(International Living) Other expats thought we were crazy. Six months ago we moved to Panama. We knew that we didn’t want to live in a gated community. For us, it just made more sense to live among the locals where we could immerse ourselves in the culture and get to know everyone.
We also hoped it would help improve our Spanish by forcing us to talk to our neighbors. The locals are warm and welcoming people who are just as curious about us as we are of them.
The tiny community of Chame is just a five-minute drive from the gorgeous beaches of Gorgona, and only 10 minutes from the shopping malls in Coronado. Nestled into the Arco Seco, or dry arch, the area receives much less rain than the rest of the country.
Our life in Panama began in a three-bedroom rental, for $300 a month in a Panamanian neighborhood in the town of Capira. We feel perfectly safe and at home here, and all the neighbors know us. (Just like in the U.S. we take necessary precautions such as locking the doors and keeping valuables out of sight.)
We moved to Panama for the perfect weather…the lower cost of living…and the easy access to both the beach and the mountains. The little town of Chame has it all, plus the convenience of nearby local restaurants where you can eat for $5. For a special occasion we drive into the expat haven of Coronado.
As well as restaurants, Coronado is also full of grocery stores, pharmacies, clinics, and hardware stores.
Just far enough off the Pan-American Highway, but not too far, we stumbled onto a stately home surrounded by 1.6 acres of lush greenery and mature fruit trees for sale. This huge 3,000-square-foot house served as a vacation home for a prestigious local family for many years, and now would become our playground…
We had no intention of buying a home this soon. But we fell in love with the house, the area and the prospect of little to no property taxes in a country we’ve come to call home.
We paid $90,000 for the house that has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a huge kitchen, wrap-around porch, outdoor gazebo and even an outside guard hut with a full bathroom.
It’s more house than we needed but it felt like home. I could just see myself swinging in a hammock under the gazebo, or plucking some fruit for breakfast from our very own fruit tree