2. Why Panama?

Many people ask us why we decided to live in another country. Why did we want to move? How did we choose Panama, and why this part of Panama?  Everyone has to make their own decisions for their own reasons. These happen to be ours.

My husband had been thinking of moving to central America for quite a few years. I was not so enthusiastic but I had minimal international travel experience. He had a lot. Then, I went to Italy and changed my mind. I learned that other countries aren’t that scary. Sure, there were differences but ultimately, it was just people living their lives.

We started looking more seriously at retirement with the resources we have. The economy in the US wasn’t doing well. Home values were going down and expenses were going up. We realized we would have to work until we were 70, or more, and even then it would be hard. As my husband says, Plan B became Plan A.

Why did we want to move?

  1. Cost – we were getting priced out of the US
  2. We wanted a change. Florida was great but we were no longer tied there. We were ready for a new adventure, a new experience.
  3. Secondary factors – concerns about our ailing health care system and political system, questionable food supplies (GMO’s Monsanto, etc), attitudes towards elderly people, no more hurricanes

Why did we decide on David, Panama? Our requirements –

  1. Communication / good internet
  2. warm climate, access to water and beaches
  3. affordable living
  4. close enough to the US to visit family
  5. good infrastructure and stable, peaceful government
  6. decent health care

Panama seemed to fit all of our requirements the best, so we decided to visit.

We started with a 5 day visit to Panama City (Jan 2011), 2 travel days and three full days in the city. I looked out the window of the plane and saw those beautiful, lush, green mountains and I was sold! We rented a car, drove around the city, went to the canal, a rainforest park, drove west for an hour so we could see a beach, and walked around the city. We loved it! The climate was perfect. We felt comfortable. We liked the people. We were amazed at the number of upscale buildings and construction cranes. This felt like a prosperous, happening, upbeat place! What a difference from the depressed US. But, it’s definitely a city with the traffic, the high energy, the constant activity, and higher cost of living.  At our age, we weren’t sure if it was a lifestyle that was right for us. We were definitely heading in the right direction though.

After a bit more research, we decided to look at David. It’s the next largest city but in the western, agricultural part of the country. There are beaches to the south, and mountains to the north. We came in June 2011 for 5 days thinking we would see it at its worst, in the hot, muggy, rainy season. We knew very quickly that we had found our place. The city is big enough to provide everything we need, and probably almost everything we would want. The traffic wasn’t nearly as crazy. The area, the countryside, the beaches, and the mountains are all so beautiful! The people are wonderful, warm and friendly. We felt very comfortable. Even the dreaded rainy season wasn’t a problem. It felt just like Florida in summer, only not as hot.  At this point, the plan was to move in 2014 (after I was old enough for social security), so we went back to Florida and the hamster wheel of work and bills.

My husband’s mother also lives in Florida, and she’s at an age where she needs some help. Maybe she would consider coming with us? She had traveled extensively, lived and worked in Guam, Hawaii, and California among other places and we thought she might like Panama. We came back in February 2012 for a week. She loved it as much as we did. We felt even more comfortable, and now we also had some friends from our previous visit and from correspondence on the internet.

We went home and started talking seriously. Do we really have to wait until 2014? Could we make it on the resources we have until I’m eligible for social security? As you know (since I am now blogging from Panama) we decided that we could make it, and we are making it. But, it did not work out as we hoped for Joel’s mother and she has returned to the US. We learned as much from that as from our success here though, so as time allows we will be sharing more information on our website.

The rest of our story is unfolding in this blog at the moment. “Follow” and share this experience with us!

If you are thinking about making such a move yourself, everyone will give you this good advice – do your homework. This doesn’t work out for everyone. Take a long hard look at who you are, and what you want, and why you want to move. What is important to you? What do you need to be happy? What do you like to do? What is on your “must have” list? What can you not tolerate? There is a lot of information on the internet. There are many helpful people who will be happy to share experiences and advice. Come and visit, and then visit again. Rent a place and try it out. Do not buy a place until you have lived here for at least 6-12 months. Living here is a very different experience from being a tourist. There are adjustments to be made. But, if you can be flexible, accept those things that are different, and appreciate life in this country as it is, you could have a very full and happy life here.  This blog is only our experiences. Your story? That is up to you!

103 Responses to 2. Why Panama?

  1. greenandclean says:

    I love this! What an adventure, I’m happy to follow you and live vicariously for awhile.

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  2. Oh Boy! I’m so excited that you found my blog and left a comment! Your adventure is at the very beginning ! I just love making new friends and I’m thrilled that your documenting your new life. It sounds like its going great and your attitude of acceptance for all the differences of life in another country will add to your success. Cheers to you my friend !

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  3. Debbie Curtis says:

    Just found your blog through Don’s Chiriqui Chatter. Since my husband and I are seriously considering moving down there from NJ (who wouldn’t want to leave NJ?) I am very glad I found your blog and will read it everyday. We visited last year for 3 weeks and fell in love with the country!

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    • kristc99 says:

      How exciting! We did the same thing, fell in love on the first visit. We’ve been here over three months now and it’s worked out even better than we expected. NJ? Aren’t you up to your ears in snow at the moment? I will try and send some warm breezes up your way.

