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America's Newly Jobless Considering Panama

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Written by Matt   
Monday, 15 September 2008 09:02
Panama Job RetirementIn the past six months, cure nine of my close friends living in major US cities have been victims of a tight credit squeeze and laid off their jobs at investment banks. And while many have a tough time seeing growth or change in the market in the near future, help there does appear to be a light at the end of their tunnel-albeit one shining from a good ways south. The poor economy in the States is affecting everyone, not just my Wall Street friends (though they seem to be impacted the most). And with this tightening grip on the job market I believe should mount a cluster of young, thrill-seeking Americans who will decide against optimistically refining their resumes or desperately schmoozing for straws, and instead begin to pack their bags for sunnier pastures to weather the recession storm.

Fact: More than 50,000 workers lost their jobs in July, the seventh straight month of similar losses in 2007 and 2008 (I cannot remember where I read this but I can assure you it was in a nice glossy magazine).

For many of my friends, the workweek in New York City or Washington DC was a hectic collection of hours spent presenting and trading and ordering overpriced take-out. It was a lifestyle characterized by extremes, of working hard and playing even harder, with values often lost in the climbing of the corporate ladder only to reach the top and realize it wasn't so amazing after all. But in the wake of hundreds of thousands of layoffs, a lot of them are realizing there is a challenging alternative that, if they have the resources, can introduce a foreign sensation of fulfillment to the air.

So you just got laid off or can see it coming in the very near future: your company is cutting jobs, just experienced a merger, is filing for bankruptcy...etc. You feel like you just got dumped, betrayed that your company never really needed you at all. Stop whining and do yourself a favor: go out drinking with your friends tonight and after the tenth or twelfth martini, go home and buy a one-way plane ticket to Panama (this also works in the morning if you are hung-over enough from the night before).

Moving or at least temporarily relocating to Panama (or any other country for that matter) will be the most rewarding thing you've done in your life (or at least close). The amount of business opportunity for young entrepreneurs in Panama is astounding. The impending need for smart English-speakers is immense. And the entertainment value of living in Panama is a factor worth its weight in gold. Avoiding the US recession on a Panama beach or rainforest will appear genius-like in hindsight: especially if, when down here, you start a business or contribute to a worthy cause.

Some are concerned as to how they will be perceived by their parents, friends and the rest of corporate America, that they will come off as lazy or unfocused or overly recreational in an effort to effectively disappear. But those who could care less observe that there are boom times (when getting a job looks easy) and slumps (when even the most skilled have trouble finding work), and that by using both periods to your advantage and skipping the recession, there exists the best of both worlds.

Almost anyone in this scenario can pick up and leave for Panama, spending their evenings strolling on Coiba's beaches or riding the infamous morning waves at the Playa Venado. Almost any of these soon to be jobless businessmen could enjoy Panama City's inexpensive nightlife or land a marlin entrenched deep in the Darien jungle. But will most of them do it? No. Why? Because they're too scared. Surprising, coming from a group seemingly confident risk takers that perhaps the most obvious, straightforward decision of all, is the most difficult simply because it's not in the arsenal of their expertise.

Top Excuses Newly Jobless (aka Scaredy Cat) Americans Will Use To Avoid Moving To Panama:


I wouldn't know where to go: Come to Panama! It's quickly turning into entrepreneur/young-traveler central. Other hotspots like Peru, Columbia or South East Asia are also great alternatives, however Panama offers a nice atmosphere in which to acclimate: one not totally of a foreign world, but different enough to get your feet wet and feel alive.

I have way too much stuff: Uh, have you ever heard of something called your parents basement or storage? Or even better yet, sell all that "stuff" and realize that all you need is a good pair of slacks and a bonnet. Sell your car, sub-let your apartment, give your Xbox to your little cousin (just be sure that people know you're moving to Panama, not about to comit suicide).

I don't have enough money saved up: Bullshit. You mean to tell me you worked in the City for years at an obnoxious job and didn't save any money? Living in Panama should run you about $1,000/month if you play it smart. If you can only afford to come for a few weeks, do it. If you can afford to come for a year, better. Point is, if you're not ordering Sushi Itto delivery to your apartment at 3 AM or sucking down $9 Miller Lights, finances have a way of being less damaging.

My parents wouldn't approve of it: Oh, but they DO approve of you doing lines of cocaine at Marquis last month or the time you and your IB buddies threw ice cubes out your 20th story window at innocent passersby? It's great if you're close to your parents, mostly because they'll understand your inherent need to break free. Your mom will get over it when you tell her she can visit a few times for spa treatments.

I have a girlfriend (or spouse) (or child): First of all, that was retarded of you to settle down so soon. However, if you're older, there are many couples (and families) who have managed to move to Panama: it just takes a little more planning. The right kind of schooling and medicine here is first rate (though in some cases similarly priced to that of the States).

No one will hire me when I get back: My ass. Chances are, your time of being reborn in Panama will enhance your interviewing prowess and make you a more attractive candidate. Interviewers love seasoned and cultured employees just know how to express your beach parties and midday snorkel trips as "enlightening." If you're really concerned about your resume, build a company in Panama or help a small village defeat an army of fire ants: then you'll feel useful.

This is a call to any young adventure-seeking American who is daunted by the idea of getting laid off or simply sick and tired of working for the man. Deciding to move to Panama in the midst of a terrible job crisis is not as reckless or scary as it sounds: the transition is quite easy actually, see all the interviews on this site of people just like you and me who have made it. Individuals have long relocated to Europe during recessions or crises, though economies there aren't faring terribly well either right now.

