Todd and I have a tendency to not plan anything. Last year when we went to Japan we had no plans and nowhere to stay when we landed there.
Life Nomadic 2008 is no different.
Before we left I spent a considerable amount of time trying to find a an apartment to rent online. We even worked through Century 21 here in Panama, which turned out to be a colossal disappointment. They found us a place, but then when we got here they skipped on a meeting they were supposed to have with us and then said, "Sorry! He doesn't want to rent it short term anymore."
For the first night we booked a $160 a night hotel on the internet. As soon as we checked in it was obvious that we were overpaying and that only businessmen from the US would stay here. The hotel was fine, but we checked out the next day.
We asked our taxi driver to help us find a hotel, and he came up with a great one (and was no doubt getting a kickback from them). It was closer to the ocean than our original one, was comparable quality, and only cost $50 per night.
In retrospect, we should have never booked that first hotel. Panama is a first class city in many ways, but they aren't fully integrated on the internet like the US, Japan, or Western Europe. The hotels you see online will ONLY be the overpriced ones. So from now on for developing countries we won't book stuff on the internet.
The second hotel had wifi, unlike the first one, so I spent more time finding an apartment. My search in the US was limited only to the rich gringo areas, because I didn't know any better. After wandering around for a few days I realized that those weren't necessarily the best areas to live in.
I found an apartment online in Bella Vista (that means "beautiful view" in Spanish), and used my new Panama cell phone service to call the owner. It was available, so we went over to check it out. We rented it that day.
We negotiated the price down to $2100 for the two months, plus a $500 refundable deposit. No leases to sign, just cash from the ATM. The apartment has a small kitchen, a small living room, and two bedrooms, all furnished. It has two balconies, one serving as the entrance to the apartment and one off the living room.
The balcony is immeasurably pleasant. Thirteen stories below is one of the major avenues of Panama City (Via EspaÃ±a), with a constant stream of taxis and brightly painted buses driving past. We have a 180 degree view of the city, the ocean, and the cruise and cargo ships entering the canal.
Here's a panorama of our view!
We leave the front door open and the door to the balcony open. I don't know if it has something to do with the two oceans or the nearby mountains, but we have a constant breeze flowing through the apartment. The temperature is always perfect.
Our dining table was quickly moved to the balcony, so now we eat and work while enjoying the perfect weather and the beautiful views of the city. As we've remarked many times, "this is the life!"
We can easily jog to our favorite restaurant (review coming soon), or take a taxi for $3 round trip. The building has 24 hour security (there are very few police here, but a lot of private security. It's pretty cool) and all of our utilities and broadband internet are paid for.
Todd and I keep wondering why more people don't do this.
Total: $1100 a month to live in paradise. This isn't a third world country, either. You can drink the water from the tap, get broadband internet, have good cell service, etc. There are huge malls with every store you're used to visiting.
If you wanted to spend six months here, you could easily be living for under $1k/month. Trust me... it's not very difficult to make an online business that makes $1000 a month.
Anyway... things worked out fantastically as usual. I'm going to make a sandwich now (we went to a little health food store called Organica yesterday and bought tons of stuff) and eat it out on the balcony.
hey guys. loving the updates. please inform us about how you guys are making a consistent stream of money, because that is the only worry that i have about long term travelling. thanks :)
I'd like to hear how you guys decided what cities and when. Also, what are your best practice methods for shopping for plane tickets?
What is the name of the building and area that you are living in? How were you able to find the apartment? Websites? or word of mouth?
I would also be interested in the post on getting 1000 p/month with internet businesses. Get on that one! Are you currently doing this?
Ty, you amazing us all. I was certainly nervous for you, but after Jen was in Mail,... and seeing some of Africa myself...traveling is a wonderful thing. You two have a wonderful time and I will check on you. Love AJ
just want you to know that i am following you. you have my admiration. bon voyage.
will look at your whole site when i have faster connection in town.
i will also email your personal email Todd so do not forget to check it.
I like how you gave us an idea of what you've spend. It helps our imagination when we think about doing what you guys are doing.
I know I for one would love to hear how you set up a business that makes at least $1000 per month, so we can do it too, a few times over =)
We've been in Panama for two days now, but it seems like weeks. There's obviously still TONS to explore around the city, but I'm already comfortable here and it even feels a bit familiar.
First of all, I love it. For me it has the ideal balance between chaos and structure. It's very safe... people are at least as friendly as they are in the US, if not moreso. They go out of their way to help us and put up with our mediocre Spanish. Our hotel right now isn't in a great area (though not a bad one either), and I feel totally safe walking a few blocks to go to a diner.
Even though it's safe, there don't seem to be a lot of minor enforced rules. Taxi drivers ignore speed limits and stop signs. The drinking and gambling age is 18, but I've heard even that's not enforced. You don't get the feeling that you're being overprotected or treated like a child.
The food has been MUCH better than expected. There are several vegetarian cafeterias that we've found already which are incredibly good and cheap. The one we visited tonight was owned by a very friendly Chinese couple (have you ever heard Chinese people speak Spanish?). There were maybe forty different dishes they had, and a serving of any one was only fifty cents. I asked for orange juice without sugar (most fruit drinks here have sugar) and they fresh squeezed it for me for only $1!
I've landed in Córdoba, Argentina and objective numero uno is finding a long-term place to stay.
Living in a hotel still feels like a vacation and until I get settled into an apartment of my own it won't feel like real life.
Before leaving for this country I put in a good amount of work trying to secure a place and found one that was incredible. I should have known it wouldn't be that easy.
My search started with the local newspaper (La Voz inmuebles) which has classified ads online like Craigslist but with less features and less crazy people. Here you can find temporary apartments for rent although the quality of the photos listed on this site baffles me. While most have a few grainy photos of one room in the apartment, many are listed without photos making the search from abroad quite difficult.
However I did find a very nice 1-bedroom apartment in Nueva Córdoba for a reasonable price. My girlfriend went to see it and confirmed it's awesomeness so I told her to put down the deposit.