Lifestyle Migration to Bocas del Toro, Panama: Exploring Migration Strategies and Introducing Local Implications of the Search for Paradise

Open access

Abstract:

Lifestyle migration, the flow of relatively affluent people from developed to developing countries, is characterized by the search for ‘lifestyle’ destinations with warm climates, reduced costs of living, and perceived higher quality of life. Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama are three current major lifestyle migration destinations in Latin America. In this article I explore the emergence of this relatively new phenomenon in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago in Northwestern Panama by discussing the contradiction between lifestyle migrants’ idealized perception of place and local realities. I also introduce the implications of these contradicting versions of reality, and how they play out at the local level. Results show that, in general, foreign residents are attracted to Bocas del Toro as a physical manifestation of globally produced images and perceptions of tropical island living. However, an in-depth exploration reveals contradictions between expectations and reality. I suggest that foreigners exhibit a set of attitudes and behaviors towards their new home that are defined by a shared cultural and economic background that, on the ground, contribute to the creation of emerging markets, land conflicts, and changes in environmental practices. The ensuing narrative is contingent upon tensions between and within social, political, and ecological variables at the global and local levels.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Arden & Price Consulting/University of Miami (AP/UM) (2008) Perfiles de la Zona Marino-Costera de Bocas del Toro. Programa Multifase de Desarrollo Sostenible de Bocas del Toro. Panamá.

  • Autoridad de Turismo de Panamá (ATP) (2010) Sitios con Potencial Turistico: Provincia de Bocas del Toro. Website accessed September 29 2010: http://www.atp.gob.pa/archivos/pdf/potencial/bocas.pdf.

  • Barrantes-Reynolds M.P. (2011) The expansion of ‘real estate tourism’ in coastal areas: Its behaviour and implications. Recreation and Society in Africa Asia and Latin America 2(1).

  • Benson M. C. (2010) The Context and Trajectory of Lifestyle Migration. European Societies. 12(1): 45-64.

  • Benson. M. C. (2012) How Culturally Significant Imaginings are Translated into Lifestyle Migration Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies DOI:10.1080/1369183X.2012.711067

  • Benson M. C. and K. O’Reilly (2009a) Lifestyle Migration: Escaping to the Good Life. In Benson M.C. and K. O’Reilly (Eds.). Lifestyle Migration: Expectations Aspirations and Experiences. Ashgate Aldershot.

  • Benson M. C. and K. O’Reilly (2009b) Migration and the Search for a Better way of Life: A critical exploration of lifestyle migration. The Sociological Review. 57(4): 608-625.

  • Bourgois P. (1994) Banano Etnia y Lucha Social en Centro América. San José Costa Rica Editorial Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones (DEI).

  • Bryant R. L. and M. K. Goodman (2004) Consuming Narratives: The political ecology of ‘alternative’ consumption. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 29: 344-366.

  • Bryant R. L. and S. Bailey (1997) Third World Political Ecology: An introduction. New York Routledge.

  • Bury J. (2005) Mining Mountains: Neoliberalism land tenure livelihoods and the new Peruvian mining industry in Cajamarca. Environment and Planning A. 37: 221-239.

  • Castles S. and M. J. Miller (2003) The Age of Migration (3rd Ed.). London Palgrave MacMillan.

  • Concertación Nacional para el Desarrollo (CND) (2008) Acerca del Proceso. Retrieved May 29 2008 from http://www.concertacion.org.pa/portal/lang__es/tabID__3657/DesktopDefault.aspx.

  • Cullen J. (2003) The American Dream: A short history of an idea that shaped a nation. Oxford Oxford University Press.

  • Decreto de Ley No. 3 22 February 2008. Que crea el Servicio Nacional de Migración la Carrera Migratoria y dicta otras disposiciones. Gaceta Oficial No. 25896 26 February 2008. Consejo de Gabinete República de Panamá.

  • Dirección de Estadística y Censo (DEC). (2000) Censos Nacionales de Población y Vivienda. Contraloría General de la República de Panamá.

  • Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) (2008) Country View: Outlook for 2008-2009. Economist Intelligence Unit Views Wire 10 March 2008.

  • Frohlick S. (2009) Pathos of Love in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica: Emotion Travel and Migration. Mobilities. 4(3): 389-405.

  • Gosnell H. and J. Abrams (2009) Amenity Migration: Diverse conceptualizations of drivers socioeconomic dimensions and emerging challenges. GeoJournal. DOI 10.1007/s10708-009-9295-4

  • Guerrón-Montero C. (2006) Tourism and Afro-Antillean Identity in Panama. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change. 4(2): 65-84.

  • Halfacree K.H. and M. J. Rivera (2012) Moving to the Countryside ... and Staying: Lives beyond Representations Sociologia Ruralis. 52(1).

  • Hoey B. A. (2006) Grey Suit or Brown Carhartt: Narrative Transition Relocation and Reorientation in the Lives of Corporate Refugees. Journal of Anthropological Research. 62(3): 347-371.

  • Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censo (INEC) (2000 2010) Censos Nacionales de Población y Vivienda. Contraloría General de la República de Panamá.

  • Jackiewicz E. L. and J. Craine (2010) Destination Panama: An examination of the migration-tourism-foreign investment nexus. [Special Issue on Lifestyle Migration]. Recreation and Society in Africa Asia & Latin America. 1(1): 5-29.