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  4. I’ve been reading your blog awhile now, but hadn’t gotten to this page yet. Very interesting saga!
    Have you run across any completely single middle aged women who have made successful long distance moves/transitions to foreign countries? Would you have done it alone?

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    • Kris says:

      Yes, I have met some here who seem to be doing very well. Boquete is not far from here and has a lot of expats from the US and Canada. The locals here in David are so friendly you’d probably feel at home faster than many places in the US. I think you’d have to speak enough Spanish to communicate though, or you would feel quite isolated and frustrated.
      Yes, I would have done it alone. We talked about that before we moved. If something happened to my husband I would have come anyway. I was here alone at first and did fine, and now that I have been here a while and know people, I would be very comfortable as a single woman.

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  5. Dan says:

    Kris,
    Congratulations on your move. Found your site while searching for more western Panama info. My wife and I spent a year (2006-2007) in Ajijic, MX and enjoyed but got tired of cranky old people and came back to the ZI. She had a stroke 2009 and is bed ridden, can’t walk,can’t speak. We have considered immigrating to David or near. Are there any agencies that would have a live in lady/girl to assist me in her care? Really enjoy y’all s photos, especially the banana hunt across the road.

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  6. pattisj says:

    I’m glad you stopped by my blog, so I could come here and “meet” you. We usually hear of the people trying to get into the U.S., not leaving. I’m glad you were able to work things out and enjoy your new homeland sooner.

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  7. Jerry Moellenkamp says:

    Greetings Kris,
    We’re so happy we found your blog. We also stumbled upon Holly’s blog and the two of you have provided so much useful information. As you know there is so many “Expat sites” that reading them all would be a full time job. We quickly learned that a few sites, although providing some useful information, are mostly there to sell products. So, feeling rather overwhelmed, we chose to only get input from blogger’s such as you and Holly because you guys are there and are not trying to sell us anything. You just have a desire to help other ‘would be expats’ and also have a gift for writing. Although I have not read all of your posts, the one’s we did read were filled with useful information. A word about us: We are semi-retired, live in Niceville, Florida (panhandle). We have raised 7 biological children and then adopted two girls from Ukraine who are now 16 (Junior) and 18 (Senior) this coming year. Our goal is to move to Latin America in a little over a year – Panama (thanks to you guys blogs) is at the top of our list – other areas of interest are Costa Rica and Columbia and maybe a couple more, depending on research.. The reasons for retiring to your area mirror your own that you wrote about in your posts. I work for the Dept. of Health for the State of Florida and am the health care coordinator for all of North Florida. The thing that impresses us most and was so appealing about your blog is that you also, like Holly, put the cookies on the lower shelf and make the reader feel like they are along with you on your journey. I plan on making a trip to the area sometime around July 16 through the 20th. I want to see David, Boquete, and Volcan. I would love to correspond with you (via email) if you guys would be willing. At any rate, thank you so much for writing your blog. We read everyone of the more recent ones. Blessings, Jerry Moellenkamp jerrymo@centurylink.net

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    • Kris says:

      Wow, thank you so much for you comment and I’m glad you like the blog. I will send you an email, and hopefully we can get together when you are in the area!

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  8. John & Melody says:

    Great update. My wife and I have visited twice. The first time we spent a week in Panama City. Last year we spent a week in Bocas. This January we plan on a week near Playa Coronado. We will likely drive up the coast for a day or so to see the beach areas around David.

    Our plan is to come down for an extended stay in late 2014. Ultimately we would like to live on the beach … just searching for the right beach.

    By the way, my wife and I are retired Navy. I’ve lived in Japan, Guam, Hawaii, and several places around the country.

    We really love Panama.

    John

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    • Kris says:

      I’ll be interested to hear how you like Coronado. I haven’t been there. The beaches in this part of the country seem a bit remote from shopping and daily needs (at least for us city folk) but they sure are beautiful! There also seem to be quite a few people who love the Padasi area – Azuero Peninsula, so it might be worth a stop by there also.
      You and my husband would have a lot to talk about. He has also lived in Guam and Hawaii. He says Panama reminds him a lot of Guam.

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  9. Nancy B says:

    Just found your blog and will follow along your adventure! Considering Panama for a second residence which may become primary. Am concerned about life in the States for all the reasons you mentioned and more. Just trying to narrow down an area to start our search in, considering we want:
    – live near expats
    – live near the ocean where beaches are beautiful (not mucky stuff we have seen online)
    – near a city large enough to provide almost any needs, especially healthcare, restaurants, entertainment
    – safety, where two woman would feel safe exploring, living
    – suitable for non spanish speakers, but people who would sure do their best to try basic skills
    – beautiful scenery, lush with variety… mountains and beaches with cool breezes
    What might you recommend for our first week long trip?

