Cosmopolitan Panama City Makes Semi-Retirement Easy

With our Panama residency requirements fulfilled, and our 5,000-square-foot Nevada home downsized to a partial container of “should we keep that?” possessions, my partner and sweetheart, Will, and I took a one-way flight toward a new life.

Will had finally sold his nutritional supplement business and we saw the window of opportunity to choose anywhere in the world that we might want to live. Our kids are all grown up, and they love to travel. So, nothing was holding us back…

Panama was our first choice. It has a strong economy…it’s deliciously tropical…it uses the U.S. dollar as its currency…it is just a two-and-a-half hour flight from Miami, and a six hour flight from San Francisco…it doesn’t have a standing army…it welcomes expats with a basic reliable income (like Social Security)… Oh, and did I mention that it’s tropical…

We decided on Panama City, for a variety of reasons. Having lived a rural and quiet life for many years in California and Nevada, we were hungry for a city we could afford, for opportunity to create new careers with our writing skills, meet and mingle with people from all over the world, and live where beaches are a part of city life. We fell in love with the variety of restaurants, eclectic menus, and warm-hearted Panamanians eager to help in every way.

Leaving behind coats, suits, boots, snow tires, and heating bills…we enthusiastically embraced semi-retirement along with the excitement of starting over. We welcomed the unknown.

We rented a 1,650-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment with an awesome view of Panama Bay and the city…that we could actually afford. Having owned homes for years, we were ready to make life much simpler.

Thankfully, reading IL had prepared us for some of the challenges of living abroad. From opening a bank account to managing deliveries of furniture without much Spanish, I found ways to negotiate everything because the sweetness of the local people made it easy. Assuming a warm and relaxed attitude is the key.

I am getting a first-class education in not stressing over the small stuff. I love the people here and their willingness to help a lost gringo without enough Español to even ask directions. My goal is to learn something in Spanish each day to add to my vocabulary. Becoming fluent is not on my agenda as that could take many years. (A smile is worth a few dozen words any day.)

We both sold our cars before we left the U.S. thus ending the ever-present auto and insurance costs. I can honestly say that relying on Uber, taxis, or my own two feet is liberating beyond words. (Hint: Buy a rolling shopping cart and living without your own car is easy).

In our mid-70s, we are also finding the medical care very efficient. We are both very healthy, so pay-as-we-go for medical care is quite doable—insurance cover is also available.

Writing is a passion we both enjoy. I have two published books out in the world, and an online presence via my website,, where I offer private coaching for women of all ages. Sessions are conducted over Skype or FaceTime and I host in-person retreats, so my work continues to flourish. Will writes articles for an online retailer providing him with additional income working from home.

We would choose to live in this thriving city of two-and-a-half million for the high-speed internet alone.

I must admit that the rooftop restaurants on a balmy tropical night are the perfect way to end a productive day that often includes a swim in the infinity pool. A dream come true… It’s like a permanent vacation where we can keep our feet in the doors of things we love to do.

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