We have been taking people around Boquete looking at places to live, invest in land and business opportunities and every-time I go out, I see another place that reminds me of the first trip that I took here in 2006. On my first road trip to Boquete, I knew I had finally found a place that I had always dreamed about. Three months later, I purchased my home and my family set up camp here in the western highlands bordering Costa Rica.
With that, I bring you the place that I call Paradise. Good morning Boquete!
The mountains shrug off the clouds like a blanket early in the morning as the sun lights up the peaks.
Boquete is a small town on the Caldera River, tucked into the green mountain highlands of Panama, in western-most Chiriquí Province, about 60 km. from the border with Costa Rica. Because of its altitude, some 1,200 metres above sea level, its climate is refreshingly cooler than that of the lowlands. Its scenic location, temperature, and natural environment make it extremely popular with Panamanians, and with tourists from all over the world. In Spanish, the word Boquete means ‘gap or opening’. It was through this gap that curious gold seekers trekked, looking for a cheaper and quicker way to the Pacific. Farmers began settling the region near the end of the 19th Century. By the early 20th century, several villages had been populated. In addition to tourism, its main industry remains agriculture, especially the growing of coffee beans.
Some of its landmarks include nearby Volcán Barú, a dormant volcano and, at 3,475 meters or over 11,000 feet, the tallest point of land in Panama. Hikers enjoy a relatively easy hike up and over the volcano, along the Sendero de los Quetzales, which runs from Boquete up to Cerro Punta and Volcan, on the other side of the volcano. Boquete is well known for its coffee, judged to be among the finest in the world. The Caldera River runs through the town, a river that has shaped much of its form.
The district of Boquete has approximately 20,000 inhabitants. More recently, Boquete has become the second home to many North American and European retirees. Some 14% of its population are of foreign origin, according to La Prensa, a national newspaper. Ex-pats are attracted by the comfortable climate, excellent potable water, and clean air, by the tranquility, and by Panama’s relatively low cost of living. AARP consistently ranks Boquete in the top ten places to retire in the world.
Our first home was in a gated community that is a short walk from town called Valle Escondido and our home sits above 5th hole on the golf course. Views down the valley are incredible and the climate is eternal spring like weather. VE has golf, a country club, and a members lounge where every Friday night there is a social. We enjoyed Valle Escondido and our many friends who live there. There are also a number of good restaurants and places to go to for parties and entertainment in town. Each year Valle Escondido hosts an International Jazz Fest and I cannot wait to attend my tenth year. We even have a little Broadway here in Boquete with the local players theatre doing Chicago, Cabaret and more.
My wonderful wife Susie Brymer
By definition, Boquete is like a large ecological community or eco village. “Eco villages are intentional communities with the goal of becoming more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable and allow for social networks within a broader foundation of support. Intentional living typically refers to an individuals awareness and choice of lifestyle. However, whereas lifestyle refers to a way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group, intentional living refers not simply to any way of life, but to those intentionally chosen by an individual based on awareness of her/his values and fundamental beliefs.” I find that a great description of Boquete and the people who have come here to live and participate in community.
We have a constant here in Boquete that draws people from around the world to come here and live. Clean air, abundant sources of water, amazing flowers, beautiful rivers, and of course plenty of rainbows. Our area grows 80% of the fresh produce for Panama, offers an affordable lifestyle, good healthcare and a town where kids can go out at night and not have to worry about getting in trouble (or at least the bad kind!). For the retiree, there is plenty to do and numerous organizations to participate in. The Rotary is very active here and it’s membership is growing with expats wanting to give something back to the community. Another constant is wellness and fitness. I go to the gym owned by my friend who runs one of the best spas I have ever seen. It is tucked away in the hills just minutes from town. What a ideal place to visit on your road trip to Boquete.
The Haven Spa and Hotel is set in a tranquil location where you can just unwind and de-stress or have treatments, get fit, get healthy, and they also have hotel rooms. The owners of the Haven are from Britain with a vast experience in treating various conditions.
