Between If and When – Journey Through the Pros and Cons of Panama Relocation

By: Penny Zibula

One Couple’s Journey Through the Pros and Cons of Relocating to Panama

Chapter 1, Introduction

Have you ever believed yourself to be exactly where you always wanted to be in your life, and then a new, unexpected option turned your comfort zone upside down? My name is Penny Zibula, and my husband, Simon Lock and I are in this very position right now.

We live in the waterfront house of our dreams in New Bern, North Carolina as semi-retirees. Simon is deep into photography, and I am a travel writer and blogger. This is how we thought we would be living out our remaining years; dividing our time between volunteering, earning a bit of extra cash through our writing and photography and sailing our 32-foot Island Packet. That was until we discovered Boquete in Panama’s Chiriqui highlands.

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It all began in the fall of 2013. Simon needed extensive dental work, and we were seriously considering taking a chunk out of our hard-earned savings, or sacrificing our first-born to pay for it. Fortunately, a third option presented itself.

We had read a great deal about medical tourism, and had heard that you could have excellent dental work done in countries like Costa Rica and Panama for approximately a third of the cost of having the same work performed in the United States. So, we began our research.

Since Google is our friend, we started there. First we looked at dentists in Costa Rica, but what we found were practitioners who were represented by various booking services in the U.S.. We wanted to contact Simon’s future tormenter directly, so we moved on to Panama.

After more research, back and forth emails and a narrowing-down process, we chose Dra. Luz Serrano in Chiriqui’s capital city, David. We were able to email and speak to her directly, and we just had a good feeling because of her training in Germany and the U.S., as well as her glowing references. Her pleasant demeanor and professionalism also helped in our decision.

In January, 2014, we boarded a plane to Panama City, totally unaware that our perfect life was about to get some stiff competition.

(To be continued.)


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