Best Places to Retire in Panama

My friend, Jackie Lange, who runs Panama Relocation Tours, gets to take people on her boots-on-the-ground tour to many of the best places in Panama to retire.  She sees them all and knows expats everywhere.  The plus of Jackie’s tour is that nobody is selling or promoting anything!  It’s just a great opportunity to get an honest view of Panama and hear un-rehearsed, un-coached stories of expat life in Panama from people who are actually living in Panama.  Here’s one of Jackie’s posts about THE BEST PLACES TO RETIRE IN PANAMA …

Did you know that Panama is the only country where you can watch the Pacific sunrise and the Atlantic sunset?

How cool is that?

Dubbed as the Crossroads of the Americas, Panama, like the rest of Latin America has that laid-back, relaxed kind of vibe. The people are welcoming, warm and friendly. In the past few decades, Panama has been one among the top countries best for retirement. Many people have been searching for the best places to retire in Panama because of one good reason: it is cheaper to live in this tropical country than in most parts of the world.

There is a perfectly good reason why this is indeed the crossroads. You can use Panama’s airports to travel either to Central or South America or hundreds of destinations around the world.

Panama is categorized as a tropical country but the weather is not hot, it is warm. From May to the end of the year, expect a much cooler air as the wind from the mountains come flapping down to the lowlands, cooling and relaxing people on the beachfront. Much like its people, warm sand beneath your foot is an indication that you are in beach paradise. Beaches are only part of the Panama scene. The nightlife is also vibrant here that every night you can go to different clubs and bars to your heart’s content.

It is not just the geographic location or the innate natural beauty that fascinates people to live and retire in Panama. There are many perks that one can come across an expat in this amazing country.

Panama is really made for retirees. With health care a fraction of the cost when done in the US, be rest assured that you have high quality health care provided to you. With certain hospitals affiliated with top hospitals in the US (like Johns Hopkins), you can get results but may cost you cheaper. Many of the clinicians are fluent in English so it won’t be difficult for you to communicate. In addition to this, Panama has adopted the US dollar as its national currency. If you’re from the United States, you don’t have to worry about exchange rate reductions in your spending power!

One of the perks you can enjoy after relocating in this country is that you can become a legal resident here. Retirees who chose to become residents can avail of the pensionado program which entitles one to discounts, even when owning your own real estate property. Women over 55 and men over 60, qualify for these discounts:

One time Duty tax exemption for household goods up to a total of $10,000.
Duty exemption for importing a new car every two years.
50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, concerts, sports)
30% off bus, boat, and train fares
25% off airline tickets
50% off hotel stays from Monday through Thursday
30% off hotel stays from Friday through Sunday
25% off at restaurants
15% off at fast-food restaurants
15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
10% off prescription medicines
20% off medical consultations
15% off dental and eye exams
20% off professional and technical services
50% reduction in closing costs for home loans
25% discounts on utility bills
15% off loans made in your name
1% less on home mortgages for homes used for personal residence

The consistent efforts of the government of Panama at positively improving and engaging retiree policies ensure retirees that they made the right decision to live and retire in Panama.

What are my relocation options?

Boquete
Located in the Chiriqui, one of the most fertile provinces in the country, relocating here means you get to experience a cooler climate, ranging from 70-80 degree Fahrenheit. This may be up in the highlands but you would not really be living bucolic. Boquete has a developed expat community so you settling right in is not hard.

What makes Boquete unique is its fog-like rain that creates an ethereal blanket over the area. Actually, this has a purpose – keeping everything fresh and sustainable. With coffee as one of its produce, be enticed in your sensorial feels.

If there is one lace in Panama where you don’t have to learn Spanish, it is this place. Majority of the people here can speak English fluently, partly due to the foreigners calling this their home

Activities You Can Do Here

With the Volcan Baru at the backdrop, and the waters of Rio Caldera running through the city, feel free to enjoy water rafting, if you are the adventurous one. If you miss hiking, feel free to go horseback riding or bird watching. There are plenty of outdoor activities to do here.

The Catch

Depending on the location, accessibility to utilities, cost of property varies. If you are in the outskirts where there is no line for water, electricity and the likes, real estate property can be cheaper. If you wish to be in the town area, expect land prices to soar.

Also, don’t look for the roaring waves of the beach. This province perches 3,400 ft high up the mountains. Also, Boquete is not readily accessible from the capital city. You need to drive to David then fly for 40 minutes to get to Panama city.

Santa Fe

With hills teemed with luscious green, Santa Fe in Veraguas is another highland city great for retiring in Panama. You don’t need to acclimatize to be in this city. Somewhat lower than Boquete in altitude, you can still duck the humidity of the lowlands yet experience warm days that seems to make breathing much easier.

