Panama Cohousing Village Announcemen
From: John Leet (
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2013 21:54:29 -0700 (PDT)
We dedicated this past year to developing a group to build a cohousing village 
in Panama. The experience convinced us that whatever the problem, community is 
the answer. We are currently seeking a community in which to spend the last 
active years of our lives.
This past Spring, when our group discussions began to focus on the economic 
realities, the group collapsed. We found that most were simply not ready or 
able to commit funds. We could not purchase the land we were considering or 
move forward on planning. Many co-housing communities have gone through these 
same blips in development. It has taken many 7 to 10 years or longer to 
develop. Completing such a project in a foreign country adds many other issues 
to the process. We have decided that we do not have 7 to 10 years to devote to 
planning and completion. We want to involved in community living now, not a 
long time in the future.
Jayne and I have, therefore, abandoned our efforts to create cohousing in 
Panama, and are searching for at least a partially established community, one 
with basic cohousing principals, that we can move into. For weather reasons, 
our search is focusing on the Southwestern part of the US. Within that region, 
we are focusing on Tucson and Austin. We have just returned from 10 days in 
Tucson, and found housing communities that meet our criteria.
Our first priority is to join a community in which we feel comfortable. After 
that is done, we may explore the possibility of creating a cohousing type group 
within an existing community.
Our discussions in the planning group related to the problems that will face 
all of us as we age: health care, mobility, sustainability, leaving a smaller 
ecological footprint, support in moments of need, finding others with whom to 
share our enthusiasm for the things we love, friendship, contribution to 
community, intergenerational participants, security, etc. We enjoyed the 
variety of people that participated in the group at any given time over this 
past year. The discussions always confronted the issues with energy
While Panama offers a wonderful climate during the winter months, and this was 
very appreciated by those of us from the US or Canada. Community, crime and 
security issues, and long term livability are more important than weather.
We wanted to build a community in the balmy breezes of Panama, but after a year 
of work, it is clear that there are questions for us as to whether Panama is 
the best place for this to happen. While we still love Panama, after 7 years we 
have become more concerned about safety.
One of the positive aspects that Panama offered, was an inexpensive community. 
Many of the cohousing villages in the US are expensive: normally $250,000 and 
on up. The cost is approximately the same as the cost of home in that location, 
plus a premium for the common area. Panama was also a location that did not 
require heat or much A/C cost. We are seeking a geographic location that will 
minimize utility costs, has warm temperatures, and low housing costs.
One type of housing that we are looking at, and that attracts many senior 
snowbirds is the Manufactured Home Park, mixed home park, or RV park. Many of 
these are quite reasonable. These communities have a cohousing feel to them. 
With some adjustments they could become cohousing that provides community where 
the residents age in community until end of life among their friends. These 
adjustments would include a few simple elements: Creating a complex with member 
ownership; Enhancing the community building to provide for regular meals and 
activities; Creating a self government to go with the self ownership.
To this end, we are now searching for other possible suitable locations. We are 
focusing on finding a suitable MHP/ RV park or potential complex/village in the 
areas I mentioned. Some residents may join in our future efforts. Some may want 
winters only initially, but in time, it will become necessary for all of us to 
remain in one location all year. We don't want anyone to be forced to relocate 
to their original homes, hoping they will find the support they need, but most 
likely will not find.
Here is a link to an insightful article I found in Utne reader, reprinted from 
Pacific Standard Magazine:
Besides weather, there are other factors in choosing a location, These include 
access to shopping, educational facilities that offer classes, cultural 
activities, crime prevention measures, and gatherings for the public. If you 
look at places to retire in one of the popular magazines, you will see the 
If you are looking for affordable cohousing, ready and willing to make a 
reasonable financial commitment in stages, and this make sense to you, let us 
know of your interest. You can send me a personal email at jwleet [at] 
I will respond to your personal questions about Panama or your interest in what 
we do next.
At this point, Jayne and I will remove ourselves from this website. We will see 
if anyone in the group or others wish to pursue a further collaboration on 
co-housing in Panama. If not we will close down the website.
This was a journey well spent for us.
To your active life and good health,

John and Jayne Leet
jwleet [at]

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