Don't carry much baggage, see where the gravel path in Panama takes you, and return when things are looking brighter to start all over again.

Feel free to use the comment section below to voice your cause...

Image: progressivestates.org/sync/images/dispatch/ManufacturingJobLosses.gif

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Wow
written by Stuckhere , September 15, 2008
This was...spine tingling. I exhibit all of the things you talk about, most embarrassingly the fear to really make a jump like this. I currently work and live in Manhattan for a company who is (well, was) maybe the most famous in the world although an imminent take-over will put many of us out of jobs. The urge to ditch them before they ditch me has been a lingering thought and I really like the way you rationalize or at least provide meaning or purpose to a relocation (in working or volunteering). I have about five thousand dollars in a little reserve tank and your words have really got me thinking.
-Nate
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Agreed
written by You got me! , September 15, 2008
in reading your artical Matt I was saying out loud to myself things like "but my mom would not be happy" or "how will I get a job when I get back" but you addressed them like a genie later in the artical. it's true that the job environment here is not friendly and actually depresing and a lot of my friends (i am not in investment banking by my friends are) are thinking about leaving for long trips. i always thought it would be too expensive to travel but $1000 is about what i spend in two weeks here. anyways great piece. hopefully we can touch base when i've gathered my courage and jumped down to your part of the world!
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First Columbian imigrants now American jobless moving to Panama
written by Allan , September 15, 2008
Great Matt, Just what Panama needs. :-
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Oh, come on Allan...
written by Mateo , September 15, 2008
First of all, Columbian immigrants fill a very important market sector here (and it's not breeding Paso horses). Second, these jobless kids are smart people! I know because I graduated with a lot of them a few years back: it's just the ridiculous competition and bad economy that's forcing them out of their money crunching jobs. I could definitely use some competent helping hands in Panama, couldn't you? Even if they are obsessed with BMWs or Hugo Boss.
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sunny sunny
written by Rodeo , September 16, 2008
I would say Panama is a very good option.
But if you are looking for secure, confortable and sunny places, try Northern Chile, Peru too. Nowadays those places are quite and not much expensive.
I should say Colombia too, but with the drugs/kidnnaping issues, I prefer not.
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...
written by MB , September 16, 2008
Another misleading article about coming, working and living in Panama. You can stay 1 year in Panama, but you have to leave the country 3 times for 72 hours and that cost money. Working??? It is well known that is almost impossible to get a job, even if you speak English. I have friends who could not get a job in a call center and any other business that need English speaking people. And living on $1000 a month??? Well, maybe an interior, but not having a life closes to what one had in America
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umm...
written by Mateo , September 16, 2008
MB I have to respectfully disagree. If you need to leave the country, a bus trip to Costa Rica isn't too costly and it's feasible to have made contacts there before you arrive so you can save on accommodations. As for a job, many of my friends have simply come down and taught English to get their feet wet: not too difficult as, having talked to a number of language schools, they're desperate for teachers. I know you can live on $1,000 (or less) because I did it myself when I arrived. I didn't live like a king, but it sure as hell beat the grind up north. Granted, prices are going up, but if you're smart, proactive and a likable person moving down here is not nearly as difficult as you make it sound.
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teaching in Panama, you said?
written by Lamer , January 05, 2009
You mean they are hiring teachers in international /English language schools in Panama? Without a teaching certificate?! On what salary?
Although the government is very ineffective when it comes to checking on small business or individual entrepreneurs, but that it actually checks places like schools, hospitals and banks. By checking I mean asking that all employees have a right to work and that they pay taxes. How would schools employ foreign teachers then? I don't think all schools afford to pay for your work permit. The ones who do (like the America Int'l School) are also very picky when hiring. To be one of their teachers you must hold a valid teaching certificate, have at least 3 years teaching experience and match whatever positions they need when they need it. That's not easy. You don't just pop in and tata, you're hired. Sure, it might happen, but what are the odds? I know this because I work in the field.
What sources did you use when you said there was a shortage of English speaking teachers? I am really interested becaus I own property in Panama and might relocate one day.
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teaching in Panama, you said? edited
written by Lamer , January 05, 2009
You mean they are hiring teachers in international /English language schools in Panama? Without a teaching certificate?! On what salary?
Although the government is very ineffective when it comes to checking on small businesses or individual entrepreneurs, it actually checks places like schools, hospitals and banks. By checking I mean asking that all employees have valid work permit and that they pay taxes. How would schools employ foreign teachers then? Black market? Volunteers?

I don't think all schools afford to pay for your work permit. The ones who do (like the America Int'l School) are also very picky when hiring. To be one of their teachers you must hold a valid teaching certificate, have at least 3 years teaching experience and match whatever positions they need when they need it. That's not easy. You don't just pop in and tata, you're hired. Sure, it might happen, but what are the odds? I know this because I work in the field.
What sources did you use when you said there was a shortage of English speaking teachers? I am really interested becaus I own property in Panama and might relocate one day.
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Lamer....you are
written by Pat Mabawbag , March 07, 2009
full of it. I have read your other posts and you are absolutely chock full of it. You pretend to be one thing but the above shows you to be something else.
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...
written by Reil , March 20, 2009
"That's right," the man said. "I couldn't remember the word." He was the only other human at the loading dock this morning. The man didn't have a name, just a number, like the rest of the robots. Paris, at Night.
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America's New Jobless
written by Barbara Dove , June 23, 2009
Matt, I think it helps to be self-starters taking charge of their own destinies, like you and Kristin. Others are going to be full of excuses, complaints, and waiting for something to fall in their laps, which will probably be NEVER.
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Last Updated on Monday, 15 September 2008 09:29
 
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