Panama Reopens . . . Slowly & With Regulations


As of today Panama begins to reopen, cautiously and carefully.

If it is still in business, your favorite restaurant will open its doors on Monday, September 28 along with the reactivation of retail trade operations that includes the opening of shopping centers inns, all professional services, and administrative and general services according to The Ministry of Health (Minsa).

Shopping centers may open from 10:00 am onwards.

It had been planned to allow family outings to beaches, natural parks, and rivers. But these activities were not included in the group of restarts announced on Friday, September 25

In the resolution  Minsa establishes a series of points that must be met by the businesses and premises that return to activity.

It is emphasized that they must comply with the guidelines established in the different resolutions for the return to the new normality.

Restaurants, in addition to complying with the current sanitary regulations of the activity, must follow all the other provisions issued on post-COVID-19 biosafety and maintain a physical distance of at least two meters between each table.

After Monday, the next date for the gradual economic reactivation is October 12, which includes, among other activities, international flights, hotels, tourist activities, libraries, swimming pools, and the Lottery.

It is emphasized that they must comply with the guidelines and guides established in the different resolutions for the return to the new normality.

Restaurants and inns, in addition to complying with the current sanitary regulations of the activity, must follow all the other provisions issued  post-COVID-19 biosafety and maintain a physical distance of at least two meters between each table. 

After this Monday, the next date for the gradual economic reactivation is October 12, which includes, among other activities, international flights, hotels, tourist activities, libraries, swimming pools, and the Lottery. In addition, the curfew is lifted, which includes Sunday. [So it would appear that we have two more weekends of complete lockdown when everyone must stay at home.I suspect because weekends are typically the time for parties, family get togethers, celebrations and religious assemblies.]

The National Association of Merchants (Anadeco) , has reaffirmed that one of the requirements for the entry of customers to shops will be the use of face masks, and each entering will be subjected to temperature measuring.

Noncompliance with these measures, you will not be able to enter means any entry to commercial premises or shopping centers.

In addition, among other measures, the capacity allowed in each location will be controlled, taking into account the available space capacity as requested by the health authorities. The number of people in each store must be informed with signs upon entry, and updated by the personnel on duty.  [NEWSROOM PANAMA]

Many of the traditional mass celebrations, INCLUDING CARNIVAL, are cancelled.

If you are planning to visit Panama as soon as the airport opens, here are the rules and policies that will apply.  Please note that MASKS ARE REQUIRED and if that is a problem for you please stay at home.

The national tourist board has prepared this very valuable GUIDELINES FOR YOUR VISIT TO PANAMA.  Click the link or the image and read it carefully to minimize surprises when you get here.

We hope to see you soon!




The Joy Is Back!


Panama is slowly waking up to the world and carefully, cautiously reopening our skies and the doorway to the beauty and magic of this little squiggle of a nation that joins not only the continents, but also the world, together.  It will take a little while before all the things we enjoyed about flying are back in place, but … we’re slowly getting there!  If all  your favorite features of flying aren’t all there yet, please be patient.  The airlines are working hard to give you the level of service in the “friendly skies” that you have come to expect!

Air Panama and Copa restart domestic flights with cut-price offers

Air Panama and Copa Airlines have declared themselves ready to resume domestic flights on  Monday, September 28, after a  six months hiatus brought on by the pandemic.

Air Panama, general manager, Eduardo Stagg, said on Thursday that they will begin with a daily flight to the city of David, Chiriquí, and to Isla Colón and Changuinola, in Bocas del Toro. All flights depart from Marcos A. Gelabert Airport.

On social networks, the company is promoting  $99 round trip tickets, but the price does not include airport and fuel taxes.

Copa Airlines will fly three times a week to Enrique Malek de David airport from Tocumen International. Flights will be available in the restart phase on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. To stimulate demand, the company has a price of $69 per trip, including taxes.

But wait, to protect Panama from the Corona virus pandemic that seemingly rages out of control in some of our neighboring countries in North America, there are some added features!

New  sanitary controls for foreigners and returning residents

Nationals, residents, and foreigners who enter the country from October 12  must comply with a set of sanitary controls confirmed on Thursday.

