Retirement in Panama is big these days, and there are many communities that cater to expats of all ages and budgets. The western mountains of Panama have long been a top retirement destination for both expats and locals, especially Boquete. But recently, and under the radar of many, another local town in Chiriqui has been quietly becoming the ideal destination to settle down in Panama. That town is Volcan, and while it’s a bit smaller and quieter than it’s neighbor Boquete, it has lots to offer as a relocation destination, and it’s getting better every year.
Volcan is appealing to expats, especially retirees, for many of the same reasons Boquete is. It’s nestled in the heart of the western sierras of Panama, about 45 minutes from David, and a 7-hour ride from Panama City (40 min flight via David). It’s called “Volcan” (Volcano in Spanish) because it’s located right at the foot of Panama’s biggest volcano, Volcan Baru. The location is remote, and that seems to be the draw for a lot of people. Volcan truly has unique scenery for Panama. It’s cool and dry (68-75 F) with lush green fields, bright colored flowers, and plants covering nearly every open space in the area. It’s visually stunning, and temperate enough not to need A/C or heat. If you’re an outdoors person this truly is your place.
Another great draw to Volcan is its peace and serenity. The town is very small, and the surrounding area very quiet with little traffic, and lots of open air space to hike, drive, or hang out in. In the center of town there is a supermarket, a few banks, and a number of restaurants that cater to both local and expat tastes. Unlike Boquete, the town is fairly spread out, so having a car is crucial. Volcan isn’t the right place if you’re looking for nightlife or big city conveniences, however they have all the basics you need to get you by, and a well maintained road to take you into the city (David) should you need anything from there.
Cost of Living
Another great draw to Volcan for expats, especially retirees, is the cost of living. In general, the cost of living in Chiriqui is very cheap, however in some of the more popular retirement towns, you’ll see small amounts of price inflation geared towards foreigners and tourists. Not in Volcan, at least not at this point. Property is very affordable and land is abundant. Food at restaurants about half of what it costs in Panama City, and basic services and utilities are low. Due to the temperate climate, A/C’s are seldom used, making electricity very cheap.
Simple Country Living at its Finest
If it’s low-cost country living you’re looking for, Volcan truly is one of Panama’s best locations. It’s safe, clean, friendly, and affordable. There’s a great small-town feel to Volcan, and although new residents do not overrun it, the expat community is big enough to give you a support base if you feel a bit homesick, or are new to Panamanian culture. Volcan is right in the middle of the coffee farm region of Panama, and there are many tours, shops, and cafes that specialize in showcasing the riches of the coffee harvest. You can even smell the local produce as you drive through the winding hills and up through the town and its surrounding area.