Going Solo Into Retirement

“I’m single, not by choice, because I am widowed,” said a woman in her sixties as we began to discuss retirement options. “I thought we’d retire together, but my husband had a heart attack.” The message was clear and while it sounded simple, I knew it wasn’t.

“Arranging an international move isn’t something I wanted to do by myself, but I know I need to,” she continued. “We selected Panama and I know it’s the right thing for me, even if I am now alone.”

More Singles Than Marrieds

According to a report by Bloomberg, a US based financial and media company, there are more single Americans than married ones. The figure, reported for 2014, states that 50.2% or 124.6 million of all adults in the United States are now unmarried. That’s up from 37.4% in 1976. In Canada, single individuals became the largest group in 2006 when the figure hit 51.5%. That trend toward being single has continued to increase in Canada.

While the woman looking for a condo in the beaches community of Panama hadn’t planned on being single in retirement, many of the people with whom I work, are there because they want to go solo. They are finding that Panama and specifically Coronado is one of the best places to realize that dream.

New And Exciting Adventures

There are lots of options for retirement and many people are comfortable in popular places such as Florida and Arizona. Moving internationally is not for everyone, but if it’s to your liking, it can provide a very comfortable lifestyle at a more reasonable price point, while offering all kinds of new and exciting adventures.

I encourage people to remember when they are looking for their perfect retirement spot, they should carefully weigh several options to figure out what is right for them. It doesn’t really matter if they are going solo or with a partner, many of the considerations are the same. The main difference, I caution single retirees, is that some of the considerations take on a greater importance. Safety is one such consideration.

What About Safety?

According to the US State Department, most Panamanian areas, frequented by expats, are much safer than many cities in the United States. Coronado is especially safe considering it is a gated community and carefully monitored by police. For all my clients, I encourage condominium living since there is another layer of protection and a greater sense of community. I also recommend starting in a condo in Coronado, learning the lay of land with a strong community beside you, and then, if you like, after a couple of years, branching out.

Retiring among people with whom you are comfortable is very important. While Coronado has a large and active expat community, not everyone is ready to launch out and make new friends from a variety of backgrounds. For example, there is a retirement community just an hour south of Orlando in Florida, which is only open to former mail carriers. They report there is “no keeping up with the Jones because we all receive about the same amount of money in retirement.” They also talk about familiar topics such as dog bites and mislabeled packages. I’m not sure Coronado would be right for them because one of the few commonalities among the expat community is the desire to experience new things in a new environment.

Panama Provides An Active Lifestyle

Retiring in Panama generally means an active lifestyle. People who decide to move abroad are often more adventuresome and welcoming to new ideas including physical activities.

Coronado Triathlon
I’ve been know to compete in the annual triathlon, here in Coronado.

Of course, if you want to sit at the beach and simply watch the activities, there are lots of chairs, cold drinks and warm conversation.

Making New Friends

When weighing the options, I caution singles to consider how they will make new friends. Finding like-minded people is always important such as joining a runners group if you are a runner, or a drama group if you enjoy being active in community theatre. Fortunately, we have both a runner and theatre group as well as volleyball teams, hiking groups, ocean kayaking and biking enthusiasts.

In fact, in Coronado we have a group for just about every interest. There are yoga classes and classes to improve your Spanish. Painting classes and bird watchers groups. Several Coronado residents are active in an orphanage located just down the Pan-American Highway and others are making a difference, while making new friends, with Rotary International.

Friends in Panama
There’s always a friendly gathering going on somewhere.

When an individual buys into an Empresas Bern building such as Royal Palm, Punta Vela, or Coronado Golf, they are eligible for membership into the Coronado Golf and Beach Resort which comes with golf, tennis and equestrian options. There are all kinds of people who join together for a daily round of golf—many times before breakfast—and then a cold drink after 18 holes! There are set groups and others that enjoy welcoming new people.

Celebrating Holidays

Dining out is also a great option for singles. The club’s formal restaurant offers special dinners for times such as Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving which provides a great way for expats to get together and celebrate holidays, making it easier for singles who may be missing someone special.

Of course, the various pools are incubators for book club meetings, afternoon drinks and planning day trips to the different adventures of Panama. If you like wine, there are wine tastings and dinners, bars with live music and a great happy hour almost every night at various restaurants within the community.

A Fluid Community

The expat community in Coronado is fluid as opposed to many well-established and more rigid communities in the United States. There is wider diversity and an easy manner with just about every type of individual. A great number of Coronado residents are from Canada and the United States, but there are also over 20 countries represented in just the Coronado Golf building alone.

I also caution all types of retirees, but especially singles, about healthcare. Everyone should make sure it is available and that you can pay for what you need. In Coronado we have the Clinica Hospital San Fernando, which provides all types of medical care and it is affiliated with a major Johns Hopkins hospital in Panama City. There are a number of specialist in the area with practices in everything from orthopedics to cardiology.

Perfect Next Chapter

There are many things to consider when considering where to retire. If you are solo, the good news is that you really don’t have to make compromises to accommodate someone else and the better news is that if you are looking to make new friends, embrace familiar as well as unfamiliar activities, Coronado and Panama might just be your answer for that perfect next chapter or a fresh start.

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