Travelers must present a certificate of swab / PCR or negative antigen tests within a maximum of 48 hours, without having to comply with the mandatory isolation measure.

Visitors who do not carry the certificate will have the obligation to undergo a rapid test, prior to the airport migration registration, which will be paid by the tourist or resident.

If the rapid test result is negative, the passenger will be exempt from complying with the mandatory isolation.

If the swab / PCR or antigen test is positive,  the passenger will go to mandatory isolation in a hotel hospital assigned by the Ministry of Health.

Seven days later there will be an antigen test; If it is positive,  the traveler must finish the  14-day isolation and if it is negative, the isolation will end.

Welcome to Panama!


Making Progress …


Like every place else the Pandemic has been a challenge!  Panama has been very aggressive in response to this new reality.  Our airspace has been closed since March, the only exception being for very occasional humanitarian flights for Panamanians and residents.  Masks are required in public.  Full stop.  Socially distancing in lines, etc. is required.  Taxis and buses have limited occupancies.  In the Panama City there were draconian limitations on public transport.  Businesses were closed, but some are slowly reopening.  Restaurants are only allowed take out, but that hopefully will change over the next few weeks. We have had “dry” periods (zero alcohol) and periods of limited purchases allowed (1 bottle of wine and 1 six-pack of beer).  Happily, we’re beyond that.  There were periods where you were only allowed out for 2 hours to shop for groceries, etc., and it was men and women on alternate days.  The allotted time was determined by the last number of your passport or national ID. Thankfully, we’re beyond that as well.  Right now, Boquete is still under a complete lock down on Saturday and Sunday.  Everyone stays home.  Period.  There are “sanitary fences” between various provinces and districts.  Assembly and groups are limited to 5 people.

All of these restrictions have been enforced.  Naturally, as in any country, the wealthy and pollical elite though they were exempt only to find themselves publicly shamed and out of work when they flouted the rules.

Thankfully, we are making progress.  As of this morning the number of new cases of coronavirus has fallen for seven successive weeks and the Rt (retransmission rate) is at 0.96 which is good news as the ideal is 1 or below.  So very slowly and cautiously Panama is starting to reopen, which is good news for those of us who live here as well as those who would like to live here or just visit this remarkable land as tourists.

With waves of confusion, social unrest and drastic environmental tragedies many people are seeking a different, more tranquil and secure lifestyle and place to live.  Add to this a global pandemic which has forced people to sit back, slow down, and reevaluate their priorities in life.  With our airspace closed now for almost seven months there is a great backlog of folks who want to check out Panama as a place to relocate and create a new life.  Relocation Tours have obviously been shut down and the most popular has waiting lists with tours sold out through the end of 2021.  So, there is great demand of folks waiting for the airport to reopen for international flights.

A number of planned reopenings of Tocumen International Airport have been put off while Panama waited to get Covid-19 under control.  Now, slowly, things are just starting to move back to normal.  This week flights between our local David airport and Tocumen in Panama City have resumed.  The airport is now a tightly controlled “Hub of The Americas” for connecting flights.  There are limited flights for Panamanians and permanent residents to various cities including in the US.  It is expected that international visitors will begin to be allowed as things ramp up in October, subject to a lot of restrictions and qualifications.  How well your home country has doing controlling Covid-10 will determine if you are allowed to enter Panama.  We still have a long way to o, but it is finally encouraging.

So here’s the latest . . .

International flights return to Tocumen October 12

International flights at f Tocumen International Airport will resume  on Monday, October 12 reports the Civil Aviation Authority (AAC)

The  AAC emphasized that the reopening and reactivation of international aviation must be governed by the protocols established by the Ministry of Health (Minsa). Among the sanitary measures is the presentation to the airline of the test certificate of swab / PCR or negative antigens with a maximum of 96 hours, prior to boarding the flight from the country of origin.

Likewise, the passenger must sign an acceptance in the affidavit, provided by the airline, through which undertaking to comply with the sanitary control measures and the use of the application to monitor the appearance of symptoms. and provide the landline of the residence where the quarantine will pass. NEWSROOM PANAMA

[TIP “This Is Panama” – Interesting because we haven’t had land lines in Panama for years!  Unless you had one, no new land lines were available.  But, as is often the case in Panama, things aren’t thought out before making proclamations.]

