Harry Brouard retired early, moving from his home in New Jersey to Florida. But moving to Florida wasn’t quite enough, he felt that he still needed more. When recalling his life in Florida Harry says, “I quickly realized that I wanted something different…a more exotic lifestyle.”
He decided to take his retirement overseas.
Harry chose Panama as his new home for its retirement incentives and cost of living. He spent the next two years visiting off and on, and did his research to decide if Panama was the right choice for him. He said, “I fell in love with the town of David in the province of Chiriquí. Using the Pensionado (permanent residency) program, I moved here in late November of 2014 and I am here for the long haul. I’ve been here for three years now, and only went back to the states three times on different occasions.”
Harry loves his life in Panama. “It is much simpler and much more affordable than any state back home. Using my Jubilado (senior discount) I can shop in most fancy malls or any mom-and-pop stores or restaurants, where a typical lunch costs no more than $4. Or I can choose a lunch from $8 to $10 if I want.”
He finds his life in the province of Chiriquí to be pleasant, with most stresses reduced due to the slower pace of life. “Sometimes I don’t even know what day of the week it is, let alone the date,” he says.
Harry’s days are pretty easy going, starting about 6:30 a.m. until about 11 p.m. “I do whatever I want: some exercises early morning, breakfast while watching the news from back home and some from Panama, I read a bit, then go out shopping downtown or to the modern malls in this area. I may meet a friend for lunch or do any other activities that I need to, or that just please me to do. I usually eat in local restaurants when downtown. There’s always a chance to talk to people who want to talk to you and knowing at least some Spanish makes life so much more pleasant, as you’re better appreciated. It doesn’t take much to be qualified as a friend here. Wherever you go, you’ll find the locals friendly and helpful, if you make the effort to meet them.”
Rent is less than a quarter of Harry’s monthly income. He lives in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom private home in a safe neighborhood. All monthly expenses including rent, car insurance, health insurance, groceries, utilities, internet, and cable TV rarely run over $1,350 a month, and that includes eating out.
The area of the Chiriquí province has lots to offer. In about two hours’ drive you can get from the beach where its hot and humid, to cool mountain towns.
Harry says, “My advice to anyone relocating here is not to fall in love and buy the first house you see. Live in the town for a while, compare with other areas. Be familiar with the services available… Just do your due diligence before investing in such a long-term commitment.”
There are some differences to life in North America, which he says take some getting used to. “If you can live, or learn to live with the nonchalance and slower pace of life, come and spend some time here,” Harry says. “Then come back at a different time of the year to learn and experience what it really means to be a resident of Panama.”