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Home Panama First Impressions The real costs in Panama

The real costs in Panama

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Panama may not be a "bargain basement" country - but the Business Week article suggests you need to be wealthy to live here. That is not true.

My brother just moved here this week. He is a retired high-school teacher. He does not have a lot of money and even less savings. I am helping him find a house under $40,000 or under $500 a month rent. There are some to look at. We have looked at five places so far and have many more to look at.  

Here is what we found:



Here a photo of one asking $45,000 with 970 square meters of land (no pool). There are 4,000 square meters in an acre, so this is just under a quarter acre.

Real estate agents are of little use for these types of deals as there is not enough commission to make it worth their time, so he is on his own to a degree.

These houses are often not listed. There may or may not have a hand-written sign (in Spanish) and if you show up with white hair and blue eyes your price will be higher than for a local - so hire a local to help you.

One option is to buy land and build - I have found an excellent former American contractor (after a few very expensive and frustrating experiences) and my brother is considering this option.

Construction costs around $45 - $55 a square foot here - a third of what it costs in Canada. It is possible to build a new, 1,000 square foot house for $45,000.

Land prices vary of course - oceanfront is $600 a square meter and up. Desirable areas near the beach is $60 to $100 a square meter. You can however buy

land on the north side of the Interamericanna highway (in the beaches area) for $3 - 15 a square meter. A half acre lot will cost you $6,000 - $30,000 if you can

find one that small - often you need to buy bigger properties to get the $3 price. In Santa Clara a 1,000 square meter lot on the north side of the highway is

$50,000 or $50 a square meter.

I just tried out a Chinese restaurant in Gorgona called Las Palmas. It is located on the right just as you turn off the highway towards Gorgona, beside the police


What it lacks in atmosphere it more than makes up for in taste and value - fifty -five cents for a beer in a restaurant!!!! That alone should start a stampede from

the Canucks.


Three of us had a total of five beer, one soft drink, one fruit juice, two half-chicken dinners and a Chow Mien dinner - the bill was $13.00.

Here is their menu:

(Arroz is rice. Pollo is chicken. Pargo is a whole red snapper. Corvina is a whole sea bass. Papas are potatoes).

The food was delicious and hot. The beer was cold and inexpensive - what more could you ask for?

     I just had the diesel engine in my 2004 Hyundai Galloper rebuilt - head gasket to new cylinders, rings, the works. The cost was $450. That included

changing the oil and anew headlight.

     The city of Penonomé (capital of the Province of Coclé) has an entire main street filled with bargain shoes, jeans for $3.99, clothes, jewelry, and so on.

These are not designer labels.  So really it is a matter of what you want - you can get anything in Panama, because of the Free Trade Zone - everything goes

through here because of the canal as well - but if you want designer goods at bargain prices go to China - they promise they are real Rolex's!


PS: To get a Pensionado Visa you need to prove $1,000 per month in pension income plus $200 per spouse, so $1,200 is the minimum you will need, and

while living on that amount is possible, you won't be living large by any stretch of the imagination. An income of $1,800 a month or more is preferable to be

moderately comfortable. RC

This question came in right after this was posted.


Chocolate ,
Without giving specifics , what town(s)/provinces are those houses in the last email located in ?
Bobby P.
Dear Bobby,
Sorry for the omission. The $45,000 house in the photo was in the town of Chamé (not Punta Chamé). We found a second home in Chamé for $36,000 with quite a bit of land around it.
There were three houses in Gorgona under $50,000 - one was a dump, but the other two were quite nice - small, basic homes with 400 square meter or more of land.
Another great area to look is the town of Anton towards Penonomé, the capital of Coclé Province. There is a gated development just outside of town with houses around $50,000 (not much land however) and there are a number of single family houses in town in the $30,000 - $60,000 range with some land. 
If you are looking for land to build, look north of the highway from Chamé to Farallon, and especially north of Penonomé in an area called La Pintada - gorgeous mountain and sometime even with ocean and mountain views, $3 - $15 a square meter.
In all cases you will need to speak Spanish, so if you don't speak it, bring someone with you.
For those with a little more to spend I found an amazing small development for my friends - it is 18 units with a gorgeous shared infinity pool overlooking the ocean in Gorgona for $114,000. Here are a couple photos of the development. I know there are two units left. One is $109,000 the other is $114,000.
Here's a photo of the infinity pool overlooking the ocean.
Here is a shot of the units for sale at $114,000.
Here is the beach in Gorgona - the calm middle versus the surfer waves on the ends of the horseshoe shaped bay.
Hope this helps. Roberto


Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 July 2010 13:30  

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