Every month I get emails and calls from developers and real estate sales people asking me to bring my tour group to their “project”. They offer me a 10 to 25% commission if any of my tour clients buy. I politely decline.
First of all, I think it is a huge conflict of interest for a tour operator to accept a commission or kick back. Not selling anything during the tours is the only way I can honestly tell you the truth about various areas in Panama. For example there are many areas in the Azuero Pensinula where there are severe water problems – like no water! If I were dishonest or getting paid commission, I would not mention that to you then show you properties in those areas anyway in hopes that you would buy property so I could get a commission. That’s UNETHICAL. I don’t do business that way!
But sadly, that is exactly what some new real estate tours are doing. They offer cheap 5 day real estate tours to show you one property after another.. conventiently leaving out any “bad stuff” in hopes that you will buy so they can make a commission. They charge less for their tours because they are counting on their high pressure sales tactics convincing you to buy one, maybe two, properties (hurry before the prices go up next month). With their low tour prices, they will actually lose money on the tour if you don’t buy so you can understand why they really need you to buy houses or lots during the tour. They need those commissions to help pay for the tour costs and hopefully make a profit. To make matters worse, the prices they quote for properties are often higher than normal. Then they can tell you if you buy this weekend, we can give you a $20,000 discount. The reality is the $20,000 discount price is a high retail price. It’s a game the real estate tour people play. It is dangerous for your pocketbook and your retirement.
Secondly, I think it is a H-U-G-E mistake to buy anything in Panama until you have lived here at least 6-12 months. So, I encourage everyone on my tours to RENT first. Do not rush in to buying anything. There are a lot of reasons for this. One is that you really would not know what a “good” price is for a property until you’ve been here for awhile. Because there is no active MLS (multiple listing service), the only way to know a good price from a high price is to talk to a LOT of people to find out what properties have sold for in a certain area. You should never rely on information from one source and certainly not from people who will make a commission or profit if you buy. The other is that, until you have lived in an area for a while you just don’t know if it is right for you.
Here’s a perfect example of why it is so important to NOT buy until you have been here for awhile. Steve and Maria came on my tour about 3 years ago. They really liked Los Molinas, a nice gated community about 20 minutes South of Boquete at an elevation of 1800 feet. It has nice single family homes and condos overlooking a beautiful canyon. Luckily, they took my advice during the tour and rented there for 6 months. It is a good thing because they both discovered that it was just too hot for them at that lower elevation. Then they rented a house in Jaramillo Arriba (up high). another suburb of Boquete which is at a 5,000 foot elevation. Steve loved the weather there but Maria thought it was too cold. So, now they are at their third rental house in Santa Lucia, (another suburb of Boquete) which is at about 3,800 feet. So far, so good. They both like the neighborhood and the weather. Santa Lucia is only 2 miles to downtown Boquete which is a big plus too.
Steve and Ellen moved to Playa Blanca, near Coronado, with their 11 year old son. But after a few months of $350 electric bills and no kids around for their son to play with, they realized they needed to move to a different area. The heat and humidity of living near the beach was not what they expected. Now they live in an area where they don’t even need an air conditioner so their electic bill is 90% less and there are plenty of other children around.
Jim and Nancy rented a condo with a beautiful ocean view. Luckily they signed a short term lease like I advise during the tours. After living in the condo for a month they discovered two things which made them so glad they did not buy. First, there was very little ocean breeze so it was always hot and muggy unless they spent $300 a month to run the air conditioner. But to make matters even worse, they discovered that more than half of the condos where AirBnb.com rentals. They never knew who was going to be living next to them and most tenants who came for a few nights were interested in partying.
Just imagine if they had gone on one of those real estate tours! They could have been pressured in to buying a house or condo that just did not have the weather that made them feel comfortable.
Another couple who came on a Panama Relocation Tour was not so lucky. They did not heed my advice to rent first. After the tour they went to Puerto Armuelles on their own. They bought a cute 3 bedroom 2 bath house right on the beach for $135,000. After a few months the wife decided she did not like the area so she moved back to Canada. Now, he has decided to sell but he will likely lose $20,000 or more to sell quickly or have to wait 2+ years to get his investment back. This is a perfect example of why it is better to rent for several months before you even start looking at properties to buy.
In Panama, you can drive just 30 minutes and experience completely different weather including the temperature, the amount of rain, the amount of sunshine, wind, cloud cover, views, and other factors. Even for investment purposes, it is not a good idea to rush in to buying anything in Panama.
It’s easy to buy, but it could take years to sell. So you need to make absolutely sure you love the area where you have chosen to relocate to and that you like living in Panama, before you make a buying decision. Rent first!.
Going on a real estate tour is one way to see only hand selected parts of Panama where the tour operator is getting paid a commission. Sure, you will see some of Panama, but you certainly won’t learn everything you need to know about relocating or retiring in Panama. And I assure you that you will get the sugar-coated version about life in Panama on a real estate tour, not the REALITY version of what life is really like in Panama.
