Retirement is a Picnic in Coronado, Panama

My wife, Johanne, and I woke on a lovely morning with blue skies and a warm breeze. With freshly brewed Panamanian coffee poured, we sat outside by the pool and plotted our activities for the day.

How about a picnic featuring local fare? Should we do the beach or head into the mountains? We settled on a scenic drive into the picturesque village of El Valle, about 40 minutes from our house. At more than 1,800 feet elevation, the forest was lush and the air fresh.

This is what retirement looks like in Coronado on the Panama Riviera, just over an hour west of Panama City.

Playa Coronado sits at the end of an inviting, crescent-shaped bay on the Pacific Ocean. The water displays many shades of green and the beach is a mixture of pure sparkling black and golden sand. The waves are small and the sea is warm. It would take most of the day to walk the bay from one end to the other, with only a few shore birds interrupting the solitude.

In many respects the retirement lifestyle in Coronado, Panama, can be compared to a picnic. The easy-going lifestyle and abundance of options make it a destination well worth considering. You can certainly design your picnic lifestyle to your budget and achieve the comfort that you desire.

One of the great benefits of this exclusive beach community is the access to wonderful foods. Fresh local produce is cheap and abundant and if you have a taste for imported delicacies, it is available too. Just about anything you want to treat yourself to, you will find right here. The wines are imported from everywhere at the lowest price we have encountered in Central America. There is a wide selection starting at $6 a bottle.

We bought a huge ripe pineapple, a plump avocado, and a large colorful papaya, all for just $2 a piece from a friendly roadside vendor. The taste and the quality were top notch; they are grown locally, and ready to enjoy.

Next, we went onto one of the many supermarkets that could easily be found in North American cities. Wandering wide- eyed in the specialty section, we saw products that would please any gourmet chef. The imported items cost about the same as they would back home.

For those accustomed to big Costco-style shopping, fear not. Price Smart is here, and offers the same types of bulk bargains.

Coronado is home to a large and welcoming expat population. We met a mix of Europeans, Canadians, and Americans who chose this safe location as their retirement heaven. They live in gorgeous beachfront condos or in comfortable homes in the community. Prices are seeing a steady increase. However, it seems that life can be comfortable for a couple on pensions.

A visit to the local well-regarded English-speaking doctor is just $15, and even less if you are a resident. In Panama, resident retirees receive a 30% discount on restaurants, airfares, and many other services.

Retirement living in Coronado, Panama is like a picnic which you can fashion to fit your own style.

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