Retirement reality, not fantasies....

by Sharol Rasmussen
(Boquete, Panama)

Hi Pat and everyone,

My name is Sharol Rasmussen, and I've been living in Boquete, Panama for the last two months. It seems, I've been following the bad weather this last year, from living in the mid-west of the U.S. during the rain, and snowstorms, then moving to Pucon, Chile for six weeks, yet again, in the dead of winter, and now, finally, in Boquete, Panama, during their very rainy season. I'm looking at the bright side, at least I'm seeing these places at their worst, instead of laying on a balmy beach, working on my golden tan, as I lay there sipping a glass of ice tea.

Fantasies, fantasies......Please do me a favor everyone, don't believe everything, or actually, much of what you read in those retirement newsletters, telling you how cheap everything is in all these exotic countries. I know that prices are great in a lot of places, but it seems, however, that once lot's of retirees find out about a place, the prices go through the roof, and you might as well stay at home....

Case in point, Boquete, Panama. Perhaps, with many of you wealthy retirees, a $300,000 or more house is cheap, especially if your from Europe, or the major expensive cities of the U.S., but to those of us who are single women, disabled, or living on social security, the newsletters brash announcement of cheap living isn't the case.

Before I moved here, many of the locals told me I could find a cheap house to rent, with actual running water, hot I may add, for $300 a month. If your lucky, and you don't come here around the high season, from Dec.-March, you may find a Panamanian house, with no hot water, questionable neighborhood. I found a couple of those places when I first came here, but not now.

The high season is upon us...I hoped, as I was told, I could buy a little 1-2 bedroom casa for $50,000 or so, so I would have cash to get me through, but that doesn't exist. It's much more expensive than that...I find myself not willing to buy here, I'm renting, and not sure if I want to buy a car, as taxi's are cheap, but annoying.

It seems, my dreams of living in a mountain climate, on the cheap hasn't panned out. The locals, generally, are friendly, it doesn't help, anywhere, if your from the U.S., most nations don't seem to care for us. A few bad apples have spoiled the whole scene for the rest of us. The many rich gringos come here and buy whatever they want, not caring about the price, while the rest of us suffer, knowing we can't outbid them. So we rent, and the story goes.

At this point, all assets are through the roof, from houses, the stock market, you name it. It seems renting is prudent, and I hate dealing with landlords, but the blessing is, I can leave if I want to....With a house, it's a different matter. Who knows when the bubble will pop, again.

I do like this place, but not sure for a forever life. I'm getting my pension visa in a month or so, then a Cedula in a couple of months after that. I then want to go to some other areas, and see what I think...I realize there's nothing perfect on this earth, the weather is pretty nice here in Boquete, but there's tons of rain during the afternoon, evening, in the rainy season. But you friends in the U.K. are used to that, so it's nothing for you...I'm a native Californian, so it's a stretch for me.

To sum this up, don't believe what you read, go visit during the worst time a place has to offer. Go many times, see many places, before you settle into something you regret. As for me, I'm looking forward to some sunshine, soon. I lost my tan two years ago.

Comments for Retirement reality, not fantasies....

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Nov 19, 2015
Ex Pat Sites
by: Pat @ Babyboomers

I always love a challenge Karen. You can Google anything these days and look what I came up with.

First I found a general information expat site:

Tfhe introductory script:

"There are a whole host of expat websites available on the Internet that can assist you with various elements of your move overseas. We have put together a list of recommended expat websites that can be used together with our international relocation guides in order to assist your relocation to go as smoothly as possible."

On that site I found a link to this one

Who describe themselves:

"We're a free and friendly site for expat women around the world who are already living abroad or looking to make the move. We have in depth websites for popular expat destinations, as well as essential guides for every country in the world. We’ve also got global forums for you to join and get real life tips and advice. Let us help you on your expat journey!"

Hope the links are helpful and work. If not copy and paste the web addresses into your browser and that should do it.

Keep in touch like Sharol. We'd love to hear of your adventure.


Nov 18, 2015
Retirement Reality
by: Anonymous

My name is Karen and I'm a single lady trying to retire. I'm retiring from the military, and have a decent pension, but I can't live on the beach in California. I was thinking about what Sharol said, and I really enjoyed her advice. I will be alone as well, a women by myself in a foreign land. I wonder if there's a sight for women expats to find each other and make the transition an easier one. Thanks for the great information.
Karen Sommers

Nov 18, 2015
Retirement in Boquete, Panama
by: Pat

Sound advice Sharol. Thanks for your tips.

I think renting for a while is a good way to experience living somewhere without the full commitment.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Tips to Retire Overseas.