Panama has become one of the most touted places in this hemisphere in choosing a place to retire to, especially in the United States, and for good reason. However, let’s update the information that is out there so that you may make an informed choose. It is one thing to watch the promotional infomercials highlighting Panama as a retirement haven, however, it is an entirely different issue to actually come to live here for good and, essentially, invest your hard earned retirement income here in Panama. Also, as we’ve advised many friends in the states and Canada, you need to make an exploratory trip to Panama and soak up the atmosphere as well as the realities here to include the “gut feelings” you pick up in your plans.
The Republic of Panama is still attractive to many people of the western hemisphere and to Europeans as it is still a dollarized economy. Our official currency is called the Balboa but the dollar is the true exchange currency and everywhere you shop, trade or bank, it is with American (U.S.) dollars.
The weather is also very appealing as, in some regions like Boquete out in the western part of Panama, the cooler highlands temperature are a magnet for those seeking a more comfortable tropical type cllimate. This is one reason why so many Canadian, North Americans and British foreigners have settled in this area of Boquete and bought expensive homes in the gated communities that have proliferated in this pleasant mountainous region.
Within Panama City, the capital, you have many options as well, although the climate is, for some, way too hot and humid- uncomfortably so for many travellers. On the other hand, if it is arctic type winters that you are escaping and all the drudge that comes with them like shoveling snow and de-icing your car before driving it, even Panama’s muggy heat seems inviting.
Within Panama City, especially in the Bella Vista district, you have many attractions rolled up into one. There is the banking district where you may bank safely and where tourists have many conveniences for conducting transactions. We also have easier access to post offices, to shopping centers and access to transportation like no where else in Panama City. Transportation, by the way, has become more of a challenge these days with the placement of the Metro Bus system into operation and the construction of the soon-to-be completed Metro (subway/rail system). Tranque– traffic jams and sometimes total “gridlock”- is a word on everybody’s lips taking a toll on the commuter’s nerves and their health as they try to cope with Panama’s entry into the “modern” world.
Shopping can also be a pleasant experience as we have dozens of new shopping malls that have sprung up all over the Republic as well as Panama City. The supermarkets here, in our opinion, can rival any supermarket in the U.S. For instance, in their cleanliness, their variety of just about anything you may need from almost anywhere in the world. The meat departments here in the supers of Bella Vista are stocked with fresh meat, poultry and fish. The embutido sections also are stocked with a respectable variety of fresh cheeses and cold cuts at all times.
With the recent modernization of Panama’s Tocumen Airport, our small republic is now considered an estimable international travel hub. The airport now offers a variety of shops and modern eateries where you may have a decent bite to eat while you wait for your next flight or before moving on. The restrooms and other service areas have also been modernized. Since the English language is now being made mandatory in the Panamanian school curriculum, many of the service people and travel reps can converse with you in English.
In our upcoming posts we will continue to discuss the more positive side of Panama’s options for the would-be retirees to our beautiful isthmus and we will also give you some of the insider considerations before taking the leap. So, stay tuned and meet us back here soon.