Panama offers more than just that renowned Panama Canal. Panama is the bridge that connects North America with South America. It is safe to say that Panama is a melting pot of everything Latin. With the Caribbean Sea to the North and the Pacific Ocean to the South, its economic significance is indomitable.
A little gem called Coronado, about 2 hours west of Panama City has been growing exponentially over the last couple of years. Part of what used to be known as “Finca la Yeguala”, Coronado was officially founded by Robert Eisenman. Formerly a small fishing village that turned into the summer getaway of the well-heeled Panamanian society, it is now a haven for expats and retirees.
Tucked between Penonome and Chorrera, it has exhibited economic importance. One evidence is the construction of an international airport. Malls and other first world amenities can be found conveniently in the Coronado area yet this is still the gateway to more culturally-focused cities and towns in Panama. Just an hour away from the hustle and bustle of Panama City, this is one beach where you can enjoy basking in the sun without really traveling far from Panama City.
The appeal of Coronado is for the retirees who prefer to live an active lifestyle but wants to enjoy what Nature has to offer at the same time. With the new airport already operating and the Pan American Highway already in place, Coronado is ideal.
The Pensionado Program
Retirees flock to Panama because of the world famous Pensionado Visa. This residency Visa offers discounts of 25% off all airfares, 25% off utility bills, 50% off entertainment like movie theaters, 20% discount at restaurants, plus other savings. With a Pensionado Visa, you also pay no custom taxes if you decide to ship your household goods to Panama.
It was all because of Robert Eisenman who bought 1,500 acres of land in this area that would be Coronado today. Though he was not able to see his vision come to life in this area 51 miles from Panama City, it was his son Bobby who began subdividing the whole lot to accommodate the construction of the first of the many condos, golf courses and the likes in this part of Panama.
Initially developed for the affluent Panamanians who would like to have beach houses, it has become one of the sought-after relocation sites for retirees. With its grated privacy, you know you are in good hands.
Located in what is collectively known as the Arco Seco, Coronado enjoys a unique weather, that is, it rarely downpours hard. Sunny would be an understatement, considering that Coronado is still in Panama, a tropical country.
About 10 minutes from Coronado is a respite from the heat, a waterfall in Las Lajas. With the mountains close to the coastline, it is not just the beach you can explore in. You hike up the mountain, for example, just 20 minutes away from Coronado is the Picacho Mountain where there is a lake cool enough to soak your weary body.
Around 1 hour and 30 minutes drive is El Valle de Anton where you can enjoy the mild weather and you can also enjoy the mild splashes of waters of Cerro de Macho waterfall in that area.
Coronado enjoys warm weather, but it does not feel so hot with the ocean breezes. Depending on the altitude, you can experience 75F- 85F at night and 82F-88F during the daytime, with its dry season from December to April and its wet season, from April to December. April is the hottest month, March, is the driest, and November is the month where there rain is most frequent. Compared to the Caribbean side of Panama, Coronado only receives half the total volume of rainfall, that is, only about 69 inches of rain per year.
Most people speak some English, though some do not speak fluently. Because Coronado is known among the expat community, many locals adapt to this language. However, the official language of Panama is Spanish. It is recommended that you learn basic Spanish to communicate with the locals who can help you in your day-to-day activities.
A number of expats who decided to make this their new homes come from the US or Canada. Many of these retirees are in their golden years, but their age does not hinder them from interacting with young Panamanians who also have homes here.
Coronado, after all, is a beach community. Expect casual shirts and dresses here, nothing fancy. Since there is a hodgepodge of different people living in a single area, culture in Coronado reflects this. For the most part, Panamanians love wearing their jeans. What separates the locals from foreigners is that the latter loves wearing Bermuda shorts to practically everywhere, unless a fancier dress code is called for.
This place does not entirely have the beach culture. You can still enjoy live entertainment, music lessons and the likes. More and more establishments are offering live shows in Coronado If there are opera productions in Teatro Nacional in Panama City, you can still watch them because there are tickets and transportation available in Coronado.
