Cerro Punta, Panama, WRITTEN Report

Cerro Punta—Real Country Livin’ in Panama’s Highlands

As I sit at my desk, contemplating how to begin this report, it’s hot, typical tropical Panama hot. There’s no getting around it. Don’t get me wrong, we do have air conditioners, but central air? No way. Not in my run-of-the-mill, Panamanian-style home. Sometimes I tilt my head back and think, “Man…what I wouldn’t give for a blast of frigid Alaska air right now?” I’ve lived in Anchorage, Alaska, and in Chicago, Illinois (I’m convinced Chicago is colder), so I’ve experienced my share of cold weather, and strangely enough, I loved it.

So why am I living in Panama? Well, I love warm weather too, plus this is my wife’s home country and we (my family) are all happy here. That doesn’t mean I don’t get a little bit sad from time to time when I stop and realize that I’ll never again experience a chilly climate. Then, it dawns on me that I can actually escape the heat of Panama’s major cities and beaches by simply climbing to a higher elevation. I’ve written about Volcan and about Cerro Azul already, and in both of those destinations I mentioned that the temperature was much cooler than in places like Panama City and Penonomé. Well, I’ve found a place even colder and I’m so excited to tell you about it.

Cerro Punta Map

Cerro Punta, located in the Chiriqui highlands (the west side of Panama, remember Panama runs west to east, not north to south), is only a little over an hour drive from Panama’s 2nd largest city, David. It’s only about 20-minutes from Volcan’s center.

Getting to Cerro Punta

If coming from Panama City, just keep traveling down the Pan-American Highway until you pass David and see the signs telling you to turn right to get to Volcan, at the town of Concepcion. From there you travel all the way to Volcan, and once you’ve reached the mountain town, make a right at the street in front of the police station (by the Delta gas station). Then it’s a 20-minute, straight shot into the town of Cerro Punta.

Welcome to Cerro Punta

It’s an easy drive too, with no seriously steep or scary inclines. You won’t need a 4-wheel-drive vehicle if you’ll be staying on the main, paved roads. As long as you’re not planning to go off-roading and you won’t try climbing up to any of the houses set high up on the mountains, you’ll be fine in your typical rental car.

Once you hit Cerro Punta, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road with all the raw beauty around

Located at an altitude of nearly 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) above sea level, Cerro Punta’s days are often windy and its nights drop down to a comfortable cool temperature. Seeing people in coats, windbreakers, and even cold weather hats, is quite common. I want to say that it must have been somewhere around 60-degrees fahrenheit during our visit. We had our windows down and at one point it was just too cold for the kids.

Even the locals bundle up

As you enter town, you’ll see sprawling fields of green to both sides of the main road. Cerro Punta is said to provide Panama with about 80% of its vegetables. Cabbage, broccoli, potatoes, onions, lettuce, beets, and much more is grown here. And don’t forget strawberries. This is the strawberry kingdom as you’ll find out when you go to order at any restaurant or snack shack. Everything seems to have strawberries in it. I’ll tell you more about that a little bit later.

It’s farmland to both sides as you enter town

Cerro Punta even has its own frozen goods processing and shipment warehouse. And with so many exports going out of the area every day, watch out for the 18-wheelers constantly making their way through town. You know I’m a movie buff and seem to relate everything to some flick I’ve seen, and Cerro Punta was no different. The main road, with the Mack trucks speeding down it, reminded me of the road on the movie Pet Sematary (spelled incorrectly on purpose, just like Stephen King’s title). It’s all peaceful and quiet until one of the trucks comes barreling through. These drivers weren’t too bad though. They seemed to take it slow for the most part.

Where frozen goods are prepared

Cerro Punta is made up of 4 little neighborhoods, or villas, but the place is seriously so small that it’s hard to tell when you’ve left one and entered the next. The Miranda, Guadalupe, Las Nubes, and Bajo Grande are the villas that make up this town.

This place could almost pass for Switzerland

When you first enter, you’ll come to a town center of sorts with a few small restaurants, mini-supermarkets, and other businesses. I’ve been to Cerro Punta twice, and during our first visit, I thought that first main town center was all of Cerro Punta. I didn’t drive any farther, and instead just cruised the streets taking pictures, thinking I’d seen all there was to Cerro Punta. Volcan was the main focus on that trip so I didn’t really dig into Cerro Punta.

