Hey! What’s Your Story?

Ta4mx9XTtC95asYBu0kA-1024x768 Hey! What's Your Story? We’re so glad you’re here!

It’s one thing to blather on about our travels and experiences, but we really want to learn about our readers. So please let us know your story and how you managed to come to this little corner of the blogosphere in the first place.

We created this blog in hopes that we could share our experiences and inspire others to follow their dreams. Even if you’re in the very early stages of planning your escape, we’d love to hear about it!


  1. Got notice you discovered our blog…..Our Panama Now. It was done mostly for family and friends to follow our adventure exploring relocation for retirement, and our decision to finish the deal. The blog follows our 2 visits and final relocation in June 2013. Did a final post at that time, and probably sadly, have not added since. I guess we were busy getting settled, meeting new friends, and doing stuff of the everyday nature so the ‘new adventure’ theme seemed over. Even tho I’m sure there has been many things to comment on….we seems be busy ‘doing them’.
    We are back in the US currently helping with a family illness. Not sure for how long, but cannot get back to Panama and Boquete soon enough.
    Good luck with your adventure. I know you will never look back!

  2. Hi Ray & Cleo, pleased to meet you! I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep this up after we move but it’s fun now 🙂 Sorry to hear about your family illness; hope you can get back “home” to Boquete soon. Maybe we can meet one of these days!
    – Susan

  3. We came across your blog because we have a grand scheme in the works to follow in your footsteps :). We currently live in Iowa, but are relocating shortly to Florida for a bit then heading to Panama! Love tracking your progress!

  4. oldsalt1942 Reply

    I have TWO blogs, one about my experiences in Panama and another one dealing with shanty/houseboats. Each attracts a different kind of reader and I find it endlessly fascinating where those people live. I mean, people in Laos, Zambia and Ruwanda as well as the Palestinian Territory and MONGOLIA for crying out loud have visited my Panamanian site. And who’d have ever guessed that people from Ethiopia, Myanmar (Burma), and Pakistan would be interested enough in shantyboats to visit my site?


  5. Aloha John & Susan, I just discovered your blog and am enjoying following your adventures. My wife Sharon and I will be visiting Panama over Labor Day for 3 weeks. We are thinking that Boquete or its surrounding area is where we would want to settle. Our plan is to retire there in the spring of 2016. Looking forward to following your adventures and hope to meet you when we are in Boquete the week of August 31. John Henry & Sharon Brooks

  6. Scott & Laura Barnes Reply

    Your blog is fantastic. My wife and I are in the early stages of planning our retirement. We plan to expat in 2018 and Panama is tops on our list. We are both in police officers in Florida and I am a 27 year Coast Guard member as well. I plan to pull the plug on my 30th USCG anniversary, which also happens to be my 50th birthday. We will be heading down with a few pensions in our pocket, so we plan to completely decompress and live an enjoyable life without the stresses of the job. I have been doing my due-dilligence on the process and find very few blogs that are informative as yours. We plan on making our first recon trip next April to David & Boquete. Hope to visit Playa Coronado as well, but we shall see. Thanks for all the info that you provide and hope we cross paths when we get down there!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Scott and Laura! Glad our blog is helpful. We got a lot of excellent advice from people who had gone before us, so we’re glad to pay it forward. Please stay in touch and let us know when you’re out in these parts next April.

  7. Bob and Carol Reply

    John and Susan,

    We read your reports regularly, but haven’t had time to reply as often as we’d like. But since I saw the image of beautiful Boquete on your latest report, I couldn’t fail to give you a report. We remember taking the very same photo from the exact same spot on one of our trips to Boquete in years past. The image made us think of the times we stayed in Boquete at Finca Lerida and enjoyed the hospitality of John and his wife, and their wonderful coffee.

    We’ve been on our lot in Lake Stevens, WA, for the past couple of months. We have been busy here in Lake Connor–family party last weekend and granddaughter and her family this weekend. The little kids love the pool out this way. And as you might guess, we enjoy the great grandchildren. Hard to believe the oldest of the family that was here yesterday is 12 years old. Amazing to think that in just a few years there will be 5 generations seated at the table when we have these family get togethers. But then that is based on Carol living another 6 years or more. Seems likely to me now.

