Paradise in Panama: A Rain Forest Mountain Home

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Altos del Maria
Photos Courtesy of Lil Miller

Panama: it’s routinely touted as one of the best places on earth for American retirement, with its stable government, spectacular climate, welcoming attitude, and low cost of living. Lil and Robert Miller moved to Panama from New Jersey eight years ago when they took early retirement. They’ve loved every minute of their adventure in a luxurious, gated community of mainly American, Canadian, and European expats in a rain forest mountain setting. Family matters now call them back to the States, and having met many Texas expats in Panama, the Millers contacted to spread the word they’re selling their home by owner.

Make the jump to learn more about the appeal of Panama and get a look at their Panamanian paradise:

First, a little more detail about why folks are flocking to this country on a narrow isthmus where North and South America meet, bounded by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south.  About 4 million people live in Panama, including a good percentage of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans. Specific numbers are not available, but by one estimate, about 30,000 are from the U.S.

International Living’s Annual Retirement Index published in January 2017 ranked the Republic of Panama at the top of the list of countries to retire to, based on cost of living, retiree benefits, climate, crime, and health care.

Factors cited that make Panama a draw? Along with a spectacular climate and scenic beauty, Panama has that all-important canal that makes it a center for international trade and migration and promotes a culture that’s friendly to foreigners. The health care system is well-regarded and includes a Johns Hopkins-affiliated hospital in Panama City. Important in this digital age, Panama has a modern infrastructure with up-to-date cellular and internet service. Regulations make it easy for new residents to buy a home here and financial policies cater to foreign retirees.

“At the time we built our home, we received a 20-year property tax exemption,” said Lil. “This transfers with the sale of the house. Panama has a pensionado descuenta law which entitles seniors (women 55 and men 60) to many discounts, such as 20 percent off meals at all restaurants, doctor bills, prescriptions, professional services, airline tickets, hotels, movies, etc.”

The home is in Altos del Maria, a gated community set on 8,000 acres of mountains and valley property near the city of Sora. Amenities in Altos del Maria include a heliport, a natural swimming pool at a waterfall,  11 miles of nature trails with suspension bridges, walkways, and viewing station, and a community center with a fitness center, conference room, library, games, and billiards. Unlike the beach area,  there’s little need for air-conditioning, or heat, either. The temperature is 78-82 degrees with a breeze year round, which lends itself nicely to golfing, playing tennis, and taking nature walks.

“Throughout the community, there are many mountain hiking trails complete with waterfalls and rope bridges. They could film Indian Jones here. And the wildlife! We have toucans, monkeys, sloths, anteaters, and seven species of wild cats. Breathtaking views are everywhere. The Gold Coast beaches are only a 25-minute drive.” said Lil.

It’s customary in Panama to name your house. Robert and Lil call their Spanish-style villa, “Shiloh.” Shiloh sits on a lot a 3,200-square meter (about 0.79 acres) five minutes from the entrance gate in the Toscana II valley area of Altos del Maria. The landscaping here is breathtaking:

Altos del Maria


Banana, papaya, mango, pineapple, blackberry, star fruit, avocado, cacao, tangerine, and lime all grow on site, and there’s an herb garden, too, all watered by a sprinkler system.



This plant bears the romantic name, “Lady Slipper Vine”:

Altos del Maria

The 4,000-square-foot house has three bedrooms, two and-a-half baths, and an open floor plan with Spanish tile throughout. Here’s the great room with its stone wall and 14-foot tall cathedral ceiling:


PanamaGreatRoom 2

Altos del Maria

The kitchen has granite countertops, custom cabinetry, and an oversized refrigerator and freezer:

Altos del Maria

The breakfast nook looks out over Picacho Mountain:

Panama kitchen nook

The master suite’s bath features travertine marble, slate, and onyx finishes and a two-person jetted tub and stone shower:

Altos del Maria

But this is a place for outdoor living. Look at the view from the patio:

Altos del Maria

A 15 x 30-foot lanai area includes a grill, refrigerator, sink with space for dining and lounging …

Altos del Maria

Altos del Maria

… and it overlooks a 1,650-square-foot terrace and a beautiful pool lined with natural blue stone, imported from Brazil. There’s a poolside bathroom, and a detached 10 x 20-foot building suited to be an art studio, workshop, office, or a fourth bedroom. An additional structure shelters a whole house generator and garden equipment.

Panama Pool


Here’s the drive, with palm trees lit at night:


Altos del Maria

A drone video provides a more in-depth look. Fair warning: it will make you want to book a trip to Panama, pronto:

Altos del Maria’s  monthly association fee is $53.  The asking price for this lovely property is $795,000. You can reach the Millers directly via email at

Panama sunset