I have a fantasy. It is a part of what I dream of living in Panama (or any other far away place). It looks like this: my wife and I live in a small, quaint town but it is big enough to have all the neccessities including quality medical care. It is usually sunny but not too hot. A sweater at night isn't so bad. We pay $500 a month to rent a clean, modest house in a safe neighborhood. The beach isn't too far away. Of course, the mountains are everywhere. We walk into our favorite restaurant or watering hole and the owner welcomes us with a smile. He/she knows us by name and is happy to see us. Between our terrible espanol and their terrible ingles, we carry on happy conversations. We know our Panamanian neighbors and consider them amigos. We also have expat friends....one needs familiarity. There is a town square where families gather on Sundays after church. We can walk the streets at night. Oh, yeah...I want a motorcycle. I wonder if there is such a place.
You might want to try Arrijain. I rent a house on a half acre for $130 a month. My neighbors are all Chiricanos and look out for each other. Great place for riding motorcycles (I do). No beaches though. The closest is in Vera Cruz. Less than half an hour by motorcycle. I hope you find what you want....
The problem is that the beaches and the mountains are quite a distance from each other, a half an hour to an hour. Panama has this spine of mountains running through it's middle, from one end to the other. In other words, you won't be diving into the ocean from the mountain tops. You either live in the mountains and drive to the beaches, or live at the beaches and drive to the mountains. Quality medical care is only found in the major cities. Panamanians and Gringos, generally are only associated with work. You hire them, or you buy into their services. Culturally, you are miles apart. With a great deal of effort, you can bridge that gap, but it is not easy. They did not grow up like you. They are not familiar with a lot of the things that you are familiar with. My idea was to invite the local Indians over to see my stuff and come for dinner. Then they would invite me over to see their stuff and we would have dinner together. It's not working out that way for a number of reasons. Other than that, you are talking about most of Panama.
Having lived in Arraijan for 20 years or so, I would say the ever growing population. The houses are getting closer all the time. And then there's the weekend noise! And Iabsolutely hate when one dog starts barking the entire nneighborhood erupts into a beagle bragiade!
Other than that, we've called it home for quite a while. We've considered selling for awhile. But don't think we'd consider selling to another expat. I've been the only north american in our neighborhood since the subdivision was invented back in 1990.
Cheftech is simply pointing out that Panas will steal anything that's not tied down, whether its crops growing on your land to generators to whatever. Not to paint with a broad brush, but theft and break-ins are very common.
And, just to add a bit of balance to your idyllic fantasy, you have to realize that Panas not only disrespect other persons' property (especially expats), but they disrespect their own country. This is evident from any kind of travel around the country where you'll see trash and debris everywhere. A Pana would pass up a trash can and not think twice about dropping trash anywhere convenient to them at the time. Gutters are littered with trash and in many areas Panas literally walk from their house and dump their trash in the street or over the fence or wherever they want. Beaches are no exception. It's very sad to see.
"Cheftech is simply pointing out that Panas will steal anything that's not tied down, whether its crops growing on your land to generators to whatever. Not to paint with a broad brush, but theft and break-ins are very common." answers my last post.
I think I have pretty much written Panama off my list. The negative comments far outweigh the positive. I also cancelled my subscription to International Living. They could make Chernobyl look look like shangri la if it meant selling tickets to their seminars.
Yes it is a shame & pollution will NEVER be conquered, lots of bad things to say about the U.S. but it's still better than the other options, I'll save my Panama for visits, again I'm jaded by growing up in the ole PCZ, "Never Never Land" or Pleasantville personified R.I.P. It is a way of life to throw things on the ground of out the window & will probably never change. When I am in Panama I put a plastic grocery bag in the car for litter & hope my Panamaños friends who ride with me pick up on this?
It is a shame...however, it was same way in the USA in the 40's and 50's when I was growing up. Until they started 'preaching' at us and set up monetary fines for littering. I have seen it all over the Caribbean and Central and South Ameriaca, too. No one is immune. If you go to see the cliff divers in Acapulco Mexico, just look over the edge of the cliff and notice the trash dump it has become...as well as along the highways (either side), Sad that some so disrespect our earth.
"Several students were injured, including two critically, Tuesday morning in a shooting at the Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, N.M., as children were being dropped off to start their day, authorities said." I'll take trash over this any day. This happened today!