For the more adventurous, there is river rafting and hiking in the mountains. That’s my daughter (Professional Free Spirit) in lead position on the raft and my son right next to her! See Jim at Boquete Outdoor Adventures for more.
Combine the hiking with yoga and you can go to some incredible places to enjoy nature and body.
One of our favorite restaurants is Retrogusto. David hosts the best of “farm to table” food you can find. He is a Michelin Chef and prepares food from the heavens! The service is also excellent and the staff makes it a point to remember your name, in Panama go figure!!
One of our other favorite places for lunch is Il Pianista run by chef Giovanni and his wife Doris who is a natural hostess.
Their place is located on a river that has a water fall pouring into it.
One of our favorite dishes for a light lunch is to split the Il Pianista salad served with a big pour of white wine. Two white wines with double pours and the salad cost $23.
Besides dining out, we visit our local market for fresh vegetables and fish.
The total bill for what you see below was $13 including the romaine, white and red onions, roma tomatoes, potatoes, huge papaya and 1.5 pound filet of fresh fish!
The other reason that I fell in love with living here in the mountains is the fact that I can live where it is cool but within an hour and a half, I can be on a boat headed out to islands and fishing spots in the Pacific ocean that rival the best in the world. We arrive in the morning early and can meet a local captain who we go out with to the islands in a small panga and set off on another journey. Boca Chica has some of the most beautiful coast line in Panama and a national marine park comprised of dozens of little tropical islands and sandy coves that remind one of Robinson Crusoe.
There are really nice places to stay overnight for under $200 per night.
For a world class experience try Isla Palenque
Play on the beach and catch a sunset, then watch the stars, more than you have ever seen in your life!
All of this is a short flight from the US and Panama City where at the end of the day, you could be up here enjoying the rainbows with us. Here are some images of Boquete and another reason why AARP continues to rank us in the top ten places in the World to retire.
Flowers and coffee are Boquete’s trademarks
High altitude cloud forests, rivers and mountains that reach almost 11,000 feet are in our back yard.
AARP enlisted Barry Golson, an award-winning travel writer and founder of ForbesTraveler.com, to cover what exactly makes a destination an all-around choice for peaceful, comfortable living for the retiree. Once again, Panama and particularly Boquete stays in the top ten places.
“Boquete is decidedly gringo-friendly, offering a wide range of back-home amenities, from a golf course to high-end gated communities. For some expats it also offers an opportunity for reinvention. Retired teachers Rich Lipner, 65, and his wife, Dee Harris, 61, moved from Berkeley, California, to Boquete, where in 2003 they bought a seven-acre organic coffee farm for $135,000. “Over the past seven years we’ve spent approximately $80,000 to build a new 1,000-square-foot guest house and restore the original 2,000-square-foot house,” Lipner says. “We’re living comfortably on our combined Social Security and teachers’ retirement. We’ve begun a new and wondrous chapter in our lives.”
I am writing this as I drink a cup of Rich’s coffee which he roasted at his coffee farm that is mentioned in the article and it is really a good dark roasted organic coffee. He moved just down the street from me with Dee and they are a lovely couple, the kind of folks that gravitate to Boquete. When you visit you must see his place and take the Boquete Coffee Tour
Here is my friend Rich, the Master at Work!
“Panama is a smart choice for retirees who want it all—in a country that really wants them. Not only does it feature attractive retirement destinations—sleek capital city, hot beach towns, cool mountain villages—but it also offers an unbeatable package of retiree benefits and discounts (and a currency tied to the U.S. dollar). Little wonder there has been a steady influx of expats in the past few years. If you want a temperate highlands retreat surrounded by unmatched natural splendor, the mountain town of Boquete, an hour’s flight from Panama City, is close to heaven. Here expats settle amid rain forests, coffee plantations, burbling streams, and hummingbirds hovering over dazzling flowers.”
