A Safe Village, a Nearby Beach, and No Mortgage in Panama

My wife Abbe and I thought we had a very good life in Southwest Florida. Sun, fishing, golf, two nice cars, money to eat out several times per week, a beautiful oceanfront condo on the Gulf of Mexico, and money in the bank.

But the only way to keep up this lifestyle, and the mortgage payments, was to continue the grind of working life.

By getting on a plane on Monday morning, often with at least another dozen “regulars” and returning late Thursday or Friday evening, I was able to help fund this “American dream” lifestyle. Abbe was also busy with her business of helping seniors.

But we felt we were on a treadmill and it was exhausting. So we started searching for something different. We wanted a better quality of life and to stretch the value of our money.

Jim and Abbe. ©Jim Gault

In 2014, we attended an International Living conference in Panama where we asked many questions, and met new contacts and friends. Ultimately, we took a leap of faith and decided to move to the peaceful fishing village of Pedasí, Panama.

Pedasí is a small and very safe beach village located on the Azuero Peninsula, about 220 miles from Panama City. It’s home to around 300 expats. Within a few miles of the town center are three beautiful, mostly deserted beaches. There are few homes; no pay-to-park-your-car lots, and you can enjoy miles of pristine beaches for long walks with clean, refreshing air.

We immediately fell in love with the village, its welcoming people, quaint town square, and the ability to slow down time, reduce costs, and enjoy what you have.

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In May 2015, we purchased a nearly completed new home and were able to select the finishes. Our $200,000 home was 900 square feet, had two bedrooms, two baths, beautifully stained woodwork, and a huge screened porch.

For the next 16 months, we took frequent trips from the U.S. to Panama, sold our Florida home and Abbe’s business, and moved to Pedasí full-time in September 2016. We lived on a tree-lined country road with cows for neighbors and only had a 10-minute walk to village stores and restaurants.

In 2018, I had some serious medical conditions (they were expertly resolved here). This made me realize I missed living on the water like we had previously in New Jersey and Florida. So, we decided to purchase a building lot in a gated oceanfront community and build a new home.

In March 2020, one day before covid lockdowns began, we moved into our new home only 100 yards from a beautiful, empty beach.

The beach across the street from our new home. ©Jim Gault

A mortgage, condo fees, hurricane insurance, property taxes, expensive dinners out, and high healthcare costs were gone. Those thousands of saved dollars enable us to realize our dreams of a stress-free retirement only steps from the beach, low-cost dinners with new friends, and travel to exotic places on our bucket list.

As a result of taking the plunge into expat life, we are definitely better off now than we were back in the U.S. I hope someday you will be able to feel the same way…

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