    Carol is still writing a monthly article for Northwest Yachting Magazine. Only rarely do we write for other publications these days.

    Weather is nice up this way, although some folks might tell you it has been entirely too hot. Actually, we saw 82 degrees a couple of days ago, but since we had no humidity, we thought the day was quite nice.

    We are planning to put Carricklee back in the water in Nov. or Dec. Where we go from the San Francisco Bay area we don’t know.

    Keep enjoying Panama.

    Bob and Carol

    • Bob and Carol!! How wonderful to hear from you. Glad you’re enjoying life and family. When you re-launch Carricklee, how about heading down to Panama?? 🙂 We hope to see you back down here one of these days!
      John and Susan

  8. Hola Susan and John! We’ve just returned from our first trip to the Republic of Panama. The months of research and blog following helped a great deal but, as we’ve read, the only way to know what will work for us was to get our ‘boots on the ground’ — and how! We’ll keep following your posts and let you know when we plan to return in 2016. Thanks for the good information, Mariah & By

  9. Hi there John and Susan. I’ve been scouring alot of blogs and yours is one of the best! We will be in Panama for the first time in Nov/Dec coming from S. California. Boquete and the surrounding area is on our list to visit. Our retirement goal is about 3 years from now and we have been visiting a number of possible places and have ruled many out. Still have a few more on our bucket list. Perhaps we can buy you a glass of wine and hear your stories and what made you settle on Panama. You new place looks fabulous. Husband is a builder. We are very curious about the real estate there. Best!

  10. Sharon Harned Reply

    Hi Susan, I follow a few other blogs by expats in Panama and recently came across yours. My husband and I are in the process of purchasing land in Pedasi and plan to move to Panama in early 2018. I love reading about your experiences as a newcomer to Panama and find them very helpful to know what we can expect. We traveled throughout Panama when deciding where we wanted to settle and found Boquete to be wonderful but coming from the mountains in Utah, we are ready for the beach life. I’ll look forward to your next post and am so sorry to hear about Maggie.

  11. We lived in Panama for a season and are thinking of making a move back… Glad you have enjoyed your first year there! Rose

    • As they say in Portugal, “Ola!” John and Sharon. I love your “What’s Your Story?” page and I see we have many online friends in common as well as a face-to-face friend, Remi, from your new adopted country. We’re so glad you stopped by our blog and introduced yourselves and I’m looking forward to diving into your blog and reading more about your adventures. Both this expatin’ and bloggin’ can be an exciting challenge and it’s amazing to think about the people we’ve met from near and far and all walks of life. Makes our “golden years” all the more richer! Anita

      • Hi Anita and Richard! I just noticed your comment on this page (sorry). But I know John has been commenting back and forth with you and we’re so glad we’re connected. You know Remy? That’s right, he was in Portugal recently! Anyway, here’s hoping we can meet face to face sometime soon!

  12. Hi John and Susan!
    We were so glad to have met you today at Mike’s Global Grill…we are looking forward to checking out all of your suggestions while we are here in Boquete, and it is great to start building our local contacts.
    Dan and Nancy, NH, USA
    PS: Your blog is GREAT!

  13. lorraine skoglund Reply

    Hi John and Susan

    So glad I’ve found your excellent blog.

    I’ve been exploring places to move and Panama keeps coming up as #1 on my list of must haves. Things seem to be taking a nasty turn up here in the states with the new administration making everyone jittery so now seems like a great time to start looking in earnest.

    I’m looking forward to reading back to see all of your experiences. Like John, my significant Tim has Afib (and has had 2 ablations) so we def need somewhere with good medical care. What’s your experiences with the health care system down there? (or if you have a blog post let me know), also, do you both have health insurance down there or are you paying all out of pocket?

    We have 3 fur babies so I will definitely take your advice about shipping my girls.

