The 10 Best Places to Retire in Panama

Retirement in Panama

Panama is one of the world’s top retirement destinations. In this country, you have three dramatically different retirement lifestyle options to choose among: cosmopolitan cities, beautiful beachfront towns and cooler mountain climes. There are appealing retirement spots for retirees on strict budgets as well as upscale amenities for those whose retirement resources stretch a little further. Consider these 10 great places to retire in Panama.


Chitré is a small town of only 10,000 people, but it holds a reputation as a stronghold of Panamanian folklore and tradition. The town is known for elaborate holiday celebrations, and it’s hard to avoid getting swept up in the excitement. For expats wanting an authentic cultural experience, Chitré is a great option. The capital of Herrera Province, Chitré is a regional hub with vast shopping, dining and entertainment options. Chitré is largely undiscovered by tourists, so prices remain low. Even beachfront real estate is a bargain. However, expats need to speak and understand Spanish to at least a basic level to communicate with locals.

San Francisco, Panama City

For some people, nothing but big-city living will do. A top option for those attracted to Panama City is the trendy residential neighborhood of San Francisco. San Francisco is the place to be for proximity to cafés, shops and nightlife venues. Panama’s best malls and hospitals are a few minutes’ drive away. San Francisco is family-friendly, with low crime rates and one of the biggest parks in the city. An array of appealing housing options, from modern high-rises to spacious stand-alone houses, is available at various price points. With a high concentration of conveniences and amenities, Panama City is the most expensive place to live in the country. However, Panama City can provide a comparable standard of living to the United States at a far lower price.


David is Panama’s second largest city with 165,000 people. David has an international airport, outstanding health care facilities, bilingual private schools, car dealerships, malls and extensive shopping options. Located in Chiriquí Province, David is a fast-growing city, but it’s off the radar of most of the rest of the world. Residents enjoy the combination of quiet, peaceful living, proximity to nature and first-rate amenities. Real estate in David is much more affordable than in Panama City.


Perched among the highlands of Chiriquí Province is Volcán, a laid-back town that is known for its cool climate, impressive scenery and natural appeal. It features wide vistas of rolling hills kissed by cloud mist and covered in dense, wildlife-rich rainforest. Hikers come from throughout the country to make the trek up Volcán Barú, one of the highest peaks in Panama, and catch glimpses of the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean at the same time. Volcán has large grocery stores, beautiful hotels and trendy eateries and coffee shops. The community is small, and the lifestyle is simple. This is an excellent retirement option for those who enjoy hiking, gardening and connecting with nature.

El Valle de Antón

El Valle de Antón sits about 75 miles west of Panama City among cloud-capped mountains. It’s a favorite weekend escape from the city known for its flora and fauna, endless outdoor recreation opportunities and slightly cooler climate than the capital. Hiking is a major attraction, and trails lace the hillside, including along a mountain range that famously looks like a woman’s reclining figure. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy swimming in streams and waterfalls, birdwatching, cycling, horseback riding and gardening in El Valle. For a change of scenery, the beach is less than an hour’s drive away. El Valle remains a quiet mountain escape, but new amenities are cropping up, including grocery stores, ATMs, restaurants and clinics.


Boquete literally stands above the rest of Panama at an elevation of about 3,900 feet. The area has eternally spring-like weather with an average temperature of around 65 degrees year-round, which is a welcome relief from Panama at sea level. Boquete has nutrient-rich soil and frequent rain showers, which keep the region lush, green and overflowing with wildflowers and coffee plantations. Boquete has one of the biggest communities of foreign retirees in the world, which makes this a good overseas retirement option for someone who doesn’t speak fluent Spanish or isn’t ready to fully immerse in a foreign culture. Boquete boasts a lively music and arts scene plus internationally recognized coffee and flower festivals.


The oblong landmass that dangles from Panama’s southern coast is the Azuero Peninsula. Its shores qualify as one of the country’s finest stretches of sand and sea, making the Azuero region a great choice for ocean lovers. In the peninsula’s southeastern corner is Pedasí, a charming beach town where life is simple and traditional. This coast attracts divers, snorkelers, surfers and fishermen. Panama’s “tuna coast” is home to record-setting yellow fin. Wildlife refuges, national parks and countless beaches are also within easy reach. As Pedasí’s profile rises, more tourists are making their way here, meaning less privacy but more expat-friendly amenities and services. Life in Pedasí remains authentic, but it is more comfortable and convenient all the time.

Puerto Armuelles

Puerto Armuelles, found at the southernmost tip of western Panama, was an important part of the Chiquita Banana Company’s operations for several decades. This history has afforded it higher-quality infrastructure than other small towns in the area. Homes built for Chiquita employees are bigger than typical Panamanian homes, built to U.S. standards and affordable. The town is well-appointed with grocery stores, ATMs and banks as well as a large hospital with English-speaking doctors. Puerto boasts soft-sand beaches and a friendly atmosphere, remaining the type of place where children can play outside unsupervised and passersby greet each other on the streets.

Boca Chica

Found on Panama’s Pacific Coast about 70 miles east of the border with Costa Rica, Boca Chica is a beach town. In the life-rich waters of Boca Brava Island, just in front of Boca Chica, you can snorkel, scuba dive, fish, kayak, paddleboard and more. For those who want to live life on the water, there’s no better place. Two free municipal boat ramps make this a boater’s paradise. The town is tiny, with only about 500 people, but the area is densely populated. Boca Chica stands out for its brightly painted homes that contrast with the backdrop of green jungle.

Western Azuero Peninsula

Along the Azuero Peninsula’s remote western front are arguably the most stunning beaches in Panama. Along this coast, there are no all-inclusive resorts, high rises or convenience stores. Instead, you find a rocky shoreline and undulating terrain that provides ocean views in all directions. Because of its geographic positioning, this is one of the few places in Panama where you can watch the sunset over the ocean. An expat community, currently made up of about 300 people, is slowly emerging. The west coast of the Azuero Peninsula is a place for expats to enjoy off-grid, private living among the best of nature.

The 10 best places to retire in Panama:

— Chitré.

— San Francisco, Panama City.

— David.

— Volcán.

— El Valle de Antón.

— Boquete.

— Pedasí.

— Puerto Armuelles.

— Boca Chica.

— Western Azuero Peninsula.

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The 10 Best Places to Retire in Panama originally appeared on

Update 07/28/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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