When I first seriously began researching for a country to retire in, I focused on Uruguay. It is reported to be very European in its architecture and culture, which was appealing to me. But as I learned more about it, the weather seemed almost like it is in this part of the USA, since it’s in a temperate latitude in the southern hemisphere, much like we are in the northern hemisphere in Oklahoma. Also, it’s really far away – plane tickets are likely to be hugely expensive, precluding easy travel to the US for visits.

Panama is a country often referred to as “the hub of the Americas” (for obvious reasons). In land area, it’s about the size of South Carolina, and has a population of about 4 million people, about half of which live in Panama City. It’s bordered by Columbia to the east and Costa Rica to the west. Read more about Panama’s history and geography on Wikipedia.

Panama map – click to enlarge

Panama has a wide range of climates. Of course, it’s in the tropics, so the beaches and lower elevations are plenty warm all year. But it also has highland areas, particularly toward the western province of Chiriqui. The highest point in Panama is Volcán Barú, a dormant volcano, whose summit is 11, 401 feet above sea level.

Double rainbow over the Caldera River, which runs through Boquete.

The beaches are too hot and humid for my taste, so I plan to settle in the highland town of Boquete, about 50 miles east of Volcán Barú (it’s circled on the map above). It’s in a valley, and the elevation ranges from about 4,000 to 4,500 feet above sea level. The year-round weather there ranges from a cool-ish 60° at night to a comfortable 72° to 80° during the day. In the wet season, it rains a lot – but usually not all day and night for days at a time. I don’t think I’ll mind the rain, since I’m not a terribly outdoorsy person anyway. I love the sound of rain and the smell of rain-washed air! As a bonus, Boquete is known for having lots of rainbows – how cool is that?

Boquete has a lot of expats from the US and Canada, as well as Europe, the Middle East, other Latin American countries, and recently, an influx of South Africans. But wherever we’re from, we’ll have at least one thing in common – we chose to leave our home countries for one reason or another, to start a new life in Panama. So there should certainly be some interesting and diverse people to meet!

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