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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expectations are your enemy, flexibility is your friend
Of the many articles, blogs and books I've read about moving to Panama, this one is the most useful. Elizabeth Vance explains to future expats from North America the truth about Panama she wished she had known before moving there five years ago. She presents the unvarnished reality, warts and all, and advises North Americans how to survive the culture shock of moving to...
Published 16 months ago by Paul Froehlich

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Social and psychology habits of the Panamanian people
The author was transferred to Panama from the US on business and now is an "executive" managing Panamanian employees in Panama city. Whether she and her husband were transferred to Panama of their own choosing is not clear but it is obvious that the author went through a very emotional and psychological battle to adapt to her new home in Panama City which took her over 2...
Published 13 months ago by jbowen28


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expectations are your enemy, flexibility is your friend, April 29, 2013
By 
Paul Froehlich (Schaumburg, Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews
Of the many articles, blogs and books I've read about moving to Panama, this one is the most useful. Elizabeth Vance explains to future expats from North America the truth about Panama she wished she had known before moving there five years ago. She presents the unvarnished reality, warts and all, and advises North Americans how to survive the culture shock of moving to a country with different values and customs.

Culture shock and the resulting stress are inevitable. It's human nature, after all, to assume that our way of doing things is THE right way. Vance urges expats to adapt to the new customs or be perpetually frustrated. The alternative is stiff-necked resistance to a way of life we can't change. Resilience is the prime virtue for expats. Besides, learning and adjusting lead to personal growth.

Among her useful advice is to start with low expectations when dealing with locals so there will be less disappointment. When tempted to apply American standards, repeat the slogan T.I.P., for This Is Panama.

Vance alerts readers to local customs that make Americans uncomfortable. Such as men openly ogling and whistling at women, people standing closer to you than we're used to, and men urinating along the sides of the road. In addition, Panamanians generally frown on casual dress except on weekends or at the beech. The author's theory is that if newcomers know what to expect, then they can calibrate their expectations accordingly.

Vance offers some other good advice:

* "It's best to count on spending two-to-three times more time getting something accomplished here than you would in the US."

* Productivity decreases some 40% between late October and mid-February due to the concentration of national holidays.

* December is the worst month for traffic, and pay days are the worst days of every month.

* There is a cultural norm against telling you bad news. You have to figure it out by asking the right questions.

* It's difficult to make Panamanian friends since they are so tied to activities with their extended family. It's easy to befriend other expats whose families are usually a long way away.

In short, Panama offers North American expats a variety of new experiences, some of which we'll find delightful. Other sources concentrate on the beauty of the country, the lower cost (of some things), and the friendliness of the people. The Gringo Guide presents the rest of the story so expats can survive the shock of moving to Panama.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud funny - this is so spot-on!, February 19, 2014
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Wider Vision Publishing (Perth, Western Australia) - See all my reviews
I have lived in Panama for over two years now and saw myself in so much of what Elizabeth writes.

Her views on what it involves for a "gringo" to come and settle in Panama are perfectly observed. As she points out, on the surface much can appear the same as our familiar home country. But delve a little deeper and there are some real differences that have to be considered.

My learning curve so closely followed the challenges outlined in this little book that I found myself laughing several times.

This is a must-read for anyone seriously considering a move to live in Panama.

My own adventures (and mis-adventures) in this wonderful country are recounted in my book Paradise Delayed, should you wish to read more about some of the challenges you might face!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting way to find out what it's really like living in Panama, July 14, 2013
I've been to Panama about 5 times and am planning on moving there soon. I'm so glad I read this book because the author creates this down to earth view of what it's really like living there. She says in the book that when you visit Panama you only see the glitz and glam of the modern/high rise buildings that you get the impression living there will be similar to your U.S. lifestyle. In reality, while it is a very modern city, processes like getting a new cellphone or car take double the time it would here in the states. I'm glad I'll be moving there with a realistic view which will give me more patience. The author is very funny and makes you feel like she's your friend as you read this book. If you prefer to purchase the hard copy of this book, go here: [...] .
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!!!, December 8, 2012
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I am a "Gringo" who has owned a home in Panama for 8 years. This book is 100% accurate. If you are thinking about living in or visiting Panama BUY THIS BOOK.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving To Panama?, October 22, 2013
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If you are planning on moving to Panama I highly recommend you read this book before you do. Author Elizabeth Vance has a great sense of humor but she is also very informative. I am so glad I read this book before making a final decision to move to Panama.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gringo Guide to Panama, November 5, 2012
It would be beneficial if every country had a book for Gringos, just as you have written. You say things directly, succinctly and with humor. When we visited, there were subtleties about Panama that I saw, that I felt, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Your book made some of these things an "ah ha" moment. Plus you brought out factors that I didn't know, hadn't thought of and was grateful to learn.

