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A few weeks ago I returned to the United States for the first time since I moved to Panama. It was a weird experience. Within 12 hours I was completely home sick FOR PANAMA. I attended a 3 day conference then got back to Panama as fast as I could. Surprisingly, many people at the seminar asked, “Where is Panama?”
Traveling to Panama from the US takes approximately 4 hours and 20 minutes. The distance covered is 2074.8 miles or 1801.7 nautical miles if you’re travelling from the US capital, Washington DC to Panama City. Panama is located in Central America, making it an accessible destination for US tourists, expats and retirees. It is bordered by two countries, Costa Rica and Columbia, and two bodies of water, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Panama has attracted so many retirees from around the world because of its booming economy, natural beauty and low cost of living. In fact, it is currently considered as one of the best places to live in the world.
Where is Panama? Looking at a world map, you will see that Panama is exactly between 7 and 10 degrees north latitude, and between 77 and 83 degrees west longitude. It is right on the Isthmus of Panama, an S-shaped isthmus that connects North America and South America. People living in Panama often travel to Costa Rica because it is found on the west of Panama. Columbia, on the other hand, is a neighboring country on the southeast.
Since Panama is bordered to the north by the Caribbean Sea and to the south by the Pacific Ocean, the Panama Canal has been created to make international maritime trade and business easier. The canal connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean via the Caribbean Sea. This famous canal contributes significantly to Panama’s positive growth and development. It is slated for a billion-project expansion, offering more opportunities for Panama and its people.
It would be interesting to note that people nowadays have varied responses to the question, “where is Panama?” While most would reply the country’s geographical location, some would say “Panama is where many American and European expats can be found.” Tourism in Panama is growing at a fast pace because it has opened its doors to the world. The country offers the pensioners visa that allows expats from around the world to retire in Panama. With a valid proof of monthly pension from a reputable source along with certain documents, a foreigner is allowed to retire in Panama and live there for good. Expats in Panama have kept growing for the past 5 years because of the many incentives the country provides to foreigners particularly those from the US and Europe.
Another interesting response to the question, “where is Panama?” would be, “it’s a place where you can get quality medical treatment at a low cost. Unknown to many, Panama is quite famous for its medical tourism. Many Americans go to Panama for quality and state of the art medical and dental treatments because the standards are comparable to that in the US or Canada. Most Panamanian doctors are US trained specialists who can give you the best medical treatments available. You can receive top quality medical treatments at a far lesser cost than what you’d have to spend in America.
Lastly, a growing response to the question, “where is Panama?” would be, “it’s a place where one can truly live BETTER for less!” A couple with retirement funds of $1500 – $2000 a month can live a comfortable, enjoyable life in Panama. It’s a country where the basic necessities are very cheap, allowing you to still have extra money for your other needs.
To answer the question, “where is Panama?” Panama is the gem of Central America, bordered to the north by the Caribbean Sea, to the south by the Pacific Ocean, to the west by Costa Rica, and to the southeast by Columbia. It is also home to numerous expats who are having a fun, comfortable retirement. Panama is a place where you can see picturesque views, experience tranquility and get quality healthcare. Panama is one of the best places to live in the world; you have to consider it for your retirement.
Learn more about Panama during our ALL-INCLUSIVE Panama Relocation Tour.
When I left the heat of Texas for the spring like weather in Boquete Panama I knew I’d save a lot of money by not using an air conditioner nine months out of the year. And I was right. Most houses in Boquete don’t even have HVAC systems because you just don’t need it with the average temperature of 75 degrees… every day!
You can retire in Panama on less than it would cost to live where you are now. There are many ways to live better for less in Panama, including:
CARS – When my husband and I worked in Texas, we needed two cars. In Panama, I have one car so that saves a lot of money. My car insurance in Panama is only $223 a year. I also save on maintenance, inspections, etc. by not having two cars. Gasoline costs about the same as the USA but at least we’re not filling up 2 cars anymore.
CELL PHONES – In Texas I had a land line and a cell phone with a combined bill of $250 a month. In Panama, I only have a cell phone and pay $30 a month which gives me plenty of talk time and unlimited data. Using my cell phone, I can also make international calls for no additional fee. In Panama, most people use Whatsapp which is a free for making calls or sending texts or voice messages.
INTERNET AND CABLE TV: My house in Panama has fiber optics so I have 100mbps internet which cost me $59 a month and includes cable tv with 250 channels, many in English. Unfortunately, fiber optics is not available everywhere in Panama… yet. Some areas are only serviced by satellite internet which costs $99 a month for 10mpbs. If affordable high speed internet is important to you, definitely move to an area in Panama that has fiber optics.
DOCTOR VISITS – It costs $12-$20 to go to the doctor in Panama. If you see a specialist it is $40 – $50. These prices are without insurance. No appointment is usually necessary. You just walk in. If you’re too sick to walk in, the doctor will come to your house for an extra charge. Try getting that where you live!
EMERGENCY ROOM – I had to go to the emergency room at a private hospital because I was having sharp pains on my right side. I was seen right away by a doctor who spoke very good English. Total costs for 2 IVs with pain medication, lab tests, and the emergency room was $48… without insurance. If I had gone to a public hospital it would have costs even less.
HEALTH INSURANCE – I have international health insurance which covers me in Panama, the United States and any other country. Total costs is $2500 per year. I’ve had three eye surgeries in Panama City. The doctor;s office filed the forms for insurance so I had zero out of pocket expense. If I had health insurance which only covered me in Panama, I’d pay about $1300 a year for health insurance. Or you can avoid the costs of insurance by using the public hospitals where a doctor visit is about $2 and a specialist is $5 with no monthly fee.