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    • Kris says:

      I’m trying to think where might have everything you want. El Valle? Coronado area? We’re not familiar with Coronado, but there are beaches and expats. Is it close enough to Panama City for your needs?
      We’re in David which has healthcare, shopping, etc but the beaches are 30+ minutes away and there isn’t anything else out there. There is a large expat community in Boquete in the mountains, but that’s 45 min from David (with healthcare, etc) and even farther from the beaches.
      We feel very safe here. Of course you use common sense like anywhere, and there are certain places no one recommends going to after dark, but I think two women would be generally safer here than in many places in the US.
      If you don’t speak Spanish, Boquete, or Bocas del Toro come to mind (but Bocas isn’t close to anything except beaches).
      I think if you have only a week, I’d start in Panama City where you’re going to land anyway, spend a couple days. Maybe investigate Coronado area, El Valle, other places closer to the city. If you think the country is a good fit but you still need to explore more areas, perhaps on a future trip you could check out Chiriqui – David, Boquete, beaches, etc.
      http://thestayathomegringo.blogspot.com/ You might also check with Chris, author of this blog. He lives in Panama City and knows more about the eastern part of the country.
      http://indacampo.wordpress.com/ This lady lives in the Auzero Peninsula which is known for the beaches, but you might find it lacking in other areas. You could ask her for more info.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kris, I have a general question about David, I hope you don’t mind. I am also searching for a retirement place in central america and feel fortunate to have come across your blog. You break it down in real terms that I find very helpful. I have spent a lot of time in Costa Rica. I love the culture in CR but its just so darn expensive with all the tariffs on incoming goods, that I am making a trip to Panama in September. While I was in Costa Rica I met a woman who I am now crazy about and she will be traveling with me. We are taking the bus from San Jose to David where we hope to rent a car to continue on to Panama City. I am having limited luck via Google finding car rentals off airport in David. Can I realistically expect to arrive in David one evening and then successfully rent a car at a good price the next morning? I could pre book at National at the airport for $427 for the 10 days we will be in panama, but I have found that in Costa Rica I get much better deals just walking in off the street. Would your opinion be that this is the case also in David o Panama in general? Just picking your brain a little.. you and your husband are living an adventure and I highly respect the change you have made in your lives. We meet so many who only dream.. thank you for helping those of us who are still working towards ours. Michael in Pennsylvania!

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    • Kris says:

      Hi Michael. No, of course I don’t mind questions. That’s one of the reason for the blog. There are a number of car rental agencies at the airport, Thrifty, Budget, seems like there are one or two more. But, it is expensive to rent a car because you are also required to get their insurance no matter what other insurance you may have elsewhere. If you just want to get to Panama City, I recommend taking the bus. It’s cheap ($15.25), big comfortable buses, and they worry about the driving. I also recommend that you don’t drive in Panama City. The traffic is a nightmare especially with all the construction going on right now. But, if you want to explore along the way I understand why you would want to rent a car. We rented with someone in town a couple years ago that was more affordable. Let me know if you want me to dig out the info. I don’t know if you would get a better deal just walking in off the street.
      Congrats on finding a great partner! Adventures are much more fun that way. I hope you find a place where you’re as happy as we are:)
      We haven’t been to Costa Rica yet but would like to visit soon. One day I may pick your brain a little on that😀

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  11. Davd says:

    Hi my name is David and I too am weary of what is happening in the states ,, but only because I am of retirement age ,, I’m 62 and have been looking for a place to retire. I’ve been to the phillippines was there in Cebu for 3 weeks too much red tape and hoops you have to jump through just to live there, if you want to own land or a house or start a business you have to marry a phillipina,, to do that ,, but get this you don,t own the house or land you bought ,, your wife does because you as a foreigner cannot own property there . So I crossed that off my list. One day I was looking on a map of Central America because air far there is a lot cheaper than flying half way around the world,, so I’m looking on the map and I see panama , then I see my name DAVID,, now is that karma or what ???? I was looking for a place that I might want to retire to and there was my name… I guess it was telling me something,, well anyway after reading your blog and doing some research ,, I have decided to take my next vacation in panama ,, which will be in 2014 maybe in may. I understand they have a few programs for seniors wishing to retire there. True????would it be hard to rent a apartment or house for around 300.00 to 500.00 a month for a single guy like me. Where I don,t know yet,, so could you give me a few places I could go to and see for myself when I get there ?? The mountains sounds nice because its cooler there and I would not need the aircon. But being in the mountains ,,,,, would I be too far from markets and hospitals.????? I like the beach also but it’s never that far away,, so that is not a must. Your blog is heaven sent for guys like me ,, really for anyone ,, that needs a insiders point of view,, thank you soooooo much for doing this. DAVID

    Like

    • Kris says:

      Hi David

      Yes, there are discounts that go along with becoming a resident with retired (jubilado) status. http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php/2004120222005788
      Check the cost of living link on my blog. We pay $385/month for a house that is considered upscale and expensive by many people in David. Panama City is more expensive. Rural areas can be much cheaper. It all depends on what you want and need.
      Are you talking about places to see in David, or Panama in general? That all depends on what you want and how much time you have. You’ll probably land in Panama City so may as well see the canal and some of the sights. Then maybe Coronado, Pedasi/Azuero Peninsula area, El Valle de Anton, David, Boquete, Bocas del Toro? Those seem to be the places that come up most often, but certainly not the only options.
      Thanks for your comments, glad you enjoy the blog:)

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kris. Lived in Panama 1998-1980 through the army. Loved it! Now that I’m creeping up on retirement age (59) the brain is whirring. Reading books, looking at maps. $385.00 a month? Are you guys renting or buying? I’ll be following your blog, thanks, David.

