Boquete, Panama: An Active Town of Natural Beauty

A nickname like the Valley of Flowers and Eternal Spring is pretty hard to live up to. But the area around the small town of Boquete, high in the green mountains of the Chiriquí province in western Panama, certainly does.

This bustling town of around 20,000 sits at an elevation of just below 4,000 feet. So despite being in the tropics, the temperatures are consistently in the 70s F and 80s F, cooling off at night. Residents leave their windows and sliding doors wide open to let in cooling breezes of fresh, clean air. There’s no need for AC, which keeps costs down.

A healthy rainy season and regular doses of mountain mist mean that the vegetation is lush and green, and there are countless vivid tropical blooms like heliconias, angel trumpets, and orchids. Coffee—some of the world’s best—is also abundant here.

The scenery is breathtaking. Imagine looking out your back porch to a view of tree-covered rolling hills and deep valleys, the Barú volcano looming above it all, often obscured by clouds.

With a comfortable climate and beautiful surroundings—all wrapped up in a quiet and peaceful environment—it’s no wonder that a healthy population of expats has flocked to this area for the last couple of decades. But they also come for the easy living.

The town itself is a walkable community with markets, restaurants, cafés, and more close at hand. There are friendly locals. And the cost of living is low. A typical retired couple can live here, all in, for about $2,000 a month.

Although real estate prices have been rising and there are plenty of “luxury” properties available, you can still find affordable homes to buy and rent in town and in the surrounding communities and rural areas that feed into Boquete. There are plenty of homes in good areas for under $200,000. And in town you could rent a one-bedroom apartment for $500 a month.

 
A highlight of the week for residents (and visitors too) is the Tuesday meeting, also known as the Gringo Market. Dozens of vendors set up each week just across the river from the main part of town, in the headquarters Boquete Community Players. You’ll find local crafts, organic produce, fresh-baked bread, and many other items. But it’s much more than a place to shop. It’s a social occasion, a chance to catch up with friends and meet new ones…or set plans for later in the week.

After the market, try the Boquete Sandwich Shop for sandwiches and salads—it’s a local favorite. For an evening of entertainment, check out Mike’s Global Grill for cold drinks, good food, and live music. A recently opened microbrewery has also proven to be a hit.

Expats in Boquete are active, with many clubs and activities going on every day of the week, including plenty of chances to volunteer. The Boquete Community Players offer amateur thespians a chance to act in several productions throughout the year. And the annual Blues and Jazz festival draws top-name artists from around the world.

In terms of groceries, you can get most of what you need in Boquete. But for those things you can’t find, Panama’s third largest city, David, is just 30 minutes along a well-paved, recently-built, four-lane road down the mountain. There you can find modern shopping malls, movie theaters showing new releases in English, top-notch healthcare with specialist doctors, and other conveniences. Many Boquete residents make a monthly trip to David for shopping.

Go a little farther to the coast and you will find several Pacific beaches. A favorite destination is Boca Chica, which is a deserted island paradise.

They keep busy, but for expats it’s a relaxed life in Boquete. No traffic, no stress…just time with friends and neighbors.

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