Living in PanamaIyna Bort Caruso
With its ubiquitous sunshine and double-ocean coastlines, Panama is a country that feels like an island.
Quiet, white sand beaches are far from its only lure. The country has received high profile praise in recent years for its fast-growing economy, modern infrastructure and low cost of living. In its 2014 survey of least expensive global cities, The Intelligence Unit of The Economist Magazine ranked Panama City #124 out of 131.
That low cost of living has made it haven for North American retirees looking for Panama Real Estate. The government sweetens the pot with a program of perks for those with a lifetime pension of more than $1,000 per month. The incentives include discounts on medical services, utilities, entertainment and airfare. That Panama’s currency is the U.S. dollar and the country is served by direct flights to many American cities makes for a relatively smooth transition.
Panama connects North and South America and the Caribbean and the Atlantic (via the Caribbean) through the century-old canal that is both a maritime marvel and the country’s biggest tourist attraction.
The capital, Panama City, is a metropolis of modern skyscrapers, the most desirable of which are oriented to take advantage of water views of yachts and cruise ships. The other face of the city is the one of historic colonial, Art Nouveau and Caribbean-style residences in the cobblestone-lined streets of Casco Viejo, the old town. The area offers a rare opportunity to live in an UNESCO World Heritage site. Grand old mansions mix with new towers in the low-key yet luxurious San Francisco neighborhood. Prestigious addresses also include waterfront properties on Avenida Balboa and Punta Pacifica, a wealthy new high-rise condominium neighborhood.
International buyers enjoy the same property rights as Panamanians with one exception. They are not permitted to own land within 10 kilometers of the border with Costa Rica or Colombia.
Panama’s Pacific or southern coast beaches begin just a couple of hours’ drive from the capital. Coronado is a multi-national beach community of affluent weekend homeowners. Off the coast in the Gulf of Panama, the Pearl Islands--and especially the resort island of Contadora--are tropically elegant and a favorite vacation home destination for wealthy Panamanians.
With a few exceptions such as the Bocas Del Toro archipelago, the Caribbean or northern coast beaches are somewhat less accessible, less developed and undiscovered. Which is just how many homeowners here like it.