This Is What Makes Panama So Special…

There’s no other retirement destination quite like Panama.

Whatever you’re looking for in a retirement, you’ll find it here. Do you prefer living by the ocean? In the mountains? In ranching country? Big city? Small town? Would you prefer the mainland or a nearby island paradise? Well, Panama has it all so the choice is yours.

The climate is also diverse. You can put down your new roots in a hot, humid area, at a higher elevation with cooler temperatures, or even in the base of an extinct volcano as in the case of Boquete and El Valle.

When my husband and I began searching out retirement destinations, we knew we had found our perfect fit in Panama. The shortlist of what it offers is impressive:

  • It uses the U.S. dollar
  • The electrical current is the same
  • New and always improving infrastructure
  • Stable government
  • Excellent and reasonably priced health care
  • Good small business opportunities
  • Affordable standard of living
  • Strong expat communities

It’s a stunningly beautiful country to live in. The wildlife is amazing with colorful birds and iguanas a regular feature in our yard. And in the mountainous region where we live, Cerro Punta, you only have to take a short drive to find a number of sandy beaches, as well as jungle tours and nature walks.

It’s an affordable place to live, too, particularly because of its Pensionado program, which offers easy residence and a mass of discounts to retirees.

But though all these aspects of our life here are great, they’re not what make Panama so special to us. So what does? The people.

Neighbors helping neighbors. Gringos helping Latinos and vice versa. The affluent helping the less fortunate. This is the essence of Panama. Nowhere else have I seen such caring and sharing among families, friends, and neighbors as here.

The Panamanian neighborhood where my husband and I reside is a shining example of this. To us it is more like our neighborhoods in the ‘50s and ‘60s with everyone going out of their way to assist others when necessary, without hesitation.

It’s not a wealthy area, at least not in a monetary way, but there is a wealth of caring, compassion, and generosity unsurpassed by any other place we’ve been. If we need a house repair, a machinery part fixed, a fence built, or any other such necessity, our neighbors will readily recommend someone who can do it—at a fraction of the normal cost.

Often we are given the gift of fruit from their trees, freshly ground cashew coffee—a local delicacy—or advice on things we had never encountered in Canada. In spite of the fact that we are “gringos” they cheerfully and eagerly assist us in any way they can, usually without a word of English!

Bottom line: they treat us exactly as they treat each other.

And in our province of Chiriquí, the expat community spirit is also alive and well. The expats who live here are all very happy and grateful to be residing here and work very hard at contributing to the happiness and wellbeing of the Panamanian population, as well as their own.

One of the greatest aids in this endeavor is Noticias Boquete, an online communication network where notices of all kinds are posted, its goal being to assist residents in gaining local knowledge, obtaining aid where needed, and keeping everyone up to speed on new local businesses and services, charitable organizations, and pertinent announcements.

One such announcement was an urgent call for blood donors for expat who had just arrived. He was recovering from a recent surgery and had been given permission to travel. However, soon after his arrival, he became extremely ill and was rushed to the Chiriquí Hospital where it was discovered that his surgery had been severely botched and thus had become infected.

Thankfully many of us responded to the call for blood and the story has a happy ending. The gentleman has recovered completely and his gratitude knows no bounds.

In another incident, a Panamanian fellow had his thumb severely injured so that he needed extensive medical treatment and thus could not work for several months. The call went out for financial assistance. Soon he was ensconced in an expat’s home, being paid to take care of it while they were away, thus allowing him to continue his treatment while earning enough money to cover his expenses.

Kindness. Compassion. Caring. This is our Panama.

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