A Panamanian-American couple invited me over to dinner at their house the other night. They are both well-educated and have excellent careers. Their girls are 8 and 9. I walked in the door to find an impeccably neat household. No toys cluttering the floor. Both husband and wife were relaxed and happy to chat. Eventually an excellent meal appeared, cooked and served by one of two live-in nannies. The dishes disappeared and the kids came into the room to hang out with the parents.
By dessert I’d figured out what was wrong with the picture. These people had as much free time and energy to socialize as single childless Americans. My American friends who are married with children are capable of straightening up the house and entertaining at home perhaps once every two months. These upper middle-class Panamanians could do that every night if they wished. Americans with kids are exhausted by the effort of driving them around and reshuffling the clutter. Panamanians have their chauffeur do the chauffeuring.
All of the magic (two nannies and a full-time driver) happens for $1000/month. A perfectly lovely house in a nice area can be had for $250,000.