Boquete is located in Panama’s Chiriquí province, and is most known for its world famous coffee and expat community. AARP rated it as one of the world’s best retirement destinations. It really gained recognition when International Living started to write about it as one of the top 10 retirement areas in all the world. Its is a cute little town that is easily walked where you will see stores, cafe’s, restaurants and English is spoken just about everywhere. In fact you will be amazed how much English you hear.
Tracye and I first visited this highland town in 2014 when one of my readers invited us to come down on one of our Costa Rican 90 visa runs. So we hoped on a plane from San Jose Costa Rica and 40 minutes later we were landing in David, Panama’s second largest city.
The village sits in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains and a river running through it. When you drive through you get a mix of Swiss-style cabins with magenta and coral bougainvillea spilling over their walls to banana and plantain trees growing all over. It is no wonder Boquete is known as Panama’s flower capital.
I have to say that we were hooked, so much so that in February 2015 on one of our several recon trips, we ended up renting a home can coming back to Costa Rica and packing it all up.
It was on one of these trips that we learned that Boquete grows some of the worlds best coffee, called Geisha and it runs about $60.00 a pound.
Because of the great nutrient volcanic earth super-fresh produce grows year around, and when you bite into some of the fresh tropical fruit, OH MY GOODNESS… you do not know what a pineapple really tastes like till you have tried one down here.
The local Ngöbe-Buglé tribeswomen still wear their bright traditional dresses in neon green, pink, blue or red with a geometric-patterned trim. You usually see them with their children in tow shopping in town. What is great is that family is the utmost importance. Families still have dinner together… walk to church together…live a slower-paced life together. It really is like stepping back into the 1950s.
When you get a chance to talk to other expats they will tell you that their health has improved…not because they’ve done anything special, but because the place lends itself to healthy living. Great healthy food, fresh mountain air, you tend to walk more vs driving because parking here is pretty erratic and sometimes can be hard to find. But no worries, everything is close and everyone is on foot which gives you a chance to also catch up with other expats and visit for a second.
You will not find a McDonald’s or KFC here, but the market carries fresh ahi-grade tuna, sea bass and shrimp every day caught fresh from both oceans. OH… and they are mere fraction of the price that you’d pay back home. An average lunch / dinner usually runs around $7.00 with drink maybe $10.00. But I noticed that we never spent more than $23.00 for a meal when eating out.
You’ll meet painters, photographers(my wife) and jewelry-makers here. This is an arts and crafts sort of town along with Saturday ” Boquete Sounds” where you can sit and listen to the jazz.
Like live theater, there is an English-language theater troupe that puts on plays several times a year.
There’s much to do for lovers of the great outdoors, too. This is the kind of place where you can go white-water rafting, hiking or birding…every day. You can start training and hike Panama’s largest volcano, Volcan Baru, which is 11,000 high.
Want to own your own property? What about your own farm with livestock. Maybe grow rare orchids and bromeliads, or pick mandarins oranges, limes and bananas from your very own trees. With land that is this rich and fertile, the yearly spring like climate, and you can grow just about anything you want.
On little negative, Boquete is known for its misty rain— called bajareque— which causes a beautiful rainbow almost everyday around 4:30 in the afternoon. You can’t have one without the other. During the rainy season, which runs from May through November, there will be afternoon showers to absolute downpours. What normally happens is that you beautiful mornings and then the clouds start coming in around 2:00ish, it rains for a hour or two, and then it dries up so you can sit outside and watch the sunset.
And there are beetle-green hummingbirds and funny, stocky pink ginger flowers and tall spindly pines that shoot into the sky and make you feel small. It all seems to make it well worth living here for those who stay.
And then there’s the cost of living. If you buy a home (anywhere from $70,000 for a simple, local-style home to $175,000 for a U.S.-style one), you can live here on as little as $600 a month, including utilities, transportation, groceries, household goods, and entertainment. I’ve met people who’ve rented a home here for $300 a month.
Boquete is a great little town with great views, great people, great food and great prices. You really can stretch your dollar here, meet new friends and live in paradise.
Come on down for a visit, you will not be sorry. Boquete has a way of getting into your heart.