We experienced some things that you mentioned and it made me recall those times and say...."oh, yes, that happened to us". I like your quotes, your "man behind the curtain" concept and your chapter on "Here's What I've Learned".

I like that you put the cost of living in realistic terms (unlike some of the articles written by travel newsletters). You hit on so many things that many people would not even think of. When it comes to everyday living...these details become a make or break it situation.

This book is really good. It was easy reading and I wanted to continue to the end without stopping. It was like you were talking to me....trying to help me over the bumps that you experienced. I like your cover... very current and liked the sporadic pictures within the book. They were pictures of real people in real places....not just tourist attractions.
Your book gives me more of a handle on life in Panama and I appreciate you sharing your hardships and your celebrating moments.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Social and psychology habits of the Panamanian people, July 27, 2013
By 
jbowen28 "jbowen28" (Wylie, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gringo Guide to Panama - What to Know Before You Go (Paperback)
The author was transferred to Panama from the US on business and now is an "executive" managing Panamanian employees in Panama city. Whether she and her husband were transferred to Panama of their own choosing is not clear but it is obvious that the author went through a very emotional and psychological battle to adapt to her new home in Panama City which took her over 2 years to adapt. The book describes the social and psychological habits of the Panamanian people as she encountered them in her daily life such as their up-scaled dress, their "uncritical" work attitude, their small town gossipy society, their carelessness about litter, their uncourteous crowd behavior, and their close intruding into personal space in everyday affairs. It felt like the author was telling me a lot of personal gossipy information that was almost too ugly for me to hear. The book has a lot of good information about the behavior of the Panamanian people but not so much on the economics, climate, business aspects, physical environment, real estate, and utilities that I was expecting. She does touch on these topics somewhat but the gist of what she did say about these things was that it was going to cost about as much as in the US or more for the same standards of quality. In the end, this book provides another angle into life in Panama City and it will be a worthwhile addition to my library. But I cannot help thinking that life has got to be better in the Panamanian countryside outside the city where there is less contact with the Panamanian people but at the expense of the conveniences of the city.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gringo Guide review, July 23, 2013
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This review is from: The Gringo Guide to Panama - What to Know Before You Go (Paperback)
The author seemed opinionated, rather than objective. The material was also repetitive, not really presenting enough new ideas throughout. Some of the information was helpful as I am considering moving to Panama.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic and Simple Guidebook About the "Facts of Life" in Panama, August 4, 2014
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This review is from: The Gringo Guide to Panama - What to Know Before You Go (Paperback)
This book contains some basic information about life in Panama. It seems to be pretty much an amateur author's description of what she encountered when she moved there. It is not a "list," or a point-by-point explanation of requirements for living in Panama. Bit it is a description of her personal experiences as a new immigrant. She recounts stories of her activities and reactions to the daily events, such as shopping and hiring contract help and hooking up the internet. The best thing about this book is that it gives you a "warning" about what to expect, sort of a culture-shock awareness course - because life in Panama is NOT the same as life in the U.S. She writes as if she were having a conversation with you...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great for Panama City, April 2, 2014
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Interesting but only focused on living in Panama City and doing business in Panama. Not much info on other areas.
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The Gringo Guide to Panama -  What to Know Before You Go
The Gringo Guide to Panama - What to Know Before You Go by Elizabeth Vance (Paperback - May 8, 2013)
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