FRESH PRODUCE – Fresh fruits and vegetables is readily available and very affordable. My costs for produce is at least half what I paid in Texas. The best prices are at the farmer’s markets throughout Panama. Because the soil is so good and there is a 365 day growing season, I’m able to grow much of my own produce so that saves even more. See my garden harvest to the right. An extra large pineapple is about $1 each. Today I bought six Hass avacados for $3.
FRESH FISH – Because Panama has the Pacific Ocean to the South and the Caribbean Sea to the North, you get a huge variety of fish at very affordable prices. I paid $30 a pound for sea bass in Texas. Corvina, sea bass, is $3.50 a pound in Panama… sometimes less. Tuna, shrimp, grouper, amberjack, and other fish are all much cheaper in Panama too.
REAL ESTATE – Real estate prices in some areas in Panama is just as much, or more, expensive than what it would cost in North America. But there are certainly some areas where real estate is super affordable too! Just outside of Boquete, I paid $120,000 for a 1100sf house on an acre – with amazing views! A friend just bought a beautiful 2400sf furnished 3 bedroom 3 bath house that’s a 2 minute walk to the Ocean for only $225,000. Most houses built before 2012 came with a 20 year tax exemption (no property taxes), compared to the almost 3% of value property taxes I paid in Texas. House insurance is much cheaper in Panama too! I just renewed my house insurance for $115.50 PER YEAR!
RENTAL – We highly recommend that you rent for at least a year before you start thinking about buying real estate. In Panama City, some rentals can be more expensive than North America. But there are many areas in Panama where affordable rentals are readily available. Most rentals come completely furnished and include all, or some, utilities. When I moved to Panama, I paid $600 a month for my 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath fully furnished rental with all utilities included and a weekly gardener..on a large property with spectacular views. Near Las Tablas, a couple is renting a furnished 2 bedroom ocean front house for $550 – see their view in the photo to the right. Furnished rentals range from $200 to $2500 per month depending on the size, amenities and location.
ELECTRIC BILLS – Electricity costs about the same per kilowatt in Panama. In Texas, I paid $250 to $450 a month for electricity. In Panama, because I live in an area that does not need air conditioning or heating, my electricity bill is rarely more than $25 a month. If you relocate to a coastal area, you’ll probably need to use your air conditioner some times but friends report that their electric bill is rarely over $150 a month.
WATER BILLS – In Panama, I pay $100 per year for unlimited potable water. The water is not metered. I also have agriculture water for my gardens which cost $10 a month. In Texas, I paid $80 to $120 per month for metered water and had water rationing in the summer months.
LUXURIES – Some things are so much more affordable in Panama so you can treat yourself to life’s little luxuries more often. In Panama I pay only $35 for a one hour massage. A mani-pedi is $25 in Panama. A woman’s hair cut is $6-$10 in Panama. A man’s haircut is $2-$5 depending on where you go. My gardener is $30 a day. My house keeper is $25 a day. You can get a delicious Panamanian meal for $4-$5 or go to a nice restaurant for $10-$15 per meal.
LESS STRESS – Because you can stop worrying about money, you’ll have less stress when you move to Panama. Many who move to Panama have been able to get off their medications because they are not living in constant stress anymore. When you relocate to Panama, you won’t be surrounded by constant political tensions and divisions – which also reduces stress.
FRIENDS – You’ll make a lot of new friends fast in Panama! Because most of the other expats are also retired, you’ll all have time to “hang out” by volunteering at local charities, hiking, cooking classes, gardening, lunch/dinner, happy hours, painting or other art classes, bird watching, etc etc etc… you’ll finally have TIME to do all the things you’ve been wanting to do and new friends to join you!
A little savings here and a little savings there
all add up to a how you can
Live BETTER for LESS in Panama!
I’m writing from an island in the Caribbean Sea… Bocas del Toro. It is only a few hour’s drive from my house in the mountains of Panama. My son and his friend are visiting and they went out for a 6 hour island hopping tour to see dolphins, star fish, and other marine life…then a little snorkeling and swimming at the beautiful Zapatilla Island. I’ve been on that tour several times so I stayed at our condo to catch up with you.
Last night we did some music/bar hopping. Everywhere in town there was the sound of live music. Rock ‘n roll next door, Reggae music down the street, Cuban music too.
One of the bars had the sign on the left… Do Your Dream!
I’m sitting on the balcony overlooking the ocean and see blue skies, tourquoise blue water and sail boats in no hurry to go anywhere.. just sailing to enjoy the beautiful day. It’s 85 degrees but with the nice ocean breeze it’s very comfortable.
At breakfast I met a 40 something guy and his family who moved to Bocas last year. He says his costs are 2/3’s less than San Diego and here he can surf every day. As he put it, “I’m living the dream!” The financing of his dream is all possible with just two rental properties which produce enough cash flow to support his lifestyle in Bocas.
So, what is your dream?
What are you doing to work towards achieving it?
Have you set a date when you can start living your dream? Are you ready to do what you want, when you want, and where you want?
Remember that time will pass no matter what you do. If you dream of living offshore.. in the mountains.. or on an island… NOW is the time to explore your destination. Once you find your paradise, it will be easier to start working toward the things you need to do to prepare to “Do Your Dream”
Tens of thousands have done it before you. Now it’s your turn!
Join us on a Panama Relocation Tour to discover if Panama is right for you.