Pass this first town center to get to the more touristy area of Guadalupe

I’m glad we made this second trip as there was a lot more of the area to see. We found this out when we stopped and asked one of the locals, a lady selling blankets on the side of the road, what the best restaurant in town was. She kind of laughed and shook her head, then told us that we wouldn’t find much in that part of town. She pointed down the street and told us to keep going, and that we’d find plenty of places to have lunch in Guadalupe. She said we’d know we’d reached it when we see all the people in the middle of the street. She was absolutely right. We drove a few more miles down the road and found Guadalupe, Cerro Punta’s main center for tourist activity.

Welcome to Guadalupe

People were milling about, checking out the souvenir stands, browsing the selection of cold weather hats hanging from makeshift storefronts, and standing in line to get their hands on chorizos on sticks,  brochettes (shish kabobs), or cups of strawberries and cream. As I mentioned earlier, strawberries are in everything, and I couldn’t wait to get ahold of a strawberry milkshake (batido de fresa). They’re the best in this area. At $2 each, the whole family took a break and drank a shake. I had to go back for seconds. 

These strawberry shakes are the bee’s knees

Vendors sold sacks of vegetables, known as puercas (very similar to the word puerco, which is pork), for insanely cheap prices. We bought the bag you see in the following picture for only $6. It had cabbage, lettuce, carrots, beets, potatoes, cilantro, onions, celery, and broccoli. I think I’m forgetting a few of the items because it just seemed like it had a little bit of everything in it. It was huge. This thing easily had a week’s worth of veggies. I’ve seen smaller bags for sale on the side of the street in Panama City for $7. If I lived in Cerro Punta or Volcan, I’d never ever buy produce in a supermarket again. This puerca had so many fresh salad fixins…it’s crazy!

A gignatic bag of fresh veggies for only $6

Oh, by the way, make sure you have plenty of quarters when you visit Guadalupe, as many of the restaurants and businesses had signs up advertising the use of their bathroom for $.25. These tourist towns know how to make their money, so unless you want to find yourself holding it all the way back to Volcan, bring change.

We stopped here for lunch

We decided to try one of the restaurants in town, Restaurante Mijarr, and it was pretty good. Marlene enjoyed her baked chicken with patacones (squished and fried plantains). We also ordered two medium pizzas for the rest of us. All that and drinks came to right around $30. We could’ve saved a lot by buying from the street-side vendors, but we wanted to try an actual sit-down style restaurant.

Just chillin’ for a few minutes

After lunch, we set out to discover what a life in Cerro Punta would be like. Is it just a fun place for tourists or is it somewhere you could actually base your retire overseas adventure? 

What’s this place all about?

Let’s just get right down to it. Cerro Punta is country living, high up in the mountains. I love it. It’s wide open spaces with tractors parked in fields and sprinklers wetting down rows of cabbage. It’s blue-collar workers getting down and dirty, making an honest day’s wages. It’s peaceful folk living a regular life in a cool weather climate. It’s some of the most amazing views I’ve seen in Panama. It’s great, but like anyplace else, it’s perfect for some people, but maybe not for others.

I love this place!

Living in Cerro Punta would mean being secluded. You’re not going to find high-class social gatherings. I mean, I’m sure some of the people in town host parties, and you might even find some of the expats in town or down in Volcan putting together friendly get togethers, but it’s definitely nothing like Panama City. The town population seems to be made up mostly of local Panamanians and members of the indigenous tribes. I did see a couple of what looked like gringos, and I definitely saw plenty of tourists.

Tourists flock to this breezy, cool-weather retreat

It only takes a few minutes in town to realize that you’ll need to get used to the incredible silence the mountain lifestyle provides. This is a place I’d consider owning a husky (I want one really bad, but having one in the hot city is just mean), and just letting him go nuts in the yard while I chill out in a front porch swing and crack open a new Stephen Hunter novel while I sip sweet tea.

Imagine seeing this with your morning coffee each day

I’m no gardener, but I think in a place like Cerro Punta, I’d learn to be one. This is one of the most colorful mountain towns I’ve ever seen and I think I’d want my house to be included in that beauty. Plus, with plenty of places in town to pick up plants and flowers, it’d be easy to get started.

