Boquete Highlands Real EstateArea Homes for SaleSmall FarmsBuilding lotsSold PropertiesDesign & ConstructionHot DealsBoquete Highlands Real Estate
Specializing in small farms & unique homesites


After hearing so much about how Panama has become the number one retirement destination in the world, we decided to go and check it out for ourselves. 

We have just returned from a quick nine day trip to Panama. Here are a few highlights of our trip and what we experienced and enjoyed. 

Panama was better than we expected – much better. Panama City is on its way to becoming an International City. Some might say it already is one. It feels similar to Vancouver because it is in building mania mode. An embassy worker we met on the plane told us there are 213 cranes in the city, building high-rise, high-end condominiums. I do not know if this is true, but what is clear is that a major building boom is changing Panama’s landscape. 

Who is buying? We looked at a few model projects with a real-estate agent. She told us people were moving in from the United States, Canada, Italy, Israel, Switzerland, and just recently, Venezuela – reflecting a move away from the change of government there. She picked us up in a four-wheel BMW, wearing designer clothes, an expensive handbag and plenty of diamonds. Sales are busy. 

Condominiums cost approximately $175,000 and up with many luxury developments in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. For around $200,000 you can buy a three-bedroom, three- and a half bath, 1,500 square foot condo with a small maid’s quarters. 

We visited another small town in the Chiriqui highlands, Boquete, which is about an hour from Panama by plane. Boquete is a booming retirement mecca and because it is in the highlands, the weather is a balmy 73 degrees for much of the year. It is a very small village with three or four blocks of local shops. There are quite a few great restaurants, but it lacks many of the basic amenities of larger towns. The shops provide local goods, at local prices. Apparently most ex-pats shop in David, a city about thirty miles away. David is the commercial center of the highlands. 

But what Boquete lacks in amenities is more than up for by a sense of community amongst the ex-pats. This is why people come and stay. Retirement does not refer to age here, as the basic requirement for Pensionado status is around $500 US a month guaranteed income. Plenty of people “retired” there are in their 40’s or 50’s and are actively self-employed. Employment from Panamanian companies is not an option.

Although the village is small, several hundred ex-pats live here, some in local accommodation and more and more in specially-built projects. I heard of construction costs of $25, $35, and $45 a square foot. There are around five gated communities under development. 

Real estate in Boquete was even higher than Panama City. Some feel there may be a bit of a price bubble there, although others dispute this. We toured a lovely three-bedroom Spanish style house with a large inner courtyard, around 1,900 sq feet for sale for $325.000. This is in a gated community. I am sure that much more is available, but we only went to two properties. People considering buying in Panama, as in any new area should probably rent there for a season, get to know some reliable people, and make a reasoned assessment. 

We found the food was great throughout Panama. There are regional foods such as corvina fish, which is like sea-bass, and narinjillo (little orange) and guanabana juice. Besides that, the food is just more flavorful. It does not taste as though it is full of chemicals, or processed and shipped around the country. We noticed that shrimps and prawns were not on the menu as often in the Chiriqui Highlands, but trout from a stream 6,000 above sea level was available. Local food from local sources – seems reasonable to me. The vegetables were fabulous and the jugo de naranja was the sweetest I have ever tasted. Even the eggs tasted different. An ice cream cone costs 25 cents. Delicious. 

Food prices are generally more reasonable than the U.S. or Canada. An entrée in a first-class restaurant in Panama might cost around $15, while entrees in the $8 to $10 range were common. This certainly compares well with most Canadian and U.S. cities, which are much higher in price. If you eat where the locals eat, you could have dinner for two for $8 to $10. I had a large glass of fresh-squeezed-before-my eyes orange juice for 75 cents. 

The coffee was delicious. They serve it negro or con leche. Each cup of coffee is made to order. We toured a coffee plantation and learned that French Roast is roasted longer and actually has less caffeine. 

Car rental is only for the foolish in Panama City; that being us. The drivers are wild, erratic and many streets have no names or numbers posted. We rented on a Sunday, which we were assured was fine because it is the most quiet day, and drove to the Panama Canal Zone and Gamboa for bird-watching. We found the Locks at the Panama Canal mildly interesting; the water rises and falls as the locks open and close. 

Our Sunday night, fifteen-minute return trip turned into a two-hour nightmare as we drove around in circles through some very poor areas in Casco Viejo (Old Panama). We did that twice before we found our way out. 

 We rented a car in David for our four day trip to Boquete, and that was fine and necessary for us to travel around the country. We rented from Avis as some of the other companies did not want to honor credit card travel insurance. Our rental cost for four days was $91.00. Gas is $2.30 a gallon. 

