Welcome to Panama For Real, where you’ll experience Panama like never before.
My name’s Chris Powers. Like so many others, I was living an average life, working long days, nights, and even weekends. At the time, I thought I was getting pretty much all I could expect to get out of life. My wife is Panamanian. I’d visited her country, but never really expected that I’d retire there. I was a good ol’ boy, born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The U.S. was where I belonged. Plus, I didn’t speak a lick of Spanish.
Then an amazing thing happened…the recession. Yep, my job got wiped out, eliminated, destroyed. I was left with the option to either hang around my home country and hope to work my way up through the corporate ladder, from scratch, or do something crazy and give my wife’s country a chance.
So here I am, in Panama, making a go of it. I’m just an average Joe. I like peanut butter cups, I love country music (other kinds too), I drink beer, and I put my pants on one leg at a time (tried 2 legs at a time once, thanks to the country music and beer). I’m married to a beautiful Panamanian woman and we have four kids. Yes, four. And I still don’t speak Spanish. Not really.
I’ve spent the past year and a half traveling all over this isthmus, seeking out the best places to live, keep a vacation home, or just visit for fun and relaxation. I’ve had coffee in a Las Tablas cafe out on the Azuero Peninsula, drank sangria and partied to a live American cover band in one of Pedasi’s expat gathering spots, swam in a David river, climbed to the top of a mountain in El Valle, and danced to tipico music in Panama City.
You may have stumbled upon some of my writing in the past, either on my own personal blog that I’ve been managing over at www.thestayathomegringo.blogspot.com, or in articles I’ve written for other e-zines and online publishers. For the past four years, I’ve been making it my business to learn about this country. I don’t claim to be an expert on buying and selling real estate, or navigating the immigration system. I’m no tax guru. I leave that stuff to the people who do that best. What I do know is what it’s like to live, work, and raise a family in Panama.
Just like you, I want to find that special place.
I’ve gathered a wealth of information during my time in this country and I’m satisfied that this is where my family and I will stay. Deciding where in this country we’ll call home is the real challenge. Panama, for as small a country as it is, has so many different lifestyle options and so many fun vacation possibilities, so whether you’re in it for the long haul, or just want to see what this place is all about, there’s something for you.
At some point in time, I’ll settle down somewhere here in Panama, so I’ve decided to make it my mission to learn everything about this country. I’m going to start all over again, with a brand new awareness, a new focus on finding the place to hang my hat. I want to traverse this country and put my sneakers on every square inch. I’m going to travel everywhere, and I want you to be there every step of the way. Let’s find your dream getaway while I search for mine.
Likewise, I want to show Panamanians (many of whom have only visited the town where they were born, Panama City, or some of the popular carnaval party spots) what else is out there. What about the rest of Panama? Panamanians are missing out on the amazing beauty and affordable cost of living in so many of this country’s interior provinces, towns, and neighborhoods.
I asked a Panamanian couple where they imagine themselves retiring in this country and they both said somewhere in Panama City. I asked, “Where were you born?” They said, “Panama City.”
They’d never been anyplace else. They were blown away when I told them that a couple I’d met from the U.K. were renting a furnished, one-bedroom house, right on the beach in Las Tablas, where the sand is literally their front lawn, for only $650. You can’t even rent a house in Panama City for that low amount. Not in a decent neighborhood. This is the kind of opportunity Panamanians are missing out on. Why rent a place in a congested area of the city for $800-$1,000 per month when you can retire on a beach for less than $700?
My goal is to help foreigners and Panamanians discover the best that Panama has to offer.
Do you want to live in a similar setting, on the beach, where you can watch the tide roll in while lying in your hammock, reading a book? Where the gentle lapping of waves helps you dream easy through the night?
Or is mountain living, where a brisk breeze touches down each evening and the sounds of cascading waterfalls echoes off the high hills, the dream you’ve always imagined?
Would you rather farm your own land, in a safe, friendly neighborhood, where town members grow everything on their own fincas? Tomatoes, cilantro, yuca, watermelon, mangoes, papaya, and sugarcane are just some of what can be raised on your soil.
Maybe you dream of moving to an untapped, young, growing town, where you can still bring something new to the community. Towns all over Panama are missing something. Something that you can create and maybe even use to help fund your new life. If you’re tired of wearing a suit and tie and wish you could bake fresh bread, ice cakes, and cut cookies before heading out to your front porch to drink sweet tea while watching the town settle down for the evening, this is entirely possible in Panama, and could cost much less than you expect.
All of that is available, but you already know that. You’ve already heard all of the marketing hype. For cryin’ out loud it’s in every search result. Yes, it’s a beautiful country, but what is it really like to live here?
Enough with the fancy words and the “Come here, buy this hubub.” Of course you want to come here and of course you’ll end up buying stuff, but again, I’ll let the sales experts handle all that. I’m no salesman. In fact, I probably couldn’t sell a tire iron to a millionaire stranded in the desert sun with a flat. I’m just an adventure-bound buddy, ready to see what this place has to offer.
For some people planning their scouting trip, and for many people already living in this country, traveling around aimlessly doesn’t seem cost efficient or productive. Let us do it for you and give you the info that’ll help you map out your next Panamanian adventure. Let us show you some of the coolest places to spend time in Panama.
Do you want to follow a guide through a tropical rain forrest? Pick your own fresh produce straight from the ground of someone’s farm? Zip line over waterfalls? Swim in some of the country’s most beautiful rivers? Or hike to the top of a volcano? I do.
Experience each province, town, and neighborhood in Panama as if you are actually there.
