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Vacation planning with an eye toward retirement

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Cincinnati, Ohio
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112 posts
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Vacation planning with an eye toward retirement


I was wondering if there are any ex-pats or experienced travelers to this area that might share some of their experience with me.

I was planning a vacation to this area that will double as a retirement scouting trip for early next year. My plan is to stay in or near Las Tablos , and look at areas along the Pacific coast from

Panama City to the end of the southern peninsula.

Our interests are the beach, the water, a good place for relatives to come and visit, and hopefully an ex-pat community to share our time in retirement.

I welcome all opinions and suggestions on places to stay, things to do, and people to see !


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Denver, Colorado
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1. Re: Vacation planning with an eye toward retirement

I would be interested in what you found on your retirement exploring trip. My wife and I are planning a similar trip in May .

Any info would be appreciated.


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2. Re: Vacation planning with an eye toward retirement

Are you looking for info for Las Tablas area in specific or Panama in general?

I came down 3 years ago and am happy to give you some guidance either way.

First thing I would say is DON'T be in a rush to buy property until you have lived here for at least a year.

Depending where you want to be you can rent very cheaply. Before leaping into a foreign country you want to test drive for a while before you make the full commitment. Depending on what you are looking for the prices are all over the map. In Panama City rent for a place that is liveable, in a relatively safe area are $1500 - $2000 per month, in Las Tablas I rent a 2 yr old, 3 bdrm , 1000 sq ft house for $250 per month and have been told by the locals I overpaid. Rentals are not the easiest to find as nothing here is really advertised to the level you would expect coming from the US. The few rental web sites you will find that cater to expats are virtually guaranteed to have ridiculously high prices. The locals use a site called Encuentra 24, but more than half the rentals are not listed. Lot of times it is a matter of driving around looking for, for rent signs or asking around.

Spend time ravelling around the country as each region is quite different from the others. If you are coming in May you are getting into the low season so finding reasonably priced hotels will be easy. Panama has a highly developed transport system, if you are going to travel in the interior the bus service is cheap, quick and comfortable. Panama City to Las Tablas (200km) is $9.75 per person, the preferred way to travel long distance. Rental cars are available in many areas for about $50 per day. Don't rent a car if you are travelling within Panama City, it is more bother than it is worth, not only will driving in the cities chaotic traffic take years off your life, finding parking at any destination is a feat in itself. Best bet for travel in the city is metro or taxi, but expect the taxi to overcharge "gringos", it is the national sport here. Pick up at the airport to any hotel should be about $35 for taxis, but many hotels offer a shuttle service.

Lots of sources on the internet will tell you that you don't need to know Spanish to live here, that is disingenuous at best. In Panama City you may find some English speaking people at major hotels or businesses but that is far from the norm. The bulk of taxi drivers, or store employees do not speak English and if you travel to the interior that is even more rare to find. Don't let that put you off though as I came down with very little Spanish and after about a year of tough slogging I had a sufficient amount to get by. You need to make the honest effort to learn though, not only will it make life easier it will open up a lot of activities you normally wouldn't experience.

If you have any specific questions let me know.

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