You can go to any real estate office to ask to see real estate. It won’t cost you a penny. So, why pay for a real estate tour? It makes no sense.
My job during the Panama Relocation Tour is to educate you about how to relocate to Panama with ease and to tell you all the things that will keep you out of trouble. Once you know exactly what to expect about relocating to Panama, it takes the fear of moving to Panama away. Plus, you have access to me even after the tour to ask questions or get help with what ever you need. During the tours, you won’t get the sugar-coated version of what life is like in Panama. I won’t leave out the bad stuff (and there is bad stuff). And I don’t have anything to sell.
It is impossible for you to make an informed decision about retiring or relocating to Panama unless you learn about the good and the bad and the darn frustrating aspects of living in a foreign country.
A BETTER WAY TO EXPLORE PANAMA.. WITH NO SALES PITCHES!
You can discover Panama up close and personal during a 6-day all inclusive Panama Relocation Tour. You pay one flat fee for 6 days of seeing the real Panama, not slide shows. You’ll travel in a brand new extra comfortable bus throughout Panama. We keep the tour size small so everyone gets personal attention. While we are traveling from one location to another, I’ll be conducting a rolling conference to teach you what you need to know to relocate. What’s included? All ground transportation, all hotels, all meals, and a Copa flight back to Panama city. Plus you’ll learn everything you need to know to successfully relocate to Panama.
You’ll get to actually see Gorgona, Coronado, Santa Clara, El Valle, Chitre, Las Tablas, Santiago, Las Lajas Beach, David, Boquete, Volcancito, Volcan, Bambito and Cerro Punta. Plus we will travel though a lot of other towns. No slide shows. No photoshop pictures. You get to really see Panama.
It’s Not a Tour, It’s an Adventure! said Bob and Sally Lewis from my January 2015 tour.
They added … Besides all the great info you are going to get, you see so much of the country, will make some wonderful friends, that you will want to sell your house as soon as you get back home, like my wife Sally and I are going to do!! Jackie does incredible things to personalize the tour, like having a freshly baked Birthday Cake at dinner on my wife’s Birthday!! You don’t spend money on this tour, you INVEST it!!
You’ll meet expats in each area. They will discuss what their life is like in Panama. I don’t screenwhat they will say except “no sales pitches please”. No sugar coating. You’ll hear the truth.. both the good, the bad and the down- right ugly. You’ll learn the pros and cons of living in each area. That’s not all…. you’ll also meet with Panamanians to hear what they think about expats living in their country and how you can make friends and “fit in” quickly. Sometimes we meet with Richard Detrich, author of the excellent The New Escape to Paradise book which tells the story of his move to Panama.
What many people don’t realize is that it has only been 14 years since Panama got control of the Canal and only 14 years that they have had the money to make improvements to the country. Panama has done an amazing job building new roads, airports, hospitals and more. You can see these improvements when you travel through the country.
You’ll learn about budgets in each area of Panama. Some areas are more expensive than others. Some areas are incredible bargains. Each areas has it’s pros and cons which we will discuss during the tour.
Jacqui is renting a one-bedroom house for $80 a month in Las Tablas. She is 5 minutes to the Pacific Ocean. Las Tablas has just about anything you’d need but Chitre is only 30 minutes away and it has even more shopping options. Chitre also has movie theaters and bowling alleys.
Doug is renting a 2 bedroom 2 bath with spectacular views in Boquete for $600. He has a 1/2 acre lot with coffee plants, bananas, avacados and oranges.
Colin and Sue are renting a 2-bedroom 2-bath in Cerro Punta for $400. The views are incredible (see photo below). You will get to see the many of these rental properties. No slideshows. You get to walk through the house and the yard and talk to the expat tenants. There are pros and cons to living in each area. You’ll learn exactly what they are so you can make an informed decision about where to relocate to in Panama (if you decide Panama is right for you).
YES, you will get to see real estate during the Panama Relocation Tour! You’ll see condos for rent near Coronado. You’ll get to visit expats in their homes, find out what they paid for rent, and learn about their experiences living in Panama. We will see rentals in Boquete and perhaps one or two properties for sale ( but there is no commision being paid for any real estate). We will even visit the furnished house I rented for $600 a month. Sometimes we look at a property or two in Volcan too. As we drive through or past various neighborhoods, I will tell you what homes cost and what they rent for so you’ll have a general idea of prices in Panama. The information I provide is based on talking to a LOT of expats in that area.
You’ll get to see the beaches, the towns, and the mountains. We’ll visit a farmer’s market so you can see the variety of fruits and vegetables available.
We’ll stay at a first class all-inclusive resort next to the Pacific Ocean the first day of the tour. The second night we stay at a funky multi-colored hotel that everyone says is their favorite place. It has a pool with a waterfall. And then we spend three nights at a hotel in Boquete which is next to a river. The fresh air and sounds of the river will lull you to sleep.