Kid’s View of Living in Boquete


Now 16, Pryce Bailey came to Panama with his parents when he was just 10 years old. He shares his experience growing up in Panama and embracing a new culture. He’s got great thoughts and advice for folks of any age moving to Panama and the video has some fantastic drone shots of the “downtown” of our little town of Boquete.

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It Always Amazes Me …


It always amazes me when people who are visiting Panama for the first time, either fling into Tocumen International, or passengers on ships transiting the Canal, say something like, “I never imagined Panama City to be SO big and so modern.” So when Panama reopens, now scheduled to be in October, and hopefully life returns to at least some semblance of normality, even the “new normal,” lest you be surprised by Panama City …

Every Morning A New Adventure Awaits


This is Stanley’s wake up call in the front bedroom, looking out the French doors onto the porch.

Stanley is one of our two dogs, and some day I’ll tell you the whole story of our canine capers, but Stanley was a rescue dog, found along with all his litter mates in a garbage dumpster when he was just a few days old. Only he and one sister managed to survive. He is special, knows it, and plays it for all it is worth.

We are in the midst of the “rainy season” in Boquete. What that generally means is a bright sunny morning and by noon it is even warm for Boquete … in the upper 70’s. But as the afternoon progresses the wind shifts off the ocean, which I can catch a glimpse of from two spots on our property … or as the real estate people would embellish it “a partial ocean view” … that ocean breeze starts pushing the hot, humid air of the lowlands (80-105 degrees F in David) up the mountain side and when it meets the cool air on Volcan Baru … the thunder rolls, the lightning flashes, and it rains, often as a deluge. No fear of lightning strikes causing wildfires since our tropical mountain rain forest is very wet. The storm over … remember the old “Tiki Room” at Disneyland? … the thunder and rain stop … “All the birds sing words … And the flowers croon” … and it may be very foggy for a while.

Usually by 9 pm the sky is clear, and the stars are out looking like a Van Gogh “Starry Night” painting. Then sometimes, like last night, in the middle of the night it starts to rain again, and last night it poured! But at 5 am this morning, when “nature calls” me and the dogs, the stars we all out.

And so, a new day starts in Boquete. Yes, you can get cable tv here, US cable if you like, and you can choose your poison … FOX or CNN … and keep it on all day if you like, and a few folks do, but what you’d miss! In the 16 years now that we’ve lived in Boquete, I don’t think a single week has gone by that my wife or I haven’t made a new discovery! A new plant or flower. Some new bug, beetle, or caterpillar. A new bird that visits our “bird buffet” for the first time. A new Spanish word. And always, so it seems, a new challenge that keeps us growing despite our ages.

So, this morning, after our rain, I walked around … and also played a bit with the dogs, Stanley and Mollie. Mollie is the Rottweiler we adopted, and she has an interesting story I’ll share some time.

Wherever you are in the world, during this difficult and challenging time, I hope that you stay safe and healthy and make your own new discoveries wherever you live.  We look forward to the time when our beautiful new, expanded Tocumen International Airport reopens and once again is the “Hub of The Americas” and able to welcome you to Panama!

Boquete Panama Retreat for sale $598,000

Thinking About Moving to Panama?


With the Covid-19 Pandemic and a lot of folks stuck at home …Remember those times back when you would have killed to be able to just stay home?… a lot of folks are getting a bit bored.  Once all the closets have been cleaned, the spice cabinet has been organized alphabetically, and your closet is neatly organzied with everything categorized, you’ve moved your furniture around to give your computer the most important spot in the house ,,, techy feng shui … so that in your Zoom meetings the bookcase is positioned directly behind you implying that you are wise beyond your years, and the light falls nicely across your best side …you’ve done all that …. NOW WHAT?

Well I decided that after 12 years it was time to clean up and reorganize this Web site so that people could more easily find and access the pearls of great wisdom I’ve drooled out about our 16 years of living in Panama.  So I’ve tried to put it all together with the appropriate links on a page called very originally Panama Living.   

