Category Archives: Panama Journal

Morning Walk

I was reminded this morning that you have to walk with your eyes on the ground in front of you when you walk in Panama.

I can’t tell you how many times I have tripped walking in the downtown area because the walkways in front of the stores were not level.

On this morning’s walk we went a different way to use some sidewalks. I encountered this area with an old tree stump in the middle of the sidewalk. It was just enough above the sidewalk that if you weren’t paying attention, you would trip and fall.

On the positive side, I can walk 365 days a year. wearing shorts and a t-shirt. The weather makes up for many annoyances.


A Reader’s Cost Of Living Information Guest Post

My recent post, on observations from my Texas and Oklahoma trip, brought in several comments and motivated Jim in Fort Worth Texas to share his COL situation. Thanks go out to Jim and Nena for taking the time to do this.

Those living in Panama can see how they compare. Those considering Panama as a retirement location will have another set of data points to add to their investigation.

Since I always recommend 6-10 months living in Panama before really making a permanent move, you can use this as a means of comparison or gathering your own data.

Many that commented on the previous post, left comments which stated that their expenses were much higher than what I observed. Where ever you are, there will be differences. There are always plusses and minuses to living anywhere.

What Jim’s post doesn’t cover is the quality of life difference and that is in the eyes of each individual.

The only way you will know if Panama is right for you is to try it. You wont know by reading a blog. Many blogs are biased and are really there to sell tours or peddle real estate that the author has to sell. Trust yourself – no-one else.

Jim’s guest post follows:

I was motivated to do some research after Don’s post about prices in the US vs Panama.  Specifically, David, Panama vs Fort Worth, Tx where I have lived for 36 years.

Currently Nena and I are senior citizens, both retired, home is paid off, as are both our cars.  We both receive SS and have Medicare Part A&B, we are both in good health.

I collected actual payments for utilities and monthly expenses for the past 16 months.  Those expenses are averaged by category in the table.  Additionally, I got 5 months of charges to our credit cards.  I averaged those by store and services.  Keep in mind, places like Walmart have grocery, car servicing, etc so some of our groceries are there as well as at the grocery stores which we shop.  We do all our own home maintenance, gardening, and remodeling so Lowes/HD are at least weekly visits for us.  We live in a 50 year old home which we bought 16 years ago. We have completely remodeled and updated it so mostly now it is just lawn/garden supplies, AC air filters, etc.

Another caveat is that we get a break on real estate tax with a senior’s exemption, about 1/3-1/2 reduction in assessment.

In summary, our credit card expenses are largely discretionary spending so we could “do without” much of that if we needed to.  I will try to get a more accurate accounting of the grocery expenses but those probably won’t be much help as we regularly feed our 2 sons’ families and their 4 kids, and the grandkids, all primary school age, eat like wolves.

Another consideration of the data:  all our utilities and services are truly 24/7 availability.  When we pay $114.76 for electric, it is never out.  Same with water, trash pick up, and sewer, it always works.  My internet service went out last month after record-breaking Spring storms, first time on years that has happened.  I put in a trouble ticket that evening and the next day TWO techs showed up and redid our entire block. Some main junction was out, affected me several neighbors so they what was wrong before showing up.  All fixed in a couple hours included updating my connection on a 50 year old house.  I was back streaming Netflix on two TVs and KODI on my tablet by supper time.

So there you have it, just Joe Bagofdonuts’s cost of living expenses.  I’ll be glad to provide answers if I can for any specifics that I missed.

jim and nena
fort worth, tx

Click to enlarge the spreadsheet.

Click to enlarge

Fun With Friends


Thursday night Lilliam and I got to enjoy a good time with old friends that were met through Chiriquí Chatter.

Jaime, who comments every now and then was visiting his family in David. He lives in California and was here with his 17 year old son. It seems like I have known Jaime forever. His mother, sister and nieces and nephew go to our church.

Rod, Jessie and their two boys are also old friends. Rod first wrote me when he was stationed in Iraq. We have stayed in contact as his military career has moved him around the world. We have dined together on multiple trips that he and his wife have made to Chiriqui. One trip we ate with Jessie and the two boys and talked to Rod via Skype.

Lilliam and I have made many friends through Chiriquí Chatter and all are special.

This time Rod and his family and Jaimie and his son happened to be in Chiriquí at the same time. Rather than scheduling two separate dinners, I thought it would be fun to let all meet each other and the evening couldn’t have gone better.

I called Franco at Verona’s Pizza restaurant to hold a couple tables for me. Rod and his family were there when Lilliam and I arrived, and Jaime came a couple minutes later. Jaime’s sister and niece also stopped by to say hello.

Rod and his wife have taken their time and after 7 years have purchased a farm in Chiriquí. Jessie is a beautiful Chiricana and has a large family here. Rod and Jessie are making their final plans to move to Panama and testing their skills at farming.

Jessie and Lilliam spent most of the evening talking and Rod, Jaime and I held down the other end of the table. Jaime’s son and Rod’s two sons struck up a friendship and spent their time discussing Star Wars and religion. Interesting combination of subjects.

Jaime confirmed that prices, for food products, are cheaper in Panama than in California. He also commented that those moving here strictly for cheap living, from wherever, would be in for a huge culture shock and that cost of living would be a minor influence. He still prefers living in California.

We arrived at Verona’s at 7:30 PM and closed the restaurant at 11:00 PM. II was fun for me to listen to the stories of Jaime growing up in Panama and thinking he would always live here, and how that changed and he had moved to California to advance his medical career and the struggles he went through in the US.

It was also fun listing to Rod’s experiences in Panama and how he met his wife and his tours around the world with the army.

It was a fantastic evening and a lot of fun. Friends are very important to me and the ones I have made living in Panama, and through Chiriquí Chatter, have been some of the best friends I have.

Nealon’s Video

I have a very talented granddaughter. As you may remember, she gave birth early and lived through many stressful days praying that her newborn son would survive.

He was born early weighing 2 pounds 5 ounces and lost weight down to 2 pounds 3 ounces.

Through all this period of his life, he was surrounded by love as evidenced by all the photos and videos that were taken. My granddaughter and her husband were able to live in the hospital until the day that Nealon was released.

Lindsay, my granddaughter, took all of the photos and videos and created a memory video documenting the beginning to current. I thought it was exceptional, but obviously, I am a little biased.

None the less, if you have 11 minutes I would like to share the video my granddaughter made. It brought tears to my eyes.

My How Time Flies

Lilliam’s daughter and her family came to visit last weekend from Panama City. Isabela and Lucca, picture above, have grown so much since the first time I met them.

They have grown into such fine, well behaved and intelligent young people. They are a pleasure to be around.