Reasons to Retire in Panama – Modern Aging Interview

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Reasons to Retire in Panama - My Interview on YouTube

Back in January 2020, I had an opportunity to be interviewed by the wonderful Risa Morimoto from Modern Aging. She wanted to get my take on our time here in Panama. What do we like and dislike? Why would someone want to retire in Panama?

I met Risa during the shooting of our House Hunters International episode. She was the director and she’s just a great person all around. Risa’s got the personality and sense of humor you just can’t help but enjoy being around.

As we got closer to the end of shooting, she asked me if I wanted to do an interview with her for the growing business she’s been running called Modern Aging. Her objective was to find out the reasons someone might want to retire in Panama.

I thought the idea was fun so we sat down outside for the interview right here in Valle Escondido where we live. Risa asked me a lot of the questions that many of you might be wondering about various aspects here in Boquete. We touched on subjects such as:

  • The weather – how does the weather in Boquete compare to the rest of the country?
  • The cost of living – rent/utilities and more importantly… all the restaurants!
  • Food/Shopping – can you get what you want at the grocery stores? Plus fresh fruits and veggies, eating out, and even Target, Walmart, and Home Depot alternatives
  • Transportation – do you need a car here? What about taxis and buses? Is it a walkable town?
  • Activities – what do you do around here?
  • Money and banking – banks, cash, and credit cards
  • Cell phones and service – The cost of cell phone service, Whatsapp, and using Google Voice while abroad
  • Visa/Residency – the Pensionado Visa and the Friendly Nations Visa
  • Culture/Communitydo you need to know Spanish and a few of the helpful apps to use to learn the language
  • Homesickness – it happens, folks!

So why retire in Panama? Play the video below to find out!

In about seven months, that video’s accumulated over 82k views. Recently, Risa has started a podcast as well (she’s a hustler for sure!). Because the thought to retire in Panama garnered some pretty good interest, she released the audio from this interview on her podcast.

So if you’re not a big video person but love your podcasts, you can find it on your favorite podcast app or check it out here on her podcast page. Or, if you’re lazy like me, feel free to just click play below…

Risa’s pretty awesome and has some great info to share. You can find out more about Modern Aging in several places. Here are a few…

Between the episode of House Hunters International we starred in and this YouTube interview, I’ve learned that I truly have a face for radio! Maybe that’s why she turned this into a podcast! But that’s alright with me – I’ll keep doing things like these until they’re not fun anymore – you’re the ones stuck looking at me! 🙂

Enjoy the video/podcast and let me know your thoughts – I’d love to hear ’em!

If Panama’s on your radar as a possible place to retire to, check out Retire in Panama Tours. It’s a first-rate way to see different parts of the country, learn about the pros and the cons of living here, meet other ex-pats living here, and gain a lot of the right resources to make the transition easier (immigration attorneys, for example).

Oscar, Rod, and Megan are great people, too. They have the knowledge to guide you through Panama, answer your questions, and ensure that Panama’s the right place for you. Check out Retire in Panama Tours for more info!

Have you ever considered retiring to another country like Panama?

Thanks for reading (and watching)!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

15 thoughts on “Reasons to Retire in Panama – Modern Aging Interview”

  1. Love your video interview, Jim! Glad you & your family are happy & adapting well to your new surroundings. Now that you’re there almost one year, do you think you’ll be applying for your residency Visas?
    PS I bought The Complete Panama Relocation Guide & it’s chock full of valuable info & resources. Worth every penny!

    1. Thanks, Debbie! Glad you found the guide worthwhile. I haven’t gotten to see it yet, but based on what I know, I can only assume that it would be extremely helpful.

      Residency is a tough one for some weird reasons. Because we have a kid, there are some odd quirks that come along with residency. I should probably address that in a future post. But this is still something on our radar that we talk about quite a bit. We’ll see what happens!

  2. Great interview! The channel sounds great. I’ll subscribe for more fun content. It’s a good topic.
    Boquete sounds nicer and nicer.

  3. Jim,

    Thanks for sharing! Jenni and I just gave it a watch. By coincidence, I spent some time in Panama back in 2008. Boquete stood out in my mind as an amazing place to visit. A couple of things you didn’t touch on that really struck me:
    1) The coffee! Fantastic, smooth, easy-drinking and boy was it cheap.
    2) Trailheads off the city for the tropical mountain jungle that surrounds it – loved hiking around the Barú volcano area there and catching all the wildlife.

    Jenni was curious if you and the family have had much experience with dental and general medical care yet or what the scheme would be if you needed to. Any thoughts?