Boquete Homes For Sale & Selling& Buying Real Estate in Panama

Morning Has Broken


Morning on our Boquete Mountain Estate is my favorite time of day!  When I let the dogs out and just walk around the farm as the morning light streams through the trees.  Even in the midst of a pandemic, or a day like today, a weekend when everyone is confined to their homes, at least I can walk around my four acres.

We are moving into the heart of the “rainy” season which generally means the morning will be bright and sunny!  Then around noon as the wind shift off the ocean, blowing the warm humid air from the lowlands up into the mountains, it starts to cloud over.  As that warm humid air meets the cold air on the mountain, frequently there can be a rip-roaring thunderstorm, or it can just be rain.  Rain in Panama is not like it is in the Pacific Northwest!  Here when it rain, it rains!  Sometimes it’s like someone up in heaven is dumping over barrels of water.  So afternoons are a great time to stretch out on the hammock with a good book!  Usually by after dinner the rain has stopped and by bedtime the sky is filled with stars, just like visiting a planetarium.

Frankly, although I very much miss running around the world, jumping on and off cruise ships, I’m happy to be “stuck” on my farm since I can’t think of a better place to ride out the pandemic storm.  I’ve been working hard cleaning up and better organizing this Web site and planting tons of cuttings.  One of the great things about the rainy season in Panama is that you can stick almost anything in the ground and it grows!  I’ve started watching “Below Decks” a “reality” series about life aboard a charter yacht.  They regularly go into St Martin and St Barts, two of my favorite Caribbean ports.  Some of the drama is vaguely familiar from life below decks on cruise ships.  I’ve only done one yacht, and it was much bigger and grander than the one used in the TV series.  It was a private yacht, not a charter, and the owner was on board.  We had a much bigger crew of 26 but all guys so no drama.  But you’ve got to admit, even vicariously, sailing on a yacht into St Barts even with this wacky “reality” crew, is a grand escape from pandemic quarantine reality.

I hate to say anything, lest I jinx things, but … this week Copa is scheduled to start flying again on a VERY limited schedule using Panama’s Tocumen International as a “mini hub.”  It’s hopefully a start, but the travel industry is becoming littered with false starts, but one can hope.  Lest you start packing for Panama, flights are very limited and there are lots of Covid-19 caveats and quarantines and there is no guarantee you can get back home.


Boquete Panama Paradise For Sale


DCIM100MEDIADJI_0337.JPG  .8 hectares or approx 2 acres with long, private driveway off paved road 10 minutes from “downtown” Boquete, 35 minutes from David

Private, sweeping vistas, no neighbors, tropical plants and fruit trees including bananas, plantains, oranges, lemons, sweet lemons, avocados and Arabica coffee

Seasonal stream – bird species galore.

4,500 sq ft Tuscan-inspired home, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, cathedral ceilings, Spanish tiles, spacious outdoor living areas. open, light and airy.

Two giant reserve water tanks and storage outbuilding.   On fully paved road.  All utilities in place including availability of high-speed cable Internet.

Additional property may be available.

Family concerns require return to the States after 16 wonderful years in Panama.  Will consider trade for property in Pacific NW, Washington or Oregon.

 $598,000 for sale by owner –

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Palmira Estate Drone 3


Retirement 2.0


We live in the closest thing to Paradise this side of the Pearly Gates.  We’ve lived in Panama now going on 16 years.  Some folks who’ve seen that our beautful home on our little farm in Palmira is  for sale have asked, “Are you leaving Panama?”

The answer is no.  For 13 years I’ve been traveling the world on cruise ships talking about the places we visit.  And, just to clear this up, cruising isn’t going to disappear. There are some things about it, largely issues created by the competition amongst cruise lines to keep building bigger, and bigger and bigger.  Things will change post-Covid-19 as we enter the world of the “new normal.”  And many of these things should change!

The newest, most significant entry into the cruise market is Viking Cruises.  Long known for European River Cruises, Viking moved into blue water cruising eschewing many of the things that have come to characterize big-ship cruising: buffets, lines, amusement park rides, kids, art auctions, casinos, nickel and diming constantly, overpriced drinks with umbrellas, crowds, and that’s just for starters.  More and more I have intentionally been moving to the small ships of American Cruise Lines and Pearl Seas Cruises, for many of the same reasons.  Smaller ships, we can focus on the destinations we visit, everyone has a balcony, and everything is included.  Interestingly during this “no sail” 4255365_0period as cruise lines wrestled with the coronavirus pandemic, bookings for cruises close to home on American Cruise Lines have broken all records!