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    • Yes, we are renting for $385/month. Many of the locals think that is expensive. It’s a good life here and I think it’s well worth considering for retirement. Thanks, glad you enjoy the blog:)

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  13. It’s a shame that you can actually get priced out of your own country! In Norway they stuff all the elderly in homes, give them lousy food, they have one TV to share in the TV room, etc, etc.
    They seriously treat the criminals better than they treat the elderly in this country.
    You think I’m exaggerating?
    Here are some photos from our luxurious Halden Prison, where the inmates have flat screen TV in their cells: http://www.damncoolpictures.com/2010/05/norways-incredibly-luxurious-halden.html
    That’s not the only luxury prison we have. Here’s another one:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1384308/Norways-controversial-cushy-prison-experiment–catch-UK.html

    Even on our “not so luxurious” main prison: Oslo Prison, the inmates have a recording studio, band room, gym, etc, etc.

    Lately there has been a lot of cases in the media about people that are fortunate enough to get to work until they’re 70 years. They write about how different employers arrange special programs for the elderly, so that they can continue working – instead of enjoying the autumn of their lives (like people used to do).
    It’s all because they’re preparing us to the fact that we’ll have to stay slaves (unless we wan’t to end up really poor) until our bodies can’t take it. Dying at work seems to be the new standard that we’re supposed to seek.
    Someone has to finance the criminals that are in the government, the criminals that are imprisoned, plus the social benefits we give to all the “asylum seekers” and immigrants that cross our border each year…

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    • I don’t think it’s much different in the US. I was a visiting nurse so I spent a lot of time in old folks homes, and most people know they are going to work until they drop. We thought we would have to work until 70 to get the maximum social security money but even then it would have been hard. Many people older than that are still working just to make ends meet.
      There are good points to prison – free room and board, health care is covered, there are things to do… Our prisons aren’t quite like that but they are still better than the living conditions of a lot of people. I won’t even get started on the politics and government, etc.
      Panama is a good place to grow old. There is a respect for the older generation here that you don’t find in the US. Here, women are expected to retire at 57, and men at 62. You can also work after that (without losing any retirement benefits) but most people don’t.
      Actually it is not a shame that I was priced out of the US. If I wasn’t, I never would have had this experience of living here. There is a blog post brewing about that – the advantages of having less.

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  14. Jerry says:

    YES, YES, YES!!! Can’t wait for the final blog. This is GREAT stuff — keep writing Kris. You put words together better than most of us. Love the ideas and thought provoking points. Living on less — ummmm, suppose that is possible?? :).

    Like

    • Final blog?? You know me, I like to talk, so if I stop talking/writing check me for a pulse.
      Yes it is possible to live on less. Remember, the average worker here gets $500-700/month (teacher, secretary, policeman, etc). Whole families live on that and less. The guy with the machete cutting the overgrown field makes $10/day.

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  15. janand503 says:

    HI Kris, Can so relate to your blog, we moved from UK to Tenerife for the same reasons you did, that was 8 years ago and we love it. The cost of living here is much lower than the UK and we can live on less, because our lifestyle is so much more relaxed and less demanding.
    Thanks for the comment on my blog.

    Like

    • I looked up a bit of info on Tenerife and it looks just gorgeous! I’ll have to put it on my list of places I’d like to see sometime. I’m glad to hear that you are happy and life is good for you there.:)

      Like

  16. David and Kristy McMullin says:

    Kris, great job on your site, you got me interested! My name is David and my wife of 33 years and I are looking to move to Costa Rico, Belize (we lived there before) or Mexico but after reading your site I’ll have to run this by her as most woman I know she wants a lake or sea view and or access we are on a very low income she isn’t even at retirement age yet so the lower cost of living and internet access is most important to me I have read that there is low cost rentals in Costa Rico in the $300.00 a month range for 2 bed room but not sure on location yet, we have driven throw Mexico down the east coast and up the west cost twice as well as throw Belize (living there) and Guatemala so I am familiar with gringo pricing. I haven’t checked the air fare prices to Panama yet to the US but with kids there we too would like to return in summer LOL.

    Like

    • Hi and thanks for the good words, glad you enjoy the blog. Everyone I talk with agrees that Costa Rica is more expensive than Panama, and prices have risen badly in the last few years. As for here, Panama has tons of coast line so you have many options. But, I’m not sure if you could get something very low cost on the water. If it’s popular with tourists it’s more expensive, and if it’s not you might be a bit isolated. But it depends on what you want, so hopefully you can visit and see some areas for yourself. Air fair, I’m guessing $500-650 per person round trip depending on where you are and how lucky you are in getting a deal. That will get you to Panama City. http://www.panamaforreal.com/ This site might interest you too.