No place is perfect but in my opinion it is uncomfortable to live in the lowland tropics on a year round basis. Just to go out and mow your grass means you are going to have a sweat bath. Panama is in the deep tropics so to be comfortable you need to have some elevation. I would say the comfort range starts at about 800 to 1000 meters and goes to about 1500 meters. Above that it starts to get too cold. You can drive to the beach and spend a couple of days there and then return to your home in the mountains. If you can afford it you could even have a lot on the beach and build some kind of low cost structure to get out of the sun. The beach is nice in the evening and early morning but the middle of the day is very uncomfortable. There are a number of choices here in Panama at a good elevation. I live in Volcan at 1400 meters in elevation. They are building a new hospital here. When I want to go to the ocean I drive to Horconcitos and from there to the coast where I take a boat the the Island of Boca Chica where there is a nice restaurant on a hill with fabulous views of the ocean. Also there is another Island close by with a beautiful beach in a small cove. I have the guy with a boat drop me off in the morning and pick me up in the evening. It is a beautiful place and there has never been anyone else there when I went there so you have the entire island all to yourself. You have to get out of the boat in shallow water and carry your ice chest to the beach. The breakers are never very strong because it is in a cove and the water is always very warm and very clear. On the mainland close-by a number of gringos are building houses but to me the mainland looks very hot and uninviting. In addition it is an hour's drive to David to buy your groceries. For those who are not familiar with the area, there is a new paved road between Volcan and Boquete with not much development so far. It is at a comfortable elevation and perhaps land is not yet that expensive. It has electricity. There is a very small community on this road called Paraiso which consists of a couple of houses, a nice small restaurant and an elementary school. It is a very pleasant spot. The owner of the restaurant has a daughter who goes to school with my daughter. They are very nice people. It would be a nice place to have a house and on occasion you could make a day trip to the ocean.
If you are basing your retirement destination on a few comments, you are not the expat type anyway. No place on earth is perfect but we found what we think is pretty close. Cancelling IL is the smartest thing anyone can do. We see them come through Boquete with their hype and high pressure to buy buy buy. And people do and then regret regret regret.
Panama isn't the only place that has a problem with people throwing out trash. When I lived in Tennessee you saw quite a bit of trash along the roads. The State of Tennessee even ran an ad on TV to try and stop people from throwing trash out their car windows. The name of the ad was "Don't be Tennessee Trash" It showed this beat up old car going down the road bellowing out smoke filled with people throwing beer cans, etc. out of the window. And the ad kept repeating don't be Tennessee trash. Maybe such an ad would work for Panama. Actually though here in Volcan the schools organize the kids to have a trash picking up day. Normally on the 28th of November people throw trash everywhere in Volcan so the next day the town looks like a disaster. This year however on the 29th they had crews of people picking up all the trash. So things are improving.
"If you are basing your retirement destination on a few comments, you are not the expat type anyway." I don't see how wanting to live among people who are welcoming, don't dump trash in my yard and don't steal my stuff disqualifies me from being the "expat type"...whatever that is. I understand that no place is perfect but I have traveled Mexico (for example) extensively and have found it friendly, clean and safe. Of course, I'm sure that if I went looking for trouble in Mexico I would find it and plenty of it. But I can say the same for my home town in Indiana. If you have found heaven in Panama, I am happy for you. I will keep following this forum and maybe I will hear something positive about the people. I can find beautiful beaches or mountains all over the world but its the culture that really counts to me.
hi cbrede, I am just wondering, are you still contemplating Panama or is it off your list.? We have our house for rent, for $500, and our area is safe. Temperature wise our place is just like you said, warm but not hot. We live in the mtn. but are only 3 mins. from the pan American highway. you have a lovely ocean view from the back windows of our house. We even have a motorcycle/scooter available for rides in the mtns., where the vistas are 2nd to none. We have never had anything stolen, but we do follow the protocol we were told to follow by our fellow panamian's , though we were not used to it, ie, we were told when we go away we should close and lock our front gate. We though we had to only lock our house, like in Canada. But we were told to not lock your gate was like inviting the robber to our house!..lol.
Cbredemus, ex-pats who love Panama generally don't get on the net to say how wonderful it is. The ones who hate it, on the other hand, don't miss an oportunity to bash it, because they want to vent, let of steam.That is why most of what you read will be negative. Ever heard of the silent majority and the vocal minority? It applies here.
Your place sounds great. I never say never. I would still like to visit and see for myself. I suppose being an expat means different things to different people. For me, in large part, its about immering myself in a new culture and learning about the world. If I just want to live on a beach or mountain, I can go to Florida or Colorado. I want to mingle with the folks. If they don't want to mingle with me, I'll go somewhere else. Its like the old saying....France would be great...if it wasn't for the people..:).
Panama City is very dirty in parts. So are other towns in Panama, but certainly not all. To write off Panama because of some localized reports does our country a great disservice. We live in Boquete. It is not filled with trash, the locals are very welcoming, we speak to our neighbors in both English and Spanish, it is 70 degrees and breezy. We have a beautiful rental house but can be scuba diving in a few hours. If you are serious about expatriating - YOU must do the legwork and see for yourself what works for you. Again, cancelling IL is the first step. If you ever find yourself in western Panama, give a call and I'll show you around.
