Since this guy’s experience & mine are so similar, I felt the need to post this.

Of course 2 other expats said he was completely wrong & that they have NEVER experienced any water or electrical outages, you can find houses for $50k in Arraijan or La Chorerra, & pricing is still low. This part is true if you compare it to other countries, but the food prices are going up & NOT just the imported packaged food items which are still the same price as what I paid for them months ago, but the local products like garlic, chicken, & I’m sure much more.

Good for them, life is fantastic in Panama for them.

I can tell you that the cost of a house & the price for renting that house are 2 different things. Renting the house is over double the price of the cost of the house plus what people won’t tell you, is that locals get a VERY good price from the bank for their mortgage. One woman who wasn’t even a local, she’s Colombian, she was paying $175/month for her mortgage & she could have put that house for rent for probably $600.

He tells us all to ask the neighbors quetions & investigate before renting the house.

That’s all good advice, except if he knew anything (which it’s clear he doesn’t as most people who buy know nothing about renting unless they are landlords), good rental houses are very very hard to come by unless your price point is $700-1,200/month & so if you want the house, you have to make a decision right away about getting it & the landlords make you sign a contract otherwise they won’t rent it to you. Plus you may not have time to go investigate. For me I don’t speak fluent Spanish, so I can’t just go in & ask a bunch of questions & locals don’t usually want to talk about these types of things with strangers.

I once had a local help me find a house. He convinced me the house was wonderful & that the area was great & this was AFTER he spoke to a neighbor, but once I moved in, I found out what the neighborhood & house was REALLY like.

You will always find expats who LOVE Panama & think it’s the best country ever. Obviously it’s great for them, they never have any problems. My reality is that’s completely untrue, but I’m not going to call anyone a liar, many of these expats just like to argue any negative point discussed about Panama. Why? I still don’t know why even after living here 1.5 years.

Here’s this guy’s opinion about Panama…

“I`m sorry to tell you this but rethink your decision to move here.  First, I have been here for 8 years.  My pension is worth at  a minimum,  5 times less now than it was 8 years ago.  The cost of living has gone thru the roof.  8 years ago my apartment on Calle 74, in the San Francisco district of PC was 425.00 rent per month for 2 bedrooms, 3 baths, laundry room, living room and dining room.   That same apartment today rents for 1400.00 per month. Cantelope at a typical fruit stand 8 years ago was 50 cents, 8 years later  at the same fruit stand same size cantelope costs over four dollars. Cigarettes 8 years ago a dollar a pack for Marlboro,  over four dollars a pack when I quit a year ago.  My grocery bill used to be about 350.00 – 400.00 per month going back only 4 years ago and would fill  a General Electric side by side fridge plus a seperate chest freezer.  Now to fill both runs anywhere from 8 – 9 hundred.   Gas and diesel for autos is more expensive in Panama than the USA.

Electricity is more expensive than in Boston and we lose it at least twice a month during rainy season.  We lose all water service at least 4-5 times per month for as much as 48 hours at a whack. The water pressure on a good day is so bad that if someone flushes a toilet we lose it everywhere else in the house. I live in Brisas del Golf now in Panama City and this is considered a pretty modern relatively new development.  I lived in Chitre for almost 6 years and houses even in the interior of Panama have more than doubled in price to own and as much as 3-4 times to rent.  Forget about places like Boquete, Bocas del Toro, Pedasi, Coronado and Chitre unless you have a small fortune because the time has come and gone for getting the most bang for your buck.  If you don’t mind remote areas like Ocu, the day of the house for around 50k is out of the question.  In most places that is what it would cost just for the lot to build a house on.  Las Tablas  which is only approx. 20 km from Chitre is still relatively affordable as is Penomone and Aguadulce.  However, if you do not speak at minimum, marginal conversational Spanish forget it. The less expensive the area, the less ex-pats, the less English.
If you are looking to live in or around PC, keep one thing in mind.  The traffic here everyday, with possibly the exception of Sunday is absolutely horrendous. I will tell you that the traffic in Boston during the height of the big dig does not even come close to the chaos and gridlock that is an everyday occurance here. My Panamanian wife works downtown 18 km from our house. If she does not leave the house by 5:30 am  the commute to go 18 km takes an hour and 15 minutes.  Sad thing is that she does not have to be to work until 8 but there is absolutely no available parking downtown after 6:15.
Appliances and everything else electric here is at least 25% more expensive than in the states.  And because of the climate, if you do not buy stainless steal it will rust. 5 years for a GE washer and dryer and the cabinets on both the washer and dryer completely trashed.
For those ex-pats that have lived in  Panama for  years before the housing market and cost of living really sky-rocketed, and are here enjoying your retirement years, congrats.  For those that retired young, (46 )  and do not have a considerable nest egg that another 20 years of working would have given me, forget it.  I had cancer when I was 30 and decided with a pension income of over a few thousand a month, I was going to enjoy life at 50 (I got a 4 year head start).  Met a beautiful woman 18 years my junior with 2 sons from a previous marriage and we have one daughter together. I am living as an actual Panamanian every single day and it blows.  Quality of life would be so much better in the USA for the kids, and me and my wife, who is a very educated (MBA) Panamanian and is so disgusted with this country and what is going on, she is begging me to get her out of this “hellhole” as she puts it. Those that live here as year round ex-pat tourists,  please do not lecture me on talking bad about a place that I probably know more of than any of you as I intermingle everyday with Panamanians as family, not just as  domestic help and hosts.  We are at least 1 year away probably 2 from packing up and leaving for the USA.   My wife wants us to move back to Boston, but I am investigating  New Mexico. It is the number 1 destination in the USA for retirees at the present time. Maybe in a couple years that will change, but from what I can tell I could spin a Globe and stop it with my finger almost anywhere in the USA and cost of living versus quality of life versus goods and services index would now tilt in favor to the USA.   Unlike 8 years ago when Panama had me living like a King.”

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