We arrived in Panama on July 4, 2023 and began looking at land and properties on July 7. We wanted to get started as soon as possible. Along with just wanting to get started on a new home and farm, we also have a deadline for our residency application, and owning land is a pre-requisite for that.
For the last three weeks we have been traveling around the country to check out farms, land, houses, and the corresponding areas. I wanted to share our favorites here with you, so you can get an idea of what we’ve looked at and you can enjoy the gorgeous places along with us. This will be a fun round-up for us to look back on one day, when we potentially forget about all the places we checked out during this short time frame right after we arrived. We looked at many more properties than the ones I’ll list below, (I feel so grateful to have been able to see so many glorious pieces of God’s creation), but these are the properties we loved the most.
First up is the Lajas de Tole mountaintop farm. This land is the main reason we even know about this area of Panama. I found this listing online about 1 1/2 years ago and we fell in love with it. This area is about 35 minutes from the beach we’re living by now. The farm has no infrastructure other than a carved out, over grown road leading up to the main building site, but it is a stunning piece of property. The higher spots and main building site are on a ridge over looking the Pacific Ocean as well the mountains behind. So up here you would have amazing sunrise and sunset views, and just all day long views as far as the eye can see. As you descend lower down the land, there is a 30 foot waterfall, a stream, a river, a flatter area for a large fruit tree orchard and gardens, as well as other building sites. This spot was our favorite for sure. It is right off a main road, so it is very accessible and would have easy electric hookup.
A bit about the location: it is a 15-20 minute drive from the bottom of the mountain. It’s about 25 minutes from a small marina, which you can use to take a boat to gorgeous, quiet beaches only 20 minutes out on the water. There’s a few small pueblos and some neighborhoods up the mountain but no convenient grocery stores.
We looked at a few other pieces of land on this same mountain, but none were quite as amazing as the one I described above.
Another piece of land that we loved and was really perfect for us, was in the Mariato District, near Torio, in Veraguas province. This land had beautiful rolling hills and was a little under 30 acres. It had a small river running through it (that’s where we saw a huge black snake and Eddie freaked out). It had beautiful green grass and some bull calves running around eating. It already had a great road carved out throughout the whole property and had a nice gate built. The views were outstanding and you could see 360’ from ocean all around to mountains, just unbelievably beautiful.
The location: near a cool, little developing town called Torio with a good amount of younger families (so I’ve heard), sustainable projects, and only about 15 minutes to beautiful beaches. One hour to a large town called Santiago where you can find pretty much everything you need.
Next up on our favorites list is a small casita with a bit of land and a gorgeous view, near Torio, but in a place called Limones. This place caught our eye because it already had a small house on it that would have been an easy little spot to live while we built a larger residence. The land wasn’t as big as we wanted but was on top of a beautiful hill with views to the ocean and mountains. There was steep terrain down to the river and water was actually pumped from the river to the house as their main water source. The rocky, dirt road leading to it was full of beautiful cattle pasture, local houses, and friendly faces walking and riding bikes.
This location was a bit farther off the beaten path and would have been a bumpy ride every time we wanted to go “home”. Not too far from stores or amenities though; very quiet and peaceful.
We are currently renting a house in a small beach town called Las Lajas. We visited here in February 2023 when we first came to Panama, because we were looking for the closest beach to Lajas de Tole, which was where we stayed when we visited. So, us finding this beach was kind of an accident and then we fell in love with it! It is “muy tranquilo,” as everyone says. Quiet, peaceful, gorgeous, great surf, but with some great restaurants, a few small grocery stores, lots of friendly locals, lots of small farms, and a small community of foreigners that have made this place their home.
We really wanted to find a farm close to this town, because we like the idea of this being our home base. We weren’t coming up with anything very close…until we found Lori’s place. Lori is a friend we made (after looking at her property) who has lived here for 15 years, she’s from the U.S. originally. I found her land online through a Panama Facebook group and then did some research. We showed up at the listing location with our realtors and were just standing by the fence. Then a woman comes out of the house next door and asks if she can help us. Eddie starts talking to her in Spanish, but then they both realize they can speak English to each other. We find out that the piece of land we’re wanting to look at is her’s. She lives next door and is wanting to downsize the larger piece of land she originally had as one big piece. The piece that is for sale is about 7 acres, full of gorgeous, well-kept old native trees; “pasto mejorado,” which is super lush pasture grass for grazing, a large creek along the back, and it’s only maybe 2 minutes from the town center. Lori told us all about her land, how she used to ride around on horseback before she sold her horses, told us about her lovely neighbors, and how much she loves living in this place. We got caught in a big rainstorm while viewing the property and got soaked! It was so fun and refreshing though. We really loved Lori’s farm and love that we have a friend in her now! She has become a great resource for us in the area, helped us with some advice on finding local food and milk, and is just really fun to be around.
