Expats Enjoy Healthy, Low-Cost Living in Chiriquí—Panama’s Bread-Basket Province

“The first time I saw Chiriquí Province I was enchanted. It felt familiar and was just so green. Although I was born and raised in New Jersey, I’m a country girl at heart and Chiriquí felt like home,” says InternationalLiving.com’s Panama highlands correspondent Linda Card.

Chiriquí is one of nine provinces in Panama, and borders Costa Rica to the west. Mostly rural, the landscape is among the most scenic in the country, with mountains defining the skyline. Acres of fruits and vegetables thrive in the rich volcanic soil, while cattle and horses laze in verdant pastures. The capital city of David is a bustling commercial hub undergoing a serious growth spurt. Estimates put the province’s expat population at 20,000-plus.

The towns of Volcan and Cerro Punta are famous for producing much of Panama’s food.

“On the winding uphill drive to Volcan, dairy farms, plant nurseries, and poultry barns line the highway and you get spectacular vistas across the landscape. Beyond town the road climbs farther upward, past horse stables and mountain streams, to the village of Cerro Punta. Along the way vendors sell bags of their fresh produce and the local favorite, fresh strawberries with cream,” says Card.

The rural midlands of the province is known for its poultry farms and orange groves. Oregon native Kersti Landeck settled in the small village of Potrerillos and likes this area for “the overall beauty of the land and wildlife, the choices of produce, the ‘farmy’ feel of the place.” Some of the best coffee in the world is grown locally.

“I live just north of David, the provincial capital, in a rental house in a typical middle-class neighborhood with my husband, Al,” says Card. “And we pay just $220 a month for rent. David is Panama’s third-largest city and it sprawls out west to east along the Pan-American Highway and south to the mangrove estuaries along the coast.”

David is the health care hub of the region, with two private and two public hospitals offering a full range of medical services. A typical doctor’s visit costs between $10 and $40, no appointment necessary.

“I surveyed a number of friends (some couples, some singles) who live in Chiriquí and found that for routine living expenses monthly budgets range from $750 to $1,500 per month,” says Card.

Expats enjoy a healthy lifestyle taking advantage of all the fresh, organic produce the area has to offer. As well as fresh farm produce, the Gulf of Chiriquí, which opens onto the Pacific Ocean, is known for its fantastic offshore fishing, with tuna, marlin, mahi-mahi, sea bass, snapper and more running in the local waters.

The full report on Panama’s Chiriquí province can be read here: Enjoy a Healthy Lifestyle in Chiriqui – Panama’s Bread Basket.

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