Starting Over in a Panamanian Paradise

“My typical day starts with a steaming cup of excellent Panamanian coffee,” says Jade Wills. “I settle down at my desk and work for a few hours then I take a smoothie break using fresh papayas from our yard.

“Later, I’ll ride my bike to the vegetable truck or maybe spend some time gardening. I’ve plenty of time for things like yoga and pilates, and some days I’ll pack up my laptop and work from right on the beach. Life is good.”

It’s a long way from Jade’s old life in Charleston, South Carolina. Jade and her husband found it congested and expensive. “We were just working too much there. Our quality of life was not where we wanted it to be.”

The couple’s waking hours were dominated by work. It was no way to live. So last year, the pair took a deep breath and stepped into the unknown…

Today, 42-year-old Jade is living with her family in idyllic Pedasi on Panama’s Azuero Peninsula.

“My work is portable because I have an Internet-based job,” says Jade. “Everything is done on the computer.”

So why Panama? It was her mother who first put it on the family radar.

“My mother was researching destinations and she read about Panama being one of the top places in the world to retire. My husband Derek and I had already discussed moving out of the U.S. someday, because we longed for a slower-paced, higher-quality lifestyle. When my mother mentioned Panama a little light went off. This was our destination.”

Jade and family fell for the small fishing village of Pedasi, close to some of Panama’s best surfing beaches. “We took a trip down to Panama to check it out for a few months before actually moving. My husband wanted to check out the surfing areas, so we stopped in Pedasi to take a look. We pulled into town and knew it was where we wanted to be.”

Because Jade had a portable job, she and hubbie were able to pack up—with two-year-old daughter Maya Moon—and make the move.

Jade says there are challenges to working in Pedasi: “I get tempted to go to the beach if it’s a beautiful sunny day,” she says. It’s a hard life.

On days she does manage to stay in and work, she allows herself plenty of breaks. “If I’ve been inside all day, my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) kicks in. Did I miss a great surf day or party on the beach? I guess when you live in paradise these are the things you worry about.”

“In all seriousness,” she says, “there are challenges…but the Internet is great for communicating with clients back in the States. And life is less expensive here than it was back home. I experience less stress than before.”

For Jade the good far outweighs the bad. “Being able to work anywhere—especially here in Panama—has changed my life in so many ways. It’s a better quality of life in general. Every day when I see and hear the tropical birds outside…or look at the beautiful sunny sky…or play with my beautiful daughter on the beach, I realize how lucky I am.”

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