How to Avoid Costly Mistakes

Life in Panama can be absolutely amazing if you know the right way to get things done and who to trust. It is possible to have a smooth and easy transition when relocating to Panama if you get guidance from a reliable company like Panama Relocation Tours!

We have the experience you can trust and need when relocating to Panama to help you avoid costly mistakes. We’ve helped thousands of people have a smooth, hassle-free transition.

Some people try to move to Panama on their own and “just figure things out” without buying the Complete Panama Relocation Guide or taking an all-inclusive 6-day Panama Relocation Tour. Some are able to accomplish their goals. But many of those people experience constant frustrations and very expensive mistakes that could have been avoided! Here are just a few examples:

Last week, a guy called me to recommend an immigration lawyer he worked with to get a Pensionado Visa. He said he did not buy the Online Panama Relocation Guide because he was getting all the information he needed for free on facebook and thought I’d like to have the attorney’s contact. He was charged $3500 for a Pensionado visa. I told him he paid too much! He could have gotten a Pensionado Visa for less than $1500 using our recommended lawyers.

That’s a $2000 mistake that could have been avoided if he bought the Online Panama Relocation Guide for $595.

More shocking prices…

Just today, I was surfing the internet and ran across a one bedroom rental that stuck out like a sore thumb because it was advertised for $700 for one week or $2200 for a month. I know the property well and have been in it several times. The “right rent” is less than $700 a month. Sadly, someone who does not know the market will pay that ridiculous price without ever seeing the house. It infuriates me when I see ads like this.

There’s a saying in Panama — Don’t Leave Your Brains at the Border!

Sadly, it’s mostly expats who will take advantage of new expats. It’s usually not a Panamanian!

One couple rented a house without seeing it first. The online pictures looked great. The landlord insisted on getting a first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit. When they arrived at the house, it looked nothing like the pictures. Then to make matters worse, they did not realize that the house has a serious mold problem. It was right next to the fairgrounds with loud music until the wee hours of the morning. They moved out after a few weeks and lost $1000s of dollars.

fuzzy house panama

Another couple drove to Panama from the United States. They thought they had 90 days to drive around Panama. They can certainly drive in Panama with their foreign license for 90 days but their vehicle needs to be registered in Panama within 30 days. I tried to tell them! When they made a trip from Chiriqui province to Panama City, they were stopped at a checkpoint and their van was impounded. Guess who they called for help! Me! Another expensive mistake to get their van out of the pound and pay the fines.

Recently a couple moved to Panama and bought a house right away. It’s an area that is known for having water problems but of course, the real estate agent did not mention that. They have a 40-foot shipping container on the way to Panama. After buying the house, they applied for a Visa. He had a few felonies on his FBI report from 40 years ago so his attorney had to do a special procedure called a Buena Vista to get permission from the immigration director for him to apply for a visa. His visa was denied! So, now, he can’t live in Panama. They are trying to sell the house and get the shipping container shipped back to the USA but it will cost more than it cost to get it shipped to Panama.

This mistake will cost this couple $100,000!

We advise everyone to RENT for at least 6 months, a year is better. You should get your permanent visa BEFORE you buy a house! Another very expensive mistake.

A man rented a condo in Coronado. He was thrilled with the views. But later discovered two problems. Because his condo is on a certain side of the building it is hot all day long. He’s running her air conditioner all the time. Electricity is not included in his rent so her electric bill is running $300-$400 a month. He also found out from his next-door neighbor, who lives in a unit the exact same size and moved to Panama a few months earlier, is paying $250 less in rent! Perhaps the real estate agent who rented the unit is doing a net listing. It was not one of the real estate companies we recommend.

Another couple hired an immigration attorney and paid $1000 upfront. The attorney provided a list of documents they needed but failed to tell them that some documents need to be authenticated or apostilled. They took all the documents to the attorney but because none of them were apostilled or authenticated they were all rejected by immigration. Finally, they fired that attorney and had to go with a different attorney (new attorney fees), and to make matters worse they had to fly back to the US to get all new documents and get them authenticated. A very expensive mistake that could have been avoided if they used one of our recommended lawyers.

A young couple bought land with amazing views right after moving to Panama in August only to discover that the land did not even have water or electricity. They just assumed that all land would have water and electricity. They planned to build a house on the property. Now, they have discovered that it is not even possible to get water or electricity to the property so they’ll have to install solar or wind power and see if it’s possible to dig a water well which will add many $1000s of dollars to the costs. This property is in one of the windiest places in the area during the dry/windy season so they discovered that it’s too cold in the dry season. It was perfect weather in August.