Activities You Can Do Here

Because the biggest draw of Santa Fe is its outdoor appeal, there are many activities you can enjoy. Wild orchids and exotic flowers are abundant. Visit the Santa Fe National Park to check the various species for fauna to marvel at. Butterflies and toucans can also be found in this part of Panama.

The Catch

Although there is a flourishing expat community in the area, you still need to learn Spanish. If you are used to having the modern amenities, Santa Fe might not suit you as you might soon find out that you have to adapt to the true Panamanian way of living.

Expect a lot of changes in Santa Fe. If you like the simple life here, it might soon change as new roads are being created to connect the city with the coastal areas.

Volcan

Each country has its own fountain of youth. Panama has Volcan. With similar climate as Boquete, you can enjoy the wafting of cool breeze day in and out. Nestled by Tizingal Mountain, Volcan is like the other places that boast of longer life expectancy. Blame it on natural food and great weather all year-long.

Volcan only have a few thousand inhabitants, including expats. This means you need to still study Spanish. Nevertheless, this city has the basic amenities you can find in a world-class city plus incredible views.

Down in the Lowlands …

Las Tablas

Las Tablas PanamaAlong the coast of the Azuero Peninsula, Las Tablas is a more laid back place compared to other beach side locations in Panama. It is also very affordable compared to other beach communities. I know expats who are renting a 3 bedroom house for $400 a month and a single expat lady who is renting a small one bedroom house for $80 per month. The actual town is about 5 miles to the beach.

The Catch

Since the Azuero Peninsula is considered the Gold Coast of Panama, opportunities are coming in. While this has not been fully realized, you can still enjoy the serenity the place offers for only $1,200 a month. It may be far from the capital city, having to travel or four hours by car, but those fine-paved roads leading to the capital city makes your travel lighter. As you would be living mostly with the fisher folks, you also need to learn Spanish.

Chitre is north of Las Tablas. About a 30 minute drive. Chitre features more shopping opportunities plus a movie theater. About an hour south of Las Tablas is Pedasi.

Panama City

Panama CityWho would have known that there is such a phrase inexpensive metropolis. In many cases, a metropolis tantamount to having high cost of living; however, slash Panama City from that list. Major corporations may be in the city but living within the city does not entail having to expensively. You can marvel at the world-class infrastructure and services without really denting your pocket.

With museums, premium shows and performances, and first-rate dining experience, you’d be surprised how affordable these can be in the capital city. Where else can you find a piece of the rain forest in a metropolis like this but only in Panama City.

The Catch

Relatively, Panama City has a bit expensive property prices, nevertheless, still cheaper compared to cities of the same calibre in the Americas. The El Cangrejo district in the city offers your picturesque neighbourhood with thriving expat community may not come as cheap but still affordable.

Bocas de Toro

Lying in your hammock tied between to palm trees and viewing the stunning coastline seems like an image out of a postcard. Situated in the Caribbean part of the country, Bocas del Torro offers island hideaways and a more tranquil uptake on the beach life.

Bocas del Toro is actually a province in Panama. Bocas Town, is a town on Isla Colon island which is in the Bocas del Toro province.

The Catch

Bocas is not easy to get to. You either have to fly from Panama City to Isla Colon or you have to drive from western Panama near David over the Continental Divide about 3 hours to get to Almarinte. Then take a 40 minute water taxi ride to Isla Colon.

If you like island like and water sports, (and don’t mind being a bit isolated) then Bocas Town and the other islands in the area would be a good choice for you.

Coronado

If there is one beach community expats have been raving about for the last few years, it is Coronado. Tucked an hour away from Panama City, it presents the best of both worlds. The facilities you can only find in a cosmopolitan city and the unrestricted beach lifestyle that only Latin America offers.

What is unique about Coronado’s beach is that it is not the run-of-the-mill white sand. It is, in fact, a greyish sand, a mixture of pristine white sand and the volcanic sand, remnants of an extinct volcano. Being located in the “Arco Seco” area, aptly named because of the arc-shape of the coastline and the fact that this area does not receive much rain during the rainy season, Coronado has numerous activity-inducing facilities such as tennis courts, golf courses and the likes.

Many options are given to you in case you wish to retire and live in Panama. Its proximity to North America make this your dream destination for relocation.

Come join us on a Panama Relocation Tour to discover what Panama has to offer.

“Plan B” ESCAPE!

