Welcome to Panama

So Why Panama?
Panama is such an amazing country and surprises everyone who visits. I joke with our friends that if they are planning on coming to Panama be prepared to be overwhelmed.

So Why Panama? Is there a reason - No, There are several reasons -- the opportunities are plentiful, albeit the prices are going up.

We have really taken to the Caribbean coast as it offers so much nicer water and beaches.

Costa del Este
Panama City, Panama
The 2012 Spay Panama calendar is now available and it's their best ever! Both Panamanian AND U.S. holidays are labeled. The pictures featured are all of formerly homeless dogs and cats that were neutered and lucky enough to have been adopted. All proceeds go to support the wonderful efforts of Spay Panama to control the overpopulation of unwanted pets. Since its inception in 2002, Spay Panama has sterilized over 24,000 animals! The yearly calendar is their main fundraising tool and they really need your support. Like most other non-profit organizations, Spay Panama has seen a severe drop in donations due to the economy.

Pat Chan


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Since we moved to Panama in 2006 every time we tell one of our friends that we moved to the Republic of Panama, the first question is always "Why Panama". So we decided to build a web site to help them understand how simple the decision to choose Panama really was to us. We have included some links to other sites and to articles we think might help understand Panama. This  is  by no means exhaustive, so be sure to move through the suggested sites and explore the links and resources they suggest to ensure  you get as much information as possible.

News and events


Making a foreign country your new home is interesting. Ten years ago Donna and I visited Panama for the first time and we spent four nights seeing the sights of the city and the canal. We were so impressed with the infrastructure and the size of the city compared to the places we had vacationed in Mexico we went home to Canada and made plans for our move to Panama. Within six months I had moved here and had found an apartment to purchase and an office for rent. Donna had sold off all of our "things" that we either didn't want or couldn't carry in our suitcases.

It was like starting over in our marriage. We had to buy everything. Furniture, cutlery, linen, pictures - the works. Thinking back we should have kept a few more things but we didn't know any better.

Vacationing in a place versus moving lock, stock and barrel is quite another. Even now 10 years later we are still running across things that just amaze you on how different the culture and lifestyle is of your new country. Some are great and you love - others, well they are a challenge. It is the reason why so many expats that move here (or anywhere new for that matter) don't survive beyond the first two years. They just can't adjust or find a way to deal with the differences. Some expats make it past the 2 years but become very cynical.

Most of the things we struggle the most with have to do with the laws or the standards. Just know anything you grew up with 'back home' is not going to be remotely similar here.

One for instance is back in Canada we all joke about lawyers, but for the most part we know that they are able to handle most things with a modicum of professionalism and knowledge. Here, the lawyers have gone to college for sure, and have passed an exam at the university that says they 'know the law' but that is it. No bar exam, no articling within a law firm - they can leave school and hang out their shingle. There is also nothing here that comes close to the understanding of "conflict of interest" lawyers and real estate people routinely work for both sides in a deal or argument.

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One of the hardest things to get over is the way the laws tend to get 'interpreted' - depending on who you ask and when you ask you may get several different answers and it is a crap shoot on who you should believe.

This isn't bad if all you do is move here to retire as it means you will likely only encounter this kind of issue when you go through the immigration department, when you buy or rent a home and when you choose a car.

In our case we chose to open an office to work for our Canadian firm. This means dealing with a government office I never, ever want to have any interaction with - the Ministry of Labor. Not only is the laws so one sided toward the employee but it is like trying to pick up quick silver. No matter who you ask the answer is slightly different each time. One misstep can mean thousands of dollars paid out.

We have gone through several "lawyers" and boy I use that term loosely. Each time I think I've learnt the 'rules' only to find their understanding is somewhat different. None of the lawyers we've dealt with are willing to "fight" for our rigthts or argue the case. Their answer is 'that is the way it is'. In some instances when we run across something really odd and we question the lawyers on why we did it "that way' the answer has always been " that is what you asked us - or told us, to do". When I ask why if they knew it might end up wrong they didn't tell us = the answer is like a shrug.

This doesn't mean you can't do business in Panama. Just walk into anything here with your eyes wide open and do not assume that anything you are used to is like what you are used to in Canada. We've had to learn the hard way.

Ask lots of questions - ask them often and ask them in as many ways as you can.

If you want, write us if you have questions - we love to help.

We add to the areas of the site like people, sites, and services as our experience with each of them change so you should feel comfortable dealing with any of them.

more news >>


Donna started iCanGarden.com and now almost 20 years later it has become Canada's largest Internet gardening resource site. Several thousand people visit her site every day. Spend some time looking over the thousands of pictures of gardens from all over the world.

We are so proud of the TV special just aired by Recreating Eden - entitled "the Gardening Tourist".

Donna recently changed the look of the site - - if you enjoy it - let her know - I am really proud of her.


In 2006 Donna started a site dedicated exclusively to her garden tours.

For more than 18 years she has been hosting groups of gardeners to gardens all over the world.

Donna has some incredible garden tours lined up for 2016 and 2017 - her 2015 tours were all either fully booked or over booked. 


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