In light of the current AARP suggestion that Boquete Panama is a prime choice to retire I need to once again publish this, updated version.
So, if you are considering a move to Panama for only economic reasons, donít come here.
Not everything is cheaper here, it never was. With the decline in housing prices in the US you might be able to buy well there; if cheaper is your goal, stay there. Electricity costs more per kilowatt hour in Panama, ignore the fact we in Boquete do not need heat or cooling. If the cost of electricity is the deciding factor, stay there. Imports of all kinds including cars cost more here, fuel costs more here, so if those are the factors stay there.
If you like second class healthcare at the highest prices in the world, stay there. If you need to go to see a doctor in Boquete expect to pay $7 for a consult, if you need health insurance expect to pay less than in the US. If you do need a hospital the closest is in David. If you need a world class hospital you need to go to Panama City. If you want to wait in an overcrowded emergency room, stay there.
Much of our food is grown in this area so if you donít like fresh vegetables but prefer food designed for shipping not flavor, stay there. If you prefer your beef with hormones and antibiotics, your chicken grown in a cage, your pork never having had the room to walk, stay there. The farm animals here are content until they reach the slaughter house.
Laws are different here, they are enforced differently and nothing is more frustrating than dealing with the government; it moves like frozen molasses. If you prefer to deal with your Federal, State, County and Municipality, stay there. Here in the wild west of Panama we rely more on our neighbors than the law. If you prefer government in your life everyday, stay there. Donít check your brains at the airport, be sure to know the laws and how they will apply to you before you venture into investments; just like home.
Culture is different here. The majority culture is hispanic and Catholic. There are minorities from around the world. A trip to a shopping mall in Panama is like a walk through the United Nations. This enriches the culture beyond expectations. If you are a racist, you do not want to be here.
If your goal is to come to Panama so you can live like you do there, stay there! Half the people that move here leave, half stay. Marriages fail, new relationships are born. Unless you are ready for major life changes, stay there. Panama is not Kansas and ruby slippers donít work here.
Those who thrive here are those who have decided to make their new life a different adventure. Come here to explore a new culture, make new friends, be part of a community, enhance your knowledge, share your life experience, enrich your life and most important do not feel that you come from a superior culture, consider Panama. If those are not your goals, you know the refrain, stay there.
Our new President is making changes, not everyone likes the changes; I donít agree with many of them. Most people will probably benefit from some of the changes.. Some will propel the nation into the 21st century. Some of that is good, some of it might be what you a fleeing from. Panama has a good infrastructure for power and communications, not so good for water, but the country is in the process of spending vast sums of money for water, sewage and health education. Panama is racing forward, it is imperfect, but if you think where you live is perfect you should stay there.
Those of us who have made Panama our home are not the typical cross section of any country, we are the restless, the open minded and those with a spirit of adventure; pioneers in a new century in which everything moves quickly. If you fit the profile, there is opportunity and a vacancy in the inn; if not, just stay there because you will not like it here.