    We are coming to Panama for 10 days with some friends from NY to explore areas at the end of April/beginning of May. For now Bouquete seems to have a lot of what we are looking for. We moved to NC a few years ago from NY to get away from the stress of metro NY. While I love the mountains of NC the mountains of the tropics are calling to me. Thinking I’ll send Tim down to rent for a few months to check it out and then look for a permanent place that I can go back and forth to until I’m ready to make the move permanently. Tim is ready to retire but I still have a few years to go. Any suggestions as to good places to rent would be appreciated as well.

    I won’t keep going on, just wanted to let you know I appreciate your info.
    Lorraine (and Tim)

  14. Hi Lorraine – so nice to “meet” you! Glad you found your way to our blog and we hope it will be helpful as you plan your move.

    It’s really important to come down here and “kick the tires” before you plan a move, at least once and ideally a couple of times. Sending Tim down to rent for a bit makes sense before you commit. Will you still work from down here? I’ve been doing it for almost two years and it’s worked out pretty well.

    Finding a rental can be a bit of a challenge, especially since you have pets (as we do). Here’s our post about our experience looking for a long-term rental (we eventually ended up buying a house instead). Granted, this was a year a half ago and things change constantly. The market does seem somewhat better now.


    Regarding healthcare – we do feel it’s necessary to have insurance. Panamanian healthcare is drastically less expensive than in the states, but it’s not free. We’ve heard lots of sad stories about people who moved down here without insurance and then couldn’t afford treatment in the private hospitals (better than the public ones) because they usually demand payment up front. We have no complaints about the quality of care; in fact, I’ve got a blog post planned about our most recent experiences.

    Here’s our blog post about health insurance:


    It sounds like you found our blog post about bringing your fur babies down but here it is again:


    Same caveat – this was almost two years ago and things have a way of changing. But it’s a guide to get you started.

    I think that answers most of your questions (?). If not, let me know. And keep us posted on your progress! Our personal email is thepazeras@gmail.com.


    • Thank you so much for your quick reply. it’s much appreciated. It took me well over two years of back and forth before I found our house here in NC so I know it’s not a 1-2-3 done thing. Right now I work remotely , “plugged” into the NY office. Not sure how good the internet is down there. What’s your experience? I’ve heard mixed things but it would be ideal if I could, then I could take my phone and computer and “plug-in” and go. No one would know where I was (and no one knows where I am half the time now 🙂 Aside from Bouquete are there any areas you suggest we “must” see (aside from the touristy stuff) for possible relocation? I speak a little Spanish, Tim is fluent and speaks a number of other languages as well. We’ve both agreed we prefer higher elevations over beach as we prefer the cooler weather.


      • John and Susan Pazera Reply

        Hi Lorraine,
        Just realizing I never answered your last questions. Internet can be great or really terrible (and expensive) depending on where you live. High-speed internet is really important to us so we made sure we moved to a neighborhood where we could get Cable Onda. They’re reliable for the most part and have the best service, and the speed rivals that of many places in the US.

        As far as other “cooler” places to live, you might check out Volcan or Cerro Punta, about an hour’s drive from Boquete. El Valle de Anton might be another possibility. We’ve visited there but we don’t know much about the expat community. Another place we’ve heard about recently is Santa Fe but we’ve not been there. Another popular expat area is Coronado, but it’s on the beach and very hot.

  15. Alan Wulzen Reply

    We spent a couple of years in MX waters with you when we had Silhouette. 10 years later we bought Shea la Vie from Ron & Jane Shea, a 39′ Privilege cat, and named her Magic. We had retired and did 3 more years in MX, and car camped during the summers, having no home then. An RV changed our direction for 2 years full time and Magic found new happy owners. 2 years ago we bought a home in Bend and spend 4 months each winter near Tucson being too old to do cold.
    Enjoy you thought, experiences and photos and knowing you two are having a good life!

    Alan and Caroline Wulzen

  16. John and Susan Pazera Reply

    Hi Alan and Caroline! So glad you found our blog. Of course we remember you and Silhouette fondly. Those cruising days were some of our best, and we’re glad you go to do some more on Magic.

    We discovered Panama on Compania – we kept heading south, went through the Panama Canal, and ended up in Florida. From then on, we plotted retiring down here and finally made the move in 2015.

