Exploring Panama, cutting costs

expat retirees Tubbs
Dusty and Carolyn Tubbs pose with a local university student in front of their home in Panama.
  • Name: Dusty and Carolyn Tubbs
  • Age: 68 and 53
  • City: Chitré, Panama

Fed up with the "horrendous" cost of living in Hawaii, where they lived for seven years, the Tubbs retired to Panama last year.

"There is no way I could live on just my retirement in Hawaii," Dusty Tubbs said. "Even the average Hawaiian there can't live off of one job."

Now, the couple lives mainly off of Social Security and the pension benefits Dusty receives from his time with the Navy and as a community college instructor in California.

Living costs in Panama are around 25% of what they used to spend, and the couple also takes advantage of a variety of discounts offered to retirees there.

Related: What I gave up to save $1 million

The couple says they love their new country, whether they're exploring the countryside or eating in traditional Panamanian "fondas."

Some things have taken some getting used to, though. Customer service is often lacking. Meanwhile, learning Spanish has been a "big learning curve." But ultimately, Dusty likens the cultural changes to any major move.

"It does not matter if you are moving cross country or out of the country," he said. "The new place is going to be different."

First published October 14, 2014: 6:19 PM ET

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