This place sells plants and flowers

If you love horses, you’ll be happy to know that Cerro Punta is home to two very important horse breeding centers. Haras Cerro Punta and Haras Carinthia are both located here and are well known for their thoroughbreds. I read that the higher elevation is great for developing a horse’s lungs.

Horse breeding is a big deal here

We stopped off on our way out of town and hung out next to one of the horse centers. The sun was going down on the horizon, sinking down behind the mountains, and a pony was following its mom around the field. With the silence all around and the shadows settling across the field, we watched the pony plop down to rest. It was really cool and so peaceful. Check out our video on Cerro Punta to see what I’m talking about.

The end of a long day

This is a place where you can breathe freely; a place where mother nature still reigns supreme and shows her dominance with spectacular views all around, all the time. It’s just gorgeous.

Is a life in Cerro Punta realistic?

As with every other place I’ve reported on, this is completely subjective. It has everything to do with the person planning this new lifestyle. I told Marlene just the other day, “I think I could be happy in a place like Cerro Punta.” Her reply? “Are you out of your mind? You would be bored in a week.” She might have a point. At this point in my life, 34-years-old, with a wife and 4 kids, Cerro Punta probably isn’t realistic for me. However, I think that by the time I’m 50, I might seriously consider a place like this.

This is what it looks like when you’re leaving Cerro Punta. It kinda makes you wanna turn the car around and stay awhile.

To help you decide if this place is right for you, let me tell you what you will find in the area, and what you won’t find. Let me lay all the cards out on the table.

Most homes, like this one, have a satellite dish on the roof

Water is ice cold, seriously cold, and drinkable straight out of the tap. I saw satellites on most of the homes in town, so satellite Internet and TV seems to be the popular choice. I saw an Internet cafe and a cell phone store in town. Speaking of cell phones, mine worked fine while I was in town and I saw many others chatting on their Smartphones. So keeping in touch shouldn’t be an issue. I didn’t see any mail or package centers though so you’d need to go to either Volcan, or maybe even as far as David, to set yourself up with a P.O. box and receive mail and packages from back home.

You could definitely walk most of Cerro Punta

You’d probably want to own a car here. You could get by without one, as most of the Cerro Punta area is walkable, but you’d be a lot more comfortable with a car. If you do have a vehicle, there’s a Delta gas station in town and a car wash. Buses run into town and out constantly, so if you decided you’d rather not have your own ride, you could hop on a bus, or even a taxi, and come and go easily.

Buses and taxis make getting around fairly easy

The roads in town are quite smooth as long as you stay on the circular track that takes you from Volcan to Cerro Punta, then wraps around the back side of Cerro Punta. Once you leave the main roads you’ll start finding a lot more potholes, plus many of the roads turn into dirt or gravel trails.

The roads are nice and smooth here

You won’t find a single bank or ATM machine in Cerro Punta. That doesn’t mean much though since Volcan is only 20 minutes away. I sit in traffic for more than 20 minutes getting to a bank here in Panama City. So no big deal. In Volcan you’ll even find a Western Union.

The one clinic in town

You also won’t find a major clinic in town. There is one Centro de Salud when you first enter Cerro Punta, but if it’s closed, or you need to see a specialist, you’ll have to travel to either Volcan, or maybe even as far as David. I did see one pharmacy in town and I’m sure the mini-supers carry the basic cold and headache medicines. Smart business owners, like the one you see in the photo below, keep first aid kits handy just in case.

Just in case of an emergency

Grocery shopping in town would need to be done at one of the several mini-supers. Remember, you have easy access to fresh produce in Cerro Punta, so you’d really only need to to go to the mini-supers (or drive to Volcan for larger supermarkets) for pantry items and your meats.

Most shopping will need to be done in the mini-supermarkets like this one

You won’t find many stores in town. I saw a few novelty stores, a cell phone store, a hardware store, and tons of agricultural shops, as farming is such a major part of life in Cerro Punta.

I saw more agricultural stores in town than anything else

I saw one house with a hand written sign declaring that it was an American clothing store. The only other places I saw to pick up threads were a vendor with slacks and suit jackets set up outside of one of the mini-supers, and the souvenir shops which sold some hand-woven, cold-weather gear.

