Retire Early $1070 Month Bocas Del Toro Panama

People know that there are places to live around the world that are cheaper to live in than their home country. But is Panama one of them? And if so, what kind of retirement will $1070 per month buy you in Bocas Del Toro Panama? Is it good enough to pull up roots and move thousands of miles away? I would do it in a heartbeat. But you will have to decide for yourself.

In this report, I share how some of you may be able to Retire Early $1070 Month Bocas Del Toro Panama.

First, I share my estimated cost of living for two people in Bocas Town in Panama.

Then, I will talk about some of our favorite meals in restaurants in Bocas and tell you how much the meals cost. But all of our favorite restaurants are listed in our retire cheap in paradise report for Bocas Town.

Then I will show you our favorite nightlife spots and happy hours including the Black Magic Party Boat.

We will also take you on the Red Frog Beach Tour and show you the restaurants there. The retire cheap report for Bocas Town also has the best places to shop for groceries and this video will end with my retirement livability factors, such as walkability, food, social considerations, things to do, weather, and real estate.

We will also cover the other popular places to retire in Panama over the next few weeks so please subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you won’t miss those.

Before discussing the cost of living for two people here, I wanted to answer the question, who would love to live in Bocas del Toro?

Who would love to live in Bocas del Toro Panama

If you would love to live on an island on the Caribbean side of Panama in a small town of about 15,000, that is almost completely focused on tourists, then Bocas del Toro might be right for you. The island has never been hit directly by a hurricane since Columbus mapped the island in 1502. But a tropical depression called Martha hit Panama in 1969 causing very little damage.

The good news about the tourism in Bocas is that it supports a diversity of restaurants choices and fun things to do that you would not ordinarily expect to see in a town this size, such as scuba diving, island tours, sailing, water skiing, surfing, nightlife, and steady flow of ex-pats and tourists coming and going for you to play with.

It is probably not the best place to be single if you are looking for a long-term relationship because there are not that many locals to choose from in a town this size and the tourists rarely stay long enough to really get to know.

Also, because there is not an abundance of locals living in the area, there is not a great selection of restaurants offering local food at more reasonable typical prices. So you will need to cook at home more often if you are trying to maintain a budget.

So if you want to live in a town focused mostly on tourists, with many white sand beaches close and accessible, and where sailboats, motorboats, fishing, and water sports will play a significant part of your entertainment, and an assortment of various restaurants to choose from that are geared for tourist buying power, then Bocas might be right for you.

Cost of Living Bocas Del Toro Panama

Here is my estimated cost of living for two people in Bocas Del Toro Panama.

Rents: We stayed in a studio apartment in Bocas that would rent for $400 USD per month including utilities, wifi, and AC. They also have a 1 Bedroom apartment available for $450 per month including utilities. These rates are for a month or longer stays. We have provided the landlord’s number in the retire cheap report.  Here is the landlord’s WhatsApp contact number +50767869709.   We will not get a commission if you rent this.   

So I will use $400 for rent for my cost of living estimate.

Groceries: Based upon our time there and the money we spent on groceries, we estimate about $360 USD per month in groceries. Here are the two markets where we bought groceries. Supermarket 1, Supermarket 2. The first one was the cheapest and the second one seemed to be the most expensive. There are a bunch of small ones all over town.

Restaurants: If we went out to eat twice per week, once for date night and once for a lunch somewhere, we would spend about $40 per week or $160 per month in restaurants for the two of us. We could keep it fun and interesting by doing a few picnics on the beach per week, but we would bring food from home so it is included in our estimated costs for groceries.

Cell Phone Data: Mostly we use the Internet at home. But we also need Internet access from time to time when we are out of the house, for Google Maps and other searches. The cost to recharge is about $20 USD per month. My android phone will act as a hot spot so we can both be on the internet at the same time when we are out of the house.

Laundry and Water: For Laundry and water per month Qiang estimates about $30 for the drop-off and pick-up laundry per month and twelve 20 liter water bottles per month for 2 people can be refilled at reverse osmosis water stations for $2.50 each is $30 USD per month.

Uber/Taxi: We walked everywhere in Bocas so we did not need a taxi. We rode local buses from time to time ($2 USD) when we wanted to visit various beaches. We also road water taxis for about ($1 to $5 USD) when we wanted to island-hop. So for the two of us, I would estimate about $30 a month for transportation.

Alcohol: Local beers called Panama and Balboa were about $0.65 USD for a small bottle and $1.20 USD for a large bottle in stores. In bars and restaurants, those prices are easily double so we only bought beers in restaurants and bars during happy hours. Happy hour beers were usually 2 for 1, or about $1 USD per beer.