You’ll see some amazing sunsets over the ocean or the mountains. And you’ll probably see more stars in Panama than you have ever seen before.
We’ll visit grocery stores. You get to walk the aisles to see if your favorite products are available. You can compare prices of imported vs. local products. Yes we have Butterball Turkey in Panama. You won’t hear this at the international conferences but the truth is that some grocery stores are terrible. Luckily there is almost always a great grocery store close by through.
We’ll visit department stores so you can see the great bargains which are available in Panama. You’ll also see electronic stores and furniture stores so you can compare prices and help you decide what to bring to Panama and what to just buy here.
Come in a day early to take a tour of a hospital in Panama City. See the hospital rooms, talk to a doctor. See the MRI and CAT scan machines. See the high tech labs and more.
Get the real scoop on health insurance options. Or why you may want to self-insure because medical care is so affordable. Discover why you could pay 50% more if you use an insurance broker instead of going direct. You’ll get information about the international health insurance I $2100 a year for.. and I’m covered in the US, Panama, or anywhere in the world.
Learn how to bring your pet in to Panama. There’s a process but it is well worth it to bring your furry family members. My cat moved to Panama with me. She traveled In-Cabin. She loves living in Panama as much as I do!
We’ll eat at upscale restaurants but also have lunch at some $4 a meal restaurants with excellent food. This is the REAL Panama which you won’t find on luxury real estate buying tours. There will always be vegetarian or gluten free selections too.
You’ll learn the easiest way to buy a car in Panama and why it is better if you do not ship a car to Panama.
Experience the real Panama! You never know what you might see when you are traveling through Panama. During one tour there was a truck with an elephant in the back. It was headed to a circus. Sometimes a parade breaks out. You will certainly see trucks full of bananas or plantains. Or sacks of 100 oranges for $4
You will meet with a Panama attorney to learn about your visa options, buying real estate and setting up a business in Panama. This is NOT the kind of attorney who does the seminar circuits and charges twice as much because she has to pay a commission to the real estate tour operators. Oh no! You’ll meet an attorney who has one focus only… to make sure you get your visa quickly and at the best price in Panama and that you don’t make any mistakes when renting or buying a property in Panama. (Yes, the real estate tour operators get commissions from multiple sources.. and all at your expense by charging you more!)
Discover the real Panama! You’ll see beautiful flowers and lush green trees everywhere we go. But to be honest, you’ll also see some areas that have trash alongside the road. You may smell some septic tanks that need to be cleaned out. You’ll see people riding horses next to the highway and probably see some roosters too. And there will be dogs walking around like the own the town. This is the real Panama!
You’ll get to touch, feel, smell, hear, and experience the real Panama up close and personal. During the 6-day all inclusive tour, you’ll travel 1200 kilometers (745 miles) to discover which part of Panama could be your new home. Leave the driving to my professional driver who knows every square inch of Panama.
We’ll look at some real estate in each areas but, unlike those real estate tours, we stress that you should NOT buy anything until you’ve been living in Panama at least 6 months… 12 months is even better. We don’t try to sell you anything. But we know you want to see what houses and condos look like in various price points so we visit some properties.
You’ll learn the 4 most important questions you need to ask before you rent any property.
Whew! It sounds like a lot already but I actually cover even more. You’ll learn how to fund your freedom overseas without getting a job. And much more…..
The 6-day all inclusive Panama Relocation Tour is the best way to get a “feel” for Panama, learn how to relocate, explore a variety of area, and discover if Panama is right for you. You’ll feel safe with my professional bi-lingual driver, English speaking tour guide, and being with a group of people who are also considering relocating to Panama.
There you have it… two completely different ways to discover beautiful Panama.
Moving to Panama is a big decision. It is imporant for you to have all the information you need before you decide to relocate. (and certainly before you buy anything) It’s also important to learn the good as well as the not so good before you pull the trigger and decide to move. I honestly think the only way you can discover Panama is to travel around the country. You can’t sit in a conference room in Panama City to learn what life is like living in Panama. You need to see the various areas for yourself. You need to talk to people who live there. And you need to explore the housing options and prices. And you certainly don’t want to just see one real estate project after another with high pressure sales tactics around every corner.
If you have any questions about the Panama Relocation Tours, please email info@PanamaRelocationTours.com
Here’s what some of Panama Relocation Tours previous tour clients have to say…
There are a lot of seminars and tours you can take on living in Panama, but my wife, Barbara, and I feel that Jackie Lange’s ‘Panama Relocation Tour’ is by far the best bet for your money. The main reason we feel this way is not just the tour. For the year following our tour we continued to bombard Jackie with a series of questions and inquiries. Jackie always responded with the answers we needed, even when we were asking almost the same question over and over. Her contacts that she provides during the tour are also great resources, ready and willing to help.
April 2014 tour participants
January 2016 Tour
Dec. 2015 Tour