An outdoor clothing store…of sorts

At the souvenir shops you can find everything from bracelets and earrings to jackets, windbreakers, and knitted caps. You’ll also find a lot of typical Panamanian desserts and snacks, like banana bread, carrot cake, empanadas, candies, and more treats with strawberries mixed in.

Get some cold weather clothing at the souvenir stands in Guadalupe

If you’re tired of doing your own laundry, there is a dry cleaner/laundry in town. What you won’t find is a high-end beauty salon. I did see a small salon, and a very tiny barber shop. Or you can do like the guy in the photo below and just get your hair cut by this dude outside one of the novelty shops. I’m not sure what he charges, but it can’t be much.

Get a haircut outside and enjoy the cool breeze

If you like to attend church, chances are you’ll need to learn to speak Spanish, or just do your own kind of worshipping while the preacher or priest delivers his sermon in a foreign language. I’ve been to church with my wife and kids, Catholic church in Spanish, a couple of times. I don’t understand most of what’s gong on, but it’s still nice to step foot in a holy place from time to time. Even if you don’t fully understand what’s going on, you can usually follow along and do your own kind of praying. In Cerro Punta I saw a couple of 7th Day Adventist churches, a couple of Catholic churches, an Evangelic church, and a Jehova’s Witness church.

Cerro Punta is home to several churches

If you’re thinking of moving with school-age children, you’ll find two schools in Cerro Punta, plus a couple down in Volcan, but they’ll all be Panamanian schools. There are no international schools in the area.  In Cerro Punta I saw an Adventist school, attached to one of the 7th Day Adventist churches, and a public school in Guadalupe. So your options would be to fully immerse your kids in one of these all-Spanish Panamanian schools, send them to one of these schools half the day and then homeschool them the other half, or homeschool full-time.

I noticed a small police station near the entrance to Cerro Punta. I didn’t see a fire station though. I may have missed it, but if there isn’t one in town, I know there’s one in Volcan. 

A public school in Guadalupe

Entertainment in town consists mostly of outdoors kind of stuff, like hiking, fishing, swimming in rivers, etc. I noticed a lot of the neighbors gathered around the big baseball/soccer field in town to watch the local teams go at it.

Play futbol or watch the kids go at it

Most of the hostels and hotels will have their own restaurants and bars, plus I saw a couple of other small bars in town. Volcan has a small pool hall and a couple of night clubs, so a trip to Volcan might be necessary for any kind of nightlife (Volcan isn’t exactly Vegas though, lol). You’ll also find some tourist activities, which I’m sure you’d grow tired of quickly if you lived there.

Climb to the top of Mirador La Fresa to take some amazing photos

We hiked to the top of Mirador La Fresa, a tire lined trail that climbs quite steeply up to the top of a high hill, where you get some great picture taking opportunities. The cost was only $.50 per person. The kids had a great time and begged me to climb the hill a second time.

A view of the back end of Guadalupe

From high up on the hill you get a view of Guadalupe and the surrounding area, beautiful rolling hills and mountain views, plus you get an aerial view of the horses in the field just below. 

An aerial view of the horses

Other tourist activities consist of hiking the Quetzal Trail and visiting the Dracula Orchid farm. Don’t expect to find a movie theater, a mall, or any fast food restaurants you’re familiar with.

One of the great things about living in this high-elevation town is one of the great things about living almost anywhere in this country. It’s the ability to have a complete change of scenery in a short amount of time. If you needed an escape from this quiet retreat, just drive to David, only a little over an hour away. It’s not a city full of high-rise condos and major traffic congestion, like Panama City, but you will find most things you need in David. It’s definitely a happy medium.

A little bus like this can help you escape town in a jiffy

If you felt the need to spend the evening with other expats, just go to Boquete, which is really close. And if you wanted to go to the beach, you could head to La Barqueta or Las Lajas (down by David) or take a trip to Bocas del Toro. You could even take a bus to Panama City for probably somewhere around $20 each way. I know it’s only $15 to get from David to the Albrook bus station and mall in Panama City.

This is mountain living at its most basic

When it comes to homes in Cerro Punta, it seems there’s a little bit of something for everyone. You’ll see everything from very low-income style housing, basically just cinderblock walls with a tin roof, to typical local Panamanian-style homes, which are usually small and very colorful.

