I happened across this article on renting in Panama – Tips for Renting in Panama. I can’t seem to reblog or repost it here so you’ll have to click on the link.
I think the article is accurate and well written. He seems to be talking mostly about furnished rentals though. I live in David where unfurnished rentals are more common, and unfurnished means with nothing – no stove, no fridge, or washing machine.
I have met a lot of people lately who are considering moving here, or are in the process of making the move so I thought this article would be a good one to share. It is highly recommended that you rent for at least 6-12 months! Then you can try out the country, the area, and your new life here before you make a commitment that may not be so easy to undo.
Why rent first? A couple of years ago I was doing research for a possible book about expatriation and found that NEARLY HALF of all people who expatriate, for whatever reason work, retirement, etc., return to their home countries within the first year. Some people just can’t cut it for whatever reason.
Half?! I have heard similar numbers from others too. I can see if work brought you here and you don’t really like it, or you are pulled back by family, health, or other issues at home. But, this can’t be half the people. I wonder what they thought it was going to be, and how it wasn’t what they expected. I suppose there still are too many people who believe what those publications say, and then are surprised that it feels like a foreign country.
Good report Kris,
We have met many folks who have moved here sight unseen without coming for a visit or two.
Everyone wants to be in paradise but it is what you make of it.
I can’t imagine moving without visiting first to see if it feels comfortable. Otherwise it’s a very costly experiment!
The original article is here, the link was a reposting: http://panamarelocationtours.com/17-tips-for-renting-in-panama.
The article was written by a tour company so it is in THEIR best interest to recommend a tour and renting before making the move. For the money they charge, one could come to Panama, rent a month in several different regions, and truly experience all the variations of Panama. Even if folks are trying to research information, they are always going to encounter many more sites with an agenda than real sites like your blog, Kris. All of those other sites always have a motive for hosting a website.
Places like Boquete have been hyped for over a decade. Yes, Boquete IS the escape destination for everyone in Panama City but few live there full-time. Escaping for a week during Semana Santa is one thing, 24/7/365 up there is tedious for anyone used to Panama City conveniences. For those used to 24/7/365 conveniences, tedious eventually becomes untenable. For retired folks wanting to use their 3rd age to relax, the trials of daily living and health care can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, when they sold off their paid-for-home and spent the profit buying in Panama, they are stuck. Rather than post defeat, they post rosy reports in the hope that drawing more folks to the area will somehow improve the infrastructure.
I know all that sounds terribly gloomy but it is fact. The sad point from my view is that Panama is a wonderful country for month long visits, or even a winter escape. Just don’t turn your snowbird experience into something you can’t escape.
Ahh! I missed that little credit at the beginning of the article I referenced. I like the pictures that were included with the original article. It was written by a business but I think the information is still accurate and valuable.
I have heard that El Valle is an escape from Panama City since it’s closer. Boquete seems to be mostly expats, tourists, and the Panamanians who can still afford to live there.
As for relocation tours, I am not in favor. It seems to me if you need your hand held to visit here, maybe you’re not cut out to live here. Also, if you plan your own tour you can go directly to the places that interest you. But as far as I know if you want the relocation tour, they do give you what they promise.
You are so right though. Panama doesn’t work for everyone. I have recently heard from a couple sources that 50% of expats leave in the first year. That is sad when you think of the financial and emotional cost, not to mention the complications of leaving if they have to sell a property that they bought.
That’s one reason for my blog, to hopefully share good information so people can make better decisions.
You are right about Boquete. Panama City folks do come there. My husband plays in a band so he’s up there quite a bit, and has run into quite a few people from Panama City up there on holiday.
El Valle, San Carlos are popular spots for a weekend escape from Panama City. Boquete is popular during the feria. Rio Hato is midway to Boquete and the beaches are great, Noriega has a beach home there as well as up by El Banco above Potrerillos.
But, living any of those places full time isn’t easy and those folks are not on a retirement income. jim
That makes sense. I’ve also heard from some expats in these areas, lovely as they are, after a while they don’t offer enough to keep a person busy.
It is like a friend of mine told me when working a 2 year contract in Egypt, “how many times can you go see the pyramids”? Boquete et.al. is like Ottumwa, Iowa in an off election year. LOL
I think anyone, wherever they retire, needs things to keep them busy. Living here is not like being a tourist and like you said, the tourist attractions aren’t going to satisfy you long term. I had to look up Ottumwa. ha! I spent quite a while in Kansas, pretty much the same thing.
Thanks for the post link Kris. This will be our first time renting a furnished apartment so I hadn’t considered the list of their items, great idea. Mariah
glad you found it helpful 🙂
Hi Kris – Late to the fray again…I’d read that article on renting on the Panama Relocation Tours website earlier. I don’t believe they have a vested interest in promoting renting or buying property (they firmly state that is not their intent). However I’m still struggling with the cost of their tours – though they give a good long list of the benefits one would gain from going on one, from providing contacts to lawyers, to expat communities, to information on the various types of visas, to offshore banking, the opening of an offshore company – it’s a long list of benefits that continues way past the end of each tour. However, as I said, I’m still struggling with the cost. Conflicted, is what I am.
Still planning on visiting in December this year, one way or another. And having my daughter join me for a further bit of exploration.
As said somewhere else, I would love to meet up with you in David (told my daughter I’ve made a ‘virtual’ friend in David (you), and she was very tickled.
Yes, another of my readers pointed out the source of the article that I had missed. I think it was useful and factual.
The info they say you get from the tours can be found elsewhere. There is a Facebook group – Expats in Panama that is a wealth of information, just to name one source. I can connect you with an excellent lawyer if you need one, and I have a pretty good idea where to find the most expats, and visa info is also available on line or better, from your lawyer. You don’t need a bank account here, and it’s easier to get one after you have residency if you want one.
Not to discourage you, but if you are still that conflicted maybe it’s better if you don’t spend the extra money. I’d say pick maybe three places that interest you the most and plan to spend a few days in each. There is no point in going to the mountains if you are dreaming of life at the beach, or of going to a city when you want life in the country, for example.
I’d love to meet you when you are here. I’ll email you and maybe I can help you plan your tour, and if I have friends in your destinations maybe I can connect you with them too.
Thanks Kris, will gladly take you up on your offer of help – (yes I’d noticed the response on the renting piece from one of your other readers – I thought I’d add a little extra insight – my own).
I really would be most grateful for everything in the way of information and contacts you mention. Hard to describe how reassuring your offer to help is, really.
(I’ve looked at several sites relating to expats in Panama, but not sure if the Facebook page is one.)
I have the beginnings of a rather ambitious itinerary planned, mostly because it’s to include having my daughter join me on a bit of a spree – by bus (mostly). I’ll share that with you (it’ll probably be my next post on my own blog, but technical difficulties with Google maps on iPad are hampering my efforts (just started today though).
Will look forward to your emails. The very best, Wendy
There you’ll find the rationale for opening a bank account in Panama. See #5. (Had started to include mention of this in my initial response to your response but it crashed.)
This point, among others, is what the relocation tours offers assistance with, at, reportedly, a lesser cost).
Ahh ok. I heard somewhere that they discontinued the friendly nations visa, and I’ve also been hearing they are going to stop allowing the perpetual tourists who never get residency as well. But, if you want a bank account here, it doesn’t cost so I’m not sure what the relocation tours are offering.