I can promise you that you’ve never seen Panama the way I’m going to show it to you. You’re going to see Panama through my eyes as I navigate and investigate each town. You’ll see the condition of the roads, the day-to-day life, the quality of the supermarkets, options for banking, what there is to do for fun, what the nightlife is like, and I’ll even go over the general cost of living (something so important but often hard to nail down because it is so subjective). I’ll go over every aspect of what living in or visiting these places will mean to you.
Best of all, I’ll be traveling around with my wife, Marlene, who is great at getting the information you need, from Spanish speaking local residents. We’re not wealthy immigrants asking questions from the window of our luxury car. We’re regular people, just like you, putting our feet on the ground, gathering research, and passing it along to you. You’ll see Panama like you’ve never experienced it before.
The only thing better would be being here yourself, and even then, without a guide you might feel lost. So let us do the walking, talking, digging up dirt, and gathering of intel. That way, you can make an informed decision about where to base your new life or where to visit to have a blast in Panama.
How will this work? It’s easy. If you look at the top of this site, you’ll see a tab that says PFR (Panama For Real) Location Reports. That’s where I’ll be putting all of the detailed written reports. Hang in there, and bear with me as the info will slowly be added to the site. My plan is to add a new report every month (maybe even more often). Along with these reports, we’ll be posting Youtube videos under our name, Panama For Real. So keep your eyes open for these “on the scene” video guides, which will also be available for viewing up top in the PFR Location Reports tab.
To stay in the loop and to receive a newsletter every time we upload a new PFR Location Report or PFR Video, subscribe to our newsletter at the top right of this screen, where you see the red suitcase logo. I promise we won’t bother you other than to give you a heads up whenever something new is posted.
So in the beginning you’ll only see our first few reports, which will cover some of our favorite places in Panama. Going forward, as I complete the reports, I’ll add them in their destination type. So if you’re looking for a beach, mountain, city, or other (small town) location, you’ll find those reports under the corresponding heading.
Every time we visit an area of Panama City or any town in the interior of the country, we’ll put together a written report that will break everything down for you on paper with tons of great, colorful photos. We’ll also add our raw, documentary style videos to the site to give you a feel of what it’s really like to be on the town streets.
The idea is that you will never waste a dime on a trip to Panama without first having read about the area and seen the video. We don’t want you to come here and leave with a bad taste in your mouth, just because some other website hyped up an area to sell real estate. We want you to get the REAL DEAL information about living in or visiting Panama prior to your trip.
Plus, this site is filled with other Panama-related info. Just check out the menu at the top of the page, where you’ll find info like…
We’ve even added a section to the menu up top called Kidpats. Marlene and I have 4 children. They know exactly what it’s like to be whisked away from their home country and plopped down on foreign soil. They didn’t even speak Spanish when we moved here. Other kids are going through the same thing. Corporate relocations are uprooting young families and placing them in Panama. It’s either that or young entrepreneurs, fully capable of working from their laptop and wanting a more chill lifestyle, are making a decision to give Panama a go.
These relocations are happening more and more, and most of the time, the children have no say in the matter. Whatever the reason for the move, these kids are surely a little bit frightened or concerned about this sudden change. So, through the Kidpats video series, my kids will show yours just how fun and interesting this country can be. They’ll show you and your kids what Panama is like through the eyes of expat-children, what we’ve coined Kidpats.
I’m thrilled. I wish I could throw all this info at you at once, but I need to hit the road first and bring them to you one at a time. I hope you feel my excitement coming through these words. This is going to be one hell of an adventure.
How much will all of this info cost?
By now you’re probably waiting to see the dreaded “$” dollar sign with my promise to attach free reports if you only spend a certain amount of money for this info right now. That’s perhaps the greatest thing about this. All of the information is free. And the plan is to keep it that way.
Are there other people and other companies out there giving out information about Panama? Absolutely, but most aren’t doing it for free. Why pay an arm and a leg just to be fed regular marketing material, when I’m going to compile all this data for free. The ads that will (hopefully) pop up on the right side of the page are the only sales pitches you’ll get from me. Check them out if you want more info on Panama or whatever is being offered in the ad. Or don’t. It’s entirely up to you.
I made the move to Panama, with no information to go on. I trusted in the fact that my wife’s family was here and that we’d somehow work it out. It’s been a great journey, but it would have been a heck of a lot easier with a little bit of guidance. Well, at the risk of sounding cliche, hindsight is 20/20, and knowing that, I want to share all I’ve learned and all I’ll continue to learn.
I’ve always said, the best way to discover the real Panama is through the local bloggers. I’ve made some incredible friends here in this country, and I’ve found tons of info from friendly expats already here in Panama. Most of them just want to share their stories. So, to make the most of this experience, don’t just take my word on all this retiring to Panama info, check out their sites too. Go to the tab at the top of this page that says “Other Panama Blogs” to find links to other sites talking about this retirement haven. Hang out here for a little while first though, wink wink.
Again, this is all 100% free. I only ask that you help spread the word. Tell people to check out our videos on Youtube. Like us on Facebook. Tweet about us on Twitter. Check out our website. The plan is to fund our trips and earn income off advertisements on this site, and those only come if we get enough readers and viewers. So help us keep this info free by spreading the word and helping us get popular.
With a little bit of team effort, meaning my Panama For Real team and you, the readers and viewers, this can be one of the coolest projects to ever take place in Panama.
Now, I’ve been told that sometimes I’m “too folksy” in my writing. I’m not even sure I know what that means, but if it means “too down to earth and too real” then consider me “too folksy.”
This is me for real and more importantly, this is Panama For Real…join me on the ride.
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