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by Linda Card
So you’ve decided to live in Panama for an extended time to see if it’s right for you. And you’re going to heed the universal advice given to expats moving to a foreign country: rent before you buy. Excellent. So what’s your next step? Find a place to live. How? Here are some pointers.
Get a Head Start
You can get started on your research before you leave home by looking online for rental properties. Sites such as encuentra24, Viviun, and craigslist: panama are excellent resources to familiarize yourself with what is available and costs. You can also locate realtors or property managers to contact directly, and send them details about what size and kind of house you seek, where, and how much you want to pay.
Visiting and posting on forums and chat groups such as Viviendo en Panama/Living in Panama and Gringos in David Panama (among many others) is a great way to make contact with other expats and get their input. Ask about reputable realtors and property managers for the area where you want to live. But don’t expect to have a deal worked out before you get on the plane.
There are many things one can do long distance via the internet, but I suggest that renting a house is not one of them. One thing that gets North Americans in trouble is their often near obsessive need to have all their plans made, decisions settled, and details arranged before they leave home. If you’re going on an all-inclusive one week vacation to some exotic resort this may be a perfect plan. But if you are renting a place to live it could spell disaster. Horror stories abound from folks who paid a lot of money for a rental, before they even arrived in Panama, only to discover that what they paid for was not what was promised via email. There are too many variables and unknowns in a foreign country that are impossible to anticipate. Go ahead and make your hotel reservations for your arrival in Panama, and then, hit the ground to find a rental.
What You Need to Know
Today was the last “official” day of the July Retire in Panama Tour. With our help, some attendees opened an offshore bank account. Everyone attended the Tuesday Market. The Tuesday market is a great way to meet a lot of expats and find out about “deals” for rentals or houses for sale. It was raining this morning ( rare for Boquete) so there were fewer people at the market. During rainy season, we usually have sunny mornings then some rain in the late afternoon.
A few of the attendees went back to Panama City but most are staying in Boquete for 5-10 days to do some exploring on their own.
Tomorrow is an optional day. I chartered a bus to take us to Volcan. The bus pulls out of Boquete at 9 am and 14 tour attendees will go with me to visit Volcan. Volcan is about 1 hour from Boquete but the towns have a completely different vibe. Volcan is smaller and more laid back than Boquete.
We were honored to have Richard Detrich, author of “Escape to Paradise,” join us for the July Panama Relocation Tour. Richard moved to Panama in 2004 and his book is a “must read” for anyone considering a move to Panama or anywhere offshore. Each day Richard Blogged about the daily events for the tour. See the links below for more details:
Panama is not right for everyone. One lady on the tour didn’t like Boquete at all, she said it was too cold. Of the 15 people on this tour, 2 are planning to move to Boquete by the end of the year, 2 liked the casual beach areas the best, no one liked Panama City, and 11 plan to come back to spend 3-4 weeks to do some more exploring on their own; their objective is to move within a year or two.
Everyone said they accomplished what they came for — to determine if Panama is right for them.
See some pictures from this tour:
Now that I live in Panama I had to find a new person to do haircuts and color. My first thought was to ask everyone I know who they recommend. But when I did that I got mostly recommendations for people who would come to my house or I could go to theirs. Not very professional but it was cheap… only $30 for a haircut and highlights.
So, PLAN B was to spot people with good haircuts and highlights and ask where they got their hair done. The same name came up over and over again so I made an appointment at a Salon in downtown Boquete. They have several stylists and all the fancy equipment you’d expect to see in a salon. But still, it’s a little scary going to a new person.
Since I don’t speak Spanish YET, I wrote out exactly what I wanted done then put in in Google Translate so I could give it to them in Spanish. They read my printout then said, in perfect English,” so you want highlights, lowlights, and a haircut. How much would you like trimmed off?”
The costs for a shampoo, haircut, highlights, low lights was $50. I also got a manicure and pedicure for an additional $13. And.. they did a GREAT JOB!
The same thing would have cost $150 – $200 in Texas
Yes, you really can live for less in Panama and still find quality professionals IF you do your due diligence.