Tropical Living Where Your Money Goes Further

Since we moved to Panama in 2010, we spend most of our time outside…breathing the fresh air and looking at nature. We eat out on the patio, play games there, listen to music, draw, read, or play darts.

In the mornings, my wife and I go to the patio and drink our coffee and look at the garden we have made. We’re keen gardeners and the Panamanian climate is perfect for growing things—all year around. The garden has palms and many other tropical plants.

I make bonsai trees and am working on growing more plants to sell to the nurseries. I also have an orchid collection. It’s my first venture into making money from a hobby and I’m looking at a potential $1,000 a month. That goes a long way in Panama.

The weather is very moderate usually about 80 F in the morning and up to 90 F during the day. There is often a nice breeze. The sky is beautiful and the birds love the birdbath.

Our home is in Las Tablas, a small town on the Azuero Peninsula, which juts into the Pacific Ocean. There’s a traditional Panamanian square, complete with white-washed colonial church, in the middle of town.

Each morning over coffee, Liz and I will decide what to do for the day. Often we will garden but we also have many friends, both locals from Panama and expats from Canada, Colombia, Scotland, the U.S., and Estonia. We may drop by and visit them…or have them come visit us.

Some days we’ll head off and travel. We live 15 minutes from the mountains and 15 minutes from the beach…and the roads are great so there’s no problem getting around.

We may take a few days and visit another part of the country. We have gorgeous days in Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean side. The waters are crystal clear and we rent a cabana built directly over the water from where we go snorkeling and scuba diving. In the evenings, we enjoy great food and live music there.

I also love Boquete, a valley town with hot springs where you can relax in the warm waters. It’s cooler than much of the rest of the country…pleasantly so if you’re looking for a break from the sun.

All of this is a far cry from our life in Chattanooga, Tennessee where I was struggling to make ends meet. The government taxes everything and insurance eats you up.

Here I pay $360 a year for comprehensive car insurance. My electric bill is about $30 a month. Water is $5 a month. Our garbage service for the year is $15.

Private health insurance is far cheaper than America and there are public services for people without insurance, which are cheap and are paid out of pocket.

I moved to Panama because of the cost of living in America, but I soon fell love with the people, climate, great banking, and the incredible number of things to do.

The Panamanian people are some of the friendliest in the world. In fact, last year, Panama was voted the happiest country in the world. It is consistently on the list of the five most affordable countries to retire to.

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