So each morning I wake up and sit outside to have breakfast and watch the birds and occasional monkey in the forest behind out new home here in Panamonte Estates that I built a few years ago. Yes, life is good.
When I first arrived in Panama in 2006 and asked about building a home, I was told to run away and run away fast! As time went by, I saw some impressive construction taking place, both commercial and residential. My fear factor diminished and I decided that the time was right to build my dream home. I selected a nice lot in Panamonte Estates here in Boquete and broke ground in May of 2013. Thirteen months later, we moved into our home with a punch list of items that I counted on one hand. With that experience, we began our newest service that we can offer our clients. We started a build-to-suit project management service and are starting two new exciting ventures.
what to expect in
CLIMATE: Temperate with two distinct seasons, wet (April to November) and dry (December to March). Much cooler than the lowlands and beaches.
EXPAT COMMUNITY: An estimated several thousand.
COST OF LIVING: One can live comfortably on $20,000 a year. Domestic and garden help: about $15 daily. Dinner out: $30 for two.
HOUSING COSTS: In Boquete, a small house goes for $175,000; in a gated community, $250,000 and up. Rentals: about $600 a month for a two-bedroom house.
HEALTH CARE: Good, with private clinics available. For serious medical matters, residents travel to hospitals in David, 45 minutes away, or to Panama City. Hospital Punta Pacifica in Panama City is affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medicine International and has U.S- trained doctors.
CULTURE AND LEISURE: Rain-forest hiking, river rafting, bird-watching, and coffee-plantation tours, exploring the coastal waters offshore one hour away from the mountains.
ACCESS TO THE U.S.: A one-hour flight to Panama City, then a three-hour flight to Miami.
Well, it is time to hit the send button as we are going out to show some tracts of land to a friend who is moving from Costa Rica, go figure!
So now, I end this road trip to Paradise with my favorite theme about Boquete.
“Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high…There’s a land that I heard of, once in a lullaby. Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true. ” – E.Y. Harburg
There is indeed a land where rainbows often grace skies that are unencumbered by pollution, life is unhurried, and retirement dreams are fulfilled for many, in the Chiriqui highlands of Panama. Here’s the story…
Ex-pats, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, are those who leave one’s native country to live elsewhere. This unique breed may have a few motivational variations for permanently traversing beyond borders, but they tend to share a common character trait – a great sense of adventure in abandoning what is socially, culturally, and geographically familiar to pursue their dream of a healthier, happier, less hectic lifestyle. And, given the current economic state of affairs, perhaps they share the collective desire to avoid a possible catastrophe.
They seek a better quality of life married to a lower cost of living. They’re confident enough to start over in a new environment, making new friends. Ex-pats likely possess a libertarian streak, a do-it-yourself mentality that propels them to create their lives anew, whether it means transforming a piece of property into a model of green energy self-sufficiency, launching a new school for local kids, or opening a new café. And characteristically, they want to integrate into a community of similar-minded souls.
What gives a particular area the gravitational pull for ex-pats? It often starts with a warm climate and beautiful scenery surrounding a charming, affordable city or town. An abundance of fresh water sources, locally grown food and reliable hydro-electric power. Add a big welcome mat to foreigners from the local people, and a government actively enticing you to stay with such incentives as no property tax for the first 20 years, a generous program for newcomers to guarantee permanent residency, equal rights under the law, discounts for products and services across the board, plus excellent asset protection and maximum privacy from the banking institutions. Welcome to Boquete, Panama, and leave the door open. There’s more coming.
If you are interested in learning more about real estate opportunities here in Boquete and Panama, drop us a line or call us to chat.
Very truly yours,
305-448-1003 in the US
507-6810-1074 in Panama
“The master in the Art of Life does not distinguish much between his work and his play, his work and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He barely distinguishes which is which. Simply, he perceives his vision of excellency in everything he does, leaving others to decide if he is working or playing. To his own eyes, he is always doing both.”
We invite you to visit our country and learn if Panama Real Estate is right for you.