      Like

  17. Panama Pyrenees says:

    Congratulations on settling there & a great blog.

    Research done – check.
    Research done three more times – check.
    Multiple Visits done – check.
    One more visit before move – planned.
    Move to Panama & Ecuador (Yes both). – planned.
    Continually reading blogs, books, etc.

    Thank you for sharing it just confirms that I’ve made the right choice. Leaving the US for the very same reasons as you both. Look forward to possibly buying you a cup of coffee one day. Pura Vida!!!

    Like

  18. Trev Page says:

    My wife and I are about 20 years from retirement. I know that’s a long time on paper but in real life it goes by pretty fast. We’re dreaming of retiring in a place like Panama to get away from the dreadful Canadian winters. The US would be option if not the high cost of living and their costly health care. So a central American country should be a good option for us. We’ve heard all sorts of stories and would plan to visit before making a decision and staying at least a few months (renting) to get a feel for the place. Any thoughts you can give us in the meantime?

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  19. Trev Page says:

    Thanks Kris. I’m fluent in French and I’ve been able to pick up Spanish fairly easily while on vacations due to their similarities. I’m very keen to learn so I can speak it fluently when the time comes. Rosetta Stone is wonderful!

    Like

  20. Anonymous says:

    My and my partner are considering moving to Panama frome Canada, we have done some research already. We are still young and parenting 2 young kids ages 6-9. We enjoyed our stay in Gorgona for 10 days, we rented a car and did lots of miles, we went to Cornado, El Valle for where whent to the zoo. We drove up to Caribbean side, as I like to say swam in the Caribbean and boogied board the Pacific all in the same day.

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  21. Jessica kleimert says:

    Thank good i found your blog. i have been looking and looking on internet about *moving to panama* .
    hi, I’m a 24 year old girl that is moving to panama in 28 days, I’m moving alone from sweden. Im trying to find all the info i can get about the country because i have never been there. How much is it for ex food store and transport (bus, taxi) ? Do you have any good page that you have find your information from?

    Kind regards
    Jessica

    Like

    • A lot depends on where in Panama you decide to live. Panama City is more expensive than the rest of the country. Taxi’s and buses are everywhere and fairly cheap. Food – it depends on what you buy. Imported food is expensive. Local food is cheap (but we’re in David where it’s grown. I’m not sure about Panama City) http://www.permanentlypanama.com/ You might like this blog, a gal about your age who lives in Coronado. http://www.panamaforreal.com/ This is a young guy with a family who lives in Panama City and has a lot of information about various areas. Look for his “budget snapshot” for estimates on cost of living in different areas.

      Like

  22. Mary Smithersteen says:

    What do you know about living by the beach? Are many 1-2 bedroom apartments or houses that are furnished available? If so, what is the range of rent? Does David reach down to the coastland?

    Like

    • We’re out of town at the moment and only have by the minute internet (expensive). Feel free to poke around the blog, the website (www.thePanamaAdventure.com), google maps and google. I’ll get back in touch next week when we return and fill in any blanks that remain as best I can. Thanks!

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    • Did you find any answers to your questions? There is also no substitute for coming to Panama to see it for yourself. There is a lot of coast line in Panama and various areas by a beach are different. Yes, there are furnished apartments and houses available but again, cost depends on where you want to live.

      Like

  23. Mary Smithersteen says:

    Thanks so much for the kind update. Looking forward to your feedback. I appreciate it.

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  24. relocate says:

    I am so happy that you and your hubby are living the life there. I have been dreaming of Panama for six months now. I am working on tying all loose ends because I don’t want to come back to the USA at all. I am done, been done. I am priced out of here (among other things) just like your other reader mentioned. I am fluent in Spanish/English, so looking forward to settling and making friends. Any suggestions on how to do so while I am still here?
    So glad to hear that it is reasonably OK to be single down there. Also, what about running a very small business, 0-2 employees as a foreigner, is it possible, do the laws allow for that? I read somewhere that I just need to be sure to have a minimum of $5,000 in a local bank account…oh, owning a car/moped? Any input will be appreciated. Thanks for your time… want a new friend?

    Like

    • There are forums and Facebook groups wheee you can interact with others on line before you get here. Check my website for suggestions, and check back again in a couple weeks because I’m working onl updating the site. I haven’t looked into the legalities or feasibility of running a business here. It would be best to consult a lawyer about that. I know people have done it so it is certainly possible.

      Like

  25. relocate says:

    um.. .forgot to mention that I am a woman, so I am a single woman. it is encouraging to know that other singles have already done so and all seems to be well.

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  26. Hello Kris,
    Thanks a million for taking the time to do so much by helping ” strangers” !
    We are a French-American couple still living in San Francisco. We will move to Panama sometime next year (2015) We are planning a 2-3 months trip in Panama to search for the ideal place to retire. We are very young 65 and 68:-)
    In our life, we had travelled in Europe of course, but also the Caribbean, Mexico, Brazil, Tahiti and we lived 3 years in Hawaii.
    We need the tropical climate to be happy! Near the ocean and with the easy going life style coming with it ( usually )
    We would love to make contact with you, and maybe others like you since we have no friends in Panama.
    We hope that you will have few minutes to acknowledge our mail.
    Sincerely,
    Dominique and Marie-France

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  27. Hello Kris!