Colorful homes in Guadalupe

You’ll even see some large, very modern looking houses, with more reserved hues. The best thing about owning a home in Cerro Punta? No matter what style of home you’re living in, whether it be an old cabin retreat or a brand new structure, you’re sure to have an incredible view.

A more modern looking home

Another great thing about the homes in Cerro Punta is that a lot of them have gigantic backyards, and most seem to be growing some sort of fruit or vegetable.

Any farming town’s gonna have cattle

Farming is such an important part of life in Cerro Punta. And of course, as with any other farm town, you’ll see cattle grazing in open fields.

Cost of living in Cerro Punta

First, I think it’s important to talk about the real estate situation. I reached out to a realtor, one of the main ones in Volcan, and I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t receive much help. I asked about the price of rentals and was basically told that you’ll find very few good ones in the area and that their office didn’t even handle rentals. Sounds to me like renting anything in Cerro Punta (and probably Volcan too) would require dealing directly with the owner of the house. I didn’t see any rentals while I was in town (that doesn’t mean there weren’t any). Oftentimes rentals in these area are found only by word of mouth or through local postings at supermarkets and things like that. 

If you take a look at the budget I’ve posted down below, you’ll see that I set the price at $1,000 per month for rent. Marlene thinks that’s a bit high, but I’d rather not set you up for failure. As I said, not even a real estate agent could tell me what the current rental costs are. I’ve seen rentals in Volcan for about $850, so, since Cerro Punta is a little more exclusive, I figure it’s smart to add a little bit to that amount. For $1,000, I think you’d be able to find something decent in Cerro Punta, if you’re able to find a rental at all. This is Panama For Real, so I have to keep it real. 

As far as the cost of purchasing a place goes, I found a house online (162m2) going for $35,000. It looked like it might be more of a vacation rental though. I also saw a 2-bedroom (1,811m2 property) going for $185,000. Those were the least expensive homes I saw. Of course, a few at much higher prices were listed as well; one was $350,000 and one was even $1.5 million. A 6 hectare plot of land was going for $120,000. Where that was located, I have no idea, meaning it could be a steal in a great location, or could be on the side of a mountain somewhere. You’d really need to visit the area and speak with a real estate agent who can break it all down for you.

Take a look at the following budget, keeping in mind that you need to be flexible with the rental costs as you might find something for much less, or maybe a little more.

Monthly budget for a couple living in Cerro Punta, Panama (Mountain)

Rent2 Bedroom house$1,000
ElectricityWon't need AC, only ceiling fans$75
GasFor cooking and dryer (2 small tanks)$10
Telephone/Internet/CablePackage deal$45
Phone card for calling the U.S. (if you don't use Skype/MagicJack)Telechip International, for 5 hours talk time$5
FoodFor 2 people$300
Entertainment Dining out, bars, playing pool, not much else in town to pay for$100
Routine Doctor VisitOnce per month for each person ($25 each)$50
MedicationVaries, but for my monthly high blood pressure and diabetes meds this is what I'd pay just to give you an idea$45
Getting around townBuses and taxis$20
Travel outside of town (to David once a week)By bus$40
ExtrasOther things you may need$50
Total Monthly ExpensesFor 2 people$1,740

You’ll notice that I set the electric at $75 per month, which is what I put on the Volcan budget, but from what I experienced when i visited, Cerro Punta was colder than Volcan. So you might not even spend $75. I don’t even think you’d need a ceiling fan there. Just prop open a window. 

If you don’t want Internet hooked up in hour house, just go to this Internet cafe from time to time

You’d probably spend about $10 per month on gas tanks for your stove and dryer, $5 each for two propane tanks. You’ll probably spend about $45-$50 on a phone, Internet, and cable/satellite TV package. That’s the average price almost anywhere in Panama. Making international calls is cheap if you just use Skype or Magic Jack, or one of the other systems available. If you don’t want to go that route, you can get a phone card with about 5 hours of talk time for $5.