Taxis are cheap and plentiful. Most rides in Panama City are $2 or $3 dollars, with the exception of the airport ride, which is around $25.00.There are tolls on some highways. 

We met three or four couples, who had bused to Boquete or David from Panama City rather than rent a car outside the city. They did lose seven or eight hours each way, which is a lot out of an eight day vacation. Plane tickets from Panama to David are $66. US, one way and well worth it, in my opinion. 

We felt safe in Panama, with the exception of the area around Casco Viejo, which we found best to visit during the day. 

Technology access was mixed. In Panama City it was fine. Our hotel in Boquete boasted wireless satellite, but one day we spent one- and-a half hours getting access. The next day it was quicker, but still not great. The theory is good but the reality less so. We met a couple who had considered Boquete as a semi-retirement option, but it found it difficult to send very large internet files from there, which was part of their business. 

That being said, every hotel had internet access in their lobbies and checking daily email worked well. I think the basic internet service is fine – that is surfing and email. If you were just traveling around you would not need a laptop. 

There was an excellent internet centre on the main floor our hotel in Panama City, with about 30 people working on their own laptops or one of the many desktop computers available. Prices were good: $1.00 an hour for internet service, and $3.00 an hour for long-distance telephone; much cheaper than cell-phone long distance rates. The store was open for extended evening hours. 

One tricky point was that in one hotel my email name and password were saved. The next day when I went on-line, clicking in was all that was needed to get into my email accounts. I surely did not like this, but when I went to clear it out and remove the history, instructions were in Spanish, and I could not do it. Next time, I will bring the instructions with me. 

The Panamanians are friendly and seemed to welcome foreigners. My bird-watching guide told me that most of the young people are well-educated, many with university degrees. They start school at five, finish at fifteen, and can complete five years of university to become a teacher or nurse, for example, by age twenty. 

Because of the Panama Canal, Panama has had a close connection with the United States for the past century, and English is widely spoken. The infrastructure is the best I have seen in all of Central America. As well, Americans have been coming here for years, and, according to the embassy contact we talked to, 60,000 Americans live in Panama. As I mentioned earlier, many people are retiring there in Panama with the Pensionado Tourist Residency program. Required income is only $500 per month for an individual or $600 for a couple, and apparently it is possible to live quite well for $1,000 per month. American dollars are used, so money conversion issues were non-existent. Banks a re plentiful. 

The bird watching was wonderful. We saw about 60 species and a group of birders who were there for five days with a birding tour group said their count was 120. Just on the beautiful grounds of the Rio Alto Hotel we saw around 15 species. One day I hiked six km at the base of the Volcan Baru with an excellent young biologist, Miguel, and we saw about 20 other species there; all the tiny ones that are hard to identify. Unfortunately, we only heard but did not see the Resplendent Quetzal. Apparently the birding group saw about five Quetzals. 

What was most outstanding for us, and I believe for most other people, was the sense of camaraderie that most of the tourists and ex-pats had. People came up to us on the street and started conversations with us. We shared meals several times and sometimes in a restaurant we noticed several sets of people talking to others at other tables, as we did. We shared addresses with several people during our stay. I think that as a single, or as a couple it would be extremely easy to move to Panama because there are enough people that friendships could develop most easily. 

Many of the attitudes of the people moving here seem to be that they were not afraid of adventure; think visits with their kids can be easily arranged, and are flexible. Others were moving for medical reasons. One couple was paying $2,000 US a month for medical premiums in the USA and so they were looking for different options, as they could not afford to retire in the US with those premiums. We met many retired professionals: doctors, dentists, architects, teachers, etc. Others were using Panama as a jumping-off point for South America or other countries. 

I talked to several local Panamanians at length as well, and I felt it would be fairly easy to develop relationships with the local people. 

Booking hotels is important. One set of people, at the next table to us (J) told us how they did not book because the elderly father had been coming for fifty years and never booked. They could not find a reasonable hotel room and finally paid $400 US a night at the Intercontinental. During the busy season many hotels are full. We paid a range of $35 a night at the Hotel Milan, in Panama City, which was great; built in 2004 and very clean, to around $70, which was for a one-bedroom “aparthotel”, which included a washer and dryer. 

The weather was wonderful. Panama City is hot and humid around 85 to 95 degrees, and Boquete was cooler because it is in the highlands. Mornings there were cool, but January and February are technically winter months, with north winds. We were by the river, and it still warmed up considerably during the day. As we get so little of it in Vancouver, we loved the sun! I would have to go back during the rainy/hot season to see if I liked it at that time of year as well. 

