- listened to more than 36 speakers on as many subjects
- attended two cocktail parties
- met dozens of people from all over the US and Canada, as well as Cyprus and Britain
- heard stories from a half dozen expats living in the country
I was in Panama City, Panama at the Live & Invest in Panama Conference put on by Kathleen Peddicord’s Live and Invest Overseas organization.
Frankly, I wouldn’t advise attending one of these.
Not unless you’re really serious about moving abroad.
See, if you’re just toying with the idea of an untethered life overseas, attending the conference will force you to move forward. It will:
- Put you nose to nose with expats who are living the life you say you want. You’ll understand that an untethered expat life is real, not just a pipe dream.
- Give you the tools you need to put that new life together
- Help you find your feet in the new environment
- Give you access to professionals with the expertise to help you overcome hurdles
- Boost your confidence
Here’s my analysis of the conference I attended March 30-April 1. I had expressed some reservations about it here, and promised to answer the question “is it worth the price of admission.”
I Had a Lot of Fun
I really had a great time at the event. It was quite exciting to meet and mingle with others who see the benefits to moving abroad. It makes me feel a little less like the Lone Ranger, and I met some terrific people I plan to stay in touch with.
The folks I met were
- just starting to think about moving overseas
- already living overseas
- spending part of the year overseas
- curious about living overseas but nowhere near ready to do so
- interested in investing overseas, with no intention of moving
- single, married, divorced, young, middle-aged and older retired people
- affluent, comfortable, living frugally and pinching pennies
- looking for comfortable retirement lifestyles and new career opportunities
And the conference organizers know how to throw a good party. The opening night “Welcome Cocktail Party” saw us getting acquainted while imbibing a bit of Panamanian culture (and Panamian rum).
The event took place at the Panama Canal Museum in the Casco Viejo section of the city. We saw traditional Panamanian dancing accompanied by a live band, and took advantage of guided museum tours to learn a bit more about Panama’s history.
Breakfast was included with our hotel package, and we were able to socialize over huevos and cafe con leche. I had lunch with several different attendees, and a group of us had dinner together one evening.
In terms of meeting other expats, future expats, and people thinking about living overseas, I’d give the conference top marks — an “A plus” in fact.
There Was Something for Everyone
Topics of discussion were wide ranging, covering:
- practical day-to-day issues like shopping and what to pay for cab rides
- visas, how to choose the right one for you and how to get it
- how to open a bank account (not as simple as what you might be used to)
- why you should have a bank account in a banking haven
- how to find, rent or buy a place to live
- learning Spanish
- starting a backpacker hostel in the mountain jungles of Santa Fe, Panama
- living in beachfront Coronado
- living and growing coffee in Boquete
- medical information including hospitals, costs and insurance
- other types of insurance
- asset protection and specific investment opportunities
- and lots more
For variety of speakers and topics, an “A.”
Quality of Speakers
This was all over the map. Some were top notch. One of the best sessions of the conference, in my opinion, was the talk by Peter Zipper about opening a bank account in Belize — and face it, you have to be a really good speaker to make that entertaining!
Others were dry, boring or hard to follow. Some of the speakers’ English wasn’t very good and they were hesitant and uncertain.
On the whole, I felt the good speakers outweighed the poor ones.
For quality of speakers, a grade of “B.”
There Was Too Much Investing Information
Heading into this conference I knew it was called “Live and Invest” for a reason. With that said, I feel as though there was a bit too much time spent on the “invest” side and not enough on the “live” side.
Some of the sessions on investing were general, why-investing-outside-your-home-country-is-a-good-idea sorts of topics. Some were specific offers for specific investments. I was fine with the former, could definitely have done without the latter.
I know I wasn’t alone in feeling this. On the first day of the conference, every seat in the room was filled. (Sorry, I didn’t think to get a picture of it.) During one of the “investing” sessions, the room was half empty (see photo).
I did attend every session except one. I ducked out on the talk by the precious metals investor. . . as did a lot of other attendees.
For balance of “live” vs. “invest” topics, I give them a “B minus.”
The Overall Grade? Drumroll Please. . .
In the end, I give the Live & Invest in Panama Conference a big thumbs up.
Yes, you can get all the information online or from other sources, but an event like this is more than just the sum of the data.
You’re there on the ground, with a group of like-minded people. This is a powerful benefit.
You get some hand-holding. Sure, you can learn all these things on your own, but talking with those who’ve walked the walk makes it all seem more real and doable.
You have access to movers and shakers. One attendee met with a bank rep in the exhibitor’s hall and opened a Panama bank account during the conference.
You get reams of information compressed into a short time.
So, was it worth the money?
My answer is yes, definitely.
You Can Access All the Information We Got
If you weren’t able to be there, sadly, you can’t get the benefit of the personal interactions, the Panama Museum tour and the other sights, sounds and smells.
But you can get all the information we got.
The conference organizers recorded everything — every presentation, every attendee question and its answer — and they’re making them available as the Live and Invest in Panama Home Conference Kit. Besides the information from the conference, they’re also including an impressive list of other publications to give you all the data you need to start your new life in the “Hub of the Americas.”
Click on this link to find complete information and ordering information.
If you’ve attended one of these events, what did you think of it?