    I found your blog by accident. I am Brazilian, 42 years, my wife is 38 and we have two kids (girl 8, boy 5). I am exhausted with my life in my law firm! Too much stress! I did some research and after checking the options of Spain and Portugal (but there you need to acquire a property with very high cost in order to have permanent residence), but either way (after travel and experience China / Germany / Netherlands / Argentina / Chile and of course practically the whole Brazil) we were inclined to go live in Europe. However, having never even visited the Caribbean, had always dream to retire and live there, and your blog is helping us a lot in decisions. My research shows that it is possible to buy good land oceanfront, at a price that we consider true bargains. Do you believe that building a small hotel can be profitable there? I want to have time for myself, my wife and children. I found a property on the beach of San Lorenzo. Do you know the place? What do you think of the site? Access is easy to David? Nearby hospitals? I need good schools to my children. In the region is easy to find bilingual private schools?
    P. S. An event like what happened with her husband (the situation with snake), if an accident had occurred in a place like the beach of San Lorenzo, we would be close to a hospital with sufficient resources?
    Sorry to have so many questions, but I’m sure your answers will help us a lot in planning and decision to go or not, living in Panama.
    Thanks in advance any attention you devote.
    José Azevedo

    Like

    • Hola José
      San Lorenzo? No, I am not familiar with that. Is it closer to Colon and the north end of the canal? If so, I’m not sure about health care there or in Colon but there is certainly first class care in Panama City. I am retired and have done no research into hotels or other business opportunities so I have no opinion on that. I don’t have kids either. I know there are a number of options for school in Panama City but I don’t know anything about the San Lorenzo area, if what I found on the map is even the area you are considering. I strongly advise you to come here and research the area and possibilities. Some areas can be beautiful but don’t have the access needed for tourists or services that you need for yourself and your family.
      David is on the Pacific side, west, close to the Costa Rica border.

      Like

  28. Hi there! I stumbled across your blog while researching our vacation to Panama. Actually I am trying to convince my husband that we need to move to Panama and he has agreed on a trip to check it out. Yay! Baby steps! Can you recommend a lawyer in Panama that can answer my work visa questions and help us get the ball rolling when we come for vacation? Thanks and I look forward to reading more of your blog!

    Like

  29. Mike says:

    I have just started my quest of being an expat in Panama. My wife and I are of retirement age and like many others have small resources(by comparison to many) we might have about 5-6k month in retirement income plus a little cash which we might use to purchase after we decide to stay. my wife has a cousin who moved there about a dozen years ago and claims no desire to be anywhere else. I will continue to follow your blog as we progress with our plans. Incidentally we will be traveling with another couple who have almost identical desires and we are talking of combining resources and mabe find a property with multiple homes that could provide some interesting advantages in not only pooling our talents for gardening and growing some essentials.. that type of thing. It is interesting to share thoughts even if they are still very sketchy….
    look forward to future reading…. thanks Mike

    Like

    • Hi Mike and thanks for your comments! Like your cousin, we also have no desire to live anywhere else. Your retirement income will go a long ways here, and it can be a happy life among really good people. We see multiple homes here where families get a good size piece of land and build houses for everyone in the family on it. So, your idea is not unusual. Have you been here yet? There is no substitue for seeing how it feels to you. It doesn’t work out for everyone so make sure you are up for a new place, culture, and language.

      Like

      • Mike says:

        We have not been there yet but are currently making some plans and including our cousin in the equation. He has a very nice home and has offered extended stay, assuming we all can get along. our traveling companion is also a family member and her husband. We have discussed the multiple home one property concept in order to pool our talents and share experiences. It looks as though it might be sometime in may as that is when multiple retirements could occur. We will have plenty of time to spend once we get there. My wife wants to be near the ocean and I like the mountains. Fishing is on the agenda as well. We often see the mention of safety. we traveled to Jamaica and we were warned of safety and came to find it is was principally in kingston and not widespread..at the time. Is driving up and down the pan am hwy to bordering countries reasonable?
        We’ll stay tuned and thanks in advance…..!

        Like

        • We feel safe here, probably more than we did in the US. But, of course, don’t leave your common sense at home. Driving on the highway is reasonable but it is under construction from David to Santiago. It is going to be great later but right now, not so much.

          Like

  30. Jim Sullivan says:

    Hi Kris. I just found out about your blog while reading an article in International Living. I found it interesting that you were from Sarasota because that’s where I currently live in Eastern Sarasota and have been here for 20+ years. I have just begun to examine overseas retirement since I am eligible now and thought I would look into Panama. As of now I have been focusing on Coronado. Can you fill me in on that area?

    Like

  31. Jim Sullivan says:

    It;s published in the February issue on page 8. How do you compare Panamanian living as compared to Sarasota? Unfortunately I am still working for the county and I know when I retire I won’t be able to afford to live the Sarasota lifestyle.