So cruising with enhancements and improvements of the new normal … and who says change can’t be better? … cruising will continue and as I look forward to moving into my 80’s, I plan to continue working.

So for years I’ve been traveling to some of the most exotic and beautiful places in the world and as a result people often ask me, “What’s the best place you’ve visited?”

My response is, “I like there!  In Panama!”

Don’t get me wrong, Panama is not perfect.  But for us, the title of my book THE NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE, sums it up.  Panama allowed us to escape the high cost, traffic and hassle of life in the States and to live better for less.

So we’re not leaving Panama.  Have we thought about it at times?  Absolutely!  But this has become home.

And frankly, as we’ve watched various countries respond or fail to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, we have been very happy to be in Panama and the government response, although robust, has protected us and our Panamanian neighbors.

012-4-copyBut, as we both have gotten older, and I spend 4 to 6 months on ships (Unfortunately not this year!), we need less responsibility and to be able to pick up and go.  On most of my cruises Nikki can come along at little or no cost, but with the responsibilities of the house and farm it takes a lot of advance planning for her to be able to join me, and often the opportunities for her to come along are last minute.

So it is time for us to move on to Retirement 2.0.  Part of that is to downsize.  Fortunately, we own two building lots with all utilities.  Beautiful smaller lots where we could build a smaller 1,500 sq ft home and have more freedom to up and leave as opportunities present themselves.  So that’s why we’re selling what others have called, “the most beautiful home in Boquete.”

Boquete Panama Retreat for sale $598,000

People thinking about escaping to Panama always wonder about the cost … so here’s what things cost …

• Town water $60 A YEAR!
• Trash pick up $30 A YEAR!
• Propane gas … for hot water, clothes dryer, cooking … $70 for a huge tank which lasts about 3 months.
• Electricity … for our house with 4 dehumidifiers, electric spa, our won well and water systems, out buildings, and rental casita on the property … $110 a month.
• The beautiful landscaping around our home, the rental casita and our driveway is maintained by one neighbor … a university student … who works one day a week, usually just 8 hours, at $1.75 per hour.
• Maid … once a week $30.

Boquete Panama Retreat for sale $598,000

When the airspace in Panama reopens, and planes start flying again, maybe it’s time for you to make some decisions regarding your future in Panama!  Jackie Lange’s Panama Relocation Tour is an excellent way to begin your exploration.  I know most tours are sold out for months in advance, but they do have openings from time to time, so get on the list.

If you’re coming to Panama, independently or with the Panama Relocation Tour, and you are actively looking to buy a spectacular, yet private property in the $600K range, let me know and I will be glad to show you around.  RichardDetrich!


17 Things You Should Know About Panama


One decision awayEach day you make a myriad of decisions, some little and some grand, that will determine what your life will be like.  You decide to let everything remain as it is, or you decide to make some changes to recreate your life and your future.  If you are happy with your life, where you are and what surrounds you, why change?  If you’re not happy, or you suspect that there is more to life, why not make a change?

If you are thinking about an ex-pat lifestyle, maybe thinking about moving to Panama, there are some things that you should know.  Here are 17 Things You Should Know About Panama.

Ten Reasons To Retire In Panama

I’ve had the pleasure to lunch with Bob Adams several times in Panama City along with the Panama Relocation Tour. Bob loves his life in the hustle and bustle of Panama City. He writes a great blog called Retirement Wave. Adams says, Call it the “Baby Boom” or a “demographic explosion”, every day a wave of tens of millions of Americans and Europeans move one day closer to retirement. Retirement should be a stress-free period in our lives, but it has become stress-ridden. We worry that we won’t have enough money to take care of ourselves. We worry that we will be a burden on others in our society if there is not enough money to support our government’s social programs for retirees. We worry that if the social programs fail, we will be a burden to our children. We worry about being old in a world of terrorism, unable to protect ourselves. These are all fears that weigh heavily on us as we plan for retirement. Worse yet, they are fears we know we will continue to face once we are actually retired. This is much too negative for what should be a positive period in our lives. It could be positive if only there was a practical way to protect ourselves, avoid being a burden to others, and perhaps even make a small contribution to reducing global tensions. There is.