One of the last farms we visited in Las Lajas was just down the street from Lori’s place, but “out in the country.” Once you get passed the more tightly knit neighborhood and the paved road ends, there are larger parcels of land with cattle and horses grazing and we were presented with this 17 acre piece of land right off the same road. It is mostly flat with some gentle hills farther towards the back of the property. There is a beautiful creek running through the middle that may or may not be year round (Panama has a 3-4 month dry season where it hardly rains). There are a small number of beautiful old trees, some good fencing around the borders, another fenced off pasture towards the back, and a nicely built corral. We have looked at the lot three times already because it checked so many of our boxes. We also asked another new local friend (the dairyman who we get our fresh milk from) to look at it with us and he said it’s a great piece of land. Because of the large open space of it, there are some beautiful big sky views, and you can get glimpses of the mountain tops to the east.
The location: 20 minute drive to Playa Las Lajas, which is the beach we regularly go to and live next to right now; 5 minutes from town center, stores, school, restaurant, neighbors dotted along the road, electrical access at the street, and only about one hour from the large town of David where we go once a week to get some groceries, supplies, and pick up packages.
The last property I’ll mention is a really amazing goat dairy up by Panama’s volcano near an area called Volcan. This area is much higher altitude which is why it stays cooler. We visited there last week and loved the climate, so fresh! It reminded us of the coast back in California. One of the farms we looked at on our trip there was a goat dairy, not in operation now, but such a great set up. The property came with a really cool house also, which most of the properties we looked at did not. The back porch overlooked the mountain ranges all the way to Costa Rica, Volcan is pretty close to the border.
We took a bumpy, windy jeep ride down to the bottom of the land, where there was a small river, swimming hole, and waterfall. The land was 30-40 acres I believe, but the terrain was pretty steep and mostly mountain sides, other than the top where the dairy was, and the road carved through the whole piece of property. There was some flatter areas at the bottom that would be good for vegetable and fruit production, but a long drive down there.
The location was green and lush, as usual, but apparently it does not get as dry there during the dry season. It wasn’t as hot as here, which was a refreshing change. It was near some small towns with amenities and only maybe an hour from the larger city of David.
I want to mention here, because I don’t want to forget, a few other interesting properties we looked at, but weren’t seriously considering:
100 acre piece of very raw, jungly land (for a very low price), near an estuary and FULL of mosquitoes. We drove through it and the boys and I didn’t even get out because the mosquitoes were so bad.
A semi-luxurious huge house, completely empty, with some beautiful views. The ceilings on this house were probably 40 feet and the house was so obnoxiously echo-y. The boys kept yelling and making echoes and we could barely have a conversation.
Lastly, a run-down but very cool looking hotel right on the beach here in Las Lajas. It was a brick oven pizza restaurant with little casitas in the back, that was probably a really fun place when it was up and running. It was also overrun with mosquitoes, so we named it “Mosquito Hotel”.
It has been quite an adventure looking at so many different properties, farms, and pieces of land. We heard a lot of interesting stories about the owners and why they’re selling. We met a lot of great and interesting people along the way. And it has been a test of parenting, taking the kids along with us to all these different places. They have been wonderfully patient and good-sports and had a lot of fun along the way as well. But they still got grouchy and tired and said lots of “are we done yets” along the way, which was totally understandable.
We have actually, just recently, decided on one piece of land and will be moving forward on it, but I won’t share which one until things are more set in stone. We’re very, very excited to have found a place we hope to call home soon and can start planning and creating and building our new home and farm! We feel the Lord’s hand over this process and I cannot wait to see the work and beauty He has in store for us.
If you have any questions about any of these places, or are interested in learning more about the listings, feel free to reach out and I’d be happy to share more, send links or contact info for you.
Until next time.