When 52-year-old Michael Druillard first set foot on Panamanian soil, this sunny, Central American country won his heart. It was the perfect country for his needs. Besides the warm climate, it has a stable government, a low cost of living, and varied employment opportunities. Now his life in the warm beach town of Coronado is a world away from shovelling snow in his native Canada.
And his new teaching career is a far cry from his previous work.
Michael was born, raised, and spent his pre-Panama life in and around Windsor, Ontario. He spent 15 years in insurance and investments, and several years as co-owner of a home insulation and renovation business.
“So many things attracted me to Panama. The people, the diversity, the scenery, and, hey, no snow to shovel,” he laughs. On his first visit, he spent 10 days in and around Panama City and Colon and loved it. Consequently, he visited eight more times and decided that Panama…somehow, some way…was going to become his home.
He set about finding a way to relocate.
Michael designed a website called The Canpan Connection and each week he would extoll the virtues of Panama to his fellow Canadians, even going so far as to produce live video chats each Sunday with folks he had met in Panama as special guests.
He studied Spanish as a step towards his goal and—not being of an age to retire—he wracked his brain for a way to earn a living in Panama.
Then he found an accredited course in Teaching English as a Second Language and signed up. He completed the course in January 2014 and began to investigate the possibilities of using his newly acquired certification as a way to teach English in Panama.
To his delight he discovered there was a big demand among Panamanians to learn English.
So Michael took the plunge. He sold all his worldly possessions and purchased his ticket to Panama, landing in March 2014. One month later, he obtained a temporary teaching contract with St. Clair College in Panama City where the curriculum includes English Immersion for Adults.
Now he has accepted employment with the Coronado International School. “It is a wonderful school,” he says.
His new position provides good pay and generous benefits, allowing him to settle into a new home in the beautiful beach town of Coronado, where the living is easy and the lively expat community provides him with a good social life. Michael could not be happier.
Coronado is ever-developing, only a short distance from Panama City, with a great expat community. It’s right on the beach, has a great golf course, and the shopping areas are expanding regularly.
Michael continues to run his website, as well as giving back to his new country by volunteering at the charity, Fundacion Soy Capaz, which helps adults afflicted with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
And he is also assisting with recycling fairs. His life is full of activity and new friendships.
“Panama has many opportunities for gainful employment, especially teaching English,” says Michael. “The people are hardworking, industrious, and inventive.”
He advises anyone thinking of moving overseas to do their homework first. “Visit a country several times prior to committing to relocate, check out various areas, educate yourself about the country, and be open to acquiring new friends and contacts,” he says.