The market opens daily, but Sunday is when it’s at its busiest with buses bringing tourists to check out the bargains on offer. But after the last vacationer leaves at 5 p.m., the town returns to its usual state: quiet, easy and relaxed.
I’ve hosted a lot of International Living conferences and seminars, but this is the first time I’ve heard one of our events rated in this particular way. An attendee at our Fast-Track Panama Conference came up to me after the final presentation. “You know how I can tell if I’m getting something out of a conference?”
- Coronado: A Popular Beach Town for Expats in Panama
Posted on February 1, 2013 by Erica Mills
Coronado, Panama, is a relaxed community. Only an hour from Panama City, this coastal town—now popular with expats—was once a vacation getaway for Panamanians, who came from miles around to sun themselves on the black-and-white-sanded beach and swim in the Pacific Ocean.
Boquete is Panama’s best-known highland town, with mild temperatures in the low 70s to mid-80s F… and misty rains that keep everything carpeted in kelly green. But there’s much more to this highland region. I visit every year and I’ve found a rich tapestry, woven with the bright threads of local culture, welcoming people, and fun activities.
Jim Finegan didn’t set out to make Panama his second home. While traveling through Costa Rica with a couple of his bartender employees from his home state, Pennsylvania, Jim went to a Columbus-Day celebration and made a lucky $50 bet that netted him $5,000. Armed with an unexpected extension to his travel funds, Jim and his buddies decided to head down the coast to Panama.
Tourism is a relatively new industry in Santa Fe, near the Continental Divide in Panama’s Veraguas province. And even now, those who find their way here are definitely not birds of a feather. “The people who come first are interesting and eccentric,” says Janet Hitchens. She should know—she was one of the first expats to settle in tiny Santa Fe.
- Pedasí, Panama: “We Can’t Imagine a Better Way of Life”
Posted on October 22, 2012 by Domini Hedderman
Isabelle and Robert Shahverdians lived and breathed stress and chaos in Los Angeles. Their lives were filled with long work days and long commutes, all to pay for life in the fast lane. Robert had a catering business, while Isabelle worked in art galleries and museums. During their 20 years in California, they enjoyed “good money, good times, and good business,” Robert says. But into the 21st century, L.A. was changing—it was more crowded and competitive than ever. They became aware of more shootings. And they grew disenchanted with their way of life.
- Panama: A Good Choice for Those Looking to Earn Money Overseas
Posted on August 16, 2012 by Jessica Ramesch
Nearly every expat of retiree age has said it to me: Panama sneaks up on you. The people, friendly and fun loving at first, seem even warmer and kinder when you really get to know them. The culture…so much richer than the cosmopolitan city suggests. And speaking of Panama City, the bustling streets can seem chaotic at first, but the large number of expats here is a testament to the capital’s…
During a recent stay in Panama, I took a trip to the country’s under-explored Caribbean side in the hope of getting some photos I might sell. My destination was a little town called Portobello. Christopher Columbus landed here back in 1502, naming it “Puerto Bello” or “Beautiful Port.” It later became a key strategic asset of the colonial Spanish, to export gold and silver.
In Panama’s Veraguas Province, Santa Fe looks exactly as a Central American village should. After the modern skyline of Panama City—a shock if you were expecting to encounter the Third World—Santa Fe is a relief. The “real” Panama. Ah, yes, here it is.
- Enjoy a Better Quality of Life in Santa Fe, Panama
Posted on June 20, 2012 by Jessica Ramesch
Mitzy and Bill Martain moved to Panama from North Carolina in search of a simpler, yet better lifestyle. “Our standard of living had deteriorated,” says Mitzy. “We lost our pensions and our medical, and were going to have to survive on social security.” In contrast to these stark words, Mitzy today is the picture of contentment, shelling peas on her tidy, sun washed porch as she shares her story.
A three-bedroom, two-bath home in central Boquete was just listed for $90,000. At approximately 2,900 square feet, it’s spacious, and the lot is over 5,300 square feet. Excellent value for a home with mountain views, indoor laundry room, storage room, and large patio.
Panama’s Pensionado program has made it easy for Baby Boomers to take advantage of everything this tiny tropical powerhouse has to offer. Most pensioners who can prove an income of at least $1,000 a month are eligible to apply. Prove that you have an income with which to support yourself here in Panama—and the country will grant you residency in perpetuity. Panama also grants foreign retirees the same discounts as local ones.
If I stand in my living room and look out over Panama’s Pacific coastline early in the morning, I can see the local boats of the Gorgona fishing fleet heading east toward their favorite fishing spots. Later in the day, I hear the purr of outboard motors as the fleet returns home to Gorgona beach. Some boats travel far out to sea while others stay just off shore.
My husband and I had recently returned from our third vacation to Panama. We had a busy trip—we toured the Panama Canal, visited the ruins of Panama La Vieja, taken a Spanish language immersion class, explored the restaurants on Via Argentina…and that was just in the city. We also got out into the countryside, strolled quiet beaches and walked in the mountains.
I love to travel to exotic destinations—like on my last trip to Panama. I trekked in Cerro Azul in the majestic mountains overlooking Panama City and visited Santa Fe—one of the country’s hilly frontiers. The rugged natural beauty of these places begs to have a camera pointed at it. Bring a camera with you, and you can start making money right away.
Today Al took us on a virtual tour of Panama City—his typical day. Paying his housekeeper, going to the bank, out to lunch, paying bills, to the movies… Al and Carmen own a three-bedroom, three-bath condo on the 14th floor with a bay and city view. This area is now the “Beverly Hills of Panama City,” Al said.
In the distance I can see the national park, where hiking trails crisscross hills lush with rainforest. In the treetops above me, I’ve seen monkeys and toucans and several species of birds I can’t name. This is Santa Fe de Veraguas, a tiny mountain hideaway about 200 miles west of Panama City.
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.
“I want it all,” he said. I was at International Living’s recent Ultimate Event. This attendee had come to us seeking information about Belize and Costa Rica. But my presentation—particularly the part about Panama City—got him thinking. Suddenly, Panama was at the top of his list of countries to check out.
In some countries, residency can be expensive (needing, perhaps, investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars). Not in Panama. Panama’s Pensionado program has made it easy for Baby Boomers to take advantage of everything this tiny tropical powerhouse has to offer. Most pensioners who can prove an income of at least $1,000 a month are eligible to apply.
From Panama City, no island is easier to get to than tiny (and often overlooked) Taboga. The best island in Panama for true local flavor, it’s just 12 miles off Panama’s Pacific coast. Locals call Taboga “the Island of Flowers.”