Expat Advice: Retiring in
An expat retiree in Boquete, Panama offers some insight into the best way to retire abroad there. Includes information about cost of living, health care, finance, and more.
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Why did you choose to retire abroad?
For health and comfort reasons, we can no longer tolerate the cold. Plus, we could not afford to travel and live in the U.S., we needed a place where we'd have more disposable income.
Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?
Why did you choose the country you retired to?
Great climate, friendly people, the price is right, good access to a world-class airport.
Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?
A year in Vietnam!
How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?
How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?
What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?
Getting used to the cultural differences, language, pace of life and casual attitude about service.
What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?
Just making the move, and seeing how well we've managed.
What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?
More research, and we would live in a prospective retirement spot much longer than the three months we did.
What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)
Very active expat community, with several groups, birders, hikers, quilters, photography, charitable aid groups, you name it.
What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)
We are in the process of obtaining our 'pensionado visa' from Panama, a visa that allows us permanent residency here, plus several beneficial discounts etc.
Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)
Rent. Not difficult, but a bit seasonal. Purchasing is easy, but selling a home takes a very, very long time, so it's advisable to rent first, always.
Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?
Met them, mostly, not exceeded.
What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?
Establishing an international account so we could access our funds. It's difficult and time consuming to open a bank account.
How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?
In Boquete, $2,000/month could provide comfort, with few frills.
Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)
Health care is either middle-rate, or world class, depending on how long one wishes to wait, and how much $$$ you have. No Medicare, of course, and Tricare (military coverage) is available, but not widely accepted.
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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)
Almost none. Only 'property' crime like the occasional break in, but overall we're much safer here than in any large US city.
Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?
No need for a personal vehicle as there are many taxis (cheap) and buses as well.
Is there high-speed internet access where you live?
Yes, again depending on how much you wish to pay.
Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?
Research, live there for at least six months, do not purchase property, and be wary of hype which almost always comes from real estate oriented promoters etc. Learn enough of the language to show the locals that you're trying, and don't be afraid to use it. They'll be very appreciative.
More Expat Advice about Retiring in Panama