A Question from a Reader

Feel free to give him your comments. The email question follows:

I have some questions about relocating to Boquete.
Could you please post my inquiry and ask your reader if they could give us
some information

We are considering relocating to Panama from the US Virgin Islands (which is becoming super expensive and a difficult commute for my wife). We have a 5 year old daughter and my wife commutes to Houston Texas three to four times a month. Boquete sounds like paradise and certainly is my choice.
However, Panama city is the easier commute for my wife and I am told that the schools in Panama city are much better for my daughter than Boquete/David.

I would like to get first hand information on the advantages and disadvantages of living in Boquete vs Panama City. I also understand that David is the center of the area and that it is at least 45 minutes from Boquete and not an easy drive.
1) Does anyone do that daily commute for school?

2) How would you compare the schools in Panama City to Boquete.

3)How difficult is it to do a weekly commute from Boquete to Panama City’s main airport?

I am retired and am not concerned about the remoteness or commute,( just give me the great weather, air, coffee and fresh fruit) so I guess the final question is

4) Is the superior weather and produce off set the commute and quality of schools?

By the way
Our family had a short 4 day visit to Panama and mainly saw Panama City (where our host lived-Las Cumbres) and the Pacific coast. particularly like Coronado. Next visit hope to be David and Bouquete.

Robert Johnson, Esq.
Thank You,
Robert, Tracey & Rorie.

9 thoughts on “A Question from a Reader

  1. Hi Don,
    I am going to dove tale on this inquiry.
    “The approval of a request to cease any guarantee or individual liberty corresponds to the presiding magistrate of the Penal Bench or whomever the plenum of the Supreme Court of Justice may designate, or in their absence a magistrate of the same bench shall be designated. The procedure shall be classified as secret….”
    Article 53, Decree to reorganize the National Public Safety and Defense Council, create the National Intelligence and Security Services and make other arrangements

    Over the past few years the heavily armed home invasion robbery, in many instances preceded by the poisoning of guard dogs, has been ever more common. The maleantes have generally chosen wealthy targets, but increasingly have attacked middle class foreign retirees.

    Comments please on the above as to how it may impact living in David. Also what about the national registration cards?


  2. Robert,
    Can’t answer any of your questions (no kids and I don’t plan to commute anywhere) but we did recently moved from St. Croix so you might find something of interest on my site – http://www.panamanotes.com/ stop by and take a look.

    Hope WAPA doesn’t hit you too hard with the latest rate hike.


  3. If superior weather means 150 inches of rain per year in the Boquete area this may be the place for you. The superior produce is grown in Panama with one of the highest rates of chemical additives per acre in the world.

  4. Robert,

    I may be able to actually answer some of your questions. My wife, 4 year old daughter, and I just spent all of July in Volcan (the other side of the volcano from Boquete) in preperation for moving there. Like you, we were worried about the schools, so we checked a few out (as best we could). We also have a very good friend who has his kids (5 and 7) in schools there. He’s from the US, and is used to the level and quality of education here. His kids are in a private, bi-lingual school that runs about $50 per month. Yes, I said $50. Per month.

    He and his wife (a Pana) also work with the kids at home, but he is very happy with the schools available there. We were pleased with what we found as well, and won’t hesitate to put our own daughter into the school system in Volcan. Like our friend, we will augment that with some home schooling (and will probably end up teaching her friends as well), but we’d have to do the same in the US anyway.

    I can’t speak to living in Panama City, as we only spent 3 days there, but in that time it struck me as just another Detroit: Burned out building that still have people living in them, poverty, squaller, political corruption, drugs and prostitution, higher crime rate. That said, if you’re wealthy, you can buy a pretty good life (like in big cities anywhere in the world). Unlike in the US, the poverty is very pronounced. That’s why we’re heading to the Interior (Volcan, specifically).

    The drive from PC to David took us about 7 hours. I can’t see doing that regularly, myself.

    I totally agree with you on the produce: Some of the best and freshest I’ve ever tasted. We normally buy local and/or organic stuff here in the Northwest, and none of it can hold a candle to Pinapple that was picked 100 feet from where I bought it, an hour before I ate it. The commenter (Pantah) who talks about chemicals may well be right, but all the free-range, organic stuff in the world won’t help me if I can’t stand the taste of it.

