The Panamanian countryside has several stunning locations to select as your new home!
So, how about a small town that offers a relaxed and healthy lifestyle with fresh food, spectacular scenery, good amenities, and a low cost of living?
Volcán (Chiriquí province)
Volcán is a small town by Panama’s famous Volcano Barú. The town has postcard-worthy views of the volcano and its lush green surroundings.
Despite Volcán’s size, it has everything you need, including excellent healthcare, a 24/7 hospital, bilingual schools, grocery stores, great restaurants, and everything else you need to live comfortably. The region is abundant with fresh produce, so you’ll never be short of natural and healthy food. And it’s less than an hour’s drive from the province’s capital city of David, which has an international airport.
The town also has a friendly community of Panamanians and expats who support one another.
Let’s dive into the specifics of living in Volcán, Panama.
Population in Volcán
Around 15,000 people live here. The majority are Panamanians, with a few hundred expats.
Volcan is increasingly getting the attention of foreigners looking for an affordable place to retire in Panama. Volcan is more affordable than other mountain towns like Boquete or El Valle de Anton.
Climate in Volcán
Most expats will agree that the weather in Volcán is perfect.
Due to its elevation of over 4,600ft, the temperatures hover on the cooler side. Daytime highs range around 70-75F throughout the year, with lows in the low-mid 60s at night.
The rainy season is from late April to early December. October tends to have the highest rainfall of over 8 inches on average.
Cost of living in Volcán
The cost of living in Volcán is slightly lower than the other mountain towns in the region. But it depends on your lifestyle.
Rentals, real estate prices, food, and restaurants are more affordable in Volcan than Boquete.
Let’s look at some examples:
(Sources: Info from our clients)
2-bedroom, 2-bath – $500 – $900
3-bedroom, 2-bath – $750-$1000
Most rentals come furnished and may include utilities.
A single man who came on a Panama Relocation Tour about five years ago is renting a furnished two bedroom one bath house for $450 in Volcan. It’s close to everything he needs so he does not own a car.
Average monthly costs for a couple:
• Water – $5
• Electricity – $15-50, depending on the house size.
• Gas/Propane – $5
• Internet – 250mbps Tigo fiber optics for about $45
You’ll rarely need an AC or a heater. So, you can keep your electricity costs low.
Volcán has many restaurants, cafes, and a few bars. While the costs can differ, expect to pay around $15-$25 for an evening outing for two adults at a nice restaurant or $5 a meal at a Panamanian restaurant called a fonda.
The majority of vegetables in Panama are grown just 30 minutes north of Volcan, in the town of Cerro Punta. Because it is grown so close to Volcan, produce is very fresh and affordable in Volcan.
Groceries for a couple can cost around $300-400 a month.
Volcan has grocery stores that carry a wide range of items and other shops, including hardware stores. And as mentioned, the region is popular for its fresh fruits, vegetables, and other local produce.
You can buy a large bag of assorted fresh produce for just $5 – $8.
The Friday markets are a must-visit! Locals and expats sell their products there each week. It’s a great place to meet new people too.
For additional shopping, the town of David has larger shopping malls and a PriceSmart, like a Costco, for any other items you need. David is a 45-minute drive from Volcan.
Having a car is ideal. But buses and taxis also operate in Volcán and the surrounding areas.
The local bus fares in the town are extremely cheap ($1 or less). If you’re going further, you can expect to pay:
• Local taxi fare: Around $1-$2 per kilometer
• Bus to David: Approx. $2-$3 each way
• Taxi to David: About $35- $40 each way
From David, you can take a bus to Panama City for about $20 per person (7-hour drive) or anywhere else in Panama. See this article about taking the bus.
Healthcare in Volcán
Most foreigners looking to retire in Panama are interested in healthcare quality.
Volcán offers a 24/7 public hospital at affordable rates:
Visiting a doctor at a private clinic will cost around $15-20. At the public hospital, you can see a doctor for a mere $2 and a specialist for $5. Some services may even cost you $1 or less at the public hospital.
But remember that Volcan is a small town with limited facilities. So, you may need to go to David for some treatments or specialists. David is the country’s second-largest city with excellent healthcare facilities.
Lifestyle and culture in Volcán
Given the population mix, living in the town will help you immerse in the Panamanian culture. It also means you’ll have to learn some Spanish. But don’t worry. You can take your time. Google translate will be your best friend when you retire in Panama.
Further reading: Do you need to learn Spanish to Live in Panama?
If you love natural beauty and gardening, then you’ve found your home in Volcan! The area is not only abundant with fresh produce but also with flowers and plants.
The region’s weather facilitates an active lifestyle all year long. You can engage in many outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, biking, and gardening. Don’t forget the many places to explore.
Volcán offers a relaxed and laidback lifestyle. As you’ve probably figured out, there’s no major nightlife here. But some of the restaurants offer live music sometimes.
Volcan is an ideal spot to retire in Panama.
Expats of all ages, including young families, move here. To learn more about family and kids’ activities, including schooling options, watch the video by Ben and Kama, an expat couple living in Volcán with their six kids.
Safety is a concern for expats who move to Panama and Latin America in general. But as many expats will tell you, they feel perfectly safe in the Volcan area, including at night.
It’s common to see young children walking home from school.
Plan your move to Volcán
Many expats have found their perfect home in Volcan. But before you move to Volcan, I always recommend that you visit before making a permanent move.
We offer three ways to help you explore Volcan and Retire in Panama.
You can consider joining one of our all-inclusive 6-day, 7-night Panama Relocation Tours to learn all about living in Panama. We always visit Volcán, Bambito, and usually Cerro Punta, see rentals in the area, and meet expats who live in Volcan too. Don’t worry, there are no sales pitches to buy real estate during any of our tours.
We also offer customized Private Tours of Volcan and the surrounding area. That way, you can explore the area you want at your own pace with an expert guide.
And if you can’t join one of our tours, here’s our Complete Panama Relocation Guide. It has all the info to help you move to Panama and avoid costly mistakes. You’ll also get our list of trustworthy service providers. There is a section about how to do a self-guided tour of Volcan and other areas in Panama.