The Joys of Semi-Retirement Overseas
The affordability of life in Panama has allowed me to live very well without the need to work. However, you can’t just sit in a hammock all day enjoying the tropical breeze (or at least, I can’t).
Most expats, after being here a year or so, get itchy to do something. Many volunteer, others dedicate time to new or old hobbies, and some of us decide to go online and find freelance work. We all like to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
I chose the work-from-home model and I love it. Working as a freelance writer from Panama is convenient. Panama follows Eastern Standard Time, which means I can easily reach out to employers in North America to chat about projects.
The internet, where I live in Panama, is reliable and fast—two things that are essential to working online successfully.
Another benefit of working online for U.S. businesses is that I don’t have to pay any Panama income tax. So, it’s a win-win.
With so many opportunities and avenues to work online, it’s easy to create the lifestyle you want, working when you want on your own terms.
My day usually begins with a fresh cup of Panama coffee enjoyed on my front patio overlooking Volcán Barú (our famous volcano). Then around 9 a.m., I head in and work for a few hours online. At lunch, I stretch my legs and take a walk to refresh, before getting back to it. Around 3 p.m., I turn off my computer and join my neighbors for our daily get-together in the pool.
That’s an average day, but I can change this schedule if and when I choose. Basically, I work around my lifestyle, taking an hour here and there to write when I have the time to do so. Often it’s in the morning, but other times I get the urge to write in the evenings.
There are many freelance jobs that allow you to work to your own schedule, making it seem less like work and more like fun. Without “having” to work, the stress is gone.
When I started out, I chose either short- or long-term projects, depending on my schedule. Some short projects lasted only a few days. Another project I was working on lasted almost eight months. At times I was doing several jobs at the same time and still only working about 15 to 20 hours a week.
I love the diversity of freelancing. I am constantly learning new things and always have new projects to work on, so I’m never bored. I pick interesting jobs that I like.
With the high season in Panama from January through April, I usually cut down on working so I can spend more time with returning friends and enjoy all the events happening in Chiriquí province. If I head to the beach for a few days, I just bring along my laptop and spend a few hours on the beach writing. It’s great to be able to work from anywhere.
I am making enough now that I am covering my monthly costs and still have money for some fun outings and dinners out.
I know several people who supplement their retirement income with freelance writing. They find a topic of interest and write about it, then send it out to publishers. You can make a nice income by only doing a few of those a month.
Online jobs and freelancing has made it possible for anyone to be able to live wherever they want, make some money, and enjoy a lifestyle that once was only available to retirees.
Written by Nanette Witmer