There are plenty of buses to go around with but these are not the only modes of transportation in this part of Panama. True that everything becomes convenient when you have a car, but owning one is not necessary. Although, in some areas, the roads should have been maintained regularly, this place has easy to understand road signs, you would not have difficulty driving your own car in Coronado. Except for weekends and holidays, driving around Coronado is with ease. There is little traffic in this area.
Buses are everywhere- and cheap for that matter. You only need 25 cents one way. If you want to go to Panama City, there is a bus coming in every 10 minutes. From Albroook, Panama City to Coronado would cost you around $4.65.
Next to having your own car, a taxi is also expedient. While these are available in many areas like the markets and malls, you need to call them if you want to take a ride from your home. Going to Panama City might cost you around $50 plus tip. The good news is, you can have co-passengers in the taxi, which, of course, makes the fare cheaper.
On the other hand, metered taxis are almost non-existent here so better talk to the driver to settle the fare even before going settling in. In addition to this, you might find it difficult to catch one if you want to go somewhere in the evening, specifically around 8-9 PM. It is better to have a cab driver on call when you need to travel in the evenings.
With the new airport already operating, traveling to and from Coronado becomes a breeze.
• You have Albrook in Panama City for domestic flights.
• You need to drive 75 miles to the Tocumen International Airport. This is the main airport in Panama City.
• Howard Airport is another one you can use for your flights. This is located near the Pacific Entrance of the Panama Canal.
• The great news is, there is a newly-built airport in Rio Hato that you can use.
Holidays in Coronado are the same in Panama City and the rest of the country. For many Panamanians, holidays are times for the family. If they have beach houses, they head there to spend some time with their loved ones. Coronado is the go-to place for holidays and weekends. Here are the holidays observed in Panama:
• January 1 – New Year
• January 9 – Martyr’s Day
• Good Friday – Friday before Easter
• Carnival – Usually in February
• May 1 – Labor day
• August 15- Panama Foundation Day
• November 3 – Separation Day
• November 4 –Flag Day
• November 5- Colon Day
• November 28 – Independence Day
• December 8 – Immaculate Conception Day
• December 25 – Christmas Day
Relocating to Coronado with Children?
Education in Coronado
If you plan to enter your children in a Panamanian school, you are in luck for the schools here are considered one of the best in the region, particularly private schools. A disclaimer, though, many public schools lack the facilities that the private ones have. Since Panama is a melting pot of various cultures, you can also find different schools of different affiliations.
For the most part, you need to pay a one-time admission fee that ranges from US$1,000 to US$12, 000. The school year begins in September and ends in June the following year. Holidays are observed. Having internationally accepted programs for teachers, you can be rest assured that your children are given quality education.
In Coronado, there are three options you can enrol your child into:
• Coronado International School
• Panama Coast International School
• Five Stars Academy
You might be required to provide health certificates, birth certificate, school records plus some more if you intend to enrol your child in one of the schools in Coronado. Also, you might have to teach your children basic Spanish since this is the mode of teaching in most schools.
Activities in Coronado
Coronado is for the retiree or anyone who appreciates an active beach lifestyle. This is a beach community after all so the primary thing to do is swim. If you are not up to swimming, you can always stroll along the beach or go horseback riding. There are also golf courses here so you can always swing at it.
Extreme sports like surfing and other water rides can also be experienced in Coronado. If you want a gentler water activity, kayaking is also possible.
Best places to go surfing: Chame, Teta, Palmar, Rio Mar, Malibu, Playa Serena
There are also beach boot camps where you can do yoga or workouts. Biking is another passion for those living in Coronado. The best time to bike is in the early morning when the sun is not overhead and the weather is not too hot. Be sure to purchase more durable bike tires since not all roads in this community are well-paved. There are equestrian classes if you want to know more about your equine friends.
Shopping in Coronado won’t be boring as well for there are lots of stores you can always check, like the DIY ones where you can create your own cabinets and the likes. If you want to go shopping with your pet, there are also vets present to help with your canine friends.
There is a hospital that is fully equipped to service you. During our February tour one guest had to go to the energency room after getting extremely dehydrated. After 4 hours in the emergency room with multiple tests and IVs, the total bill was only $128.
