By Linda & Arne Jensen
In December we sold our home and left our wonderful neighbors of 11 years in Mineral Wells. Our children live in Houston, Mansfield and North Carolina. We didn’t get to see them as much as we wanted because of the high cost of fuel, along with the rising cost of living eating into our meager means of support. During the last few years I had researched many places in Texas looking for a comfortable community with a lower cost of living than Mineral Wells.
We searched high and low. Stephenville was about the lowest cost of living during 2011; but time has a way of changing things. Then it was Waco, Eastland or far South Texas. Honestly, we wanted to stay in Texas, but with the cost of everything rising, especially medical insurance and medicines, we were always worried.
Mineral Wells is a nice place to live on North West Mountain. Scenic and quiet, a place to enjoy a long walk, to say hello to neighbors and friends as they walk by, too. It was a difficult decision but we decided to move to Panama, Boquete, in fact.
We can live here for less money than we can in the states; a couple can live comfortably on $1,500 a month. Instead of taking every dime just to get by we have money left over at the end of the month. That takes away a lot of stress, at least for us it did.
We live in a nice two-bedroom, two-bath condo in what they refer to as Alto Boquete. We can see mountains all around, tropical flowers everywhere. We are a 20-minute downhill walk to the small town of Boquete. In town there are grocery stores, a nice department store, pharmacies, doctors, labs, several banks and tourist businesses. Many restaurants, bars, bakeries and hotels are located in town. There is a large population of ex-patriots from the US, UK, Germany, Scandinavia, France and other places.
Cabs and buses run regularly; the square downtown is an easy place to find a taxi or bus. From downtown to our condo the price for one varies from 75 cents to a dollar, it depends on whether they take you inside our gated community or not. A bus to downtown is 60 cents. The legal tender here is dollars.
There is no heat or air-conditioning in the homes for the most part. We use ceiling fans occasionally. In the rainy season you need a dehumidifier, we have been told. It is basically about 62 to 72 degrees here all the time.
A 45-minute drive to the third largest city in Panama will find you in a lower altitude with more heat and humidity. Great shopping though; there is a Price Smart member store (owned by Costco), a Do It Center (owned by Ace Hardware). Arrocha’s is a finer department store like Dillard’s filled with upscale name brands everyone recognizes. Conway is another huge shopping store with a nice restaurant on the third floor. Rey’s is a big grocery store and across the street is the Baru grocery store, all nice, clean and well stocked.
We have medical insurance through the Chiriquí Hospital in David. It cost us together $147 a month. We also purchased the cancer plan at $108 per year.
This is dry season; lots of tourists arrive at this time of year; downtown is busy all the time. When we have taken the bus, even though sometimes they are crowded, people are very polite. The indigenous people are clean and seem to be very family oriented.
The Catholic Church has a 9 a.m. English Mass on Sundays.
The only thing missing here is the family and friends we left behind; we don’t miss the high cost of living or the rushed, stressful lifestyle of the typical American home. The constant worry about money is gone. We have less but seem to enjoy it more! Life is different yet the same. There are good roads and potholes just like any place else. New and old are side-by-side.
This is our adventure and so far it has been a good one. Boquete is one of the top retirement areas in the world. Check it out online.
We are a few hundred miles from Panama City, the huge city with a skyline full of high rises, fancy shopping centers and malls, new and old next door to each other. It is worth a trip to check out the comfort and quality of life Panama has to offer.