Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Thoughts on Central America and choices…

While I have been attempting to be patient, Chris has not. He has become more agitated as time goes by, talking about how life is passing him by, how his time is limited and how much he wants to be in Panama asap! I think this was all prompted mostly be his past birthday in December, and the fact he is now probably in the final quarter of his life. (See if you can work that one out!)

We have always known a Plan B was probably wise, but haven’t really determined what that might consist of. Over the Christmas season, I spent some time online, viewing other Central American opportunities and have come up with a few personal conclusions. I will describe them here, not to influence anyone, just to offer some alternatives that may appeal to others more than Panama does to us. I included Mexico, Belize and Nicaragua in the most recent searches, omitting Costa Rica and Guatemala for now. I may not even explore their offerings – who knows?

A friend is keen on a little fishing village just 40 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta called Sayulita. Location wise this is great…near an international airport and several good-sized towns, and on the Pacific Ocean facing west (Pedasi faces east on the Pacific!). It already has a small expat community of Americans, several choices as to price of home, a local ReMax office (which replies promptly to inquiries), and is still priced fairly low, but higher than my other choices. I read an excellent book by Brian Golsen called “Gringos in Paradise” (published by Simon and Schuster)which my friend loaned me, and thoroughly enjoyed the information and the writer’s style. So much to parallel our experiences trying to get to Panama, and all told with humour! Golsen insists that much of the negative media attention is unfounded in his experience, and he has much experience in several Central American countries.

I “flew” via Google to Belize but was disappointed in the findings. It seems to be so much swampland for lack of a better description! I couldn’t find too much to purchase which surprised me, and I guess a more involved technique is necessary. Pluses would include English spoken, a friendly attitude toward expats and retirees, pension/visa schemes similar to Panama, a Caribbean setting, and a lower cost of living than in North America.

Nicaragua was brought to my attention recently by the Sayulita friend. He was amazed at the low cost of Real Estate, and I found the same sort of prices. The Pacific coast is long with many beaches, good surfing, and developments that would appeal to us “northerners”. I have contacted one called Rancho Santana in the Pacific southwest, near the Costa Rican border. This development is a few years old now with resales available at very good prices, all near beautiful beaches. There is also San Juan del Sur in the Pacific northwest with excellent bargains. If you prefer inland (cooler!) or near a lake rather than the ocean, look for Managua and area, and Granada.

I seriously perused the CIA site for their take on the various locales/countries and although I sensed some American paranoia, I also took seriously the facts about the economy, politics, and governments. So far, Panama appeals most to me on all levels of enquiry!

There is an online newsletter and magazine that I subscribe to called International Living which carries more information in a few pages than an entire website or more! You can Google this, and join or not…but do take a look, and send for any freebies on areas you are interested in. You’ll receive the info in a downloadable format which is useful if you want to print or not and the Information is both topical and current. I became a member and have no regrets!

Finally, today….I have been a tad dissatisfied with the run around at ScotiaBank Panama and will be looking at alternatives. Yuck! More paper work? I’ve done so much copying, emailing, documenting and duplicating I could turn into a Xerox machine and no-one would notice! More on this aspect to come…

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