"I came to Panama 10 years ago on vacation and never left," says Carl Conway. "I was drawn in by the sunshine and blue skies...the warm water and sandy beaches...the palm trees and bright flowers...it was a tropical paradise." Now age 43, Carl enjoys a rich and laidback life in the rural town of Santa Fe in Veraguas Province of central Panama.
My friend Ben lives in Panama City and wouldn't live anywhere else. He thrives on the metropolitan vibe, the non-stop activity and being in a major commercial and business center. If you love city life, Panama's capital has it all, with skyscrapers, huge shopping malls, live theater and music, and cuisine from all over the world. On a much smaller scale, the city of David, where I live, has the commercial and cultural advantages of a city, but in the countryside of western Panama.
People come to live in Panama for lots of reasons. It’s one of the world’s best destinations for retirees, and if you’re keen on running your own business, it’s got much to offer. But if your dream is to establish a winery, then most folks will tell you to look elsewhere. David Feinstein and Kersti Landeck are not most folks.
Boquete is the premier expat and retiree destination in the highlands of Panama. It's located in Chiriqui Province in western Panama, on the eastern-facing side of Volcan Baru, Panama's highest peak (11,400 feet) and only volcano.
One of the bonuses of living in Panama is that you’re never very far from the coast. Surprisingly, most of the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines are undeveloped or even inaccessible.
"I'm glad we didn't have enough money to retire in the U.S." says Kris Cunningham, who moved to Panama with her husband Joel in 2012. "If we had, we would have missed out on our wonderful life here."
Although I live in the city of David, the capital of Chiriquí Province, it’s easy for me to get to the highland town of Boquete. I typically visit Boquete about twice a month to go to the Tuesday Morning Market, have lunch with friends, or attend a special event.
Millions of people travel the world as tourists and millions more on business. It’s wonderful to get out there for whatever reason to see different places and have new experiences. Fewer people choose to live overseas and obtain residence status in a foreign country.
The highland areas of Panama are favored destinations for expats, retirees, tourists, and local residents alike. The combination of spring-like weather and stunning rainforest scenery are an unbeatable attraction for many.
The first time I saw Chiriquí Province I was enchanted. Although I was born and raised in New Jersey, I’m a country girl at heart and Chiriquí felt like home. My husband Al and I had rented a car to tour Panama in our quest for a new place to live.