When we started out on this venture there were several people who said, excitedly “OH! Are you going to Boquete?” …no I answered. We don’t have time for bunny trails on this trip. We’re on a mission to find somewhere to invest or retire. I knew that we might actually want to retire somewhere a little cooler than a beach community, somewhere in the mountains, like Boquete, but we’re not ready to retire, we’re needing to invest. So I didn’t want to take the time.
Then plans changed and we decided to visit Dave’s sister and her family in Costa Rica (since we’re so close) and bus to Panama. Well, the bus route was so close to Boquete we decided to spare 2 nights and go check it out.
Does it seem sometimes like the Universe conspires FOR you? We were definitely meant to see Boquete. Wow. It was almost a spiritual experience…no, I’ll say it…it was a spiritual experience. The phrase that Dave and I used several times, hand on heart, with astonishment, “it’s so soul filling!”
The volcano, the mountains, the waterfalls, the foliage, the flowers…oh my goodness…there’s this flower, it emits this smell at night that is intoxicating, the streams, the fresh air, the people. We loved it.
Here’s what to know, to decide if Boquete is worth checking out for you:
1) Are you a nature lover? There are trails galore to discover and hike, but just a walk outside your door, anywhere you are, reveals beauty all around. Do you like to garden yourself? The gardens are amazing and look easy to grow. Mangos? Bananas? Strawberries (everywhere!)? Limes? Coffee? Ok, now I’m pushing it, just get your coffee from a local organic coffee grower. They abound.
2) Do you need heat? So retiring to the tropics has more variety than you might imagine. In January, when Facebook is replete with pictures of yet another snow storm you may want to be basking on the beach. Boquete is not hot. It’s nice and warm. I wasn’t ever cold. I carried a light sweater most of the time but almost never put it on…I couldn’t decide if I needed it. It’s that kind of temperature. It’s like a gorgeous warm spring day. Everyday. There’s mist hanging over the mountains (can we put hand over heart again for a moment and stand in awe and say “soul filling”?) that occasionally sprinkles on its occupants below (hence the lush green gardens).
On the “but I need heat” side of things…both the Carribean and the Pacific are relatively close by. The undiscovered, under developed Pacific town of Boca Chica is 1.5 hours away. National Geographic described it as a
Bocas del Toro is said to be 3.5-4.5 hours away on the Carribean side and is a hot spot for surfing. I’ve read good things and bad about Bocas del Toro, so do some research before venturing out there.
3) While we’re on about the climate, how do you feel about utility costs? In Boquete you need neither heat nor A/C…all. year. long. Opening and closing the windows is all you need for climate control. Electricity bill depends on usage of course but one home owner told us hers was about $100/month for their home and the little casita they rent out.
4) Do you need city life? The town of David is 40 minutes away is a population of 144,000. We didn’t spend much time there but it didn’t make a hugely favourable impression in our short stay. Boquete is a 5-7 hour drive from Panama City or a 1 hour, $100 flight (from David). How often will you want to do that? Will you feel isolated in a town of less than 20,000 people?
There is a large and diverse expat community though and they are active! Within 30 minutes of us landing there, we were having lunch at a cute little French restaraunt and the owner came out to talk to us (did I mention friendly?…oh so friendly)…he told us all about his experience of moving to Boquete.
He gushed (as did the hosts of our B&B who’ve been there 6 years “best 6 years of our lives”) as he spoke of the community and all the groups there are to be a part of if you so choose. From theatre groups to hiking, yoga, bird watching, writing, baking, art…you name it, there are lots of ways to get involved. He also talked about the safety there. Crime (according to him) is very low (I didn’t look up any stats on that but we also felt very safe).
We had fun trying a variety of restaraunts, from nice touristy ones to little local ones. We were never disappointed but while you can eat out very reasonably not everything was jaw dropping cheap. Beer is a dollar – that works.
Those are the things to consider when considering Boquete. As for Dave and me? We were smitten and look forward to going back. Since leaving there, everywhere we’ve been has been compared back to Boquete, how we felt, how we came alive, how we didn’t want to leave.
It is my one regret, now that I know how much we loved Boquete, that we didn’t schedule time for Boca Chica. I’m thinking that property in Boquete and Boca Chica would make a nice pair to have you all come and vacation at (or to try out retirement in)…next time!
Next up…Coronado. On paper, Coronado makes the most sense to get our investments started. We’ll see.
Me and my favourite flower.
Did I say intoxicating?