The Future Awaits: A Young Person’s Experience in Panama

By Frank Archbold

I wouldn’t give up my experience in Panama for the world! Let me explain who I am. I was born in Panama but please don’t let that lead you to believe that my opinion is biased in any way, shape or form. I grew up in New York and have absolutely no recollection of living in Panama prior to right now.
After graduating from college in 2012, I knew I needed to take a big step forward with my life. I went through extensive research trying to figure out exactly what that next step might be. I considered moving everywhere from California to London to Brazil (and everywhere in between). It wasn’t until a conversation I had with my father that it became absolutely clear that Panama was the only choice.
He asked me questions on what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it. He made it very clear that at only 21 I have my whole life ahead of me — but it’s up to me to figure out what direction I want to take.
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Photo by Maudy Bom

The economy in the United States at the time (and as we speak) didn’t really provide a steady job market for recent grads. So I knew I wanted to go abroad. The next question was where, and what did that place have to offer that I couldn’t find in the States. I wanted a place where I could feel at home without being at home. I wanted a place where the economy was on the rise, a place where I could experience history right before my eyes. I want to be able to look back on my life and say, “I was there when that happened and I was a part of it!”
As that thought came into my mind I overheard my parents talking about how Panama was changing. I heard them talking about an expansion on the canal and a new train that was being built. I heard them talking about how quickly the new skyscrapers were going up with views of the ocean. I heard them speaking about how foreign investors were part of the growth and how in the next 10 years they wouldn’t be able to recognize the country. I vividly remember thinking to myself that my parents are crazy! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I thought for sure they had no idea what they were talking about, but nevertheless they caught my attention.
I ran to my computer and typed in Panama City, Panama. I saw an image of the skyline and read about the expansion of the canal and the flood of foreign investment in the country. I read about the real estate boom that was taking place, and how in the next 10 years Panama would be totally different. I realized my parents were right (they usually are) and that I would be moving to Panama.
I knew my father had a house here so the next thing I did was buy my ticket. Once I got here I realized I had made a bit of a mistake. I rushed here thinking that I was in the promised land without any preparation or plan on how I would get a piece of the Panamanian pie. The first thing you realize as soon as you get here is that this is NOT the United States. Things here are done their way, and the more you try to turn them to your way of thinking, the more you drive yourself crazy. My Spanish wasn’t so good, either, but after being here now for almost two years I can tell you that here in Panama, the language comes second to learning the culture.
Once I learned to ride the Panamanian wave instead of going against the current as an American, things began to run a lot more smoothly for me. Having an American mind for business and hard work is a great asset here. A combination of hard work and learning the system has been my key to functioning and thriving here.
Finding like-minded people who came for the same reasons wasn’t difficult, and there is always something to do. But for someone who came looking for opportunities and to be a part of history, Panama was the best choice.
Now that I’m working with a great real estate company, it gives me an opportunity to be directly involved with the booming market that’s taking place right now. I get to meet people who come here for a variety of reasons: They want a safe environment with plenty of room for growth and to live the lifestyle of their dreams. I really don’t want to sound cliche, but Panama really is what you make it. If you want business, they have it. If you want the city, they have a beautiful one. If you want the beach, they have even better ones. And if you want it all then that’s definitely NOT out of the question.  I love it here and I wouldn’t change this experience for the world, because in Panama the world is up for taking!

Read more about Panama here!

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