Bob, I, and many others have found a way to do that by retiring in Panama. Here’s Bob Adams “10 Reasons to Retire in Panama” . .

Why retire in Panama? Here’s the short version based on my observations and experience following forty-five years of living and working all over the world.

panama flag1) It’s a democracy with freedom.

Freedom of the press, assembly, speech, and religion are all found here. Panamanians are not shy about sharing their feelings and their concerns. Elections are free, honest, and competitive.

2) There’s no military.

Following the dramatic end of General Noriega’s regime in 1989, Panamanians decided they would never again fear that a military general would become a dictator. They closed down the military. The national police force is just that, a police force, and the territorial integrity of Panama is guaranteed by the United States. They don’t need a military and they have the good sense to know it.

3) They have the Panama Canal…and more.

The Panama Canal does far more than provide 10% of Panama’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product – the total economy). Unlike many small nations that depend on tourism or some natural resource whose price varies depending on the market, the Panama Canal provides Panama with a large, steady, dependable income and will continue to for years to come. It also provides thousands of well-paid jobs for Panamanians. A multi-year, $5.2 billion expansion of the Panama Canal currently underway will add thousands more jobs. These are jobs that pay a great deal more than picking coffee beans or waiting on tourists. And the money from Panama Canal fees reaches out to touch people and businesses everywhere in the country. But there is more than the Canal to Panama. Unlike many other Latin American nations, agriculture plays an important, but relatively small role in the economy. International banking, maritime services, manufacturing, and shipping combine to provide more jobs and tax revenue than the Panama Canal. Panama is also home to the second-largest free trade zone in the world (Hong Kong is the largest) which has had a dramatic impact on the economy, employing twice as many people as the Canal. Panama’s economy is far more modern and service-oriented than you might expect. This means stability not only for Panamanians, but for those of us who retire there.

4) Panama has a thriving middle class.

With the Panama Canal and a number of other established sources of income as mentioned above, Panama’s middle class is growing. As Americans and Europeans know from their own experience, a healthy middle class is the foundation for a stable economy and a secure democracy. You don’t have to search for the middle class in Panama, you can find them everywhere.

5)  North Americans and Europeans are welcome.

I am struck by the fact that North Americans and Europeans are not looked at with awe nor are they disliked. Another contribution of the Panama Canal has been the introduction of hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to Panama over the years, including tens of thousands of  US Americans assigned to support the Canal before its turn-over to Panama in 1999. Panamanians are perfectly comfortable with people from other nations. They’ve lived with them for decades and many of their “visitors” remained to become residents. English is widely-understood and also spoken by many of those who deal regularly with expatriates, although many Panamanians are hesitant to speak it at first, for fear of embarrassment, as is so often the case in reverse! In that regard, Spanish language instruction is readily and inexpensively available.

6) The currency is the US dollar.

There are two benefits to this. For Americans and others with dollars, there is no need for currency exchange or to worry about exchange rates. The Panamanian Constitution forbids the government from printing paper currency. Thus a second benefit is that, unlike most nations, the Panamanian government cannot just turn on the printing presses when it wants more money. Panamanians have to earn their currency from the world market through hard work and intelligence. There is none of the wild inflation that has plagued so many Latin American nations.

7) The climate and surroundings are beautiful.

Panama is basically a mountain range bordered by beautiful Panama beaches. However, these are not cold, barren mountains. They are “soft”, rounded volcanic Panamanian mountains and the volcanic soil provides an excellent base for lush vegetation. If you prefer a tropical climate, you won’t be disappointed on either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts. If, like me, you prefer a more temperate climate with easy access to the Panama beaches (it’s almost impossible to be more than an hour’s drive from a Panama beach; 30 minutes is more common), move up the mountainside and you’ll find it. The flowers, trees, birds and other animal life are varied and many are strikingly beautiful. It’s what you would expect in that part of the world and Panamanians are doing a decent job of protecting their environment, far more so than many nearby nations. Eco-tourism is a growing industry in Panama and for good reason.