    Like

    • Ahh OK. I’m not paying $50 to subscribe so hopefully it will become the sample issue at some point. BTW, remember IL is a business. They entice you with rosey stories while trying to sell you expensive conferences and real estate. Be sure to check things out for yourself and do NOT buy anything until AFTER you have lived her for a while, probably a year or more.
      I live in David, a working town with Panamanians which is very different from Coronado. Coronado is full of expats and English speakers, big houses and condos, and reminds me of Florida a lot. It is also expensive. If that will work for you, that’s good but you will get better information talking with someone who lives there.
      I understand about the money. That is exactly why we are here too. We couldn’t afford Florida without working and we were tired of working (and what happens when you can’t work?) But, now I am actually glad for that because this is a wonderful experience. But, that is just me. You have to figure out what will work for you and if you can find it here.

      Like

  32. Normalmеnte es complicado encontrar contenidoss bien expresados, asii
    que аprovecho ρara rеconocertelo.Sigսe as😉

    Like

  33. Chris Richardson says:

    Kris if you don’t mind my asking. Is that your house on the cost of living page. How many bed rooms do you live in?

    Like

  34. Chris Richardson says:

    Cris, the banks there. Do they have direct deposit in the banks there from your retirement checks or do they mail you your retirement checks? I work for the State of Ohio that is where I will be getting my retirement from. I will retire in Nov.2019.

    I was there back in Sept. of this year for 10 days. I really enjoyed myself. I will visit again next year for 13 days this time in Sept. 2016. I plan on coming to visit David.

    Like

  35. jamie says:

    Hi Kris. Im a single full time mother of a 8 yr old boy and i just want to get some advice from someone who has lived in Panama.lol It has always been a dream of mine to move close to Florida because I love marine life and the ocean and never got to see any of those things so i want my son to see there is more to this brautiful world that crappy old Texas lol Do you have any advice as to wether I should move or just rent a vacation home for a short term vacation??? Btw thank yall for the blog its pretty awsome amd informative

    Like

    • Are you asking me about Florida or Panama? I can’t say anything about raising kids in Panama since I have no experience with that. I did live in Sarasota FL from the time my younger daughter started 7th grade and I was very happy with the opportunities offered to her. FL isn’t known for having the best school system around but I think Sarasota is one of the best in the state. I remember she took a marine biology course at Sarasota High School and they would take the kids out on a boat to study marine life in the real world. She was also involved in sports, music, and the high school had a special MAST (math, science, technology) program. I don’t know if it is still in effect but when we were there, kids with a high grade point average got a free or partially paid ride (depending on grades) through any FL state university. She now holds a PhD in physics for which she worked very hard, but it helps a lot that she had the educational opportunities as well. So, that’s all I know about raising a kid in FL. We enjoyed Sarasota a lot but it’s not a cheap place to live, which is the main reason we retired here.

      Like

      • jamie says:

        Thank you Kris that answered some of my questions about oppurtunities as far as education for kids. Guess i gotta do lots more research. Ive never been towards the coastal cities and want to so bad before im to old lol Think im gonna plan a weeks vacation and just drive out to panama one day and see how i like it beings its only 7 hours away. I just want to go where there is beautiful blue water beaches scooba diving sea world dolphins etc etc…

        Like

  36. Kathy Eckert says:

    I am visiting in David right now for 3 weeks. My boyfriend wants to live here and has been here 2 times before this. Its just so hot!!

    Like

    • Yes indeed it is hot! This is the hottest time of the year and that afternoon sun is intense. But of course being the tropics, it is always very warm. Maybe you could find a higher elevation where it’s a bit cooler but still an easy drive to the city.

      Like

  37. lordisholy says:

    Hello Kris, How are you? When you and your husband moved down there. Did you guys ship anything such as boxes or anything?

    Like

  38. Wendy Kamdin says:

    Hi Kris, delighted to have discovered your blog, and to hear you’re doing so well in David, Panama. Thinking of retiring in Panama myself in the not too distant future, and intending to take a trip down there in December this year (2016), to explore a bit.
    Wonder whether you’re familiar with the business ” Panama Relocation Tours” and if so, what your thoughts are about them.
    I’ve just subscribed to your blog for email updates, but don’t own a website (asked for in the boxes below). Hoping this query gets successfully posted, therefore.
    Best regards,
    Wendy

    PS: assuming I make it to David, I’d love to meet you there.

    Like

    • Hi Wendy and glad you are enjoying the blog. Yes, your comment came through fine. If it’s your first time though, it gets put aside until I check it and let it through just in case it’s spam. From now on your comments should post quickly.
      Yes I have heard about Panama Relocation tours but don’t have any first hand experience with them. They seem to have good feedback from people who have found them helpful. But, if you are seriously thinking of living here, it might be more realistic to make your own tour. You get a better feel for what it’s like getting around and doing daily things on your own.
      Yes indeed, if you are in David let me know. If I’m around we’ll plan a get together:)

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Kris, glad my comments and questions did post. I didn’t tag the original for comments via email so had to keep checking back. Happy to find your response now. What appealed to me about Panama relocation tours was the offer (and promises) of contacts and banking and visa assistance and so on and so forth. Plus the apparently easy way out for a first experience of portions of the country appealing to aspiring expats (of the retiree category). Of course I do intend to visit, with or without them – just wondered whether what they charge is worth the money. That I will have to decide for myself, since you don’t have any specific feedback (other than having heard of them). Their website if you haven’t looked them up is the obvious – panamarelocationtours.com. I can find no negative reviews anywhere about them.

