City, Mountain, And Beach Escapes–This Top Retirement Haven Has Them All
If full-fledged city living is what you’re looking for in retirement, Panama City is the only place in Central America that qualifies. It’s the only true cosmopolitan choice in the region. Compact as it is, however, Panama City is not one choice but many.
This is a city of diverse neighborhoods, each offering a different lifestyle. Historic Casco Viejo, with its brick-lined streets and colonial architecture, appeals to the romantic. Punta Pacifica is a brand-spanking-new enclave of waterfront high-rise towers that could as easily be in Miami. San Francisco is the established home of Panama City’s most established families. Clayton and Costa del Este are appealing “suburban” choices, each situated just outside Panama City proper.
However, the most appealing neighborhood in Panama City for the would-be retiree is in the heart of downtown: El Cangrejo, home to a fast-growing community of expats and foreign retirees who recognize and appreciate the unique quality of life on offer on what is arguably the most comfortable, convenient, and affordable downtown Panama City experience.
In El Cangrejo, most everything you need for day-to-day living is within walking distance, including a big U.S.-style grocery store, Pricesmart (Central America’s Costco), and a weekend farmers’ market across from the Iglesia del Carmen. In addition, this neighborhood is home to Panama City’s best selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars, as well as the Clinica Einstein, where top-notch health care is available six days a week, no appointment required. Panama City’s Johns Hopkins-affiliated Hospital Punta Pacifica is but a 10-minute taxi ride away.
And El Cangrejo is about to become even more convenient, thanks to the new metro that Panama City is investing in. Two of this city’s 16 metro stations will be in El Cangrejo. New apartment towers just steps from these new metro stations are coming online, and new residents attracted to the ever-more-convenient urban lifestyle of the neighborhood are already filling them up. Meantime, entrepreneurs of all descriptions (franchisers and restaurateurs, for example) are also moving in to tap into the expanding marketplace.
El Cangrejo is a multicultural neighborhood with an eclectic population. Your neighbor might be a Chilean artist, a Spanish musician, a Serbian entrepreneur, a corporate transplant from Canada, a young Panamanian bucking the tradition of living with his parents through his 20s, or another nice retired couple from the United States.
The cost of living in Panama City is not as low as in other parts of Panama. It is possible to live in some small beach and mountain towns in this country on US$1,200 per month or less. That was true in Panama City even five years ago but is not true today. Likewise, El Cangrejo is not the most affordable place to base yourself in Panama City. However, El Cangrejo is the best Panama City-lifestyle buy for your retirement dollars. The quality of life you can enjoy here is comparable to the best of “city neighborhood” living anywhere in the States, akin in many ways to living in some neighborhoods of New York City, for example, but costs nothing like it’d cost to live in any similarly appointed or culturally rich U.S. city.
At the high end of the scale, you could rent a three-bedroom apartment in a new building with a swimming pool, a full-time doorman, fantastic city views, and U.S.-standard finishings and fixtures for about US$1,300 per month. Or you could rent in an older building, meaning less-than-modern finishings and modest building amenities, for as little US$800 per month.
Compare that with the cost of renting even a very basic apartment in any interesting, bohemian neighborhood in Manhattan.
Continue Reading: Options For Retiring To Portobello, Las Tablas, And Panama City, Panama