With so many people planning to move to Panama and looking for a rental, I thought you could use some advise from a pro! So, I asked my friend Elaine Hayes to write an article about renting in Panama. She has lived in Panama five years and moved TEN times. She’s uniquely qualified to advise you about what to do and what not to do too. She and her husband Don have made every mistake in the book. Read this article and follow her advise to avoid making costly mistakes.
Hello! Let me introduce myself. My name is Elaine and my husband Don and I decided to retire in Panama in 2015. Before I begin, I want to stress to you that we will always live in Panama. For us, it is the best place on earth and there are wonderful places to live where you will be so happy and retire in paradise! But this article is letting you know the mistakes we have made, so hopefully we can prevent others from making the same. I have lived in some great places and made a lot of mistakes! Don and I have moved 10 times in 5 years. We are pro’s at moving! So here is my story:
I always prided myself on doing my research. I researched the entire world when it came to deciding where to retire. I researched where other expats lived, the money exchange, the crime, the weather, the language. We picked Panama because it checked out all the boxes and we have never regretted our decision. But one thing I did not research was how to go about renting a place in a foreign country. It’s something so new to most expats. For instance, most of the rental places for expats here are furnished. Completely furnished, with everything you will need just to move in with your clothes. A rental will come with kitchen appliances; pots, pans, silverware, plates, bowls. It will be equipped with towels and bedding. You will have a TV and may have a washer and dryer included. Most of us have owned homes in the countries that we have lived in, or if we have rented, we knew the ins and outs of what to do and not to do. But doing all of that in another country is different. So, I am here to gladly tell you my story. I can help you with your research. Panama is a wonderful country to live in, and renting is definitely the key. You can always buy a house or apartment once you get the lay of the land. But renting is the only way to go when you first arrive. So here are some “dos and don’ts” that I have learned from experience! I will give you a list first, and then explain in the next paragraphs some of our specific experiences!
-GO AND INSPECT THE PLACE THAT YOU ARE GOING TO BE LIVING. INSPECT EVERYTHING YOURSELF, DO NOT RELY ON THE LANDLORD TO TELL YOU THINGS ABOUT THE HOUSE (DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING). DON’T RENT A PLACE BY JUST RELYING ON THE INTERNET PHOTOS.
–ASK AND VERIFY – MAKE A LIST OF WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU – HOT WATER IN THE KITCHEN, WASHER AND OR DRYER, HOT WATER ON DEMAND. ALSO DECIDE WHAT YOU CONSIDER YOUR “DEAL BREAKERS”. VIEWS, WALKING DISTANCE TO STORES AND RESTAURANTS? YOU NEED TO PERSONALLY CHECK THE HOUSE AND THE SURROUNDINGS OUT FOR YOURSELF!).
–CHECK OUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD – (ARE THERE BARKING DOGS AND CHICKENS CLOSE BY? IS THERE TIMES WHERE THE AREA YOU LIVE IN ARE GOING TO BE LOUDER AT TIMES THAN OTHERS?)
–DOES A GARDNER COME WITH THE RENTAL? HOW OFTEN DOES HE COME – (SOME PLACES HAVE SOMEONE COME A FEW TIMES A MONTH, AND SOME COME A FEW TIMES A YEAR.)
–TALK TO NEIGHBORS. SEE HOW THEY LIKE THE NEIGHBORHOOD. GET THEIR ADVICE.
-DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU CHOOSE TO LIVE IN PANAMA, THE LOCATION OF THE SUNRISE/SUNSET MAY BE VERY IMPORTANT. LIVING ON THE OCEAN IS WONDERFUL, BUT BE AWARE WHERE THE AFTERNOON SUN WILL BE IN YOUR RENTAL. DO YOU WANT THE SUN TO BE BEATING DOWN IN YOUR LIVING ROOM? ARE THERE BLACK OUT CURTAINS THAT YOU CAN SHUT WHEN THE SUN IS AT ITS HOTTEST? WHEN YOUR LIVING ROOM GETS TO BE A SAUNA, WHERE THE SUN IS LOCATED AT WHAT TIME BECOMES VERY IMPORTANT.
–REALIZE WHEN YOU BUY SOMETHING, YOU WILL HAVE TO MOVE IT. BUYING AN OUTDOOR GRILL IS WONDERFUL. BUT JUST KNOW THAT WHEN YOU HAVE TO MOVE, YOU WILL HAVE TO MOVE YOUR GRILL AS WELL. YOU WILL BE SURPRISED HOW MUCH YOU ACCUMULATE.
Don’t Do This!
Now for the story of what Don and I did when we were still in the States. I was scrolling the internet and saw a cute house that was close to the town we wanted to live in. The pictures looked so nice, and the location seemed perfect! It was a fellow expat that owned it, so naturally I trusted him with no questions asked. He wanted first month, last month rent with a security deposit. He was willing to sign a 3-month lease. That appealed to my husband and I. If we didn’t like it, we had 3 months to find another house or apartment! We sent him the money using a wire transfer, and we were set! We sold everything we owned, kept 5 suitcases and a chihuahua to take with us, and off we went to start our new adventure! [Read more…]