A Guide to Boquete, Panama
If you are searching for a place to retire that has a low cost of living but a high quality of living, Boquete, Panama will be hard to beat. In other words, you'd get a ‘big bang for your buck’ if you were to retire in Boquete, Panama. Boquete is a town of about 20,000 people nestled in the mountains of the westernmost province of Chiriqui, Panama. About 20% of the population are ex-pats from around the world that enjoy Boquete, Panama retirement living.
Boquete is about 70 miles and a 2 plus hour drive to the Caribbean coast. So, it is unique that we’ll be reporting on a retirement destination that is not a Caribbean island or Caribbean coastal town. However, the choice to retire in Boquete has become one of the most popular amongst ex-pats relocating to Central America. It is also located in a country, Panama, that is very appealing to American retirees. Because of the Boquete, Panama elevation, it is a great option for those looking for cooler weather and less humidity than you’ll experience while living in and along the Caribbean.
An Ex-Pat Haven
Boquete, Panama retirement living is popular for several reasons. People are attracted to its temperate climate and lush greenery. The area around Boquete has very rich soil that is perfect for growing virtually anything. Therefore, Boquete is known for its coffee that is grown on the hillsides surrounding the town.
Flowers, vegetables and fruit are grown locally in Boquete and very inexpensive to buy making it easy to eat a very healthy diet.
There is much to do in the area of Boquete including hiking, river rafting, golf, riding quads in the lush forest, horseback riding, shopping, and dining at great restaurants. But what you’ll hear from everyone that has spent time in Boquete is that the people are some of the friendliest and accommodating that they’ve ever met.
The other benefit of a decision to take advantage of Boquete, Panama retirement living is the low cost. Daily living costs for food, transportation, utilities, and other necessities is surprisingly low. Especially considering what Boquete has to offer for retirement.
Interview with an Ex-Pat Living in Boquete
Where is Boquete, Panama?
Boquete (which means gap in Spanish) is located in the lush green mountain highlands in the western province of Chiriqui. Boquete is 37 miles east of the border with Costa Rica. It is situated approximately halfway between the Caribbean ocean to the north and east, and the Pacific Ocean to the south and west. The Boquete, Panama altitude is 3,900 feet creating a temperate climate, and many micro-climates as well. Just 13 miles to the WNW is Volca Baru, an active volcano and the highest peak in Panama at 11,400 feet. 29 miles directly south is the 3rd largest city in Panama, David. David has the closest international airport where you can get flights to Panama City, the country’s capital.
Because of the Boquete, Panama climate, the average temperature in Boquete ranges between the low 60’s F and low 80’s F all year with winter being on the lower end of that range. However, there are many micro-climates in and around Boquete accounting for temperature and general weather changes in pockets in the area. The rainy season begins in May through November with the highest rainfall in September and October. It typically will rain in the afternoons. The drier season runs from November to April. Winds are a factor during these months where gust can reach up to 50 miles per hour.
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Bugs and Animal Life Around Boquete
Because of Boquete’s proximity to the rain forest, you might think there are a lot of bugs like mosquitos in the area. But due to the elevation, wind, and cool nights mosquitos are not a problem. Other flying insects like no-see-ums are prevalent near farms and vegetation. And other bugs hatch in June for a short period of time. There are snakes (some poisonous) indigenous to the area and residents do occasionally report seeing them in their garage and other areas around the house and yard. Of course, the chance of seeing any type of snake increases while on hikes in the forest.
Sloths and monkeys are plentiful in the forest area surrounding Boquete. Black squirrels will be prevalent everywhere.
Panama is the land of pumas, jaguars, and ocelots so if you are adventurous you can take a tour into the mountains to see if you can spot one.
People come to Boquete from all over the world for “birding” or bird watching. The number of species of birds and the quantity of birds in the area is amazing.
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Is Boquete safe?
Government authorities in Panama have been very focused on safety and security especially in areas of tourism and ex-pat retirement communities. In addition, the police in the area are very aggressive in cutting down on drunk driving. Therefore, checkpoints are regularly set up on Highway 41 which is the only way to get to Boquete. All of this makes Boquete one of the safest, if not the safest place to live in Panama. Also, ex-pats report that quite often someone finding a lost wallet or passport in Boquete will make the effort to find its owner. This is consistent with the friendly and accommodating nature of the people of Boquete. Boquete, Panama retirement living is safe and secure.
What’s the Best Way to Get to Boquete?
If you’re going to Boquete from the U.S., your best bet is to fly into Panama City. The flight time from Miami to the capital city of Panama City is 3 hours and 15 minutes. From Houston, it is 4 hours and 15 minutes. From Panama City, you can fly into David which is an hour and 15 minutes. It is a 45-minute bus ride from David to Boquete (29 miles) or you can rent a car. The bus ride will cost less than $2 (US) while a taxi will be in the $15 to $18 range.
