Is Boquete the Best? A Look at our Quality of Life
When we decided to move out of the US, we visited Boquete, Panama first and decided to stay. Our instincts were right. We've been very happy here. Of course there have been glitches, but everywhere you go has glitches. The key is finding someplace to live where the benefits far outweigh the glitches.
It's all very personal. One man's ceiling is another man's floor. And one woman's paradise is another woman's penitentiary.
I browsed the net to find surveys that determine a town/city's quality of life, looked at their criteria, and then developed my own. My system is just for fun, has no scientific merit whatsoever, and is just a way to compare Boquete to other North American towns. I love comments and feedback, please feel free to add things that I have left out or to disagree with me.
So, let's start and see how Boquete stacks up.
Safety Yes, we have seen an increase in crime, but that happens as a place, anyplace, becomes more densely inhabited. Overall, if you use caution and common sense, Boquete is a safe place to live.
Quality Health Care I used to work in a hospital in the U.S. and learned quickly that health care is not so much about the hospital as it is about the individual doctors. Choose your doctors carefully (very carefully) and you can get good health care here. For more serious long term health concerns, I recommend Panama City.
Public transportation. Lots of buses and cabs. Always an adventure!
Weather It has its rainy and windy season, and by the end of either of these, people find themselves getting weary; but all in all the weather here is pretty darn good. Due to its temperate climate, you don't need air conditioning or heat, just a ceiling fan. Very few places can boast this.
Schools. I've said it before and I got some flack for it, but I'm going to say it again. If you have younger kids and want a good education for them, I suggest home schooling or a long commute to David.
Culture/Things to Do I'm from Chicago where culture means the Art Institute, Field Museum, ballet, stage-plays, amazing shopping and great restaurants. If you are looking for that level of culture, no way. But if you like lovely if quirky parades, local artists proudly displaying their art, the annual Jazz and Blues Festival, flower ferias, and an interesting mix of spanish and indigenous heritages, Boquete is a good place to be. We have photography and art clubs, a few great bands that play on a random basis, some pretty creative fundraisers, hikes, trivia contests, coffee, birdwatching and honey tours, and restaurants that host special events. It is enough for me, but if you want bright lights and a big city, best to go to a big city.
Good shopping In a word, no.
Good restaurants I'll write a whole blog about restaurants some day, but generally restaurants start out good in Boquete and then the prices go up and the quality goes down and they go out of business. A few have deservedly stood the test of time because they have good food and service, reasonable prices and offer the Jubliado discount. Those who have stood the test of time (no newer restaurants are included in this list) are, in my opinion: Sugar and Spice, Art Cafe, The Fish House, Big Daddy's, The Rock, Oasis, and La Posada for pizza. My personal favorites for tipico are Nelvie's and Sabrosón's. It continues to amaze me that our little town of Boquete has a better class of restaurants than David--a city six, or so, times the size of Boquete--and more of them.
Sports/Fitness. We've got golf at Valle Escondido and Lucero's. There's local baseball and soccer, and an occasional boxing match. That's about it in terms of sports. For fitness, we have some great gyms and spas which offer massages and/or weight training/cardiovascular equipment. Larger facilities like The Haven offer a variety of classes to help you stay in shape.
Natural environment. Boquete and its surrounding area kick ass in this category. Very few places hold a candle to it. Beauty, with its exotic critters and plants, surrounds us. We are immersed in it.