Chiropractic services are also available in this gated community. If you require maintenance services for your cars, there are people who can help you.
You don’t even have to go to the capital city to experience nightlife in Panama. Coronado can give you just that. Coronado Club is the place to go if you want live music and a night filled with dancing. One thing to note, though, this is still a laid-back community so expect something of that calibre. Of course, there are happy hours if you are looking for some expats to befriend.
Ecotourism is a big thing in Coronado and its neighboring villages. There is a dry forest where you can learn more about preserving the environment. You can also go to Valle de Anton if you like to hike the outdoors. Bird-watching is also common in this area. You can also check out the various flora endemic to this part of the planet.
Cost of Living in Coronado
When compared to Panama City, Coronado is relatively cheaper. Because you are in a gated community, certain amenities and produce are easier to procure because of its proximity to your home. Apart from that, Coronado is a beach front community, which means you can enjoy the sun and sand without really traveling far. People here are laidback, friendly and hospitable.
Affordability is the name of the game in some parts of Panama. But Coronado is not one of the most affordable places to live in Panama. The cost of living is much more affordable in Coronado compared to a similar setting in any other country. That’s what makes makes Coronado so appealing.
If you are a retiree and you applied for the Pensionado Program, it sure has lots of perks. Dining is also affordable. In one of the more expensive restaurants, you can have a full-plate meal at around US$35 yet if you go to local eateries, you can be full by eating US$3.50 plate. In Coronado, there are high-end hotels and as such, restaurants there can charge you more.
If you intend to buy goods, here are some examples of the price you’d get from the grocery:
• Beef Steak: US$2.45/pound
• Ground Meat: US$2.00/ pound
• 1 whole chicken: US$1.18/pound
• Potatoes: US1.32/kilo
• Onions: US1.32/kilo
• Onions Rice: US $0.88/pound
• Free range chicken eggs US$0.20/piece
• Tomatoes: US$1.08/pound
• Powdered Milk: US$3.76
• 15 oz White Bread: US$0.92
On the average, you can spend around US$1,500 on food and utilities if you want to live in luxury. Most of your spending would be for food at around US$700 per month. Utilities can be summed to about US$150 for electricity, US$25 for the cell phone, US$10 for the water and trash collection.
High speed Internet is not a problem in Coronado too. Telephone lines are also highly reliable. House help can cost you aroundUS$350 a month for a stay-in full time maid. If you prefer that the help comes just once a week or a few times a week, you may have to pay her around US$20 per day. If you want a gardener to tend your garden, you will also spend almost the same amount per week or month.
Real Estate in Coronado
Real estate prices depend on the type of residence you wish to rent to buy. For the most part, it is possible that you can only spend about US$2,000 a month for your rent. If you wish to buy, it might cost you around US$150,000 to US$400, 000 for a house 1,000 square feet or less.
There a few factors that goes to the price of house being rented or sold.
• Proximity to the beach front
• Lot size
• Number of rooms
The season plays a part in the rental prices of properties in Coronado. For example, if you rent during the peak season, prices double up. Better deals are usually when it is not during holidays or after March until November. You can negotiate the payments to daily, monthly or bi-annually.
Coronado boasts of state-of-the-art health facility, San Fernando Clinic, which offers 24-hour services, 7 times a week. With or without appointments, the doctors can accommodate your health issues. Most doctors and their staff here speak English well as many have trainings in the US. Many of them are specialists in fields such as radiology, gynecology, ophthalmology, paediatrics, cardiology and the likes. This clinic also has a dentist on board. If you availed of certain Panamanian privileges, be sure that you ask for a discount. A 15-minute drive, this is the first hospital to be accredited by Joint Commission International. This hospital has affiliations in Panama City as well. There are some other doctors who hold private clinics in Coronado.
During the February 2015 tour, one person needed to go to the emergency room. He was severely dehydrated. After 4 1/2 hours in the emergency room, his bill was only $128
Coronado is a safe place to retire and build your life. It is not far from the capital and nature. You basically have the best of both worlds. Coronado is indeed a gem among the places to retire in Panama.