Bocas Town

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The above cost of living is for 2 people but is just an estimate on the low end. For a full understanding of what it would cost you to live here, visit Numbeo Bocas Town and add anything you spend money on in your home country that is not mentioned in the table. Our costs of living are generally much lower than a new traveler’s because we are great bargain hunters but there are a few people that live much cheaper than we do.

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on your lifestyle and the time since this post.

Most ex-pats report spending more money per month than the low-end estimate we are reporting here. You will hear more typical living costs in the range of $1500 to $2200 per month. But people spending that much also have higher incomes or pensions. They often report spending more on eating out and drinking more alcohol in local bars and restaurants. Many also have cars and more expensive apartments.

We also met a few people that had sailed their boats down and were living offshore in one of the surrounding bays. They would come into the city to shop for food, eat in restaurants, and party at night.

If you are going to try to retire cheap offshore, make sure to have emergency funds available should you have some unexpected emergencies. To learn more about that, read my report called, the Two Biggest Risks of Retiring Early for Cheap Offshore.

Bocas Town Best Restaurants

Here are our favorite restaurants in Bocas Town.

Restaurant Tom: We love to eat local food when we travel the world. This one was our favorite local food in Bocas Town. We went for lunch and had the lunch special at least three times when we were in town. It has cheap delicious local food and has a view of the bay.

Receta Michilá: They served us a great curry dish right on the beach here with our toes in the sand. It was $8 USD for the curry dish and another $7 USD for an amazing salad. Just grab the water taxi from Bocas Town to Leaf Eaters for $1 USD and then turn right and walk down the beach until you end up at the above link location.

LaItaliana Pizza: This is the best pizza in town. It is amazing. If you feel like Pizza, skip Dog House Pizza and eat here instead. They also have a happy hour from time to time with 2 for 1 beer. So beers are only $1 on happy hour.

Leaf Eaters: We enjoyed our lunch here. We had a veggie burger and a hippie bowl, for $9 USD and $8 USD, respectively. Just grab a $1 USD water taxi over here from Bocas Town.

Food Cart 1: Qiang enjoyed some chicken she got here for about $3 USD. The link is to a Supermarket. The food cart is just outside the front door, go left as you leave store.

Food Cart 2: Qiang enjoyed some kind of Chicken Empanada-looking thing for $3 USD here. This food cart is on the side street next to this supermarket. Turn right as you leave and you will see a food cart.

Coco Fastronomy: They serve delicious local-style food with a bay view but at tourist prices. Qiang had a pork sandwich and I had a vegetable rice dish here. The dishes were about $7 USD each.

Amaranto Cafe: We had an acceptable breakfast here with cappuccino but the prices seemed on the high side. We like the food here better than next door Cafe del Mar.  But Cafe Del Mar had great pastries.  

Buena Vista: The food is pricey here, from $6 to $13 per meal. So we had Nachos here and had a few drinks at the 2 for 1 happy hour on national beers (2 beers for $2.50 USD).  The breakfasts are a little more reasonable.  

Bocas Nightlife

Here is a map of all the places we enjoyed nightlife. We pretty much only went to places that had happy hours! It seems that they rotate who is allowed to have a happy hour each night so you have to walk to see which one has the happy hour. We saw live music at Bocas Brewery, Toro Loco, and Ultimo.

Bocas Town Black Magic Pirate Party Boat

Make sure to add your name to the Black Magic Pirate Party Boat list while you are in Bocas Town. It is total chaos at the entry so make sure to have a life jacket if you can’t swim. The music was good and the beers were $2 USD each.

Bocas Redfrog Beach Tour

Just go to any of the docks with water taxis and pay $5 USD per person to get to Redfrog Beach Google Map. You can bring a cooler and your own snack if you like to save money. Or, you can eat at any of the beachside restaurants over there. It costs $5 to enter the island path per person once you get to the island. The boat captain will drop you at a path. You just walk about 600 meters to get to Redfrog Beach. If you see locals nearby with a machete working. Ask them to cut down a coconut for you and open it for you. Tip them $1 USD per coconut. Let them pick the coconut. They know what they are doing.

Bocas Del Toro, Panama, Livability Factors

Here are some of the factors I think about when I consider a place for retirement potential. After I discuss each factor I will assign an overall desirability score to Panama.

Walkability: High. If I were to live in Bocas Town, I would be able to walk to almost all of my favorite restaurants and markets. There is even a central park there where you can sit on a park bench in the shade and people watch for hours. If I lived in that area, I would walk almost everywhere so I would not need a car. I would also consider getting bicycles for Qiang to get around more quickly. I would get on a local bus from time to time to go to some of my favorite beaches like Starfish Beach and Playa Bluff. You catch these buses in Simon Bolivar Central Park. I would also jump on small boats that functioned as water taxis to go to other favorite places like Carenero Island and Redfrog Beach. I would not need a car in Bocas Town.