Save money by buying your fruits and vegetables from these vendors

I set the food costs the same as I did for Volcan, at $300. Honestly, I don’t think you’d spend that much on food in Cerro Punta. Like I mentioned earlier, I bought a gigantic bag of vegetables for only $6. I figure that might last a week, so 4 of those in a month and you’re only at $24. Then add your drinks, meat, chicken, pork, etc. I think you could easily get by on $300 a month or less.

Never buy produce in the supermarket again

Your entertainment costs should be low as there’s not much to do in town that would cost money. Once you’ve done the few touristy things, you’ll grow tired of that quickly. So, you might go out to some of the small restaurants or maybe to one of the bars from time to time. $100 should be plenty for entertainment.

Keep it cheap by picking up lunch at these street vendors

If you need to see a doctor often, you can either visit the Centro de Salud in town, which will be very affordable, or go to one of the clinics in Volcan. The average cost of a routine doctor visit in Panama (in the smaller clinics) is about $25-$30 (I’ve seen a doctor for as low as $1). So $50 for two people to see a doctor once per month in Volcan, should be enough. To see a specialist, you’re usually looking at about $40-$50 a pop.

Medication is obviously something I can’t put a real price on, as I have no way of knowing each person’s needs, but I think it’s important to leave room for it in your budget. So, I like to put $45 in there, which is about what I spend per month on my blood pressure and blood sugar meds.

You can catch the bus here

You shouldn’t spend more than $20 per month on buses or taxis to get around town. If you stick around the Cerro Punta area, you might not even spend much more than that on gas. Just get out on foot and walk the town. It’s a beautiful place to get in shape. Traveling outside of town will cost a bit more. If you head to David every once in awhile, you might spend about $40 per month on travel.

A great place to get out and walk

I always add $50 to the budget, just for the little extras. You might need hand soap, dish soap, detergent, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. So leave room in your budget for those things. So, all that added together comes out to about $1,740. Again, Marlene thinks that’s too high for Cerro Punta, and I kind of agree with her, but again, I’d rather give you some wiggle room than set the budget too low and hear later that you’re stressing out living in Cerro Punta (a place that should be anti-stress). So, you could definitely cut costs by finding a cheaper rental (or by buying and either having a low mortgage payment or none at all if you buy the place outright). If you don’t spend on travel, entertainment, and if you cut your food costs down, you could be looking at a fairly low cost of living. This is a great place for a simple life, so just keep it simple. 

My Overall Gut

I’m a big fan of Cerro Punta. I haven’t visited every place in Panama, but I have visited a lot of towns here, and Cerro Punta is probably the breeziest and prettiest place I’ve encountered. I love the crisp, cool air. I can easily see myself going out for daily walks just for the exercise and the chance to admire the amazing views. I might even pay the $.50 daily to hike to the top of Mirador La Fresa.

50 cents to hike and see this view each day

A life in Cerro Punta would definitely take some getting used to. The silence might be tough for some people at first. To me, the hardest part about living there would probably be the lack of shopping. I could get used to the small cafes and the snack shacks. Those are pretty cool. But the lack of stores might bother me a little bit. Then again, a shopping trip to David once or twice a month could be enough for me. Plus, with Internet shopping so popular nowadays, you can get anything you might possibly want, even while living in a little mountain town like Cerro Punta. It just might require a drive to wherever you’ve set up your P.O. Box. I know David has Mailboxes Etc. and probably has a few other mail service stations.

What’s not to like about this place?

So, I think a life in Cerro Punta is definitely doable. And it could probably be very satisfying to anyone who digs a country(ish) lifestyle in the mountains.

This is my kind of country!

What I don’t want you to do is just abandon your senses and buy a place in Cerro Punta, just because Chris said it was awesome, lol. Please don’t. I always suggest renting in a place first, to make sure it’s the lifestyle option you’re after. Renting in Cerro Punta might require a bit of work. You might have to settle for renting for awhile in Volcan, and making day trips up to Cerro Punta often, or try to set something up with one of the hostels, hotels, or lodges so you can stay for an extended amount of time and make sure this is the right place for you.

Cerro Punta–The Rocky Mountains of the tropics

Who knows, maybe you’ll love it, and you can tell me all about it later. I’ll definitely be visiting Cerro Punta again in the future, and if I never actually move there, you can bet that if I’m living anywhere within driving distance, I’ll be taking the family there for my favorite strawberry smoothies…and to escape the heat. Thanks for reading.

