Fulfilling a Lifelong Dream of Early Retirement in Panama - IL

“My husband Eric cannot stop smiling,” says Lorrie Griffith. “For the past 12 years, we’ve been talking about buying a house and moving to Panama, and finally that dream has become a reality.”

Eric, now 47, was born and raised in Panama but moved to the U.S. when he was just 23. It was there in Atlanta, Georgia that he met Lorrie, now 52. A promising career with Federal Express awaited Eric while Lorrie worked in the technology field. A job promotion moved the couple to Colorado where they raised their son Taylor.

“My husband was always very close to his family and seeing them just once a year was never enough,” says Lorrie. When Eric had put in enough years to be able to retire early they began making plans for the next chapter of their lives.

They narrowed down their search to the Coronado area so they would be close to the beaches and mountains, with easy access to shopping and medical clinics. And as they both love to travel, the airport in Panama City is less than a two-hour drive.

“We looked at a lot of houses before finding the right one,” Lorrie says. “It needed to be spacious with a large kitchen and dining area since we both love to cook and entertain family. And with warm temperatures year-round an outdoor kitchen was also a must.”

Located in the village of Chame, their new home is surrounded by a mix of both Panamanians and other expats. Local vendors come by the house selling inexpensive produce, fresh fish, homed-baked goods, and more.

“Over the years as we visited this area, we watched it grow,” Lorrie says. “We like that it offers conveniences such as shopping and restaurants, yet has the laidback feel of living in the country.”

“Our monthly expenses are far less than they were back in the States,” Lorrie adds. “Our electric bill is less than $50 a month, water is just $5, trash pickup another $5, and high-speed internet around $50. And we can enjoy a meal out for around $10 for the both of us.” The couple estimates their total budget runs around $2,000 per month.

Eric is enjoying his new life of early retirement by lying in a hammock and drinking a beer. He’s thinking that he might pick up a golf club one of these days and reconnect with an old pastime. Because Lorrie works online in the technology field she plans to continue working from their new home. She has also been learning Spanish with the help of a local tutor.

Life in Panama is much more relaxed and slow moving than we are used to, but it’s something we’re embracing quickly,” said Lorrie. “And we love that the people here are so helpful and friendly too.”

“Our favorite part of the day is having coffee on our porch, watching the butterflies and birds go by,” she adds. “There, we can discuss our plans for the day before going out for our morning walk…or perhaps do nothing at all.”

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