The Expat Chat: Lifestyle Travels and International Living

The Expat Chat is a weekday podcast where we interview inspiring expats who have thrown off the constraints of western congestion to enjoy their dream lifestyle in other parts of the world...often for a fraction of their cost of living back home. If you want the travels of Rick Stearn with the freedom of Tim Ferriss this podcast is for you.Subscribe today.
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The Expat Chat: Lifestyle Travels and International Living




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Dec 21, 2015

For Al and Shelly McCullough boredom with their current situation was the catalyst for a move to Panama. Shelly’s job wasn’t proving challenging enough and Al was looking for more satisfaction in life. They had explored Panama in 2012 and decided it would be the perfect starting point for their adventures.

They sold up everything, downsized and hit the road in 2014. 15 months on they have explored Panama, and Nicaragua and have discovered the benefits of housesitting when we caught with them in Panama City. Al in particular has gained a lot of satisfaction from his new found career as a writer and blogger.

You can follow their adventures, see the fun side of living in Panama and get their advice on downsizing and moving away (along with their e-books) at their blog

What I learned from speaking with Al and Shelly:

  1. The length of your visa can depend on whether you choose to drive in Panama or not. Having a vehicle does seem to restrict you in terms of length of time you can stay there, or certainly drive, and this may be worth checking out further if you’re planning to go.
  2. Be careful if looking to “fix” speeding tickets of traffic infringements with the officer who stops you. It’s not uncommon to pay “instant fines” there and many seem to prefer it as a means of avoiding a long drawn out process but you don’t want to be the one making the first offer.
  3. Again we’re reminded of the affordability of Panama and Central America generally. The McCulloughs live pretty comfortably on less than $1000 per month while housesitting and around $1400-$1500 when renting. This is not having to rough it.
  4. Explore all your income options. The McCulloughs found a nice little side earner in pet sitting for expats who head away. Although not going to provide you with fulltime income as part of a plan to pick up money from different means it makes for a good little top up.
  5. Check out some other perspectives on Panama with Michael Long and Susanna Perkins
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