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Three Ways to Discover Panama

The only tour I recommend for folks considering relocating to Panama is Jackie Lange’s Panama Relocation Tour. I have no financial interest in her business, but she is a friend and in fact reading my book ESCAPE TO PARADISE helped her make the decision to move to Panama. I like her tours, and I’ve tagged along on several, because people get to see the real Panama and meet and talk with real expats who offer their unfiltered views of their lives in Panama. Nobody is selling anything! This isn’t a real estate tour, one where paid presenters are selling “opportunities,” or a glorified time-share-type presentation.

I’m repeating this post from Jackie’s blog because it is an excellent description of how her tour is different from most others.

Three Ways to Discover Panama by Jackie Lange

There are three ways you can discover Panama.

ONE WAY …

You can sit in a stuffy conference room in Panama City to hear presentations by speakers who were hand-picked to tell sugar coated stories about life in Panama. You can see a few slide shows to see what Panama looks like…of course; they will only show the best of the best parts. In addition to the hefty conference fee for 2 1/2 days, you’ll also pay for your own overpriced hotel room and all meals and beverages. You get to walk through the gauntlet of people trying to sell you stuff just to get to the conference room. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see one square block of Panama City.

That is NOT the real Panama!

WHAT’S THE 2ND WAY TO DISCOVER PANAMA?

You can discover Panama up close and personal during a 6-day all inclusive Panama Relocation Tour. You pay one flat fee for 6 days of seeing the real Panama, not slide shows. You’ll travel in a brand new extra comfortable bus throughout Panama. We keep the tour size small so everyone gets personal attention. While we are traveling from one location to another, I’ll be conducting a rolling conference to teach you what you need to know to relocate. What’s included? All ground transportation, all hotels, all meals, and a Copa flight back to Panama city. Plus you’ll learn everything you need to know to successfully relocate to Panama.

You’ll get to actually see Gorgona, Coronado, Santa Clara, El Valle, Chitre, Las Tablas, Santiago, Las Lajas Beach, David, Boquete, Volcancito, Volcan, Bambito and Cerro Punta. Plus we will travel though a lot of other towns. No slide shows. No photoshop pictures. You get to really see Panama.

“It’s not a tour, it’s an adventure!” “said Bob and Sally Lewis from my January 2015 tour.
They added … “Besides all the great info you are going to get, you see so much of the country, will make some wonderful friends, that you will want to sell your house as soon as you get back home, like my wife Sally and I are going to do!! Jackie does incredible things to personalize the tour, like having a freshly baked Birthday Cake at dinner on my wife’s Birthday!! You don’t spend money on this tour, you INVEST it!!”

You’ll meet expats in each area. They will discuss what their life is like in Panama. I don’t screenwhat they will say except “no sales pitches please”. No sugar coating. You’ll hear the truth.. both the good, the bad and the down- right ugly. You’ll learn the pros and cons of living in each area. That’s not all…. you’ll also meet with Panamanians to hear what they think about expats living in their country and how you can make friends and “fit in” quickly. Sometimes we meet with Richard Detrich, author of The New Escape to Paradise which tells the story of his move to Panama 10 years ago. Things have changed a lot since Richard moved to Panama. When Richard is in town, we visit his finca (farm) near Boquete.

You’ll learn about budgets in each area of Panama. Some areas are more expensive than others. Some areas are incredible bargains. Jacqui is renting a one-bedroom house for $80 a month in Las Tablas. She is 5 minutes to the Pacific Ocean. Las Tablas has just about anything you’d need but Chitre is only 30 minutes away and it has even more shopping options.

Doug is renting a 2 bedroom 2 bath with spectacular views in Boquete for $600. He has a 1/2 acre lot with coffee plants, bananas, avocados and oranges.

Colin and Sue are renting a 2-bedroom 2-bath in Cerro Punta for $400. The views are incredible (see photo below). You will get to see the many of these rental properties. No slide shows. You get to walk through the house and the yard and talk to the expat tenants. There are pros and cons to living in each area. You’ll learn exactly what they are so you can make an informed decision about where to relocate to in Panama (if you decide Panama is right for you).

You’ll get to see the beaches, the towns, and the mountains. We’ll take a 10 minute hike in a rain forest so you can smell the fresh air and see waterfalls. You’ll probably see a rainbow or two or three while you’re in Panama. The colors are so vivid it looks like a box of Crayola’s.

You’ll see some amazing sunsets over the ocean or the mountains. And you’ll probably see more stars in Panama than you have ever seen before.

We’ll visit grocery stores. You get to walk the aisles to see if your favorite products are available. You can compare prices of imported vs. local products. Yes we have Butterball Turkey in Panama. You won’t hear this at the international conferences but the truth is that some grocery stores are terrible. Luckily there is almost always a great grocery store close by through.

