Swapping an Iowa Farm for Life on Panama’s Pacific Coast

Each morning, from the wraparound porch of her tropical beachside home Bonnie Birker watches the waves caress the soft sand as she enjoys her cup of freshly brewed coffee. But this isn’t the retirement she had planned for herself… Bonnie originally decided to retire to her father’s farmhouse in Iowa. After all, it’s where she grew up, and after traveling the world she was ready to settle down near family. But the reality didn’t live up to expectations.

Historic Panama—for Less than $1,600 a Month

Perhaps best known for its extravagant Carnaval celebration, Las Tablas is the center of Panama’s folkloric culture. Though not well known to North Americans, Panamanians flock here regularly, particularly to the two annual festivals that are held each year to honor the pollera, the national dress. But folklore is just the start of what this friendly little town has to offer. In-the-know expats have been coming here for several years. They come from all over—we’ve met residents from Europe, South America, the U.S., and Canada.