Internet: Medium. We didn’t speed test the Internet but we were able to do zoom calls, watch Netflix movies, and upload YouTube videos while we were in Bocas Town. It was taking about 2 to 3 hours to upload Youtube videos of about 1 GB. If a certain Internet speed is required for your business, I suggest reading my process for finding the perfect apartment which fulfills all of your needs.

Food: Medium. With a town of this size in the Caribbean, I would expect fewer international food choices, so we were a bit surprised by the selection. But the prices were a little higher than we would expect with entrees starting around $8 USD in the tourist restaurants. So the selection was good but prices were slightly high probably because tourists were mostly being served. But there were also some food carts and local restaurants in the range of about $3 to $6 USD per meal. The food in the grocery stores seemed high to us. That made some sense since you are on an island here. The island pricing may not be avoidable but you can switch to local brands instead of imported brands to save some money.

Weather: High. Bocas Town has beautiful weather year-round if don’t mind it on the warm side and you are not afraid of rain. The nighttime lows vary from 68.4F (20.2 C) in February to 72F (22.2C) in June. The daytime highs vary from 87.3F (30.7C) in February to 89.6F (32C) in June. So there is very little temperature difference based upon seasons. Ten or more inches of rainfall in every month of the year except January, March, May, and October. The strongest rains are in June through September and December. So the best time to go is in January, March, or October, but October is the low season so you may save some money.

Things to Do: Medium. Swimming, snorkeling, sailing, scuba, kayaking, surfing, cooking, partying, yoga, restaurants, gyms, waterskiing, white sand beaches, cycling, fishing, etc. If you are a beach or ocean person, you will not run out of things to do. But if you are also into cultural exploration, you may get bored here eventually. There is a decent amount of live music for such a small town. There is also a large techno dance music scene.

Social Considerations: Medium. Since there are so many tourists coming and going, there is a fairly high number of locals that speak basic English here. But you will need to pick up some Spanish if you expect to integrate with the locals in any meaningful way, though some locals speak perfect English. That will widen your choices of friends and things to do greatly. If you are single, a town of this size may limit your dating life substantially especially if you only speak English.

Expats: Medium. There are about 6k members of the Expats in Panama Facebook page (link provided). It is not specifically geared for Boca Del Toro, but I didn’t see that on Facebook. The group has ex-pats and locals, but it is in English, so there is a good chance there are ex-pats that will see your messages. I often go to these kinds of resources to find answers to questions that only an ex-pat would know where to find. But make sure to make friends with both locals and ex-pats for a richer experience living here. I explain why in my report, The Top 10 Mistakes International Retirees Make.

Real Estate: High. Just walking around Bocas Town and window shopping, I saw a dumpy 1 Bedroom house that needed renovation for around $100k, but I forgot to take a picture. So I just searched online and found this duplex for sale in Carenero Island which is just a $1 USD water taxi ride from Bocas Town. They are asking $149k USD for the duplex. It has 2 units, a 2 bedroom 1 bath, and a 1 Bedroom 1 Bath. See below. But I never recommend buying until you have lived somewhere at least 2 to 3 years. Read Why Retired Expats Should not Buy Real Estate Overseas, to better understand why I decided not to buy outside my home country.

Visa: High. Citizens of many countries are given a 90-day visa-free tourist stamp upon arrival in Panama. Citizens of the USA and Canada are still getting 180 days. Source. If you fall in love with Panama and decide to retire here, you can apply for a tourist visa. The retiree residence status requires that an applicant demonstrates an income or pension of only $1,000.00 USD per month and $250.00 USD for each dependent. You can certainly travel to Panama on a tourist visa and later change your status in Panama. We have provided a link to all of the other requirements such as a health certificate and police report. Source.

Safety: High. Panama is generally one of the safer countries to live or travel in Central and South America. But do read the US State Department’s travel advisory for Panama and all other parts of the world to learn about exceptions and any known hot spots. Personally, we felt very safe in Panama but I don’t judge safety at the country level. I find it more useful to think of safety at the area or neighborhood level. Boca Town felt safe to us overall. But do read my report on how to travel the world safely, including in your home country. I provide all of my tips and tricks that have kept me safe for 14+ years traveling the world.

Bocas Town Desirability Score: High. If you are a beach or ocean person that prefers to be near white sand beaches with turquoise water, with many restaurants and things to do, then Bocas Town might be right for you. In fact, Bocas Town would be in the top 3 places both Qiang and me would settle in Panama. Stay tuned for our other favorite places in Panama.

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