We’ll visit department stores so you can see the great bargains which are available in Panama. You’ll also see electronic stores and furniture stores so you can compare prices and help you decide what to bring to Panama and what to just buy here.

Come in a day early to take a tour of a hospital in Panama City. See the hospital rooms, talk to a doctor. See the MRI and CAT scan machines. See the high-tech labs and more.

Get the real scoop on health insurance options. Or why you may want to self-insure because medical care is so affordable. Discover why you could pay 50% more if you use an insurance broker instead of going direct. (Of course there will be insurance brokers at the hotel conference but they won’t tell you that it cost a lot more to use their services). Insurance brokers in Panama don’t work like insurance brokers in other countries.

Learn how to bring your pet in to Panama. There’s a process but it is well worth it to bring your furry family members. My cat move to Panama with me. She traveled In-Cabin. She loves living in Panama as much as I do!

We’ll eat at upscale restaurants but also have lunch at some $4 a meal restaurants with excellent food. This is the real Panama which you won’t find in an expensive hotel room in Panama City. Well also visit farmer’s markets during the tour.

You’ll learn the easiest way to buy a car in Panama and why it is better if you do not ship a car to Panama.

Experience the real Panama! You never know what you might see when you are traveling through Panama. During one tour there was a truck with an elephant in the back. It was headed to a circus. Sometimes a parade breaks out. You will certainly see trucks full of bananas or plantains. Or sacks of 100 oranges for $4

You will meet with a Panama attorney to learn about your visa options, buying real estate and setting up a business in Panama. This is NOT the kind of attorney who does the seminar circuits and charges twice as much because she has to pay a commission to the international seminar promoters. Oh no! You’ll meet an attorney who has one focus only… to make sure you get your visa quickly and at the best price in Panama and that you don’t make any mistakes when renting or buying a property in Panama.

Discover the real Panama! You’ll see beautiful flowers and lush green trees everywhere we go. But to be honest, you’ll also see some areas that have trash alongside the road. You may smell some septic tanks that need to be cleaned out. You’ll see people riding horses next to the highway and probably see some roosters too. And there will be dogs walking around like the own the town. This is the real Panama!

You’ll get to touch, feel, smell, hear, and experience the real Panama up close and personal. During the 6-day all-inclusive tour, you’ll travel 1200 kilometers (745 miles) to discover which part of Panama could be your new home. Leave the driving to my professional driver who knows every square inch of Panama.

We’ll look at some real estate in each areas but, unlike the conferences, we stress that you should NOT buy anything until you’ve been living in Panama at least 6 months… 12 months is better. We don’t try to sell you anything. But we know you want to see what houses and condos look like in various price points so we visit some properties.

You’ll learn the 4 most important questions you need to ask before you rent any property.

Much of the real estate for sale in Panama is WAY overpriced. But, after looking at hundreds of properties I’ve found the best of the best deals. I’ll show you what’s available at good prices. How about a condo with an ocean view for only $149,000.. with builder financing! Or a 2000 sf house in Boquete with an ocean view on one side and a mountain view on the other side for only $175,000! This one has a unique bamboo ceiling design. The deals are out there and, after traveling all over Panama, I know where they are.

Keep in mind that I have absolutely NO financial ties to any property. I don’t get or want a commission. I tell the sellers or builders to pass that savings on to YOU instead. I think it is a conflict of interest to do real estate tours pushing certain areas where you know you will get a big commission. It’s just not right!

Whew! It sounds like a lot already but I actually cover even more. You’ll learn how to fund your freedom overseas without getting a job. And much more…..

The 6-day all-inclusive Panama Relocation Tour is the best way to get a “feel” for Panama, learn how to relocate, explore a variety of area, and discover if Panama is right for you. You’ll feel safe with my professional bi-lingual driver and being with a group of people who are also considering relocating to Panama.

WHAT’S THE 3RD WAY TO DISCOVER PANAMA?

You could rent a car and go it alone traveling through Panama. Most people who do this end up leaving frustrated because they don’t know where to go, what to do, or how to find expats to talk to.

There you have it… three ways to discover beautiful Panama.

Moving to Panama is a big decision. It is important for you to have all the information you need before you decide to relocate. It’s also important to learn the good as well as the not so good before you pull the trigger and decide to move. I honestly think the only way you can discover Panama is to travel around the country. You can’t sit in a conference room in Panama City to learn what life is like living in Panama. You need to see the various areas for yourself. You need to talk to people who live there. And you need to explore the housing options and prices.

If you have any questions about the Panama Relocation Tours, please email info@PanamaRelocationTours.com