8) The cost of living in Panama can be much less than in the US or Europe.

How much you will save by living in Panama will be determined both by the amount you spend in your home nation and the lifestyle you choose in Panama. There’s such a great variety among expatriates that it’s impossible to tell you how much you’ll save, but if you have any desire to spend less, you will find it far easier in Panama than in North America or Europe. Folks from low-cost rural areas express astonishment at how much cheaper it is to live comfortably in Panama. Those from higher-cost urban areas will save less, but they seem to have one thing in common: they live comfortably, cut their expenses, and save money. It’s always been a reason to relocate to Panama and it remains a big one today, but the final result for you will depend on your lifestyle. Panama has room for a very wide range of tastes and lifestyles.

9) The people of Panama are just plain friendly and a pleasure to know.

The factors above and others unmentioned in this “short” description leave Panamanians among the most pleasant, relaxed people I’ve ever met. They are more cosmopolitan and sophisticated than many who live in wealthier nations as a result of their long-term exposure to a wide variety of international visitors and Canal users. There are poor people in Panama, but there is none of the grinding, desperate poverty that is so common in much of the world. I have worked in poorer nations all over the globe for more than four decades. There are poor people here, but nothing to compare to the grinding poverty found elsewhere. International financial institutions rank Panama in the “upper-middle income” category and that sums it up well.

10) If you want to retire, Panama wants you.

All of the above makes retiring in Panama an excellent choice for retirement, but here are some very direct incentives. As a pensionado [retiree] in Panama, you receive:

  • 50% discount at most recreational, movie, and sporting events
  • 30% discount off public transportation (including buses and ships)
  • 25% discount off Copa airline flights
  • 50% discount off hotel stays on weekdays (30% on weekends)
  • 25% discount at selected restaurants
  • 15% discount at fast food restaurants
  • 10% discount off prescription drugs
  • 20% discount on doctor’s visits
  • 15% discount on dental work
  • 25% discount on your electric bill (if less than $50)
  • 25% discount on your telephone and water bills.
  • In addition, you can bring in all your household goods free of taxes and import a new car every two years for private use.

All that is required to qualify as a pensionado is that you must be in good health, AIDS-free, have an up-to-date passport from your country of citizenship and a verifiable monthly pension income of at least $1000 per month for an individual, $1250 for a couple, plus $250 for each additional dependent, if any. Foreigners who become pensionados can buy and own Panama property and enjoy exactly the same rights and protections as Panamanians, not always the case in many nations and an important point people often forget to consider. As for income taxes, you will be pleased to know that in Panama you pay no taxes on income earned outside of Panama.

Panama is not paradise, no nation is. Panama is still a relatively young nation and has its growing pains, but it’s made a great deal of progress already and it’s headed in the right direction. For the rest of us who are not Panamanians, it is a nation where we can live comfortably for much less money and far less stress than we have come to expect in our own societies. Best of all, we are “good” immigrants. We save money living in Panama, but we also bring with us the money that creates jobs and opens possibilities for Panamanians they would not have otherwise. They know that and so we are genuinely welcome.

Many would say “beautiful”, but if I had to choose one word to describe Panama, it would be “comfortable”. In this crazy world full of fear of terrorism and fear of not having enough money to pay the bills, that’s a description of a good place to retire.

VideoHere’s my take on the going on 16 years that we have lived an expat retirement in Panama.  Click and enjoy!

Now, the warnings …

Seven Reasons NOT To Move To Panama 

Reason #1 Not to Move to Panama: To escape the long arm of the law.  Panama is not the place to run to if you are looking to escape illegal activity in your home  country.  You will get caught!  You will spend some time in a Panamanian jail – and anything you have at home is better! – and you will be extradited back to your home country to face the music.   So con artists, murderers, child molesters, thieves and crooks take note!  The new hand-held “Pele Police” that Panamanian police have are linked to Interpol and US and other data bases.  If you have a bench warrant in the US, and  you’re stopped for a traffic violation in Panama, you may be headed home, after a week to several months in a Panamanian jail.