    Thanks for sharing! PS: Backpack Finance sent me your way 🙂

    1. Hi, Chris – glad to have you here!

      You’re right that Boquete is known for its coffee – some of the best in the world! How strange is it that I don’t drink coffee and I’m living here with all this around me?! My wife, Lisa, loves it though!

      And yes, the hiking is great. The views are spectacular and it’s unreal to see all the birds and monkeys all over. We haven’t made it over to Baru yet, but that’s an area I’d love to check out. Hiking here is one of my favorite parts of living here – everything around you is just so amazing on so many of the hikes.

      I wrote about our visit with the dentist here: Our First Visit to the Dentist in Panama Was… Different
      And my medical visit here: My Test Run of Medical Service in Panama Went Awry
      Other than that, we’ve been lucky in this first year not to need anything major done in either area of care.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Great interview. I have never been to Central America but it’s definitely on my list. You guys are giving me the itch to come visit Panama! So many places so little time 🙂

        Something that I’m intrigued about is your thought process on choosing Panama. Was it mainly because of the proximity to the USA? Did you have a few other countries on your list? What were the most important factors for you? What made Panama the winner?

        Maybe you talked about it in one of your posts and I missed it.


        1. Hi BF – there are a number of reasons why we chose Panama:

          * The weather in Boquete is 75 degrees every day (it’s in the mountains)
          * Drive down the mountains about an hour or two and suddenly you’re at a beach where it’s in the high 80s or low 90s
          * Boquete is a bg expat city
          * The Panamanian dollar (the Balboa) is evenly traded with the US dollar – dealing in US currency makes life much easier
          * Although there are plenty of cheaper places, the cost-of-living is still much less than what we were paying in the US.
          * It’s a democracy with multiple political parties; the President gets one 5-year term and then they’re out
          * No military here – the US is their military and of course they have a vested interest in protecting it (the Canal)
          * The economy is strong here – the Canal actually only represents around 40% of GDP
          * Panamanians are used to having US citizens around since the days of working together with the Canal
          * Traveling here isn’t as big of a deal as it is to go to Europe, Asia, or other places
          * Healthcare is very good here and the medical costs are inexpensive – it’s not hard to pay out of pocket and some expats don’t even bother with insurance (we have expat insurance)

          I’m sure I missed a few, but the point is that it was an easier stepping stone for us to dip our toes into for our first foray of living in another country. And it’s been wonderful so far!

      2. Thanks, Jim! Those posts were indeed helpful — although I’m not sure they were super encouraging 🙂

        So far as the coffee…well, Lisa is lucky. I’m sorry for your loss.

        Hope you guys are surviving back stateside OK.

  4. Wow, great interview Jim! You’re a natural on camera!

    Panama sounds fantastic, and it seems like you guys are adapting extremely well. I hope we can go visit you guys there some day!

  5. Hey Jim,
    My wife and I are considering becoming expats and believe that Boquete may be a good option (still reasonably close to the US and nice weather). We saw your YouTube interview and it was, by far, the most informative one out there. We’re hoping to take an exploratory trip down there next year. Thanks for the great info.

    1. Appreciate the kind words, Doug! Smart move on doing an exploratory trip first – it’s not for everyone because it’s somewhat different culturally, but if you come there with an open attitude, it can be such a wonderful place!

      I would highly recommend following Jackie from Panama Relocation Tours and listening in on her regular Q&A conference calls which can really help you learn so much. If interested in getting on one of her tours down the line (I wish I would have!), here’s my link check it out: Panama Relocation Tours

      With the pandemic fun, she’s also moved her vast wealth of knowledge and resources to an online guide. It’s not free, but it’s worth it for someone considering moving to Panama… Panama Relocation Guide

      Best of luck – maybe I’ll see you guys there! 🙂

  6. Jim,
    Nice interview. Very informative. Would have been nice to hear what the average monthly cost for your family of three would be. There was a great break down of individual categories of costs but I don’t remember hearing a total.

    1. Thanks, Ed – targeting what our expenses would normally be is tough. First, there were a lot of costs involved in making the move (stocking up on groceries, household items, etc.). Once we started to get settled, the pandemic hit. Although we didn’t really go out much for a while, we paid some premiums to get things delivered a lot (groceries, restaurant food, etc.). We also flew back to the U.S. because of this mess more than expected. And then we spent $12k on a car and made a 40-day road trip in the U.S. that wasn’t planned.

      For 2020, we spent around $56k. That’s a lot higher than we would generally spend. Although we have yet to know what a normal year of spending in Boquete would be, I’d venture to bet that it would be around $40k-45k for our family of three.

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