Best-Value Places to Live in Highland Panama

Volcan is one of my favourite towns in Panama, located on the western slope of Baru Volcano, in the cool highlands north of the Pan-American Highway. This agricultural town is pretty, friendly…and extremely affordable.

Located 45 minutes from the provincial capital of David, it boasts beautiful mountain scenery and a year-round cool climate. Recently, I found a lovely garden home there, in town, and convenient to stores and businesses. It’s on a large lot, almost half an acre, with trees, shrubs and flowers landscaped. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a loft for storage, pretty wood cabinetry and a covered patio. Cost: $140,170. You even get an awesome view of the volcano for that price.

The lower cost of living in Volcan means you can find rentals here for less as well. I recently saw a cottage, with a covered parking space, a porch and a loft, listed for $500 a month. It’s small but very nicely turned out. For a single person or couple looking for a home base to explore the region, it’s perfect.

Volcan’s not the only affordable option in this part of Panama. Just to the northwest of David, not far from where I live, several new developments have cropped up and offer solid value for basic homes. Expats and retirees looking for a starter residence here, or those with funds to invest in rental property, may want to check these out.

I have a friend who lives in one of these neighbourhoods, in a rural area just 10 minutes from David and 30 minutes from Panama’s most popular expat haven of Boquete (you’ll find thousands of foreign residents in this mountain town). She bought a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home, on a tree-shaded lot with a covered parking space, for $128,000. Rentals are also on offer in this development, starting at $570 a month for an unfurnished two-bedroom, one-bathroom home.

A larger home in a gated community is on the market right now for $234,725. This brand-new home has three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, nice big windows, and sits on a corner lot of 167 square metres.

If you have a more generous budget, I recently saw a listing for an existing home (that I would personally love to live in) in one of David’s best, older neighbourhoods, with grand towering trees. It’s just north of the highway and close to the primary shopping centre. The home has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, quality finishes and a gorgeous swimming pool in the shaded backyard, all for the bargain price of $447,960.

Could Volcan become your favourite Panamanian town, too?

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