La Acequia It is at the base of Volcan Baru at an elevation of about 1500 feet surrounded by mountains and about a 30-40 minute drive to the beach. They just finished a new 4 lane highway from Boquete to David(Panama's 2nd or 3rd largest city) and a 15 minute drive to either one. David has excellent health care, plenty of shopping, Pricemart (Costco). Boquete has plenty to do in the Gringo community, plays, good restaurants, music, markets, etc. It is cool with breezes all year, crime is low and the trash problem is much better than anywhere I have seen in Panama. It is also in the "bread basket" of Panama and food is fresh and very cheap.We have been here 2 years and the only thing I have come up missing was my dog's collar which was returned to us the next day by a neighbor boy who I promptly gave a dollar to and said "muchas gracias". Of course we do treat our Panamanian neighbor with respect and I think that transfers back to us. Someone will probably call this a bribe. Oh yeah, motorcycles. We have a club here "Macho Montes", a bunch of Gringo's and Panamanian's who take off on their bikes( Harley's to dirt bikes) every Sunday morning for a ride around the amazing countryside usually stopping for a cold Cerveza along the way or a BarBQue in someones back yard. For me IT IS the "perfect place".
Jessica Ramesh, IL Panama editor, puts her money where her mouth is. She lives in Panama City full time in Bethania, 8 years, among Panamanians. And she loves it. You don't have to agree with her. I have watched many of her videos on YT and she never comes across as lying to the viewer. There is one where she takes you to a supermarket in PC and what she says makes complete sence. Buy local products to save, buy imports to splurge. Does that sound like a lie?
try Altos del Maria in the mountains above Chame. they have a web site of the same name and plenty of space to chill. Sounds like our dream and we found it here in Altos. The beach is near enough as is shopping, golf and many restaurants.
Gee, I feel like a freak because my neighbors are nice, I am friends with all the gardeners in the area....Guess because I treat them like neighbors, have them over for dinner, share my garden's excess. You get what you give here. If you have things that are to valuable to be left out, get a safe and a few big dogs. Live in a gated community. If a family moves to Panama with a superior attitude then they will be shunned. Wouldn't you behave the same way in reverse. It is a lovely country, the people are beautiful. I am so sorry everyone posting has had such negative experiences. My complaints range from the river nearby is noisy and so are the 5:00 a.m. flock of parrots. Other than that, nada.
the only unrealistic portion of your dream is the price of rentals. We rented a "casita" while waiting for our house to be completed last year. Geez. Some people want to soak you. Seriously, We visited Panama for 8 years prior to the final move. If you look on your map for the Chame district, you will see that it has Pacific Ocean and mountains in the narrowest part of the country. It generally takes us 25 minutes to go down the mountain to Chame. Small enough but large enough to get your favorite shaving cream.
Me, too. I sure would like to know where IS that perfect place in Panama. I liked Coronado after visiting there last November. Shortly I visited Cabo San Lucas. Some of the most recent posts have nudged me closer to Cabo. Oh, Cheftech! Ancient Japanese saying may be the most appropriate responses to your anger outburst and name calling:'He who has run out of ideas strike first".
I have a fantasy. It is a part of what I dream of living in Panama (or any other far away place). It looks like this: my wife and I live in a small, quaint town but it is big enough to have all the neccessities including quality medical care. It is usually sunny but not too hot. A sweater at night isn't so bad. We pay $500 a month to rent a clean, modest house in a safe neighborhood. The beach isn't too far away. Of course, the mountains are everywhere. We walk into our favorite restaurant or watering hole and the owner welcomes us with a smile. He/she knows us by name and is happy to see us. Between our terrible espanol and their terrible ingles, we carry on happy conversations. We know our Panamanian neighbors and consider them amigos. We also have expat friends....one needs familiarity. There is a town square where families gather on Sundays after church. We can walk the streets at night. Oh, yeah...I want a motorcycle. I wonder if there is such a place. ^^^^^
Indiana is Extremely Frigid this Winter. -10 Below is the actual predicted temp for Monday night and that is Not good for me. Looking for a laid back lifestyle, hammock, nice breeze and a cool drink sounds appealing. Not too Hot or too Cold. I am a North American and always will be. However, that doesn't mean that I cannot enjoy the food and culture of our Host Country wherever that tends to be.
For Panama or other places, consider being a "snow bird" renting in Panama or else where, check out different areas in whatever country & it the case of Panama, I DO NOT recommend buying property. There are many people finding Panama as "snow birds" & come for the winter only. In my case I like summer time (rainy season) in Panama also but I lived in south FLA & Panama from birth to age 15.
You have to put boots on the ground. My wife and I have made 3 trips to Panama seeking a spot to retire. We have been to David, Puerto Armuelles, Santiago, Las Tablas, San Carlos, Santa Clara, El Valle and Panama City. From our internet research we thought Puerto Armuelles might be our spot, but a visit changed our mind. We decided on the Las Tablas area after visiting. You just have to go see for yourself.
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