To avoid costly mistakes, we tell everyone to rent for at least a year before buying so you can experience the weather in the dry (windy) season and the rainy season. The weather can be dramatically different depending on the season. Another very expensive mistake.

Boquete Panama View

An expat real estate agent, not on our recommended list, sent a video to a couple who wanted to buy a condo in Gorgona. They were familiar with the condo building, and the video looked great, so they signed a contract without even going to Panama to see the property. They wired $250,000 as earnest money. The other $250,000 would be paid at closing. The problem is, when they got to Panama (with their 40-foot container), they discovered that the property they were buying was NOT the property in the video. There was no recourse. They signed a contract. They lost the $250,000.

Coronado Panama
Coronado Panama

I get emails every week from someone who made a costly mistake asking me how they can get their money back.

These are just a few of many expensive mistakes that could have been avoided IF these people purchased the Complete Panama Relocation Guide or went on an all-inclusive 6-day Panama Relocation Tour to get a thorough education about what to do and not do when moving to Panama.

You know what they say about seminars.. you can either pay for it now or you can pay for it later in the form of mistakes you make.

You don’t know what you don’t know about moving to and living in Panama. Mistakes can be expensive!

The Complete Panama Relocation Guide is not an expense, and it’s a wise investment in your future in Panama. Plus, you get ongoing support before, during, and after you move to Panama.

We want to help you avoid costly mistakes so you have a smooth easy move to Panama. See details HERE about how we can help you avoid expensive mistakes.

Panama Relocation Guide

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions


  1. ImissTV says

    This is a super helpful article. Having moved from USA to a South East Asia country for work, I can tell you that sometimes we have paradigms in our head of ‘how things should be or will be” that we don’t even realize we have till our expectations aren’t met. It’s wise to do TONS of research, visit places, look around before investing $$. Even then, stuff happens; looking at is an adventure helps. We appreciate your info and hope to meet you someday.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Glad the article about how to avoid costly mistakes was helpful!

  2. Debbie Johnson says

    Thank you for this information. Your tour and book explains everything in details. It’s their own costly mistakes and expense. If they would of taken your tour or bought your book, these mistakes would of never happened. You lay out the steps in black and white. There is NO GRAY! Thank you Jackie
    Debbie and Chris Johnson
    Panama City Beach FL

    I want to personally state how great the medical care and system is in Panama. I became ill during my tour. I saw an amazing Doctor, recommended by Jackie in Boquete. I am a Nurse going on 24 years, this amazing Doctor started my own IV, administered the meds and checked on me every fifteen minutes. Where in the USA can you find this treatment. The day before we were to go back to the States, I became so ill in my hotel room. I was admitted to the ER via ambulance in Panama City. All I can say is this was the best treatment and care I have ever in my life experienced from all the medical staff, ER Doctors and Surgeon. I never received this type of compassionate treatment and care in any ER in the USA.
    Thank you Jackie for all your help. Medical care is amazing in Panama.

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Debbie

      You’re right! They could have avoided all these costly mistakes if they just bought the Online Guide or went on a Panama Relocation Tour then followed our advice. I’m so sorry you got sick while you were in Panama but I’m glad you got to experience excellent care in Panama. I’ve often said that Panama doctors but the CARE back in Healthcare.

  3. Carolyn Collier says

    Hi Jackie, Phil and I took your tour in 2013 along with Sue Dloughy and Sherry and John who are still there. We bought a condo on the beach in LaBarquette and love it. I have had two breast cancer surgeries and four back surgeries and we haven’t been able to get there in over a year. I am trying to find out about the restrictions for getting into Panama now. We have had both of the vaccines if that helps and we have permanent VISAs. We both have driver license. Also we are looking to sell the condo because of traveling with my health issues. We hate to give it up. Perfect view on the third floor. Any advice welcomed. Hope you are well. Carolyn Collier

  4. Harold says

    is solar power an option in Panama for electricity resources?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Solar is available in Panama, but it’s not cost-effective unless you live in a coastal area where your electric bill would be higher. In the highlands, if your electric bill is $30 a month, it would take a long time to justify the $20,000++ install fee for solar

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