My husband and I are planning an exploratory trip to Panama in the spring. Coincidentally, one of the big names in the publishing-for-expats business is holding a conference in Panama City at the same time.
I’m seriously considering attending. If I go, I’ll not only be listening and taking notes for myself but for all of you as well. I’ve been wondering for a long time whether these events provide reasonable value for participants.
Oh, I know what the promoters say, and so do you if you’ve been reading expat sites for any length of time.
You get the email in your inbox. It promises all sorts of benefits. Included are testimonials like the one from Bob and Carol A. in Dallas, who tell you that the conference helped them invest $5 in a property they sold 10 minutes later for $5 million, got them in touch with a supportive, wonderful expat community of like-minded individuals that they’ve been fast friends with ever since, saved their marriage and cured their son’s cancer. (Well, maybe I’m exaggerating about the cancer, but you get the picture.)
Do I seem just a wee bit skeptical to you?
I’m really hoping it would be helpful and worth the money. I understand that the information itself can be found — free or at a much lower cost — through websites and books. I also know there’s a whole lot more going on at these events than just raw information.
There’s the power of making personal connections with others, both the experts and other wannabe expats. There’s the value of having all the information in one place instead of spread out all over the internet. There’s the reassurance that you’re not alone, and the chance to see the place you’re considering living.
There are other tangible and intangible benefits that I probably haven’t considered.
But there’s only one way to answer the question, “is it worth the price,” and that’s to either pony up the money to attend yourself, or rely on an objective observer you trust.
So Here’s the Deal
If you’ve attended one of these conferences, let me know in the Comments what you liked and what you didn’t like about it.
Whether you’ve attended a conference or not, fill me in on the kinds of information you need most to help with your overseas move. Let me know whether you would appreciate an objective (probably slightly cynical) assessment from me about the conference’s value.
Based on the responses I get within the next week, I’ll make my decision.
If I end up attending the conference, you can be sure that I’ll let you know what I really think of it.
If you’re reading this in an email, you’ll have to go to the website to leave your comments. Or you can leave your comments on the Future Expats Facebook page.
In need of sunshine...
Hi – while I haven’t attended these conferences – your post struck a nerve with me. My boyfriend and I are currently piecing together our thoughts and plans to expat. In the process, we found a very enticing, seemingly informative pitch from one of the live abroad-type publications. For half off the list price of $199, we spent $99 on what we expected to be a foundational resource in our quest.
Yeah. We want our money back.
In a .pdf file that is a total of 26 pages long, only 23 pages had written content. The quality was, well, insulting. With any slight bit of research, even on this publicatioin’s website, I could have concocted a like article with half the drama and a tenth of the cost. In fact, I’m pretty sure their “pitch” emails were close to the same length of the sold product.
So, FutureExpat, I recommend you listen to your gut on this. That is sound advice for any situation, really. You may as well put your money into actually discovering what the country and the environment means for yourself – in your context – in your life – and leave the hype for some other sucker like me. 🙂
By the way, I can’t wait to read about your Panama exploration. It is one of the potential destinations for us.
Thanks for hosting this site. I just stumbled across it in my quest to factfind for the big escape.
Kelley, thanks for your comments.
You said Panama is one of your potential destinations — what are the others you’re considering?
In need of sunshine...
Not a problem! Yes – Panama is on our list. We’ve also been researching Belize, Costa Rica, and Ecuador thus far. There is still a lot of reconnaissance to be done.
Like the 80% in your poll, we’re also exploring our income possibilities in the various locations, as well as culture and other key factors in the decision-making. We have two dogs to consider, as well.
How soon do you plan to be come HappyExpat – as opposed to FutureExpat?
LOL, sounds like we have a fair amount in common. We also need to consider our three dogs! Ecuador is on our short list, but not Costa Rica.
I attended the Families in Global Transition Conference for the first time last year. As a volunteer with the organization, I am obviously biased, but I have to say I was impressed. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s non-profit that makes the difference, but no-one was trying to “sell” me anything and yet the amount of useful information I picked up from the sessions, to say nothing of the networking, was impressive. As the name suggests it is aimed at supporting the families of those who are relocated overseas and covers the full gamut of the corporate, diplomatic, military and missionary communities. Topics include the latest research as well as practical strategies for helping kids adjust, career strategies for accompanying partners, culture shock, repatriation, etc. I certainly came away with some “valuable tools.”
Hi Judy, that does sound like a worthwhile event. And I suspect there’s a big difference between the non-profits and the events put on by the big publishing companies.
Another difference, I think, is that the FGT conference is geared more toward the “traditional” expats — those sent to an overseas job location by an employer or government entity. Most of the for-profit expat conferences that I’m familiar with are geared more toward those who choose to expatriate themselves, either to retire or to support themselves with non-traditional work.
Most of my readers are not part of the corporate, diplomatic, military or missionary communities. Do you think the FGT organization would be helpful to them? Do you have some links you could share?
I was just about to sing up for the Feb Ecuador conference with L and I overseas. I’m not so sure it’s the right thing for me yet. Can you direct me to sites, books, etc to help me make up my mind between Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Columbia?
I think these, from what i’ve read, are my top retirement destination. I can live off my pension so don’t need a J.o.b. and really looking to live on the beach and drive into town. Med ins. is a huge concern.
I’ve attended two conferences now. The first was Live & Invest Overseas Panama conference in 2011, the second was their Orlando conference in October, 2011, at which I also spoke about portable careers. I believe their events are good value because they are realistic in their presentations, they’re not afraid to admit that every location has pros and cons (unlike some other organizations). Here’s a link to their events page..
Ultimately, though, you can’t decide where to live based on a conference, you need to visit and get a feel for the country and the area.
thanks for your input. What conference (web page?) did you attend. I’m interested in drinking out of the fire hose to learn what I can about panama, columbia, ecuador, costa rica, from a retirement standpoint.
thanks ahead of time.