Don’t forget to click on Cerro Punta Video Report

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20 Responsesso far.

  1. Fitz says:

    Chris: Great report. I was in Cerro Punta last Feb. You “nailed” the place in your report. It is a beautiful place and if I could sell my place in Costa Rica; I would move in a heartbeat. Thank you for the good report. F

  2. Dannie says:

    very nice and excellent details about the town
    I’m looking to buy land between volcan and cerro
    punta since Boquete is way to crow and is going to continued to get crow it do you have a good Realtor that can help in that area !! if so i would appreciated the help thank you and keep the good job

    Dannie

    • Chris says:

      Hi Dannie,

      I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a realtor specific to that area. I reached out to one up there and to be honest, they weren’t very friendly. They didn’t seem eager to help, so I’d rather not mention their name and give them support if you know what I mean. I’m all about great customer service, so I don’t want to put readers into the wrong hands. If you’re not in Panama now, I’d definitely visit and take a trip to the area first. You’ll see a couple of real estate offices in the area and if you’re lucky, you might even see some for rent or for sale signs posted. Check the local supermarkets to see if anything is posted on the walls. The best way to find affordable properties is by word of mouth. I’d scope the area out first, see what you find on your own, then reach out to the realtors for the paperwork part of it, that way you have an idea what the homes will cost first.

      Chris

  3. Tom Sones says:

    I bought my home here in Guadalupe in 2007 when I retired,I enjoyed reading your report. Everything you said was right on.I love living here,friendly people,cool climate, lots of flowers,what you said about the climate is correct 60-75 year round.My house on the river is a 3-4min walk to town,10min to orchid farm Finca Dracula,and can trout fish from my gate on the river.Volcan has a new Hosp. fairly large. But due to my age I’ll probably sell the house and move closer to David my wife works in David. great article. Tom Sones

    • Chris says:

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for reading the report. I bet life up there in the mountains is amazing. Sure beats the heat down here in Panama City. No, don’t sell and move to David! Don’t do it, Tom! Haha, you gotta do what you gotta do.

      Thanks again for reading and for checking out the website.

      Chris

  4. Allen Bishop says:

    Hey Chris – No…..I don’t live in Panama, I’m simply a visitor. My base of operations, so to speak, is a friend’s home in El Valle. I can’t wait to get back, but it looks like early next year. I would like to experience the rainy season; my friend’s home has a corrugated roof, quite high up and when it rains, you can literally scream at whoever is with you and your voice is completely drowned out!
    Yeah, I like being close to the beach, but I’m not a sun worshipper nor a surfer. Keep up the good work. Allen

    • Chris says:

      Ha, my roof is the same here in the city. When it’s storming, forget about watching TV. You might as well keep a book handy.

      Chris

  5. Allen Bishop says:

    Hi Chris – Excellent report. I have a feeling that Cerro Punta bears a resemblance to what El Valle once was, minus the agriculture, of course. As more and more affluent boomers retire from the States and Canada and Panamanians’ personal wealth grows, places such as Cerro Punta will be “discovered” and become popular getaways as well as retirement areas. Realtors will no longer have the indifference you noted.
    If I lived in Panama, I think Cerro Punta would be my weekend getaway location for certain, and I would be living in the “big city”, El Valle!

    • Chris says:

      Hey Allen,

      Good to hear from you, man. I agree. I’d love to spend my weekends in Cerro Punta. This country is only so big so I’m sure at some point every desirable retirement town will be hoppin’. If you’re planning to go from El Valle to Cerro Punta, it sounds like you have no desire to be near the beach.

      Chris

  6. Ian says:

    I think for the most part your story is right on. I know bwcause I have lived in Cerro Punta for 4 years. I am not retired but farming and renting out cabins with 2 rivers and over a hetor of property.Volcan has 2 english/spanish schools as my son goes to one of them .We have many berry-razberry/stawberry/blackberries-apple-plum-pear and peach trees with to many flowers and hebs plants to count. The rent budget is way over stated as $450-$600 for a 2-3 bedroom house woiuld be the cost for here and volcan. If you ever up here again come over and visit I am on the stree named Entre Rios (between rivers) off the main paved road (2 minets) just cross the bridge on the left hand side. Bring your fishing rod as we have fish in the rivers.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Ian. Ha, I think I might’ve almost driven up to your house. I crossed over a little bridge to get a good picture of the river, but then turned around afterwards. I think I was really close to the place you just mentioned. Next time we’re in town we’ll definitely have to stop by. I haven’t fished since I was a kid and I’d really like to get back to it (to introduce it to my kids as well).

