What To Bring & What To Ship?

Just wondering what you all decided to "bring" with you when you moved there and what you left behind? What's important & what's not? I'm guessing shipping is pretty expensive and one should only ship if it's really critical. Can any of you share what shipping to Panama cost you for various things including any duty? I'm saddened at leaving behind some of our favorite paintings, etc., but imagine shipping those is too expensive and who knows, maybe they'd get lost. As I look around at just our medicine cabinet type stuff from ointments to antacids, you know how over the years you collect a lot of that? That could actually be pretty expensive to have to replace all that down there, but then shipping is expensive I'm sure. I've also heard that some airlines will let you bring extra baggage for a cost if there is room, which also might be where a lot of extras could go. Would appreciate any sage advice from you all. Thanks so much!

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  • My suggestion (been here 13 years):  Bring all your major appliances with plenty of years of use left.  Major appliances made with specs for Latin America are terrible.  I'm on my third dishwasher, and quit using it because it sucks.  I'm on my second water heater and it's broken already (two years).  Local washers and dryers and refrigerators are nothing like American ones.  They break and don't do a good job anyway.  Ceiling fans ditto.

    • That's too bad Summer. Not real great news!

    • I'm not sure, but I don't think appliances are "made with specs for Latin America." When I consider buying an American-brand appliance here, I do Internet research on its track record, longevity and reliability. What I all too often find is that it has terrible reviews in the States, in Consumer Reports, for example. My guess is that poor reviews resulted in poor sales back in the States, so the model was shipped off to Latin America. It amounts to the same thing, though: generally poor quality.

      • I think you nailed it Bonnie.  I always thought manufacturers had 3 bins at the end of their quality control inspection lines:  Accept, Reject, Reject and send to Latin America. 

        • The main thing is, keep it simple. The more exotic a thing is, the more there is to go wrong, and 1. you will be sending away for spare parts, and 2. you will not be able to find anyone who can fix it. Just a general observation.

          • Totally. I agree Maureen. Keep it simple. Thank you.

  • Individual answer.  I looked at the price & quality of furniture available here, and we decided it was more cost effective to ship a 20 foot container here.  It would have cost more to replace what we had with the same quality.  We had three yard sales.  Other people come with suitcases, planning on renting furnished.  Your decision.  

    Basic tools you can find here.  If you do a lot of carpentry, or some other work, some are not here or hard to find.  Amazon becomes you best friend.  

    Have you been here to ask questions?  Before moving, it is the common advice to come here for at least 6 months and discover what it is like to live here before selling everything back home.  This is paradise in many ways, but it is NOT the US, nor are services like the US.  

    Grocery shopping is like the 1950s in a way, here.  You can drive to David & shop weekly there, or learn the places in Boquete thst has everything you need...eggs one place, meat another, etc.  

    please, really consider only renting here for 6 months before you move.  

    • Thank you Charlotte for all your insights. It's good to hear that one can find most grocery store items there (even if you have to drive around a bit), then having to go down to David. Just out of curiosity what can't you find there that requires a trip to David? Ex; furniture, ???

  • Items that are unique may be difficult to come by here. You will want to take everything with you at first but you would be surprised at how well you can get along without and how much is actually available here now compared to the past.

    We sold much of our possessions in an estate sale and what didnt move went in subsequent yard sales. We then moved in suitcases and bought all of our furniture here and saved huge on cargo. In the end the cost of extra luggage is a bargain if you really think about it and youll end up with new items.

    When you get here, if you see something you like, buy it and dont deliberate as stores often carry only the piece on display.

    • That makes sense Clint. You mentioned to moved in suitcases. Do you mean you brought extra luggage on the plane? I've read that if there's room, some airlines will let you bring extra luggage, but it could cost $100/suitcase. Thanks for your help.

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