Let’s get right down to the nitty gritty; there’s no beating around the bush here. We think people would choose Cuenca over Boquete only because of cost of living and crime rates. Why do we think that? Well, because we see over and over again why people move to Cuenca. Most folks want to move where there are certain standards and amenities but at a lower price…Cuenca still sort of fits that bill, although prices on everything are increasing. We’ll talk more about that in a moment. But first, let’s look at a few details between these two cities that make them stand out from each other.
Boquete and Cuenca have a lot in common such as weather and overall beauty. In fact, retirees that do not like hot and humid coastal climates are more apt to move to higher elevations where cooler weather can be found. Boquete might be slightly warmer than Cuenca because its elevation is at just 1,200M, while Cuenca’s altitude is 2,500M, over twice the elevation.
Note: If you are one of the few people who have upper respiratory issues, heart problems, etc, higher altitudes are best to steer away from.
Proximity to Beaches
One advantage that Boquete has over Cuenca, which is actually a nice positive, is its proximity to the beaches as it is only 1.5 to 2-hours from the coast, while sadly Cuenca is 4 to 6 hours away from a –good-- beach…that’s a long haul. So for a weekend getaway driving from Boquete to the beach is a hop, skip, and jump, compared to having to do all kinds of loops and twirls from Cuenca to the beaches and back home again.
If you like the small town, country feel then Boquete is a good option because it has that small quaint feel to it, and even though it is small in size, it has a grocery store, hardware store, infrastructure and other standards and amenities that foreigners want.
Boquete is spread out with homes spotting the mountainside; the population of Boquete is just 20,000, while Cuenca is 350,000 populations in the city. Let’s not forget because Cuenca is seventeen times bigger it also comes with more noise, more smog, more traffic, etc…but it’s cheaper.
Cost of Living
We think the main reason why folks choose Cuenca over Boquete is because it is still less expensive in every area, that includes rents, food, utilities, healthcare, medical, etc. A retiree will spend considerably more on living expenses in Boquete Panama than Cuenca Ecuador. How long this disparity in cost of living will last no one really knows for sure, but for now in 2015 Cuenca is less expensive than Boquete.
We have to remind ourselves that Panama has been pumped for a lot longer (10 -15 years) from the travel abroad press, which accounts for much of the higher cost of living there. Heck, Costa Rica used to be really cheap too in the 1980’s! It took a lot longer for Costa Rica to get expensive because back then there was no Internet for people to discover other countries abroad.
Back in the 80’s and early 90’s (before the Internet) you could read “Island Properties Report” Magazine if you wanted to find out anything about the world abroad. In the early 90's they used to pump Costa Rica and the Caribbean a lot. There were a few other travel abroad magazines as well. Those early magazines are the same pumpers back then as they are today, and their numbers have increased.
Crime and Safety
People absolutely love to use the term "relatively safe as any other country", when they are comparing crime rates. We have remarked before about crime rates in Ecuador compared to Panama as being just about the same, however comparing Boquete with a population of just 20,000 people to Cuenca of 350,000 there is NO relatively speaking or comparatively speaking here. There’s way more crime in Boquete Panama per size of population than Cuenca, and Cuenca is multiple times the size!!!
After doing extensive research we find that ALL the expat forums about Panama are saying the same thing, “Crime is up in Chiriquí Province Boquete area of Panama and it’s violent. Please take note that when people minimize crime it can only mean one thing, they have an agenda, such as a home to sell etc. In fact, the word is out that some expats wishing to move back to North America are trying to keep the crime at a hush-hush so they can sell their home in Boquete Chiriqui to unsuspecting expats. This is what we’re reading on websites and forums about crime in Chiriquí!
The expat community in the Chiriquí Province of Panama is much larger than the expat community of Azuay Province of Ecuador and that accounts for some of the crime, however, the disparity of apparent wealthy foreigners zoning in on poor farming communities such as Boquete and David also has a lot to do with it.
The population of Boquete several years ago was 6,127, according to GeoNames geographical database. And according to LadActo.com ‘the world’s retirement population’ has been discovering Boquete as a retirement paradise since 2002.
A small town like that becomes inundated with wealthier than the locals foreigners and triples in size. Is it any surprise then that crime rates have increased exponentially? We’ve been the first and only ones to warn about this since 2011 right here in Cuenca Ecuador in our writings and guides.
Chiriqui is the most violent Province in Panama. This is the place where the travel abroad press has been ambitiously pumping to wannabe travelers and retirees to move to abroad. A place that continually gets pumped as cheap, beautiful, and one of the best places to retire in the world, and yet expats are getting beaten, raped and even murdered in this little paradise. Yes, we spent one whole day just reading about some of the crimes and it will send goosebumps down your spine; it's horrific.
Anywhere foreigners live in large groups or packs, crime is going to go up, especially in developing countries. Even high rise buildings and gated communities are at risk when the thieves know there are many rich foreigners living there. We have other news to tell you about the expat communities of Coronado and Gorgona below.
In order to minimize the reasoning ability of these foreigners, they are told that: “the middle class is increasing” but are not told that they will pay in rent more than the average local earns in a whole month. A behavior that your average foreign retiree doesn’t engage in, in his own country.
It doesn’t have to be so, but foreigners are enticed and persuaded by various retire abroad pumpers into living a certain way and expecting a certain lifestyle, such as ‘live like a king’ and/or ‘retire in paradise’ etc. We’ve been talking about and warning our readers about this in our guides for years.
So, crime might seem comparative or relative or maybe some folks just like using those two words to minimize crime somewhere because of an agenda. Bottom line is using these two words loosely and as frequently as people like to do, can be misleading and confusing at best.
Compared to what? Relative to what? In this case, Boquete and Cuenca have no comparison or relation to each other as far as size and population and amount of expats living there. Just another thing to detail in your due diligence notebook, next time someone says, “Panama City is relatively safe compared to Chicago.
Below we are showing you a few examples of the crime wave going on throughout the country of Panama. Although ask the real estate agents and homeowners they'll say crime is low, relatively speaking.
Two Dutch girls missing since 2014 in Boquete Panama! See photo below. Please click on photo to enlarge the text to be readable.
18 Robberies in two weeks in the Coronado Beaches Expat community (2014)...and the travel abroad pumpers just keep on sending gringos there...
Until we write again…
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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!