  • Janoschka M. (2009) The Contested Spaces of Lifestyle Mobilities: Regime Analysis as a Tool to Study Political Claims in Latin American Retirement Destinations. Die Erde. 140(3): 251-253.

  • Johnson M. and S. Clisby (2008) Both ‘One’ and ‘Other’: Environmental Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Hybridity in Costa Rica. Nature and Culture. 3(1): 63-81.

  • King R. (2002) Towards a new map of European migration. International Journal of Population Geography. 8(2): 89-106.

  • King R. and J. Connell (Eds.) (1999) Small Worlds Global Lives: Islands and Migration. London Pinter.

  • King R. and N. Wood (Eds.) (2001) Media and Migration: Constructions of mobility and difference. London Routledge.

  • King R. T. Warnes and A. M. Williams (2000) Sunset Lives: British Retirement Migration to the Mediterranean. Oxford Berg.

  • Korpela M. (2010) Me Myself and I: Western Lifestyle Migrants in Search of Themselves in Varanasi India. [Special Issue on Lifestyle Migration]. Recreation and Society in Africa Asia & Latin America. 1(1): 53-73.

  • Kull C. A. C. K. Ibrahim T. C. Meredith (2007) Tropical Forest Transitions and Globalization: Neo-Liberalism Migration Tourism and International Conservation Agendas. Society and Natural Resources. 20(8): 723-737.

  • Lazaridis G. J. Poyago-Theotoky and R. King (1999) Islands as Havens for Retirement Migration: Finding a Place in Sunny Corfu. In: King and Connell (Eds.). Small Worlds Global Lives: Islands and Migration. London Pinter.

  • Lee E. S. (1966) A Theory of Migration. Demography. 3(1): 47-57.

  • Leichenko R. and W. Solecki (2005) Critical Surveys Edited by STEPHEN ROPER Exporting the American Dream: The Globalization of Suburban Consumption Landscapes. Regional Studies. 39(2): 241-253.

  • Ley No. 5 11 January 2007. Agiliza el proceso de apertura de empresas y establece otras disposiciones. Gaceta Oficial No. 25709 12 January 2007. Asamblea Legislativa República de Panamá.

  • Ley No. 54 22 July 1998. Por la cual se dictan medidas para la estabilidad jurídica de las inversiones. Gaceta Oficial No. 23593 24 July 1998. Asamblea Legislativa República de Panamá.

  • McCarthy J. (2008) Rural Geography: Globalizing the countryside. Progress in Human Geography. 32(1): 129-137.

  • McHugh K. E. (2000) Inside outside upside down backward forward round and round: case for ethnographic studies in migration. Progress in Human Geography. 24(1): 71-89.

  • McWatters M. (2008) Residential Tourism: (De)Constructing Paradise. UK Clevedon.

  • Meletis Z. A. and L. M. Campbell (2007) Call it Consumption! Re-Conceptualizing Ecotourism as Consumption and Consumptive. Geography Compass. 1(4): 850-870.

  • Migration Policy Institute (MPI) (2006) America’s Emigrants: US Retirement Migration to Mexico and Panama. Washington DC Migration Policy Institute.

  • Ministerio de Comercio e Industrias (MICI) (2010) Inversión Directa Extranjera en Panamá se dispara. Retrieved 7 July 2010 from http://www.mici.gob.pa/ver_noticias_full.php?id=892.

  • Newton V. (2004) The Silver Men: West Indian labour migration to Panama 1850-1914 (2nd Ed.). Kingston Ian Randle Publishers.

  • O’Reilly K. n.d. The Rural Idyll Residential Tourism and the Spirit of Lifestyle Migration. Department of Social Sciences University of Loughborough. Retrieved May 24 2008 from http://info.lut.ac.uk/departments/ss/lmhub/documents/Anthro-tourism%20paper.pdf.

  • Ortiz Guitart A. and C. Mendoza (2008) Vivir (en) la Ciudad de México: Espacio vivido e imagionarios espaciales de un grupo de migrantes de alta calificación. Latin American Research Review. 43(1): 113-138.

  • Sheridan L. (2007) The World’s Top Retirement Havens in 2007. International Living Magazine. Retrieved Online May 2 2008 from http://www.internationalliving.com/internal_components/further_resources/09_01_07_retirement.

  • Spalding A. K. (2011) Re-making lives abroad: Lifestyle migration and socio-environmental change in Bocas del Toro Panama. PhD thesis University of California Santa Cruz.

  • Sunil T. S. V. Rojas and D. E. Bradley (2007) United States’ International Retirement Migration: The reasons for retiring to the environs of Lake Chapel Mexico. Ageing and Society 27: 489-510.

  • The Nature Conservancy (TNC). 2008. Propuesta. Plan de Ordenamiento Territorial: Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro.

  • Tolson J. (2008) A Growing Trend of Leaving America. US News and World Report. Retrieved 1 September 2010 from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2008/07/28/a-growing-trend-of-leaving-america.

  • Urry J. (1995) Consuming Places. London Routledge.

  • Urry J. (1999) Mobile Cultures. Published by the Department of Sociology Lancaster University Lancaster. Retrieved May 29 2008 from http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/papers/Urry-Mobile-Cultures.pdf.

  • Urry J. (2002) The Tourist Gaze (2nd Ed). London Sage Publications.

Search
Journal information
Cited By
Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 370 187 14
PDF Downloads 194 112 17