Our plane approaches the city just before sunset. Through wispy clouds, the sea below takes on a silvery shimmer… the sun strikes the sparkling water so that it appears to be a sea of white. We could be flying over Antarctica. Except for one thing I know to be true: it never, ever snows in Panama.
Last night we had cocktails overlooking the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal. For various (perhaps obvious) reasons, I can’t remember exactly how many ships passed through the canal, traveling in both directions. But there were a lot. Non-stop. I’m sure you know that the Canal is currently undergoing a massive expansion.
We love living part of the year in the province of Chiriquí, in Panama’s southwest corner. Chiriquí is so diverse. Cerro Punta is a mountainous area where most of the vegetables are grown for the entire country. Coffee plantations, orange groves, banana plantations, and cattle ranches are scattered throughout.
“We first visited Panama in 2005 and joked about moving there. But the more we thought about it the more we realized it ticked all our boxes. In 2008 we spent a month trying out life in Panama City, and we liked it so much we bought an apartment in the San Francisco neighborhood.”
Great boulders in the distance, half wet, half dry…cobalt-blue waters scrubbing sands of downy gray…white seabirds soaring above, their cries for fish occasionally audible above the sounds of the surf. This is Coronado Beach, Panama’s most popular Pacific coast destination.
Boquete, in Panama’s Chiriquí province, is known for its expat community. Rated by the AARP as one of the world’s best retirement destinations, Boquete blipped onto the expat radar around 2001 when International Living first started writing about it. Its artsy social scene has been growing ever since. I first visited this highland town in 1998 with my family. Though you can fly an hour to the Chiriquí capital of David…
After four years of 70-plus hour weeks in the cruise ship industry, I was ready for peace and playa. And of all the countries that could offer me that, I chose Panama. Why? For a lot of the same reasons so many first-time expats have chosen to move here.
- There’s No Such Thing as Boredom in Boquete, Panama
Posted on January 25, 2013 by Jessica Ramesch
“I was working in the wine industry when I decided I was ready for a new chapter,” says Louise. Though she considered other countries, Panama kept “popping up” on her radar as a good place to live. Panama offers excellent flight connections, which appealed to Louise’s desire to travel. “I just flew direct to Amsterdam via KLM,” she says, as she enthusiastically describes her visit to Europe.
- Panama: One of the Easiest Places in the World to Retire
Posted on April 20, 2012 by Dan Prescher
Sometimes the best way to see something is through someone else’s eyes. For example, I know Panama. My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I lived in Panama City several years ago, and we’ve traveled nearly the entire country. We’ve also attended dozens of International Living events in Panama.
There’s a little mountain town in the interior of Panama where you can still buy a home or a large parcel of land next to a gurgling river. It’s likely this land will have waterfalls and hiking trails on it…you’ll see wild parrots and toucans and flowers of every tropical variety and color. The tall grass waving in the breeze will be so green, it would make even the Irish envious…
- Panama: Don’t Believe Everything You Read on the Internet
Posted on April 17, 2012 by Suzan Haskins
It’s good to be back in Panama, the tiny country on the southern edge of the northern hemisphere, one of the only countries to bridge two continents… and the only country in the world where you can see the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean and set on the Atlantic. Did you know that? If not, don’t worry…there are so many things unique to Panama that it’s hard to track them all. For instance… Panama is the only country in Central America with no hurricanes and no destructive earthquakes.
If you like a good wave, Santa Catalina will more than wow you. But the volcanic outcroppings responsible for the incredible surf break also create some of Panama’s best dive and fishing spots. And if you’re a landlubber at heart, there are numerous trails for hiking out to find remote beaches or trek through the jungle to view wildlife, birds, and exotic plants.
- Panama: Great Health Care at a Fraction of The Cost
Posted on March 7, 2012 by Terry Coles
As a Texan firefighter my husband, Clyde, had premium health insurance—which the city helped pay for. But once he retired we would have had to pay the full amount, about $1,000 a month. Since we were both too young for Medicaid, we wanted to live somewhere with good health care that cost less than the U.S. Panama topped all the lists.
- Panama: Perfect Weather, Low Taxes, Friendly People
Posted on February 22, 2012 by Terry Coles
Six months ago we moved to Panama. We knew that we didn’t want to live in a gated community. For us, it just made more sense to live among the locals where we could immerse ourselves in the culture and get to know everyone.
Panama City is color, light, noise, and action—a thrumming, modern city that surprises first-timers with its stellar roads and steamy nightlife. But the beauty is more than skin-deep. Panama is also the region’s most convenient capital.
If your dreams of life in a new country mean securing an overseas income, then Panama must be high on your list. Here’s five reasons why Panama fits the bill for today’s move abroad adventurer. Reason #1—Economics: Panama is fast becoming an economic giant on the world stage. Why? Simple—geography.
Stephen and Linda lived in Northern California. But if they wanted to retire there, they knew they’d only be able to afford “some desolate place and live in a double-wide.” So they began searching for somewhere in the world that had the surf they craved but at prices they liked, too. They found a little Pacific Coast beach town about 60 miles west of Panama City.
“Lazy” isn’t quite the right word to describe the village of Santa Fe de Veraguas, located in Panama’s Veraguas province. Other words come to mind: “bohemian,” “quirky,” and “effortless.” A town of about 3,000 people, Santa Fe has no traffic. Even on the main road cars pass infrequently. And everyone—every single person—says hello or buenas as they pass.
Marvin and Joanne Riddle don’t just enjoy “the best of both worlds”…they enjoy the best the whole world has to offer them. The couple spend part of every year in Florida, part of the year living on La Barqueta beach, in Panama’s Chiriquí province, and—when the mood takes them—they travel the world, too.
“I had no idea it was like this,” my wife Suzan said. “This part of the coast is like Pirates of the Caribbean!” We were standing on the dock of Seagull Cove Lodge, a tidy little boutique hotel just outside the village of Boca Chica in Panama’s Chiriquí Province.
I was sitting across from a young go-getter at a trendy sushi spot in the cool part of town. Let’s call him Bob. “I’ve been looking for a condo—as an investment and to live in for a while,” said Bob. “I think I may have finally found the right one.”
- Panama Then and Now: What a Difference a Decade Makes
Posted on June 20, 2011 by Suzan Haskins
In early 2001 we were on our first visit to Panama, our first research visit of any kind, in fact, on our journey to relocation outside the U.S. Our guide that day was Sam Taliaferro. A former Coloradoan married to a Panamanian, he had picked the little mountain town of Boquete in Panama’s Chiriquí province in which to build his version of paradise. And what a pick it was…
- IL’s Weekly Wrap-Up Video: The Many Benefits of Living in Panama
Posted on April 28, 2011 by Dan Prescher
Dan Prescher reports from Cotacachi, Ecuador with your weekly wrap-up of International Living postcards for the week ending April 23. Read on for all the benefits of living in Panama.
- IL Radio Episode 11: Following the Surf and Great Weather to Panama
Posted on April 20, 2011 by Dan Prescher
Retirees Stephen Johnson and Linda Murdock had some very specific location and lifestyle requirements…not least of which was Linda’s surf habit.