We sold everything and moved from Canada to a remote island in Panama


A adventure-thirsty couple from Canada have told of how they ditched their city life for a remote island in Panama and they have no regrets more than one year on.  

Mark and Bethany Sikora were living in Calgary, Alberta, but sick of the sub-zero weather and increased cost of living, the duo started looking for an alternative place to put down roots. 

In January 2022, the Sikoras came across a TikTok about life in Panama and within three weeks they had sold or given away almost everything they owned in a bid to relocate to Central America. 

To get residency in Panama, expats can invest $200,000 in local real estate and Bethany, 30, told DailyMail.com that ‘we essentially sold our 1,000sqft bungalow in Canada for two acres of land with 10 structures on it.’

Mark and Bethany Sikora ditched their city life in Canada for a remote island in Panama and they have no regrets more than one year on

Mark and Bethany Sikora ditched their city life in Canada for a remote island in Panama and they have no regrets more than one year on

In January 2022, the Sikoras came across a TikTok about life in Panama and within three weeks they had sold almost everything they owned in a bid to relocate to Central America

In January 2022, the Sikoras came across a TikTok about life in Panama and within three weeks they had sold almost everything they owned in a bid to relocate to Central America

The couple were sick of the sub-zero weather and increased cost of living back in Canada

The couple were sick of the sub-zero weather and increased cost of living back in Canada

To get residency in Panama, expats can invest $200,000 in real estate and Bethany said that 'we essentially sold our 1,000sq ft bungalow for two acres of land with 10 structures on it'

To get residency in Panama, expats can invest $200,000 in real estate and Bethany said that ‘we essentially sold our 1,000sq ft bungalow for two acres of land with 10 structures on it’

The Sikoras’ island plot – which they found within three months of moving – includes a house, two guest huts, an outdoor kitchen, a greenhouse, a chicken coop and a boat house with its own dock.

There is also a storehouse that contains a solar energy plant and rain water collection system, so they don’t have to be hooked up to main supplies. 

In terms of their location, the Sikoras live on a remote island called Isla Cristobal in the province of Bocas Del Toro in Western Panama.  

The lush outcrop has about 800 residents and it is only accessible by boat. 

The closest international airport is Bocas del Toro and it is about a 20- to 30-minute boat ride from there. 

In terms of making money, the Sikoras decided to market one of their guest houses on Airbnb and it is currently available to book for $94 per night.  

Bethany says the response to their island property has been ‘incredible’ and in the coming months they are 90 per cent booked. 

To generate extra income they offer a number of tours around the area, from dolphin-watching excursions to waterfall treks. 

While Mark focuses on the Airbnb and keeping that running, Bethany works remotely online as a recruiter in the U.S. and Canada.

The couple also generate a small amount from a relationship-focused podcast that they run called Pillowtalk With Mark And B.

Touching on the type of content they offer, Bethany said: ‘As most relationships these days are bringing trauma or baggage into relationships, our goal is to promote healthy conversation around that with solutions and examples for other couples.’

In terms of making money, the Sikoras decided to market one of their guest houses on Airbnb and it is currently available to book for $94 per night

In terms of making money, the Sikoras decided to market one of their guest houses on Airbnb and it is currently available to book for $94 per night

Bethany says the response to their island property has been 'incredible' and in the coming months they are 90 per cent booked

Bethany says the response to their island property has been ‘incredible’ and in the coming months they are 90 per cent booked

While Mark focuses on the Airbnb and keeping that running, Bethany works remotely online as a recruiter in the U.S. and Canada

While Mark focuses on the Airbnb and keeping that running, Bethany works remotely online as a recruiter in the U.S. and Canada

The couple also generate a small amount from a relationship-focused podcast that they run called Pillowtalk With Mark And B

The couple also generate a small amount from a relationship-focused podcast that they run called Pillowtalk With Mark And B 

Looking ahead, the Sikoras' aim is to be completely self sufficient and from their plot, they are able to fish for dinner and grow their own produce

Looking ahead, the Sikoras’ aim is to be completely self sufficient and from their plot, they are able to fish for dinner and grow their own produce

On their TikTok channel the Sikoras have made it clear they do not plan on having children. For now they have their hands full with an assortment of animals

On their TikTok channel the Sikoras have made it clear they do not plan on having children. For now they have their hands full with an assortment of animals

Looking ahead, the Sikoras’ aim is to be completely self sufficient and from their plot, they are able to fish for dinner and grow their own produce. 

Currently their only outgoings include $99 per month on internet, $35 per month for their cellphones and they get groceries every one to two weeks from the local town. 

The cost of food varies depending on how many guests they have staying. 

Asked what she misses most about life back in Calgary, Bethany mused: ‘Oh man, there is truly nothing like Alberta beef. Steak in Panama is just not the same. 

‘I also really miss driving. Cars were always my thing when I was in Canada and now we only have boats.’ 

When it comes to Mark, Bethany says he has ‘sunk in hard to island life and doesn’t seem to miss a lot.’

She continues: ‘We were intentional about this move because we wanted to get away from the media, politics, etc. 

‘He was a big podcaster before we left running a program called Lorehammer, which is focused on the game Warhammer. I think the break has been good for him. When he’s not working, he spends his time spearfishing or making new hiking trails around the island.’

On their TikTok channel the Sikoras have made it clear they do not plan on having children. 

For now they have their hands full with an assortment of animals which include two dogs, four cats, and a number of chickens.

While they say their off-grid lifestyle is ‘a lot of hard work,’ the Sikoras say they ‘still find time to play’ and they 100 per cent feel they made the right decision with leaving Canada. 

Asked to sum up Isla Cristobal in three words, Bethany concludes: ‘Paradise. Peaceful. Serene… You’ll just have to come see it for yourself!’



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