    The rain in Volcan is about 167 inches per year IIRC. Being from the Northwest, I’m used to (and hate) the rain. It wasn’t a problem for us, because unlike here, it’s still warm when it rains, and it usually only rains for part of the day anyway: The morning is clear and sunny, while after lunch the rains come in. Considering all the benefits to Panama, I can live with this!

    You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned Boquete. We never actually made there, so I can’t speak to it. But 15 miles away (as the crow flies), Volcan is a slice of heaven.

    PS: No, I don’t have any property to sell and have no vested interest in seeing you move there, except perhaps that our kids could play together.


  5. robert,
    don’t know what the school terms are in US Virgin Islands but if they resemble the u.s. (summer months vacation) then i suggest you and your family spend those 3 months here and see if you can answer your own questions.
    there’s always good and bad advice but there is nothing like first hand experience.

  6. Hello
    Schools in panama city are expensive, quality may vary from one to another.

    In chiriqui, david area you´ll find good options, in privates basic levels and also high school. I have traveled to some places in latin america and I can say.. that panama has one of the best education in latin america. Education in David is very good, there are some small private schools in boquete where you´ll have a good learning for your child.

    Panama city is very crowed… traffic is terrible and also violence is higher than country side. Panama city is a good place to shopping, make bussines and if you love night life, to put it another way, this city can offer you what any other big city in the world can offer.

    I did studies in David, in a public school, it was normal to have some classmates who lived in boquete, poterillos and they traveled every day to school in david. In panama city many of the students have to travel one hour or more time to get school.

    I think that David city is well conected to panama city; by air, there are daily flights to panama city, only 45 mins.

    I hope you can make a good choise for you and your family, but I recommend as a panamenian, that you can visit chiriqui and test it for yourself if this is what are you expecting.

    Best regards!!!

  7. My husband and I will hopefully be moving (early retirement)to Panama next June, near David. (It all depends on the interpretation of the new immigration law) Anyway, we are both certified teachers with advanced degrees. I know that we can’t work in Panama, but we may be open to offering some educational opportunities for children of foreign immigrants. So, if you are considering Boquete or the area near Boquete, we can offer tutoring or curriculum design if you choose to homeschool.
    On another note, I contacted the consulate of Panama in D.C. and the interpretation of the new pensionado visa law is $1,000 per couple, in a government pension, or if from a private company it must be certified that the income is for life. It’s questionable if we can have a combination of a government pension and private investments. I’m still working on it. I’ve received three different answers from three different sources, thus far. Isn’t that typical?

  8. Hi Debbie,
    Additional info that was published in the Panma News (it pays to get as info from many sources).
    “Whereas it used to be that one could become a pensionado by proving an pension income of $500 per month (or $750 for a couple), now that has gone up to $1000. However, a retiree who owns property worth at least $100,000 in Panama only has to prove a pension of $750 per month. A person who comes in as a pensionado with dependents will have to pay $250 for each dependent.”

    “One who owns sufficient assets but has an insufficient pension may get residency by depositing enough money in the Banco Nacional de Panama or Caja de Ahorros to yield at least $2000 per month in interest.”
    Hope this helps.

  9. Robert,
    Best advice here would be to take the advice of a poster above and rent yourself some digs for a multi-month stay. Everybody hears that this is the best route to take but many (including myself) do not heed it. If you’ve already got your neighborhood picked out that would save ALOT of time and dissapointment. Then you just have to experience the local folk, the weather, telecommunications, access to amenities..You know.
    I would suppose that in your shoes just about anyplace would seem better at the outset than your current domicile. Be careful of that feeling!
    Also, I’d spend some time researching recent legislation in Panama and not only immigration law. Certain friends of mine; world travellers with much time spent living all over the place have recently decided to bail out of Panama to Argentina. Nobody likes to discuss the “negative” aspects of relocation to a particular place but it’s more economical in dollars & sense to proceed with caution, as you know.
    Also, keep in mind that the Balboa is direct pegged to the USDollar which, IMO, will soon be under siege once more and just about all these central American countries import much if not all energy products so these two factors are worthy of consideration. I like the idea of Brasil but cannot speak Portuguese and am less keen on living in a police state. Here in Costa Rica it’s just the opposite! Criminals seem to have more rights than the Virgin Mary! South America is sounding better & better.
    Absolute Best Advice (as mentioned above): Live in Panama (or anyplace else of interest to you) for at *least* a year in a location suitable to your needs.
    Pura Vida?
    KK in CR

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