So…I see a common thread on Facebook – people wondering where to visit or research for moving to Panama. Some have a bit of a clue, others no clue at all. So in this Ocho List, I play Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the Candlestick in order to try to help give people a clue (a pretty sweet board game by the way) about moving to Panama…but first, a word from this week’s sponsor, Casa Amarilla in Pedasi.
Moving to Panama? Looking For a Home in Pedasi?
I’ve stayed in this house many times and it boasts THE best breezes in Pedasi – and I’ve stayed in many houses in Pedasi. The property is a great size and offers plenty of privacy. There’s AMAZING income potential with this property too, as it has a separate 2BR residence, or simply open a door and have a 3BR home…heck, rent out a 1BR and 2BR separately! Check out their Facebook Page, and if interested, contact Christine at 6963-4423 or firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her PanamaDude sent you! And now back to our regularly scheduled program…
8 Places to Visit if You’re Considering Moving to Panama
8. Bocas del Toro (no relation to Benecio del Toro).
Bocas del Toro (or ‘Bocas’ as it’s more commonly referred) is on the Atlantic side of Panama, right near the Costa Rica border. In fact, many of us do our Border Runs at Sixaola, a short drive from the Bocas water taxi docks. It’s a pretty neat place, very touristy, a little more expensive than the mainland, but there’s plenty to do…like these 8 things you can do to enjoy Bocas.
7. Boquete (no relation to the French word and tasty bread named Baguette).
Boquete is a nice little town adjacent to the mountainous mountain of Volcán Barú. It’s much cooler and there’s a lot more moisture in the air, but there’s an abundance of fresh food, expats, and Hollywood directors looking for cast members for the movie Cocoon 3 (possibly reviving Steve Gutenberg’s career). We did enjoy Boquete when we visited and completely understand why expats consider Boquete when moving to Panama. There really is plenty to do, the climate is ideal (it doesn’t snow), and the people are friendly too!
6. Colon (no relation to your body’s colon, and pronounced Co-loan, or Co-lone, depending on which loan/lone you want to use I suppose).
Also located on the Atlantic and named after Christopher Columbus, Colon is seeing resurgence in popularity. The government has promised millions of dollars to help revive the once derelict city. Once known as one of the ‘rougher’ areas of Panama, tours have started to re-visit the port city with the canal expansion, and there’s been an increased (re)appearance of cruise ships too. Add to that resort developments under way and, well, Colon appears to no longer want to be the colon of Panama. Only an hour from Panama City, there are fewer and fewer reasons to not check it out. A short train ride gets you to and from the city. With the new metro line in full swing, it’s only a matter of time before a line starts venturing up that way. Still have doubts? Check out this article about Colon from VIP Panama Tours.
5. Coronado (includes Gorgona and Punta Chame).
Okay, brutal honesty here. I don’t really get this area. There are a lot of high-rises and gated homes within the town gates of Coronado. Not my cup of tea. But I think if you like to travel more and want a home base where you can have a nice ocean view and a beach to go to, then this is a perfect option. And if you’re looking for a little more ocean activity you can head down the coast to Punta Chame for some of the best kite-surfing Panama has to offer. We went into a couple of grocery stores and there’s some great food options here, that’s for sure. With Coronado being only about an hour and a half from the city, it’s the place of choice for many expats when moving to Panama.
4. David (pronounced Da-beed).
David is a nice sized city. Not too big, not too small (nowhere near the size of Montreal). One of the major benefits of David is its proximity to beaches (half an hour), Boquete (half an hour), the Costa Rican border (half an hour if you drive really fast), and the popular fishing area of Boca Chica (half an hour times two). The city of David doesn’t offer the same amount of amenities that Panama City does, but like the Rolling Stones said: You can’t always get what you want.. But if you try sometimes, you just might find…You get what you need!
3. El Valle (I think this is where the Green Giant was born…ho ho ho, Green Giant).
My wife and I just made our first appearance in El Valle and while we weren’t there very long, we really enjoyed what it offered. Like Boquete, it’s a mountain town with more moisture, but again, it’s cooler. The temperature during the day was comfortable enough to go on a hike, and there were noticeably more people riding bicycles here than in our beach town of Pedasi. The best part is (based on our experience) is that you get to meet people that live one street away from where your family back home lives…So we’re eating lunch in El Valle, and two tables over is Contadora Island’s Hibiscus House B&B owner Karyn Saunders and her friend Mandi. The conversation leads to us learning that Mandi lives down the street from my brother-in-law, and she (Mandi) and our sister-in-law chat at their children’s bus stop every morning. Yep, monde pequeno.
2. Panama City (no relation to Panama City, Florida).
Many expats choose the city for the amenities and conveniences it has to offer. PTY airport is a major hub for Latin America, and the outlying areas are becoming increasingly popular, too. I’m not a city slicker, but I do like to spend a few days in larger cities because of said amenities. From casinos, to upscale movie theatres, sporting or cultural events, Panama City rivals many other major metropolitan cities around the world. If you want to make the transition of moving to Panama an easier one, the city might be a good start…and if not, at least you’ll see some great architecture!
1. Pedasi (Ped-a-seeeeee, not Ped-aaaaaa-see).
Yep, this is where we live. Our hood. My stompin’ grounds… It’s not directly on the water, but there are three beaches within a three minute drive (okay, maybe five minutes). Or you can easily ride your bike to any one of them. And if it’s low tide, you can ride/walk/run or quad from Arenal beach to either Mariabe (crossing a river) or go the other way to Bull Beach (Playa Toro), or watch a body-boarding competition at Playa Lagarita. Also ranging from 10-30 minutes away are: Playa Destiladeros (good beach for sunning/walking), Puerto Escondido (great beach to bring kids with lots of shade), Playa Panamaes (great body-boarding beach), Playita (wildlife beach and also great for swimming), and of course Playa Venao (surfing haven). Pedasi is well known for it’s beaches, waves, fishing, whale watching, and it’s also the overflow for Carnivale celebrations from neighboring Las Tablas.
- Santa Fe: never been there, but from what friends tell us, it’s small and there are not many amenities yet.
- Puerto Armuelles: Watch out for this one. It’s the town where the old Chiquita banana plantation was built (and is reopening). There are some pretty cool former Chiquita executive homes on stilts. Kind of reminds me of coastal homes in the USA’s Carolina’s. Puerto is right on the water too, so there’s some ocean-front buildings and lots that are ripe for the pickings – you just may have to be patient with your investment.
- Isla Contadora and the Pearl Islands. Visited once, would love to go back, but couldn’t live there. Too remote and too many Survivor show hostings for this dude. Great place for a vacation though.
The fact is, only you’ll know where you want to settle when moving to Panama, but visiting these places will hopefully help the clueless become cluemore about moving to Panama…yep, making up words.