touch With Your Loved Ones
I have heard this concern from many prospective expats, I will never see my grand children, or my kids, or my old friends. Today we live in a global community with face to face online communication available to anyone. And remember, you are the one living in a tropical paradise, it will not take a lot of convincing to have your friends and loved ones come visit you. Make sure you rent your first home with a guest bedroom, you will need it.
If you are good with computers, this is simple. Get Skype, and get your loved ones and friends to get Skype, and video conference with them all day long at no cost. For the active ones, Skype even works good on a phone, so there is no excuse not to stay in touch. Even to be more available, get a Skype In number (a number from your home county) that costs about $2 a month, then 2 cents a minute to talk. People can call your Skype number from a regular phone, and your Skype will ring where ever you are.
Your grand kids are probably already on FaceTime, get them to show you how to use it while you are still at home, and you can speak to the anytime.
If you are looking for the old style phone, that plugs into the wall, this is available also, with Voice Over IP technology. You can get a plan while you are still in your home country, companies like Vonage or Ooma, where you can get a monthly service and a device that plugs into your internet, and your phone plugs into that. You will have a local number. Then where you move to Panama, you bring that device and phone, plug it into the internet here, and you will still have the local number, here in Panama, that the grand kids can call you on all the time.
Cell phone plans are really cheap here compared to North America. As low as $30 a month for unlimited data, with lots of local minutes, and even some international minutes. You can also pay as you go for minutes and calling if you are a light user for $10 – $15 a month. If you have a unlocked phone, bring it with you, you can buy a sim card here fro a carrier, and it will work here, as long as it is a GSM phone. If it is not unlocked, talk to you carrier to see if you can get it unlocked.
Don’t worry, Panama is not this 3rd world country that you friends and family may be scaring you about. We have a solid infrastructure, and international countries doing business here. One good example about mail forwarding is MailBox Etc. I know you have heard of them, they are a worldwide company that offers mail box and mail forwarding service in many of the retirement locations in Panama.
Once you get here, you go into to MailBox Etc, sign up for one of their packages, either monthly if you want a box, or pay as you go for the odd letter or package. They provide you a Florida address that you give to places where you receive letter mail, like banks, and use this address when ordering from places like Amazon or eBay. Once your mail or package arrives at your new Florida address, MailBox’s will forward the package to you, and you pick it up at your local MailBox Etc. in Panama. It takes about 4 – 5 business days and cost about $4 – $5 a pound, so go easy on ordering the heavy stuff.
There are many other mail forwarding companies in Panama also. I mention MailBox Etc., as I have personally used them for 7 years, and they have great service.
There are many other questions that you may running about you mind, as you consider this journey of moving to Panama, all of these above, and many more will be answered when you join us on one of our Retire in Panama Tours, that will give you all the information you need when moving to Panama.