Reason #2 Not to Move to Panama: To run your Ponzi scheme off shore.  We had some folks who lived near us in Valle Escondido who promised amazing returns on investment; far more than anything you could make elsewhere.  Their scheme unraveled when they decided to buy some “blood diamonds” and send what they claimed was, I don’t know, say $30,000 worth of diamonds, shipped to their young child (if you can believe that level of scum) and when customs opened the package and discovered something like $150,000 worth of illegal diamonds – oops!  The scheme started to  unravel and they moved on.

Reason #3 Not to Move to Panama: To launder money or escape paying US taxes.  Panama never was a real “tax haven” for US citizens because the US, in its infinite greed, has, unlike many civilized countries, decided that Uncle Sam wants your money wherever you happen to live in the world.  So even if  you lived in Panama, as a US citizen you need to go through all the hassle of IRS paperwork and declare income and file returns.    And just to make sure you do, the IRS has opened an office in Panama City.  Not, mind you to assist expats who want to comply, but to search out those who aren’t paying what the IRS says you owe.  And if you think the IRS, and the tons of accountants and paperwork and tax provider software it spawns, is a major part of the “problem” that’s causing the collapse of the US, you may be right.

Of course if your permanent dwelling is outside the US, and you aren’t in the US more than 30 days a year, you can take advantage of a significant deduction of over $90K per person for income earned outside the US.  That’s earned income, not passive, investment or pension income.  And Panama doesn’t tax you for income earned outside Panama.  [You tax accountant, those people who make their living off the IRS, can give you details.]

Reason #4 Not to Move to Panama: chill, drink Balboa beer and lay in the hammock.  If you’re retiring and want an easy, no-challenge life, go to an assisted living complex and sit in a rocking chair, drink beer and watch TV and talk with the other folks.  Panama is for folks who aren’t ready to “give up” but are eager for new experiences, new adventures, new challenges, learning tons of new stuff, new language, new ways of doing things, new culture!  If you want an adventure and to stretch your life and mind, this is the place!

Reason #5 Not to Move to Panama: it’s cheap.  Well in many ways it is, or rather may be, depending on where  you are coming from.  We moved down to Panama from the Ventura-Santa Barbara “Gold Coast” of California and it is much cheaper here.  Are there places in the US where you can get more house for your money and the cost of living may be the same, or even a little cheaper than Panama?  Of course!  Try Phoenix, Bakersfield, Las Vegas, Western Pennsylvania and there are a lot more.  Nothing against those places, but they are not for me.  For many people you can live very well, make that VERY well in Panama for less than places in the US with attractive climate, etc.  Sure, Texas may be cheaper – if you like Texas.

Reason #6 Not to Move to Panama: it’s a lot like the US.  No way Jose!  If you like the US, stay there!  If you like where you are living don’t move.  Panama is different and that’s why it is attractive to many people who like different!  It is a different country with a different lifestyle,  different culture, different way of governance, different systems, yada yada.  Yes, sometimes the differences will drive you nuts!   But it can also be stimulating, challenging and fun.

Reason #7 Not to Move to Panama: to make a killing.  A lot of folks came down here from the US to make a fast buck.  It doesn’t work that way folks – anywhere!  The joke here is, “How do you get a million dollars in Panama?”   The answer, “Come to Panama with two million dollars.”  Yes, like anywhere else, there is opportunity, lots of it.  But it takes work and time to create anything.  There is no fast way to success in business or quick way to make a lot of money.  If  it were, everyone would do it.   If you come to Panama for the long haul, make a commitment, follow the rules, work hard and stick with the program, yes, you can create a good business and make some money, but forget it if you’re coming here to make a quick buck or live off the land.

I keep saying, “Panama is not for everyone” but for us it has been a wonderful adventure.   Yes, there are folks, and some of them I’m happy to say are contributors here, who tried it and it wasn’t for them.  So, now they know.  Maybe some of them didn’t really do their homework or analyze all the challenges they would face in a new culture.  Read their comments and read the stuff from the folks who promote Panama as the Promised Land.  Study, analyze not just Panama but yourself and then make a decision.

For us the real reason for moving to Panama is that our lifestyle is better, more fun, and more adventurous for less than in the US.