Another couple we met at a restaurant told us they had bought one place in Panama City and one on the Pacific coast. They were selling their home in Florida and moving. Their transition was taking about a year. Another couple told us they had bought in Coronado; on the Pacific Coast. He was still working in the U.S. part-time and his wife was settling things in their new home. We did not get to the Pacific Coast, as we decided less is more, as far as enjoying our days. 

We also talked to two couples who had flown in from Costa Rica. One couple lived in Vancouver and spent four months a year in Costa Rica. The other young retired couple was from Detroit and they also traveled back and forth. They both owned homes on the Pacific Coast around Tamarindo. It seems the crime rate is high in Costa Rica, and some parts are becoming overdeveloped, but they still loved it there. It was interesting to hear their comparisons of cost, infrastructure and living in these two countries. We met others who had just come from Belize, whic h was supposedly more expensive, and another couple from Vancouver Island who had spent time in Honduras. 

All in all it was a very successful trip. We flew from Seattle to Atlanta and then Panama City. 

I can see why people are moving there: relatively inexpensive, great food, good infrastructure, wonderful weather and lots of similar people so a new community of friends can be developed relatively quickly.


We’ll go back, especially to explore the two coasts.


Mahara Sinclaire, M. Ed.
The Laughing Boomer Services
#107 - 8415 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6P 4Z9
604-561-0579 (Cell)

Design by Viaden

Boquete Highlands Real Estate, Milla 4 Alto Boquete, Boquete,Chiriqui, Republic of Panamá
Phone: +507-6676-2383, E mail:
Boquete Highlands Mortgage deals with Panama real estate, including Panama City Mortgage and Real Estate Boquete Highland Park and it is not surprising that many people around the world, who already experienced cooperation with Boquete Highlands Mortgage and appraised financial advantages and truly individual approach to each client, are eager to share their positive impressions with those, who are still looking for good terms and serious treatment of their desires. If you are among those wishing to have a house in a heavenly surroundings - below you can read what people say about Panama Real Estate and Boquete Highlands Mortgage. We hope these sincere lines of those, who already appreciated the advantages of Panama Real Estate owning will assure you that Panama Real Estate is exactly what you are looking for, and reveal to you previously unknown features and possibilities of becoming the owner of Ranch and Farms with Real Estate Boquete Highland Park offers. You will realize that Boquete Highlands Mortgage gives you a chance to make your dreams come true! Testimonial I came to Panama City on company business and was surprised to see a large cosmopolitan city with high rises and American franchises on every corner. The US influence was felt everywhere, from the quality of the roads to the currency, which is the US dollar. It was not long before I found out about a small picturesque town near the border of Costa Rica called Boquete. It is located at the base of the tallest peak in Panama, an extinct volcano called Volcan Baru. Boquete is known throughout Panama for its great coffee and its beautiful flowers. This little village sits in a valley at 3500-foot elevation, which makes for spring like weather year round. The surrounding mountains dazzle you with the variety of vegetation. Coffee, bananas, mangos and palms abound. A roaring river called the Caldera rushes through the middle of the village and out the Pacific Ocean 45 kilometers away. From the upper rim of the valley you can see the ocean and the border of Costa Rica in the distance and a storybook picture of the village below. The town is also known for producing the countries Presidents. The current President and past president still reside here when not in Panama City. A 30-minute drive on a perfect road takes you to the City of David where everything from three large US style grocery stores, a Price Smart, two private hospitals and 6 new car dealerships can be found. A small international airport serves David with 6 flights a day to Panama City, Costa Rica, and Bocas Del Toro on the Caribbean coast. You can fly to these places for between $25 and $50 each way. The 4-lane road to the Costa Rican Border is just a half hour drive. A first class Mercedes bus will take you to Panama City for $15 and it includes movies. Most of the road to Panama City is now four-lane and can be driven in about 5 ? hours. The coast is dotted with beautiful untouched beaches along the way. One kilometer from the David airport is the marina, which can handle large yachts as well as the small boat owner. The fishing and diving just off the coast is unequaled. A two-hour drive on a great road takes you to the Caribbean coast and Bocas Del Toro (the mouth of the bull). With all of these advantages and conveniences you would expect everything to be expensive but they are not at all. Panama has one of the lowest costs of living in all of Central and South America. With its great infrastructure and low duties it is a real bargain. It is the cross roads of the Americas, and goods from around the world make their way through here. The second largest free zone in the world is found here, so almost anything can be purchased at great prices.