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An Expat Talks about Moving to Boquete, Panama

Submitted by tombseekers


Boquete, Panama

We visited here many times before moving and stayed in different areas each time. There are 13 micro-climates here and they vary greatly. Some roads are not good so that may play into housing decisions too.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Boquete

Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.

Things I wished or do not regret bringing: Towels in colors I like, Bed linens and Shoes. Things I wish I left at home: nothing

What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?

We visited here many times before moving and stayed in different areas each time. There are 13 micro-climates here and they vary greatly. Some roads are not good so that may play into housing decisions too. Temperatures vary, even 5 minutes away can make a big difference. There are also areas that get extremely windy in Jan-Feb. Rent before buying.

What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?

We have a 2 bedroom rental house up the hill from Boquete town. It is our preferred area. We were lucky and planned well in advance of moving here.

How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?

Most good rentals are found through people you know. Ours was never advertised, only word of mouth. Good rentals are difficult to find.

Expats living in Panama interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. Get a Quote

Expats living in Panama interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?

Our rent (including electric, gas and high-speed internet) is less than half of just our mortgage in S. Florida. Tip: if internet is important to you, don't ask, "do you have internet" since everyone can get it. Ask, "what speed internet can I get and how much does it cost?" We pay about $50 for 5G megs mo. Five minutes away it is $150 for 1meg.

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Comments about this Report

grdbum
Nov 26, 2013 11:20

I really would love to live full time in Panama. Is it a good idea to just pick up and move to Panama without visiting there first?

tombseekers
Nov 26, 2013 15:50

grdbum - no. Why do you want to live in Panama if you've never even visited. It's not a good idea to move across town without visiting first. This could be a very expensive mistake if you're not prepared.

grdbum
Nov 26, 2013 20:03

I traveled a lot while I was in the military. I have been reading about how inexpensive it is to live in Panama from a well known magazine and website saying that a retired person can live very comfortably on $1,500 or less per month. I was asking to find out if this is true. I know that there will be some things that are better in the U.S. than in Panama, but I am willing to learn to adapt if I can live comfortably on $1,000 to $1,500 per month.

tombseekers
Nov 29, 2013 11:38

You can live in Panama for $1000-1500 mo, depending on the town you find. In Panama City - NO, in Coronado, probably NO. In Pedasi, David, Boquete or other smaller towns west of PC, Yes. Visiting here is not difficult. Use your own intuition and take the "advice" from IL with a grain of salt. They have an agenda, which is selling. I would advise to take the bus from Albrook in PC and visit each area that you find interesting. If you want the beach, focus on the coastal towns. If you want mts, skip the beach areas. Bus travel is easy and cheap. I wrote about our initial visits to Panama. We rented a car and went to Altos de Maria, Boquete and Volcan, skipping the beaches. It's very warm in David but is a 'real' town, close to beaches and only about 30 min. from the cool mts. I wrote a blog about this and so did my friend Kris, in David. If you go to Blogs under the Panama tab, you will find In da Campo and The Panama Adventure. Both have written extensively about Pedasi and David. Mine is You're Moving Where? about Boquete. All of us have written about expenses in our areas. Most bloggers will meet you in town and show you around if you contact them. If you've done a good deal of travel, you probably won't experience the culture shock that the less traveled have. You will also find a lot of ex-military, many having served near the Panama Canal. Begin learning Spanish and your transition will be easier.

grdbum
Nov 30, 2013 23:58

WOW! Thank you for all of the terrific information about living in Panama. It is extremely helpful. I probably don't need to live on the beach, but I would like to live were it is warm rather than cold, but not hot. I do have a question. If I were to live in Panama about 97% to 100% of the time, would I have to give up my U.S. citizenship? I don't really care if I don't keep my drivers license so I probably won't be going back to the U.S. very often, if at all. I figured that International Living was primarily interested in selling stuff and I have not purchased any of their products. I was stationed in South Korea and I have traveled to a number of countries in Europe, so I am no stranger to foreign country living. Thank you for the great advice.

tombseekers
Dec 1, 2013 16:44

Most people live here and keep their US citizenship. A few have become Panamanian citizens but it was their personal decision, not based on any law or regulation. If you get pensionado, (legal residency) you don't have to do the border hops every 180 days like you would have to do under a tourist visa. Crossing the border into Costa Rica gets you another 180 day visa. Your US driver's license is good for 90 days. Again, a border hop gets you another 90 days. Most people take a short vacation to Costa Rica. Getting a Panamanian driver's license is after applying for pensionado. We only had to do 1 border hop before our paperwork was done.

grdbum
Dec 2, 2013 14:07

Thank you for the great information about keeping your U.S. citizenship and also about keeping a U.S. drivers license and the Persionado program. I do have another question. Where would be the best places in Panama to live to get good health care? Thank you for all of the advice.

tombseekers
Dec 2, 2013 17:14

We have been happy with the health care in David but we haven't had any major medical issues. We have known other people who have and they have been satisfied. Panama City has excellent hospitals and specialists. We figured that if something horrendous came up, we can get to PC fairly quickly with 3 flights a day. We also have doctors in town for regular things.

grdbum
Dec 3, 2013 11:54

Thank you very much for the health care information. I am not sure, but I don't believe that I would be covered if I live in Panama with Tricare (military hearth care). I will probably be at least 65 years old when I move to Panama. Do most Americans who live in Panama purchase some type of health insurance?

oyinlami
Dec 3, 2013 12:22

Hello James, I saw your email on Expat Exchange and I read your advice on how to know your monthly living expenses in Panama. My name is Jonathan from Nigeria. I am considering moving to Panama or Belize. I think cost of emigration to Panama is higher considering legal charges and period of securing permanent residency and citizenship. What is your advice, I have a family of 4 including myself and I am just starting up my supply chain retail business. I read that retail business are not for non Panama citizen. I also have a degree in Fisheries and a diploma in Telemarketing, and I am about starting my MBA online from America university. I need you to advice me as a fellow Expat Exchange brother. What do you advice me to do? Thank you

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Panama from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

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