Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

International Review of Social Research

2 Issues per year

Open Access
Online
ISSN
2069-8534
See all formats and pricing
More options …

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

Ana K. Spalding
  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • Email:
Published Online: 2015-05-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/irsr-2013-0005

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.

Keywords: lifestyle migration; Bocas del Toro; Panama; social change

References

  • 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.Google Scholar

  • 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).Google Scholar

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

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

  • 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.Google Scholar

  • 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.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

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

  • 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.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

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

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

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

  • 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.Google Scholar

  • 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. 25,896, 26 February 2008. Consejo de Gabinete, República de Panamá.Google Scholar

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 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.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

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

  • 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.Google Scholar

  • 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.Google Scholar

  • 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.Google Scholar

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

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

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

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

  • 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.Google Scholar

  • 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.Google Scholar

  • 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.Google Scholar

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

  • 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.Google Scholar

  • Ley No. 5, 11 January 2007. Agiliza el proceso de apertura de empresas y establece otras disposiciones. Gaceta Oficial No. 25,709, 12 January 2007. Asamblea Legislativa, República de Panamá.Google Scholar

  • Ley No. 54, 22 July 1998. Por la cual se dictan medidas para la estabilidad jurídica de las inversiones. Gaceta Oficial No. 23,593, 24 July 1998. Asamblea Legislativa, República de Panamá.Google Scholar

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

  • 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.Google Scholar

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

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

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

  • 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.Google Scholar

  • 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.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 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.Google Scholar

  • 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.Google Scholar

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

  • 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.Google Scholar

  • 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.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2015-05-06

Published in Print: 2013-02-01


Citation Information: International Review of Social Research, ISSN (Online) 2069-8534, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/irsr-2013-0005.

Export Citation

© Ana K. Spalding. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in