I grew up in Eugene, Oregon—a fantastic place because of its cool, artsy people and green, lush landscapes. Later I lived in Richmond, Virginia—a city with an exciting restaurant scene. And for four years I worked for Carnival Cruise Lines, with Miami as my home base. I loved port days in the city—it was one big party, fun around every corner.
All of those were great places in which to live and work. But nowhere beats Panama City.
The shopping is fantastic. Clothing stores run the gamut, from bargain department stores where you can buy a shirt for $1.99 to familiar brands like Guess, Banana Republic, and Chanel.
It’s not just clothing. You can find anything you need.
I can get “exotic” fare like kale…chia seeds…Gardein brand vegetarian products…and old-fashioned malted milk easily in Panama.
Those Gardein products are a little expensive by local standards at $6 to $7 a package—but I’m happy I have the option.
I usually opt to spend less, though, and stick to local produce and goods, which are extremely inexpensive. A pound of bananas is 40 cents or less. A tub of chopped pineapple (often my breakfast) is $1.60, a loaf of sliced wheat bread $1.27, a pound of lentils 65 cents, a yogurt cup 78 cents.
And the amenities in the entire country rival those back home. Panama provides me with high-speed Internet, reliable power, and drinkable water.
There are Mac stores to supply my computer needs…specialized sporting goods stores for the athletic…and car dealerships and repair shops that cater to every make and model.
Beautiful Getaways…On Your Doorstep
Another big reason I love Panama is because of its diverse scenery. As the country’s so small and easy to travel, I visit its Caribbean islands at least once a year. Bocas Town on Isla Colon is my favorite.
Culturally, it’s the polar opposite of Panama City—think Rastafarians and surfers.
No businessmen in suits here. Nights are for $1 beers in little bar shacks. Days are for lolling on outlying islets—little more than white sand ringed with clear, endlessly blue waters.
Some of my favorite mountain destinations include Sora and Santa Fe. Sora is a tiny settlement just an hour and a half from Panama City. There are only a few small cabins available for rent near the little park. It’s quiet and peaceful—I go there when I need to contemplate a big decision or just to get away. Somehow sipping Panamanian coffee and taking in the views makes me feel renewed.
I also take frequent weekend trips to Coronado beach.
It’s so close, it’s practically a suburb. I can be there in an hour, so I go a lot.
See Jessica’s video below and find out why she loves living in Panama so much.
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