“Kathleen, I just finish reading your book, ‘How To Retire Overseas.’ It was great! I got a lot of good info.
“I am ready to make the big move! I am looking to visit Santa Fe, Boquete, and Las Tablas. Are these a good place to start?”
— Pat C., United States
Yes, these are all good places to consider…and very different. Las Tablas is one of our top beach-life choices. You could retire to this little town on the east coast of the Azuero Peninsula on a budget of US$1,000 per month or less. You could spend your days fishing, boating, and surfing with the locals.
Santa Fe, too, is an appealing option if you’re open to the idea of “going local”–that is, settling in among a community of Panamanians and adopting their way of life. In Las Tablas, a small expat community is emerging. In Santa Fe, you’d be one of the first gringos on your block. This has its appeals…and also its challenges. For sure, living here, you’d need to learn to speak Spanish. On the plus side, a nest egg of as little as US$800 could buy you a comfortable retirement in this mountain town.
Boquete is another highlands choice…but, again, very different. This mountain town is home to the biggest and most established expat community in Panama. This is one place in this country where you could get by speaking almost no Spanish (as nearly half the population of 5,000 qualifies as gringo). You’d never want for English-speaking company if you sought it out.
Neither would you want for much of anything else. Nearby David is the shopping and business hub of the region, home to Price Smart (think Costco) and a big Do-It Center (Panama’s answer to Home Depot), for example.
This level of convenience comes at a price, of course, and Boquete is one of the most expensive places to live in Panama outside Panama City. We’ve published complete reports on living in Las Tablas and Boquete in past issues of our Panama Letter…and Santa Fe is on the editorial calendar for later this year.