Single Women Becoming Expats in Panama

Single women and men are on just about every Panama Relocation Tour.  Some decide to make the move right away and others need to sell houses, retire from their job or tie up other loose ends before they make the move.  All of the single people (and married couples) who have made the move are THRIVING in Panama.

In Boquete there are a group of 80 single women.. the Chicas.. who meet monthly and go on trips together.  It’s a built in support system.

I also know several single women and single guys living in the Coronado/Gorgona area.  They report that their social life is better than ever in Panama!

Today, I’d like to tell you about Jacqui.  She has certainly settled in nicely in Las Tablas Panama in the Azuero Peninsula.  Jacqui rents a one bedroom house for $80 a month.  She decided not to get health insurance because it is so affordable to get medical care ($2 for a doctor visit at the Social Security Hospital).

We sometimes meet with Jacqui when the tours travels through Las Tablas and she shares more details about her life in Panama.

See her Expat in Panama profile below…..
JK Mikals 2014
Jacqui webcam shot, 2014

Life, anywhere, involves certain practicalities, right?  Food, shelter, transportation and fun top the list if you believe the guidebooks.  And since they sell well, that’s probably right.

However, there’s more to living in a foreign country than instructions on how to turn it into your own version of the US.  Culture shock happens most frequently because things are not necessarily done as you would have them done, and you are emotionally attached to your version.  But more frequently than quite often there is a solid reason for the way the locals do the things they do or don’t do.

Want some examples?  I used to love planting stuff against my house to soften the line of the foundation and make a bit of a frame for the house.  In the tropics, plants are not encouraged to grow too near a building.  That’s because of snakes and other critters who just love the cover provided.

Unless it was built by gringos or for gringos (and priced accordingly) you don’t often find a house with hot water in the bathroom or kitchen.  After you do take a hot shower down here and step out of it just as – or even more – overheated than when you went in (it’s REALLY HOT here in Las Tablas), you begin to truly appreciate the benefits of a cool shower and realize you might not need hot water that badly.  The local detergents work just fine with cool water in the kitchen and the laundry.  Even for dishes, unless it’s your habit to let them dry out dirty.  The locals mostly wash dishes immediately after use – it keeps the roaches from becoming interested.

It’s tough to find heavy cooking pans down here, except the really big ones suitable for making arroz con pollo for fifty.  Why? It’s HOT here.  Cooking, whether by electricity or gas, involves turning on a heat source, which makes the kitchen hotter.  A popular local objective is to get whatever-it-is cooked and turn off the heat source.  Thin metal pans heat quickly and cool quickly.  Objective accomplished.

One alternative is a pressure cooker, which tenderizes meat in a quarter the time, cooks beans f-a-s-t and also heats the kitchen minimally.  I couldn’t live without mine at this point.

Panama = a voyage of adjustment.

Life since I got here has been about adjusting to different conditions, doing things a different way, shifting my way of thinking.  We (the mouse in my pocket and the editor in my head) have a few favorite topics.

Fun with Spanish:  It’s soooo easy to embarrass yourself when speaking a new language, and often so very funny if you look at life that way.  I love the taste of words, which often makes trouble for me even in my native tongue.

Healthy Bod:  Sitting around drinking beer all day does not increase life expectancy.  So I’m sharing what I’ve learned about being fit down here, staying well in the tropics, and getting better when you do get sick.

There are bugs you should not touch, swamps you might not want to visit, places you probably should not go.  In town, you may hate razor wire and bars, but you might also want the full scoop before you reject them.

There are things that look edible but aren’t, and things that don’t look edible but are delicious.  Finding a place to live down here is a different process from what what I was used to; so were moving money from the bank to the pocket, techie stuff, and lots of other things.  And ooo, the deliciousness of the local history, folklore and legends.  The tales that are told!

Curious why only foreigners have B.O. here?  (HOW can you not be?)  Where you can have a ton of fun?  Want to know when the tide comes in?  Considering noble causes and giving back to the community here?  All these Secrets of the South can be yours, simply by reading this blog.

(“Whhoooo,” said the Catepillar to Alice, “arrr yooou?”)When I first headed off to Central America in 2011, an older single woman, my friends all told me how brave I was.  Of course, I preened at that.  Of course I did.  Every one loves to be called “brave.”   I didn’t really see myself that way at the time, so it felt like free praise,  but I realize now they were probably right.  I’ve always blithely walked into situations my more prudent sisters would probably avoid.  The truth is that it’s not because I’m such a tough old bird.  It’s because even at my age, which is now considerable, and even though an awful lot of seemingly awful stuff has happened to me, for whatever reason I seem to have remained a bit naive.

