Why I Never Want to Leave Panama…

As a native New Orleanian, Panama very much reminds me of the city I left behind. Friendly people, a laid-back lifestyle, fun culture, warm weather and outdoor recreation are all part of a full life here.

Panama has been my permanent home for almost 28 years now. In 1985 I was offered a teaching job with the U.S. Department of Defense Schools on the Atlantic side of Panama. It was love at first sight—I never left.

Panama City, where I live with my family during the week, is a thriving, bustling, commercial city with all of the cultural and social offerings of any great city in the world.

During the week, we take advantage of art exhibits, concerts, theater and great restaurants.

We live in an older and established Panama City neighborhood with a nearby park, local shops and restaurants and conveniences within walking distance, but there are plenty more options for choosing a place to live. Residences abound in historic areas, modern high rises, suburban homes, gated areas and more.

But on the weekends, we leave the city, to spend our time on the Atlantic coast which fronts the Caribbean. The drive takes us less than two hours from Panama City.

For those of us who work in the city during the week, getting away on the weekends allows us to “recharge the batteries” and connect with nature. (And for people who live outside of the city in a mountain, beach or lake area, the reverse is true, too; people come to visit the capital on the weekends for some nightlife, shopping, culture and city fun.)

Our family routine has been much the same for over 20 years now: work, school and city during the week, and beach on the weekends…

It started with some land that my husband had previously acquired on the coast. Being a biologist by background, my husband and I started a refuge for mistreated and abandoned animals back in the late 1980s.

From there we built a small beach home to stay on weekends and look after the animals and oversee the care of the center. The area has now become quite popular for boating, fishing, diving and tourism.

Our 15-year-old son is a certified scuba diver and enjoys regular diving, boating and fishing at the beach. Our daughter is away at university but wants to hit the beach the minute she visits. She also enjoys the city nightlife and reconnecting with her friends to check out the latest hip hotspots. We all enjoy local touring and visiting other places such as the mountains, river and lake areas and remote less-traveled hideaways.

Panama now offers many options to both locals and foreigners looking for recreational property. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are separated by just 50 miles of land at some points. There truly is something for everyone on the Isthmus of Panama. Within a reasonable driving distance from the capital you can enjoy oceans, mountains, lakes, islands, golf, boating, fishing, horse riding, hiking, birding and more…

Many keep a second home purely for recreation. Both beach communities and mountain communities have property management options where owners can rent their homes or apartments when they are not using them. And in these communities, there are great amenities such as hotels, spas, marinas, equestrian clubs, tennis, golf, water sports and more.

There are few other places on earth where you can work in a cosmopolitan city during the week…and have such a variety of getaways on the weekends.

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