A Cool Retirement and Mountain Tranquility in Panama’s Highlands

“It’s important to feel good in your house…to have the feel of sanctuary,” say Mike Devries and his wife Bernie Verhoeven. Four years ago, the couple moved to a gated community in Boquete, Panama from St. Maarten…and have found many reasons to love their new home.

For one thing, the mountain location is much cooler and has more precipitation than their Caribbean island—this is a plus.

Having decided to relocate the couple looked at Belize for a year, but didn’t find a place they wanted to live. They then shifted focus to Panama—and explored several locations before checking out the highlands of Chiriqui Province. “Once we saw Boquete, that was it,” says Mike. Besides the pleasant cool temperatures…he also loves the town, with its supermarkets…restaurants…central park plaza, and the fire and police departments.


The development Bernie and Mike moved into offers exactly what they were looking for. The infrastructure is good—utilities, roads, and clear property boundaries—and there is a lot of space between the large lots—all with mountain views.

The ultra-modern, European-style home and its bright colors had tremendous appeal for the couple. Mike asked for the building plans before buying…and after review, he felt confident in the construction. The floor to ceiling windows as well as extensive balconies provide spectacular panoramas of Volcan Baru, and the town of Boquete in the valley far below.

Behind the house, a steep hill dotted with mature coffee trees, rises toward the mountains beyond. At first, only a narrow patch of grass was accessible from the back door. After extensive excavation, their back-yard design took shape by digging out the hillside. The volcanic rocks that were unearthed formed the tall terraced wall that holds back the coffee plantation above. In the center of the large landscaped patio, an inviting pool sparkles in the sunshine. Hummingbirds—over 15 varieties, some unique to this exact microclimate—began to visit frequently, after they put in flowering plants and bird feeders.

Now that outdoor construction is complete, Mike and Bernie have more time for leisure pursuits, such as spending time with their animals…painting…gardening…and motorcycle riding. Bernie is an avid birder and photographer. They suggest that relocating expats should bring all the stuff you need for your hobbies with you, as it can be difficult to find more specialized supplies in Panama.

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