Rio David, Chiriqui, Panama
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Who are we? Why did we move? Why Panama? How did we decide? 

We are a couple who has moved from Sarasota, Florida, USA and retired in David, Chiriqui Province, Panama. I'm Kris, retired RN. I'm married to Joel, retired musician and construction guy, the guy who could remodel and fix pretty much anything in a house. 

How did this happen?

It has been a process. There were a number of factors that made us interested in leaving the US, and a number of other factors that drew us to Panama. 

Why did we leave the US?

  • Money was increasingly tight.  Neither of us had much retirement savings. If we worked until we were 70 we could make it but it would be hard, and we would definitely have to downgrade our living conditions when we stopped working. But, working until 70 was not attractive, and what would happen if one or both of us became unable to work? It was also likely that expenses would rise more quickly than income.
  • It was time for a change. We had been in Florida 15 years and were ready for a new adventure. The children were grown and doing well on their own, and there was nothing holding us to any particular location. 
  • A multitude of secondary factors - the political climate in the US, the increasingly broken health care system, hurricanes and other natural dangers, attitudes towards senior citizens,  probable issues with the food supply (chemicals, GMO's), and an economy that was recovering painfully slowly, to name a few.

Why did we move to Panama?

What would we require in our new country?

We had a checklist:

  • Warm climate
  • Close enough to the US for visits back
  • Stable government, decent economy, and crime under control
  • Good infrastructure, reliable internet
  • Affordable living
  • Good health care

Panama seemed to fit all of our requirements so we decided to visit. We started with a 5 day visit to Panama City (Jan 2011), 2 travel days and three full days in the city. I looked out the window of the plane and saw those beautiful, lush, green mountains and immediately loved it! We rented a car and drove around the city and nearby areas. We liked the warm climate. We felt comfortable. We liked the people. We were amazed at the number of upscale buildings and construction cranes. This felt like a prosperous, happening, upbeat place! But, it’s a city with the traffic, the high energy, the constant activity, and higher cost of living.  At our age, we weren’t sure if this city lifestyle was right for us. We were definitely heading in the right direction though.

We decided to look at the next largest city - David. It’s in the western, agricultural part of the country. We came in June 2011 for 5 days thinking we would see it at its worst in the hot, muggy, rainy season. We knew very quickly that we had found our place. The city is big enough to provide everything we need. It’s a easy drive to the mountains and beaches, and the area is really beautiful. The traffic is quite tolerable. The people are warm and friendly. We felt very comfortable. Even “the dreaded rainy season” wasn’t a problem. It felt a lot like Florida in the rainy summer, only not as hot.  We made plans to move in 2014 (after I was old enough for social security). We went back to Florida for three more years of the hamster wheel of work and bills.

Then we started talking more. Do we really have to wait until 2014? Could we make it on the resources we have until I’m eligible for social security? As you know (since I am now blogging from Panama) we decided that we could make it, and we are making it. It is working out better than I had even dared hope it would! 

The rest of our story is unfolding in the blog. “Follow” and share this experience with us!

If you are thinking about making such a move, ask yourself who you are, and what you want and why. What is important to you? What do you need to be happy? What do you like to do? What is on your “must have” list? What can you not tolerate?

There is a lot of information on the internet. There are many helpful people who will be happy to share experiences and advice. Come and visit, and then visit again. Rent a place and try it out. Living here is a different experience from being a tourist. But, if you can be flexible and accept the differences you can have a very happy life here.  This website and blog are only our experiences. Your story? That is up to you!