      Looks like I’m going to have to go back to the Volcan budget and tone it down a bit. I wasn’t getting much help when I was out there from the realtors (I was basically told that it’s hard to find a rental, and that’s about it). So I searched online and did a little bit of digging and came up with that number, which I though was safe. I figured you could probably find something for less if you spent a lot of time asking locals, but I didn’t want to go too low. Thanks again for commenting.

      Chris

    • Mrs V says:

      Chris, thank you for the great reports!

      Ian, we are planning to be in the area in the next month. Are your two places still for rent? We will be looking for something to house 5 people.

      Thank you!

  7. Carl says:

    Hey Chris,
    Another great report!
    I was looking forward to another mountain area report as that’s what I believe we’ll be looking for when we retire one of these days. I will have had enough of these south Louisiana summers by then.
    We’ll be leaving for our first visit to Panama Saturday and can’t wait. We’re spending the first 3 days at “the four tulips” in Casco and then El Valle, Santa Catalina and finally Boquete (with BarefootPanama). I would have enjoyed seeing Volcan and Cerro Punta but we’ll be on the wrong side of the Mountain. Maybe next trip! We’ll meet up one day. I’m thinking 9 more years before I can safely retire.
    Take care and keep up the good work!
    Keep up the good work!
    PS: If you can think of any good places to eat in those places we’re visiting,
    shoot me an email.

    • Chris says:

      Hey Carl,

      Thanks so much, man. Sounds like you’re in for a great Panama adventure. Casco is very cool, El Valle is one of my favorite places in Panama, I don’t know much about Catalina, but I’m sure you’ll love Boquete. Barefoot Panama is a great connection to have here. The only place that really comes to mind is a place called Rincon Vallero in El Valle. The hotel is ok, but the restaurant has one of the best steaks I’ve eaten in a long time. I think it’s listed as Bistec Encebollado (onion steak) on the menu. I ate it two nights in a row when I was in El Valle. Great stuff. Thanks again for commenting. Hope you have a great time on your trip!

      Chris

  8. Sam says:

    Chris – as a hopeful future traveller/expat to Panama, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your reports. Always informative and interesting. Looks like you might need to invest in one of those cameras with anti-shake (had me laughing at the end of this video).

    Also wanted to say that I appreciate your inclusion of an overview of the various places of worship in your reports. Without knowing where you stand personally, I can say that this is definitely important to some of your audience.

    Keep up the great work and take care of that precious family of yours.

    • Chris says:

      Hi Sam,

      Haha, yeah, that ending was kind of shaky right? My daughter kept sneezing right in the middle of my dialogue so I decided to just try and roll with it. It was a blooper at first, but it was kind of fun so I decided to use it.

      You’re the first person who has mentioned the places of worship. I think it’s important and I know it’s something a lot of people take into consideration when they consider moving somewhere. The good thing about Panama is that even though it’s a mostly Catholic society, people here are very accepting and tolerant of other peoples’ beliefs. That’s why, even in these small towns, it’s normal to see several different places of worship.

      Thanks so much Sam, for your kind words, and for checking out our reports and videos.

      Chris

  9. Louis Seldon says:

    I grew up in the old Panama Canal Zone & during the summer the Boy Scouts had a camp in the Volcan area. We would hike to an area that was called the “Switz Colony”, unfortunately I don’t remember exactly where either are/were located.
    Lou
    Blog: http://panamalou.blogspot.com/
    Facebook: Panama, land of my heart Panamá tierra de mi corazón

    • Chris says:

      He Louis, thanks for commenting. Yeah, I think I know what you’re talking about. When we drove up this time, we noticed one of the towns between Volcan and Cerro Punta was called Nuevo Suiza. That’s probably what you’re talking about, right? Thanks again for checking out the site and for commenting.

  10. sarge says:

    Thanks, for another in depth Report and Photos.

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