    If you ever find yourselves pondering a visit to Panama, you’ve got a place to stay. All the best!

    – John and Susan

  17. Robbin & Tom Siano Reply

    Hello from swealtering Florida !
    What a great blog you have VERY helpful .Our house is 95%complete in BCV actually right across from you guys , well sort of lol. We will retire next yr. asap and get the heck out ! Looking forward to a less stressfull life.
    I’ve been travelling (Sportfishing Captain) thru Panama since the 80s what changes i have seen 90% for the better.
    I guess the most stressfull time is ahead getting rid of our house and all connected with it . And shipping the boat and furnishings (Maybe) lol . Most people who consider moving to Panama simply do not spend enough time there to really see what the hell they r getting into VIP to a successful transition .
    We look forward to meeting you both thanks again for your blog we will be referencing it for our dog and many other forms of info.We will be down for Thanksgiving week we will look you up!!!
    God Bless & enjoy !!!!

  18. John and Susan Pazera Reply

    Hi Robbin and Tom – great to hear from you. Glad our blog is helpful. We got a lot of great advice and motivation from others’ blogs when we were getting ready to move down, so we’re glad we can pay it back in a small way.

    Sounds like we have boating in Panama in common. We’ll have to get together and share stories someday. We’ll be in Texas over Thanksgiving so we might miss you then, but please keep us posted on your progress.Good luck with your move, and let us know if you have any questions or if there’s anything else we can do to help.

    – John and Susan

  19. Thanks for posting the link on Expats Exchange. Interesting stuff. We started looking at retiring abroad almost a year ago. Visited Mexico earlier this year and are going back at Christmas. Our most exciting trip is to Panama next month, with time in Pedasi and Panama City. We will also make some day trips to surrounding areas. We have been talking about this trip since Christmas. I am also starting a website/blog of our adventures, as it could be a hobby when I retire (2-4 years). Thanks again

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Glad you like our blog, Ken! Let us know if we can answer any questions about the expat experience in Panama.

  20. karlien vandecasteele Reply

    Hello John and Susan!
    I discovered your blog because I was looking for dog-friendly things to do in Boquete. I am Belgian, living for 4 years in Panama at the pacific ocean. I will head to Boquete in two days with my two dogs, Boomer and Buster, to follow a yoga teacher training course. We wil stay at ‘Isla Verde’. The dogs will be alone during the weekdays, so I will try to take them on walks as much as I can in the evening and during weekends. I am mainly interested in dog-friendly walking trails and off course in the secret swimming hole you mentioned ;-). Off course I will take leashes, but since they are beach dogs they love to walk free and swim. So if you have special tips let me know! Thanks in advance

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Welcome to Boquete! Always great to hear from other ¨dog parents.¨ Walking your dogs off leash here can be a little tricky, and it´s not allowed in the national parks. But we do know a few places that are OK. How long will you be in Boquete? Maybe we can get together for a hike, or show you the way to the “secret swimming hole.” I’m in the States until Nov. 24 but John will be there.

  21. Hi, my husband, Bob and I are just starting our search on where to retire. We are planning a trip to Boquete in April 2019. So much to think about. And a bit scary too. I have been having fun browsing your blog. It answers many questions, but… what do I even ask??

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Barbara – glad the blog has been helpful.

      I think your trip to Boquete will answer a lot of questions for you and help you figure out new questions to ask 🙂 Panama has a lot to offer but a lot of it depends on what you’re looking for. Beach or mountains? Hot climate or more temperate? City life or a more rural setting? An area with a big expat population? I think that’s important – Boquete is a wonderful place to live and the expat community is very, very developed here to the point that some folks never even bother to learn any Spanish (a mistake, in our opinion). To be honest, that’s not what we signed up for when we decided to move here; we were hoping for a more cultural experience. But for many other people, that’s the comfort zone they need, especially at the beginning.