How is that possible?  I dunno, but trusting in strangers and saying “Yes!” to life has not yet brought me grief, while doing the opposite has.  So I just keep hoping the angels aren’t REALLY afraid to go where I do, and smile at everyone.

I admit to trepidation around unstable-seeming types, but they usually turn out to have ants crawling up their pant legs or something.

My original intention upon obtaining my second majority was to settle in Panamà, because I was born here – and acquired more names than Trickster Coyote before I was even a year old – but that is another story.

I was talked into trying Costa Rica first by  well-meaning friends.  (It’s actually fairly easy to talk me into something if I’m still fussing about it.)  And my friends were definitely right that Costa Rica is a place of incredible natural beauty.  But it has also become prohibitively expensive in the past few years.  And that’s important to me these days, because my sole visible means of support lies in the egg the Eagle lays for me each month.

So, since “Pretty is as Pretty does,” after six months I moved on, to Panamà.  I’ve spent a lot of time in cities over the years and knew that I didn’t want to live in another one, so Panamà City was not an option.  I read about the Azuero Peninsula, the true heart of Panamà according to some, where “the old Panamà” still lingers in traditions and local lore and practice.

I chose Las Tablas, famous for its Carnaval celebration, filled with both old and new homes and businesses and the capital of the Los Santos province.  I am very happy that I did.  I rent a small unfurnished house in a lovely little subdivision filled with happy Panamanian families.  I guess you could categorize the neighborhood as the equivalent of US middle class. The folks here are neither poor nor rich.  They tend to be house-proud and take great delight in their yards, which are filled year round with all sorts of blooming plants.  Everyone is friendly and helpful.  I couldn’t ask for better neighbors.  I absolutely love it here.

Born an apparent citizen of nowhere through a legal fluke, JK Mikals (aka Jacqui) has spent way too much time considering the concepts of identity, place and time. She has lived in 5 countries, 12 states & 25 cities, maintaining that her itchy feet are a genetic inheritance from her adoptive  father.

Mikals first published at the age of 14, when her brother purloined a school assignment, sent it to the Readers Digest, and kept the resulting check. When Mikals learned of this some 30 years later, she told him he might as well keep the check.

Meanwhile Mikals wrote a lot of poetry, a few short stories, a couple of novels and a number of instruction manuals. As (briefly) part of the corporate world – first in admin, later as a tech writer- Mikals was well-known for colorful memos.
Currently she is exploring her mind and the tropics with her fierce, 15 centimeter Aztec companion, Xochitl.

Play Uverito, Panama

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions


  1. Tim Condon says

    Where are the best places and marinas to sail in Panama?

    • Panama Relocation Tours says

      There are a lot of martinas and sail boats on the Caribbean side near Bocas

      • Melanie "Annie" Frey says

        But there are usually more storms and hurricanes on the Caribbean side, aren’t there?

        I am a sailor considering living on my boat in Panama, but don’t want to feel isolated.


        • Jackie Lange says

          There are tropical storms in Panama but not hurricanes. Many people live in their boats on the Caribbean side and Pacific side too.

  2. cliff montgomery says

    3097568584 I am looking at signing up for your tour once I get my house sold.
    So far the Boquete area appeals to me.
    But being a senior and single I was wondering about the social life in this area. Is it hard to meet other singles in Boquete . I also like David but mite to to hot.
    Thanks Cliff

    • Panama Relocation Tours says

      Hi Cliff, You’ll have NO PROBLEM meeting plenty of other singles in Boquete. There are several favorite “hang outs” for expats where you will always find singles but there are also many social activities where you will have the opportunity to meet with other singles. Come see what life is like in paradise! Jackie

  3. Perry Patterson says

    Hi Jackie! How can I learn more about the Chicas in Boquet? Do they have a blog or newsletter?
    Thank you
    Perry from Oregon USA

    • Panama Relocation Tours says

      HI Perry

      There is no website or blog that I know of for the chicas in Boquete

  4. Alison Wolf says

    I have a veterinary background and a small rescue here outside Nashville. Is there a need for wildlife rescue in Boquete or other areas? I want to be close to restaurants and markets, but still want to feel a bit more “jungle” at home 🤷🏼‍♀️

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello Alison
      veterinary medicine is a protected profession for Panamanians only so you would not be able to work as a veterinary. There is a small wildlife rescue in Volcan. There is not one in Boquete.

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