I spent a couple of weeks in Panama a few years ago. I agree with Barbara, Panama City is a really nice, and pretty cheap.
It rained pretty much the entire time we were in Bocas. Interesting place. At the time, there was a big condo development going in on the island of Bastimentos. Something with 'Red Frog Beach' in the name, as it was located close to that beach. People were really concerned about what would happen to the red frogs. They're tiny, thumb nail sized. The preppy, 'frat boy' guys dragging potential buyers around to look at the place were pretty offensive. I don't know what the status of the development is.
It sounds like there are some expat enclaves up around Boquete as well. We didn't make it there, it's higher and cooler, we were looking to escape the January cold here in the midwest.