      And what is your budget? The cost of living is higher in areas with high concentrations of expats, such as the city and Boquete. And the cost of healthcare, while much lower than that of the states, is something to take into account. We’ve blogged a lot about healthcare costs and insurance – here’s a listing of relevant posts: http://latitudeadjustmentblog.com/?s=Healthcare

      When you come to Panama, I suggest you spend some time in other areas in addition to Boquete. There’s a lot to see and do in Panama City and the nearby beach communities. Bocas del Toro is beautiful and worth a visit. There are also expat communities in Pedasi and El Valle de Anton that are worth checking out.

      As you come up with more questions, feel free to ask and we’ll try to answer!


  22. Hi Susan,
    Bob and I finally booked our trip to visit Boquete the week of April 6, 2019. So excited! Right now my husbands’ biggest concern is crime. Have you encountered and problems? Been robbed? Feel safe? We don’t really want to live in an expat gated community, but safety is a big concern.


    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Barbara – sorry for my belated reply.
      So – in general, I would say crime is very low in Boquete. Just after we moved here, over three years ago, there was a bit of a crime wave with several incidents of house break-ins and a few home invasions in which people were injured (including one murder, sadly). The Panama government responded by beefing up the local police force and creating a police checkpoint on the main highway coming into Boquete, and things are MUCH better now. We ourselves have never had an incident and feel completely safe, and we don’t live in a gated community. We do live in a neighborhood with an active watch program and the neighbors do a great job looking out for each other. And we would not rent a house without barred windows and doors. But honestly, we feel a lot safer here than in the U.S., where we never know when we might be in someone’s gunsight.

      Hope that helps!

      – Susan

  23. Every time I read one of your post I also see this question on your blog and keep meaning to answer it. Well, today I’ll finally do it!

    My story in summary: Raised under the poverty level, married badly at 21, divorced and homeless at 30. Decided to change my life, like completely. Finished college, fell in love with an absolutely wonderful man, married 11 years now. Together we retired from our careers at age 43 sold everything and decided to travel the world together, slowly. That’s it! No, that’s never it right? 🙂

    After retiring from corporate world I found my passion for writing and maintain a blog about our experiences on the road. https://43bluedoors.com/ I’m still learning how to do it but I hope to inspire others to change their lives for the better as well, even if just in a small way. It’s all about our mindset.

    We found your blog during our journey through Boquete Panama and I have been enjoying your posts and your adventures. I hope that someday we actually meet in person.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Bonnie! I am soooo sorry I’m just now seeing your post. I’m pretty terrible at checking this page!

      You two are living the dream! You’re role models for sure, since I’m still a bit tied down by work. Someday, when we’re work- and pet-free, we will also be free to roam at will. For now, we’re loving the trips we can take as my vacation time allows.

      We love your blog, and we’re so glad we’ve connected here and on Facebook! I’m SURE our paths will cross someday, and if you’re ever back in Medellin, you have a place to stay!


      • I knew you would see it sooner or later, not a worry. I know you are busy and it is truly difficult to catch all the notifications 🙂 I’ve enjoyed the connection too and was glad to see you active already in the Medellin group. If we are beck in Medellin it would be awesome to meet you!

  24. I came across your posting for a housesitter and it led me to your website. So glad I found it! Our timing doesn’t work out but I’ll be driving the Pan Am in 2019 and should hit Columbia around May. Looking forward to exploring.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Zach – welcome to our blog! Keep us posted on your plans and whether you’ll come close to Medellín.

  25. Elaine Casey Reply

    Hi guys, saw your housesitting ad, I’ll be in your part of the world later this year and house/pet sitting is what I’m doing on my travels, maybe send me a message (ecasey101@gmail.com) as I don’t really think this is the place to discuss it 🙂

  26. Damon Decker Reply

    Hello, my wife and I are also sailing expats and have been looking for an insurance plan. A broker for VUMI sent me a link to your page. We left Turkey two years ago on our catamaran and are headed your way. We should be in Panama next spring after we finish the Caribbean. We are also interested in retiring outside of the US, so we’re glad to follow your adventure on your blog.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hello! Sorry I’m just now seeing your comment. Always great to connect with other sailors! Where are you based at the moment? We just returned from our first visit to Curucao and loved it.
      Keep us posted on your travels!

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