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An Expat Talks about Retiring in Taboga Island, Panama

Submitted by jmarie


Toboga Island in the Gulf of Panama

A 30-50 minute ferry ride from Panama City takes you to the shores of Toboga Island. One expat couple decided to retire there over eight years ago to enjoy the lower cost of living, good medical care and beautiful weather. The couple share their experiences living on this beautiful island.

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

Taboga Island

Why did you choose to retire abroad?

At the time, 8 1/2 years ago, it was much cheaper to live in Panama. Food prices have skyrocketed. Transportation costs have also risen quite a bit as well. The climate is wonderful all year - even in the rainy season. However, if you have respiratory problems the air is quite dense with smoke as many burn (fields, garbage, etc.) during the dry season. This year has been particularly bad. Living on Taboga Island is much calmer as there are no buses, ambulances, or car alarms like Panama City.

Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?

All year

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

Better prices (years ago), good medical, warm weather, runs on the US dollar, close to the US for visits.

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?

No

How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?

8 1/2 years

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How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?

0

What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?

In the beginning the language barrier. But we do just fine now.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?

No cold weather, no mortgage, living on the water.

What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?

Really do your homework with the attorney you decide upon. There are dishonest ones here just like anywhere else.

What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)

Our little island is pretty calm. No nightlife, which is one of the reasons we chose it. A constantly changing landscape with the ships waiting for the Panama Canal, whales and dolphins in the waters out front and views of the neighboring islands.

What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)

When we did it the process was relatively easy. Now we understand that a police report will no longer suffice. They require an FBI report now. You have to show verifiable income to support yourself and spouse. Again, do your homework before choosing an attorney.

Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)

We bought our home and turned half of it into a vacation rental (Tres Terrazas). We used an attorney for this as we were conducting the purchase from the states with emails, faxes, federal express and bank deposits. Not really that difficult but we had a great attorney.

Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?

We paid cash so no mortgage which is great. The prices, as mentioned above, have risen. The medical, however, is great. I spent 4 nights in a private room with round the clock care and paid $1,800 for everything!

What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?

Figure out what you think it will cost you with all monthly bills then factor in another 30%. There are always unforeseen costs, we found, which were not considered.

How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?

We do fine with $2000/monthly for everything. But, no mortgage, car payment, credit card bills...

Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)

Yes, please see above.

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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)

Virtually non existent.

Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?

There are ferries which run daily from Taboga Island to the mainland. Depending on which one you take it is a 30-50 minute ride. You can walk everywhere on the island. If you need a ride there are a couple of guys who for $2-$3 will help you with your cargo and drive you to your home.

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

Yes.

Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?

Spend some time, several weeks if possible, to get a real feel for the area you are considering retiring to. We came here 5 times before we purchased.

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