The Best Places To Live In Panama

Entrance to Boquete in Chiriqui, a very popular travel destination in Panama

The Best Places To Live In Panama

Where To Retire In Panama

We were the first to shine a light on Panama.

For more than 25 years Founding Publisher Kathleen Peddicord has been reporting on Panama as one of the world’s best places to live, retire, and invest overseas.

This country boasts the best infrastructure and health care in Central America…

Ranks second for biodiversity in Central America…

Is one of only three countries to achieve carbon negative status…

And has one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America.

The Panama Canal is one of the greatest engineering accomplishments in the history of the world, and, in large part thanks to the cash flow that the Canal generates, Panama offers a standard of living you’d be hard put to find anywhere else in the region.

This is a land of mesmerizing natural beauty, vibrant and colorful folklore and traditions, and a diversity of lifestyle offerings so great it can feel impossible to choose where to settle.

Does the idea of living an authentic, local lifestyle and learning Spanish thrill you, or would you feel more at home with a large, English-speaking expat community?

Do you spend your weekends at live music events, upscale restaurants, and the theater, or do you prefer outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, water sports, baseball, and adrenaline-filled adventures?

Perhaps a little of both?

Fortunately, Panama offers something for everyone, from culture vultures to adrenaline junkies to beach bums and everyone in between. Though smaller than 47 U.S. states, Panama is home to dozens of attractive havens for expats and retirees.

To help you thin-slice your options, we bring you our Second Annual Panama Index with 10 graded and ranked cities and towns across the Hub of the Americas, complete with the reasons why these, above all others, are your top contenders for a new life in Panama in 2022.

Here’s a sneak peek…

#1 Chitre

La Ciudad Donde Nadie Es Forastero… The City Where No One Is A Stranger.

La Ciudad Que Crece Sola… The City That Grows Itself.

There’s no better way to describe Chitré than with its endearing nicknames. They capture the area’s appeal for expats and explain why locals are so proud of their chitreano heritage.

Two of Chitré’s biggest selling points are its rapid development and warm, inviting culture. Living here, you’d never lack any necessity or convenience; you’d enjoy a laid-back lifestyle in a safe and peaceful community; and the locals would happily adopt you as one of their own.

This is El Corazón De Panamá… The Heart Of Panama… and few other towns have preserved their traditions as well as Chitré. There are multiple folkloric festivals throughout the year with cabalgatas (horse parades), bailes típicos (traditional dances), and women dressed in Panama’s traditional attire, la pollera. The festivals, the Spanish-colonial architecture, and the fincas (ranches) where campesinos (ranchers) work Brahman cattle on horseback, give you a sense of what life was like on the Azuero Peninsula decades ago.

The beach is never far—Playa Monagre and Playa El Rompío are only a few miles outside downtown Chitré—and you can buy beachfront property at shockingly low rates… up to 35% less than elsewhere along this coast.

This is a land of opportunity for investors. Conceive a business to take advantage of the limited tourism attractions and accommodations, and you’re bound to make a profit.

Chitré is our #1 pick for living or retiring in Panama. If you’re looking for a new home with the comforts of a city but a small-town feel, an opportunity to immerse yourself in Panamanian culture and live side-by-side with locals, and if you love the beach but not overpriced beachfront property, your dream life awaits you in Panama’s heartland.

#2 Boquete

Boquete means “gap” in Spanish—a fitting name for the highland valley nestled within the skirts of the Cordillera Central (Central Mountain Range). The cordillera’s highest peak, Volcán Barú (Barú Volcano), towers over Boquete at an altitude of 11,401 feet (3,475 meters) and lies only 12 miles (20 kms) from the town center.

Boquete is a district in Chiriquí Province, home to six corregimientos, or townships: Bajo Boquete (Lower Boquete), Alto Boquete (Upper Boquete), Caldera, Jaramillo, Los Naranjos, and Palmira.

Bajo Boquete sits at the lowest point in the valley and is the district’s center. When people refer to the town of Boquete, they’re really talking about Bajo Boquete. Boquete features accommodations ranging from budget hostels to luxury resorts like Valle Escondido, eateries of every nationality, trendy bars and nightlife locales, medical clinics, massage studios, beauty salons, grocery stores, and every other necessity and convenience you could want nearby.

Boquete offers spectacular views of the volcano on sunny days, the Caldera River flows through town, and the streets are draped with flowers of every species and color. Artisanal markets line the sidewalks, where locals sell their produce and crafts. This is heaven for a nature enthusiast. Hike the area’s numerous trails, observe the birds and other wildlife in Volcán Barú National Park, go ziplining or take a hanging bridge tour, try whitewater rafting or rock climbing, sign up for a Jeep tour to the summit of Volcán Barú, or, if you’re feeling up for it, make the trek on foot.

In Boquete, you don’t have to fear culture shock. You’ll be welcomed by a large and long-established expat community. The district has a population of just over 20,000 and about 5,000 are expats. From events and festivals to meet-ups and clubs, you’ll have no difficulty getting and staying connected with your fellow expats.

Nearly everyone speaks English, making the transition to life abroad a breeze. In addition to natural beauty, most expats cite the weather as their motivation for moving to Boquete. Far from the relentless heat and humidity of Panama City, temperatures in Bajo Boquete typically hover in the low to mid-70s Fahrenheit (20s Celsius) during the day.

The climate and volcanic soil here are ideal for growing all kinds of produce, plants, and flowers. Chiriquí’s economy is built on agriculture, and in Boquete you’ll find a selection of local fruits and vegetables available year-round. The area is famous for its strawberries, which may be enjoyed on their own, or a local favorite, as fresas con crema (strawberries with cream).

Boquete is the heart of coffee country and its many fincas produce some of the best coffee on Earth. Its high slopes are home to the world’s most famous (and most expensive) variety, Geisha. In 2021, it sold at auction for over US$2,500 a pound. You won’t find a better place to savor a cup of coffee while marveling at the breathtaking scenery surrounding you.

Boquete is a land of rainbows, white clouds that cling to the green hillsides, dense jungle, intriguing flora and fauna, and a tranquil atmosphere that permeates every facet of life here. Come visit this charming destination, and we can almost guarantee you’ll fall in love.

Gabrielle Wells
Editor, Panama Letter