Robin Cavallaro Boersner and her husband, David, have traveled all over Central and South America…but they opted to retire in Panama. The former Bostonians had visited the country about nine times to visit family over the years and had always talked about moving to its warmer climate when retirement time came.
And it came sooner than they thought. When Boston hit a real estate boom, it was easy to sell their house, so Robin could retire, and David realized he could do much of his financial advising work remotely.
In September 2017, their first stop was a rental in Panama City, to determine their next steps. While there, they attended a home expo and met a broker. They shared their wishlist, which included trading the city for beachside living. When the broker showed them an open concept, three-bedroom, three-bathroom villa in Costa Blanca, they knew it was the one. The 2,600-square-foot house not only has plenty of room for visiting friends and family…the entire back of the house is a big sliding glass door that opens onto a spacious patio overlooking a pool and the seventh hole of the community golf course.
And due to Panamanian incentives, they don’t even have to pay property taxes for 13 years!
In addition to the golf course, the enclosed community also has its own beach club, where you can pass the day with a good book, or meet up with friends for a bite to eat.
Robin says the expat community is a vibrant mix of U.S., Canadian, and European people, which makes for a lively social life. “Everyone gets together. There’s an unspoken code that if you leave your front door open, you’re up for company. It’s not intrusive, and we’re definitely not lonely,” she says.
Becoming a Panama resident is a simple process, and it opens doors to discounts on everything from restaurants to flights. There’s also the Panama Pensionado Program, which offers expats over 60 years of age the option to stay in Panama as long as they wish, and receive the retirement benefits that locals get. These include even more discounts, such as savings on prescription drugs, and 45% off restaurant meals.
Speaking of restaurant meals, Robin says a nice three-course dinner for two with wine, in a top establishment, will set you back roughly $50. They also enjoy grilling at home and sampling the local cuisine, especially a typical dish of chicken, coconut rice, and beans with local seasonings. That dish costs around $2 at the neighborhood spots that are frequented by locals.
Typical transportation is via golf cart, which not only gets you around the golf course, but also to the nearby supermarket for groceries. There’s a large hardware store that sells everything from patio furniture to dog food, and a specialty market where you can get your favorite brands from back home.
They’re planning to take golf lessons soon, and Robin will volunteer with a spay/neuter clinic and teach English to local children.
Besides the beach area, the ecological diversity of Panama is astonishing. Robin says, “You can drive 45 minutes away and be in completely different terrain.” The mountains are just a short drive away, with year-round spring like temperatures, and if you drive toward the Costa Rican border, you’ll experience jungle. There truly is something for everyone here.