Costa Rica vs Panama for Retirement

I’m not a huge fan of “Happier Than a Billionaire” blog and books, but they can be fun reading since Nadine has a good sense of humor. Her latest post Costa Rica vs Panama really doesn’t give her reasons for Costa Rica because I don’t think they even tried Panama, like I did. But her post is still interesting, especially some of the reader comments! One way she and I differ is her goal is “happiness” and mine is more “meaning” or even “purpose” in life which is what I think gives real deep happiness.

Several of my early blog posts discussed my consideration of Panama based on two trips there which I agree is limited. Those posts:

26 June 2014 – Websites, Blogs, Books and Tours

28 June 2014 – Why I’m Considering a Move to Costa Rica  (Your reasons are first in choice)

29 June 2014 – Seeking God’s Leadership is First Priority  (Not where everyone is in life I know)

30 June 2014 – Why Doing This? And Why Not Panama?

23 May 2017 – Better Healthcare in Costa Rica

Now if I told you off the top of my head why I chose Costa Rica over Panama after nearly 3 years after making the decision, I think I would say:


  1. Nature is my first love and Costa Rica easily wins out as more natural overall.
  2. Culture of Costa Rica is just more to my liking in so many different ways from being happier, friendlier, less Americanized, pacifist with no army, and more tranquil where I visited.
  3. Cost of Living is actually higher here than in Panama just a little, but overall less than the states and easier to live here without a car than it would be in Panama.
  4. Super bus system makes it easy for me to live without a car.
  5. Healthier place by my study and better healthcare system.
  6. It feels right to me which has to do with many things like nature, previous trips here, my sense of God’s leadership, a comfortableness with it. I love it here and that is important! And I was beginning to hate the United States! (And Panama is too much like the states.)
One couple friends of mine tried Costa Rica here in Atenas and then went to try Panama. They decided to stay there and though they did not say this, their blog descriptions made it sound like they preferred it because it was more like America within a pure expat community where most of their friends are expats. And that is what some people need. I am wanting more relationships with those in a different culture and try not to hang out only with expats. That is a difference in people, purpose, or why you moved in the first place. No two expats are alike! And Costa Rica and Panama are not alike either. So if you are considering a move south, I suggest you make several lengthy trips and get the feel of places before making the big decision! And if and when made, I hope you are as happy with yours as I am with mine!
All of this is why the original name of this blog was “Costa Rica Decision Process” and why that is still in the address. And I hope it helps others make their decision.
¡Pura Vida!
Tortuguero Sunrise by Charlie
A Photo Gallery

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