        My thoughts were to take their tour (6 days) and have my daughter (28) join me at the end and then putter around by ourselves foe another 10’ish days on holiday. David would be part of our itinerary – we’d love to look you up. Will definitely keep in touch (and keep enclosing your blog).

        Meanwhile, if you have any more feedback on Panama relocation tours, if be happy to hear of it.

        Best regards
        Wendy

        Like

        • Somehow this comment was waiting for me too. I think you have to be signed in to WordPress, or maybe it’s some other hiccup.

          Most of the info you want can be found in other places. There is a busy Facebook group – Expats in Panama that is a wealth of information, and there are other Panama blogs and websites. We were really happy with our lawyer https://blog.thepanamaadventure.com/2015/03/07/residency-and-a-good-lawyer/ I think it’s easier to get a bank account after you are a resident, but you can also just continue to use your USA bank(s). It’s much better to live here a year or more before buying any property. So, in case that influences your decision I thought I’d toss that out there. I don’t think they would put negative reviews on their website, but I haven’t heard anything negative about them either. I think they do their job well as far as I know.
          Yes for sure, let me know when you are in the area and we’ll get together:)

          Like

          • Thanks Kris – still trying to get the hang of this blog post replying – my last one got posted as “Anonymous” . Perhaps I’ll try clicking on the Facebook’s icon this time. As well as filling in my details “below” as requested. (If it’ll let me do both.) thanks for the link to residency and a good lawyer. I’ll look it up.
            The issue about opening bank accounts etc., has to do with the type of visa one is applying for. And of course one wouldn’t want to buy property without living there for a year or so. (All this is explained somewhere on the Panama Relocation Tours site).
            As to negative reviews, I certainly didn’t expect them to post any on their own site – just wondered whether there were any word of mouth stories that you might have heard of.
            I still have some time to give it all a thought though. And holding out hope for a December trip, one way or another.
            Would be nice to pass through David and know that I already have someone there I can look up – you!
            Will keep in touch.
            Best,
            Wendy

            Like

          • Just posted a reply using my Facebook account as a log in and don’t see it here either. Hopefully it’s waiting for you and you’ll find it somewhere.
            Wendy

            Like

            • Nope, both of them were waiting in the cue. I wonder though, now that they are approved if the next time you sign in through Facebook WordPress will recognize you.

              Like

              • Taking note that my current comment (reply above did appear as soon as I posted it. Progress is being made?

                Like

                • Yeah!! My blog now things you are a friend😀 Yes, I think things are working as they should.

                  Like

                  • Yeah right back at you! And guess what I just dipped my toes in WordPress’ waters and started my own blog. Since its just a few minutes old, it’s very rudimentary right now, but it will grow (as long as I can find time between working for a living, learning Spanish, following other bloggers …)
                    As soon as I can figure out how to invite you to follow my blog, you will be my first “follower.”
                    The name of my blog? “Yo soy perdido.” (With a tag line, which I’ll leave for you to discover.

                    Kris – so pleased to have found you out here on the blogosphere

                    Like

                    • I already found you, as you know. You will see if you haven’t already, people who comment on your blog often leave paths back to their blogs.
                      Are you talking about – with each new language you learn, you lead a new life? I love that!
                      Where are you located now? I see you are a fellow New Yorker. No wonder we get along😀

                      Like

  39. Hi Kris – yes, discoveries on how blogs work are being made one at a time, little by little. And you’re right, that was the expression I meant to refer to “With each new language you learn, you lead a new life.” Every language opens up doors to new cultures, new ways of thinking, new perspectives, new friends, and so much more. First hand experience – I speak, in addition to my native English (colonial): Tamil, German, a wee bit of French (mostly dormant), and now am working on Spanish. So, yes, I do find that saying appropriate.
    Will keep following your blog.
    PS: though I was born in New York, I have very little claim to being a New Yorker – I was taken back to India, while a still a baby, and grew up there. We do however, you and I, seem to have some connection, I’ve also notices.

    Like

    • India? Wow, how interesting. Maybe sometimes you can write about what it was like growing up there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Working on a memoir – a work in progress. Perhaps I’ll add a new blog someday and include bits and pieces.
        Meanwhile I have to get the hang of my current blog first – it’s an uphill battle, perhaps an iPad isn’t the best platform from which to work on it.
        Been trying (futile thus far) to add a text widget to my sidebar so I can add the blogs I follow – yours being first.

        Like

        • Excellent, but I know writing takes a lot of time.
          I only use my iPad when i’m not home, but it can be done. I checked on mine – go to the dashboard, appearance, widgets, and you will find quite a few ready to use. You have to use your finger to drag the ones you want into the Primary Widget Area (or whatever area you prefer). I see one for – Blogs I Follow. Good luck!

          Like

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