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Anne-Michelle Wand of United Country Bocas del Toro – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Bocas del Toro home by itself with view from grass – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYour neighbors in Bocas Del Toro depend on where you live. If you live in town, you are going to have a mix of expats and locals. Houses are all mixed up; you can see an Indian shack right next to a gringo house. Both of my neighbors are local, but the person across the street is a gringo, so these are most likely the middle class here in Bocas.  But two doors down are workers who might do handyman work, or workers who fix your bike or things like that. They are different kinds of people and they all have a lot of kids. Across the street, I guess there is a man who has 17 kids of varying ages. They are his or his kid’s kids and they live there in two different houses. Locals quite often have large families.

Bocas del Toro courtyard of a house with bicycles – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf you are living in Bocas Town, yes, it is noisy. The Latin culture itself is noisy. They play loud music, they have dogs that bark and often, they have chickens and roosters and they crow. If you live in a neighborhood mixed with locals it is going to be noisy. If you want a quiet neighborhood, you have to go outside the town a little bit or you could go to another island and then it is quiet.

Colon is the only island that has roads and cars.  All the other islands have no roads and no cars, and they are only accessible by boat. Bocas del Toro house with view from inside to outside balcony and water – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingTherefore, if you go to another island, you can be completely isolated, with not even any light pollution. You could see the stars; they are incredible. That is what is nice about Bocas; you have a lot of choices. You can live in town if you like the action and the nightlife, and all the people. On the other hand, you can live in an island where you get a little privacy and quiet or you can live on the far off islands where you are very isolated and you might not come in for a month.

JB Seligman of BUENA VISTA REALTY located in BOCAS DEL TORO, PANAMA – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The Beach Boys in concert – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYour neighbors in Bocas del Toro are pretty much like minded other expats. They are adventurous, entertaining and very interesting people. There are two types of neighbors here. There are the reclusive neighbors who enjoy the peace and quiet and live on the outer islands.  Then the other would be the neighbors who live closer to town. They are much social in nature because there is a larger social life in Bocas Town. It is a tourist town and that makes it a more interesting and lively place to live.
 
I live in Carenero Island in Bocas del Toro and most of my neighbors are absentee owners. They live in Bocas del Toro for three to six months out of the year then they go back to the United States. Most of them are from the United States.

Life in Bocas del Toro with your neighbors is very much social, where everybody does get togethers. Getting together is a very frequent business. We end up having brunch over at somebody’s house or having happy hour party. Neighbors go back and forth in Bocas del Toro. At the same time, everyone has lots of good friends who live in Bocas Town or on another island and when they have a get together, they invite everybody. It is not necessarily a "neighbor’s thing" but a "neighbor’s friends-of-friends thing."

My immediate neighbors are expats. The rest of my neighbors are indigenous people who live in Carenero Island. There is a small village not too far from where I live. We all live together on the same island. We basically interact with almost everybody on Carenero Island. It is the smallest island on the archipelago. It’s also the closest one to the main town of Bocas del Toro, which we call Bocas Town.

There’s about 60% indigenous people and 40% expats on Bocas Town. It is on the main island of Isla Colon and there are 5,000 to 6,000 people. A lot of expats in Bocas del Toro have very much embraced the culture and are much involved in it as much as my wife and I are. We are friends with the expats and we are also good friends with the locals. That is very important and common. Most of the people who moved to Bocas del Toro want to be part of the cultural exchange. One of the best things about living and retiring in Bocas del Toro is that you can learn another culture and language.
 
I am not retired yet, but I can say that if you are an expat who wants to retire in Bocas Del Toro, you have to have something to do on this Caribbean island. If you are retired, you have to do something. It can be either volunteering for some type of social activity, which we have a lot of here in Bocas. There are lots of different things that expats can help the locals with. Retirement in Bocas means you have to have a hobby. To just retire in Bocas with nothing to do does not work; you’ll go crazy because you have nothing to do!
 
When I first came down here to Bocas, I was semi-retired. The thing that I used to wish back in the US when I had my company was that if I could just wake up in a Caribbean island with nothing to do. The only thing I can say right now is, be careful what you wish for! It’s terrible to have nothing to do in a Caribbean island. It is a situation where you really have to have something just for yourself to work. There people who retire here with nothing to do and they leave because Bocas is a kind of place where you retire if you want to be active. If you are sedentary, then you should consider other places such as Boquete or other retirement villages. Retirement in Bocas is a different type of retirement. The retirees who come to Bocas are active retirees.
 
There are no golf courses here in Bocas, but there is plenty of snorkeling. You can go into the jungles or walk on the beach. It really helps if you get yourself setup with some social environmental program where you volunteer to put water systems in an indigenous Indian village or volunteer for spay and neuter programs for dogs and cats here in Bocas. You can volunteer to teach children in schools or volunteer to teach people how to play guitar.
 
In Bocas, you have to have that certain kind of activity that lets you help other people, so that you have a sense of self-worth. I have met very few people who had actually nothing to do here, who lasted very long in Bocas.
 
We have a lot of retiree surfers. Bocas Del Toro is a world class surfing destination and you would be surprised how many 60 to 70 year old surfers we have down here. 
 
(The un-retired Beach Boys in concert, pictured.)
Tyson Merrill of Island Property Management S.A. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
In one word, your neighbors in Bocas del Toro would be friendly.  People come from all over the world to live in Bocas del Toro and you never know where your next neighbor might come from.  My first neighbors here were a French man on one side and a Panamanian and his German girlfriend on the other.  Just behind me was a Dutch woman and her son along with a few locals who were just as friendly.  It was a great experience and made me feel very comfortable when I arrived in Bocas.
 
Eight years later, I now live in town on Isla Colon next to a children’s school on one side and local neighbors on the other.  Very happy and friendly people, even though most who live here (even the foreigners) don’t have the material possessions that are cherished (at least where I come from).
Dennis Dean Smith of DennisDeanSmith – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account

Who will be your neighbors in Bocas be? Map of Bocas del Toro – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe answer is it could be – anyone from anywhere. Why? Bocas is on the international tourist destination radar. Many entrepreneurs open their hotels, resorts, restaurants and other small businesses there. Yachties love the place. Several episodes of 'Survivor” have been filmed in the islands. Get the picture? All in all, everyone is in Bocas to live the good, tropical life. They don't want to cause or look for problems.

The Bocas locals are a mix of Caribbean and Panamanian origin. There are a lot of indigenous Indians too. The foreigners hail from everywhere.

Given the options, where will you find your neighbors? Calle 3 (Main Street) is now full of hotels and businesses. The owners may or may not live on premises. The locals tend to live on the back streets from Calle 3 to the International Airport. The foreigners tend to congregate along the waterfronts. Especially on Avenida H Norte and in Saigon (Yes there is really an area named this – no one could tell me why.) You will find others on Avenida G Norte and along the road that leads from town via the isthmus (with the public beach) that leads to Bluff Beach and Bocas del Drago in the interior of the island.

Yes Bocas Island is a cultural melting pot. Keeps things interesting.

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