Finding The Right Fit For You

Many published articles routinely list the best places in the world to retire. Panama is regularly named, noting the lower cost of living, ease of residency, and world-class amenities. Travel & Leisure Corporation recently published an article highlighting Panama, Bulgaria, and the Philippines. Bulgaria came in second only to Argentina. The methodology for the ranking used the same factors that have been employed for years, even though so much has changed.

I love Panama, but I know it isn’t right for everyone, and neither is Bulgaria or any other country.

Tourists, mainly from Germany, Turkey, and Greece, enjoy Bulgaria’s beach resorts, but they can be very crowded in the warmer months. Many other attractions are outside the seaside, including monasteries and castles.


Nestled Along The Black Sea

By all accounts, Bulgaria is a lovely country. Nestled adjacent to Turkey, Greece, and Romania, it has beautiful beaches along the Black Sea and a cosmopolitan city, Sofia. Like Panama, the country has a variety of scenery with rugged mountains and relaxing waterfront resorts. According to the US State Department, Bulgaria is safe, but the government is unstable, although democratic.


However, there are so many other factors to consider. For example, what would daily living be like? The weather runs from an average of 25 degrees Fahrenheit  in winter to the low 70s in summer. In Panama, located only nine degrees off the equator, summers can easily reach the 90s, and the weather is warm year-round. In some parts of Panama, such as Boquete, the weather is pleasantly spring-like year-round, with temps in the 70s and cooling at night to the 50s.


Coming And Going

Getting to Panama from North America is relatively easy, with flights from Miami taking around three and a half hours and a direct flight from Los Angeles, about six hours and 20 minutes. Getting to Sofia in Bulgaria takes about ten hours and 40 minutes from New York. There are over 80 direct flights from Tocumen International Airport but only about 30 from Sofia International, with Istanbul as a hub for many other international destinations. There is a seven-hour time difference between New York and Sofia, but Panama is in the same time zone until summer when Panama does not change clocks ahead and goes to the Central time zone. 

These rankings of best places might want to consider travel times or how many hours ahead the grandchildren will be for FaceTime calls. But, some retirees don’t have grandchildren, and others would rather travel around Europe than return to a home country. The bottom line is that everyone is unique and what will make the best place for them to retire can only be decided individually. Guides should just be that–guides!

The Johns Hopkins International affiliated hospital, located in the upscale area of Panama City, Punta Pacifica, offers world-class health care for a fraction of the cost in the United States.


Asking And Being Honest With Yourself

For me, the cost of living is a vital consideration, along with medical care, the residency and pensionado programs, economic stability, and the lack of corruption in government. Beyond that, is the quality of infrastructure, availability of quality foods, banking reliability, the quality of schools, services, and the ability to communicate.


Fresh fish, including salmon, are caught early morning and then ready for purchase by 6:00 am. Fresh vegetables and fruits are locally grown and sold by farmers or in big grocery outlets such as Riba Smith.

I’m Australian, so getting home easily might have been a big deal, but I only return at Christmas, and fortunately, my family can visit. I’m not a big clothes shopper, so the fact that retail in Panama is expansive doesn’t mean a lot to me, but I love the vegetables and fruit. Give me freshly caught salmon and locally grown broccoli every day.


Panama’s Variety

One of the nicest things about Panama is the variety, both in terms of living conditions and weather. Panama City, especially the upscale area, Costa del Este, is a cosmopolitan city with incredible public transportation (buses and a subway), the finest shops (Hermes, Prada, Gucci) and restaurants, medical facilities, high-end hotels and resorts, sports, IB program and bi-lingual schools, and cultural programs.

Joswar Alvarado, the Mayor of Boquete, has welcomed the Pinoalto residential project, noting its importance to the rapidly developing tourism sector in the area.

Boquete, located a 50-minute plane ride from the capital and on the border of Costa Rica, offers year-round spring-like weather and a more laid-back lifestyle with physical activities such as hiking, swimming, and horseback riding. With a high concentration of ex-pats, outstanding medical care is easily accessed in a nearby city, David. There is always a festival coming soon or just leaving Boquete, including days celebrating the area’s worlds-best coffee plantations and variety of flora. There is also Carnival and the Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival.


The popularity of Boquete has routinely meant residential options have been limited. But, Empresas Bern, the most respected real estate developer in Panama has recently broken ground on Pinoalto, a condo suite complex with social areas and a medical facility.

At the ground-breaking ceremony of Pinoalto in Boquete, Jose Manuel Bern (far left) and Herman Bern, Sr. (far right), both principals in Empresas Bern the project’s developer,  discussed the project with local officials and business leaders.


The project is strategically located along a river canyon and adjacent to an equestrian center within the Pinoalto Country Club. Golf, tennis, and outstanding restaurants are located nearby and almost every home enjoys a firepit for evening conversation.


One-, Two- and Three-Bedroom Units

The residential units have been uniquely designed to incorporate the mountain surroundings and the floral of the area. Starting at $332,500 for one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts. On-site property management and a license to rent both short-term and long-term, make Pinoalto an attractive investment, with a high Return On Investment (ROI).


Pinoalto is designed to embrace the lifestyle of Boquete, which is more leisurely focused than Panama City. The closest beach, the Caribbean, is 50 minutes away, so if it is beach-living you are seeking, this might not be your project.

Aging In Place As An Option

While opening the Boquete market to Empresas Bern quality is exciting, the new Generation Tower in Costa del Este is exciting for different reasons. With a prime location, the tower, which will have all hotel amenities and retail on the first two floors, has also embraced aging in place. “We are dedicating four floors to what is referred to as Independent Living in North America,” said Jose Manuel Bern, the developer. “There will be a nurses’ station, wider hallways, and doors to accommodate wheelchairs, but the residents won’t be treated differently than the young professionals, families, and students also living in the building,” he continued. “If they want, they will use the pools, bars and social areas, restaurants, business center, gymnasium, and the nearby medical offices. Knowing what is being charged in North America, we are coming in at a base price of $178,000 for a unit,” he laughed. “They are upscale with marble and tile and come furnished.”


Consider the Options

The options among numerous countries are both exciting and concerning. It’s just important to be honest and thorough with yourself when considering a move. I would love to discuss the various options including both Pinoalto and Generation Tower. If interested, there are also close-out bargains on older projects such as Casa Bonita.


To get more information about living in Boquete, I’d love for you to go to my YouTube channel for a quick “Top Ten Reasons To Live In Boquete”. Here is the link:

 10 Reasons to Live in Boquete | Panama | Liz Larroquette

I welcome you to reach out if you’d like more information or just to comment. I answer all inquiries. Just use your preferred form of communication.