Getting Around in Boquete
Boquete is a town that you can easily walk around. However, you can also ride a bike or scooter. Cabs are also available. If venturing outside of Boquete, such as to go into David for shopping, buses are very affordable ($3 US) and run all day. There are buses that will take you to the Caribbean coast as well.
Things to Do in Boquete
If you’re into the outdoors, Boquete, Panama retirement living gives you a lot of options.
Hiking- Hiking trails in the area range from easy to extreme. It’s recommended that you either hire a guide or at minimum inform others of the trail you’ll be hiking because it’s very easy to get lost in the forest. Here are some recommended hiking trails in the Boquete area and where you’ll find additional links to trail maps.
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Ride Quads- There are many places to rent quads in the area and ride on your own. Or, you can go on an ATV tour with a guide. A company you could contact is Boquete Mountain Safari. Their tour will take you high into the hills around Boquete.
Rent Scooters- if staying on the pavement is more your speed you can rent scooters and ride up the mountainsides past indigenous villages, coffee plantations, rivers, and waterfalls, and stop at your choice of restaurants.
Horseback Riding- Riding horses is a big deal here. Even with all the hillsides and mountains, there are open plains perfect for the beginner or the more experienced rider that wants to gallop at a faster pace.
Rock Climbing at Fine-Grained Column Basalt rock formation. Rock climbers will not be disappointed.
A great website to learn more about outdoor activities in the Boquete area is BoqueteMountainSafari.com.
In addition to the above, there are hanging bridges over canyons that you can tour. As well, if you love the thrill of heights, ziplining is available.
Boquete has no shortage of restaurants. For a list of restaurants in Boquete visit HablayaPanama.com.
Community Events in Boquete
Attract People from All Over the World
The Tuesday Market, or what the locals call the ‘Gringo Market’ is the place to go for indigenous crafts and products, fresh produce, local honey, locally grown coffee beans, and meet many of the locals and ex-pats living in the area. The Gringo market is the place to be on Tuesdays.
The Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival is a 4-day event in February. In its 14th year (2020) it is nicknamed, “The Best Little Festival in the World”. Music artists from North America and other parts of the world come to perform for an enthusiastic crowd. Having this type of event shows the cultural diversity in Boquete and as well as having a significant ex-pat community.
Healthcare in Panama
The healthcare system in Panama is excellent with many American trained physicians located in hospitals and clinics around the country. You will typically not be more than an hour away from excellent care. Many ex-pats get private insurance which is much less than in the U.S., although the government does have a public healthcare system.
For more in-depth information about healthcare in Panama visit VivaTropical.com
Access to Healthcare in Boquete
A Boquete retirement gives you an ample number of physicians and dentists to choose from. Many physicians will give you their cell phone number and even make house calls. Doctor visits have been reported to cost as low as $15 without insurance. For a list of local physicians, clinics, specialists, and hospitals in Boquete and nearby David visit Boquete.ning.com.
Pensionado Benefit Program for Retirees in Panama
Panama has one of the most attractive programs for ex-pat retirees in the world. The Pensionado Program allows you to apply for residency if you have at least $1,000 a month of retirement income. You will receive many benefits such as discounts on entertainment (50%), transportation fares (30%), airline tickets for flights inside and outside of Panama (25%), utility bills (25%), hotels (30-50%), and hospitals if not covered by insurance (15%). You will also be able to bring in goods from the U.S. (up to $10,000) without paying duties. There are also tax exemptions on the importation or local purchase of a car. If laws change in the future, you are guaranteed continued benefits under this program.
Boquete, Panama Homes for Rent
Boquete, Panama retirement living options include very affordable home and villa rentals. One property advertised as of this writing was a very nicely furnished, 2-bedroom, 2 bath, 900 sq. ft. Villa. It was renting for $750/mo. A larger 2,870 sq. ft. home was renting for $1,400/mo. See 2 good websites for Boquete rentals, CasaSolution.com and Viviun.com.
Boquete, Panama Homes for Sale
Because the rents are so low for homes in Boquete you would probably think the price of homes would be low as well. But that’s not the case. Home prices, although not astronomical and still affordable, are on par with other areas we’ve researched in the Caribbean and Central America. There are some gated and retirement communities in Boquete, Panama as well.
Boquete, Panama Cost of Living
The cost of everything except home prices is low in Boquete. According to International Living a monthly cost to live in Boquete is between $1,553 to $2,600. The difference is mainly due to rent (rentals ranging from $800 to $1,200), utilities (use of air conditioner or not), and entertainment costs such as dining out.
Boquete, Panama retirement living is perfect for people looking to explore a new country and culture, that love the outdoors and is seeking a healthy lifestyle and a low cost of living.