Problems with Panamanian Houses


So before I moved here, I was told by the expats that Panamanian houses were small plus the contractors here don’t know what they are doing. I agree with that, but then again there’s terrible contractors in Ontario too.

No one bothered to detail all the OTHER problems with Panamanian houses, even the houses where they “pretend” they are North American style & aren’t small.

I consider this list to be a huge problem, if you are tall & don’t cook, you may not care.

Some older houses are fine & then some newer houses are fine, so it’s really hard to tell you which type of look for since they are all a nightmare of some sort of another.

Some contractors may have only figured out how to build houses properly in the last 2 years if some expat taught them, but for the most part the house are poorly constructed & are sooo vastly different than North American houses, it’s been stressful for me to deal with.

Some apartments in Panama city are okay, for some reason they weren’t a problem, so to be clear, I’m talking about houses in Arraijan, although I just came back from an apartment in Boquete & it was a problem too.

So let’s get down to it:

  1. Almost all kitchens are very very small. Even in the HUGE houses they make the kitchens small. Again, it takes brains to build a good house. Why they insist on making the kitchens small is beyond me. Women have to cook in the kitchens.

    Now I can understand the older Panamanian kitchens being small because I heard the women used to cook outside, but that’s clearly NOT the case in the surrounding areas of the city, or in the city itself.

    There are even houses in the Interior (anything outside of Panama city is called the Interior) where they are larger communities of expats, & I’m seeing very tiny kitchens.

    There’s no room to do anything. Hardly ANY cupboards & hardly any counter space to so you can prepare your food. And in some kitchens they only give you ONE drawer.3 times now I’ve had to keep 90% of my kitchen items in a box.

    YES, that’s what I came to Panama for, to live out of boxes.

  2. Then some places only have ONE sink.

    You can’t wash dishes properly with only one sink. That’s my opinion. I once had to make do in an apartment in the city & water splashed ALL OVER the place. On the sides next to the fridge, in front on the floor. Mold builds up & then you have a mold problem.

  3. Speaking of sinks, they don’t know anything about faucets. They use these bar type style faucets that come only a couple of inches out from the back of the sink so you can’t run water on dishes properly.

    They used the same type faucet for the one sink deal I had to deal with & water splashed all over the place because there was too much pressure, it was out too far from the back & no, lowering the water barely helped.

    In another house with 2 sinks they put in this short stubbed nosed (don’t know what else to call it) faucet so I couldn’t rinse out anything of any height at all, as it was soooo low to the sink it wouldn’t fit underneath.

    Again, who designs faucets this way??? Sure, don’t use American style faucets as this is Panama, but at least use something that works. It’s bad enough I don’t have a dishwasher anymore (very rare unless it’s a very expensive house), so when I wash dishes, I don’t want to have to struggle & cause a major drama <sigh>.

  4. They put the kitchen cupboards (what little they give you) way up high. Someone said it’s because they attach them to the ceiling. WTF???? LOL, why would you attach them to the ceiling. I heard that’s the lazy way of installing cabinets, I don’t know. <sigh>

    So in true Einstein fashion, they expect the women to get up on a ladder just to get the dishes down. While I’m shorter than average, in some of the kitchens I’ve been in, females around 5’4″ couldn’t even reach the bottom shelf let alone the middle. The top shelf you always have to get a ladder, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

  5. Mirrors – they do the same thing with the mirrors. They put these shitty rectangular mirror medicine cabinet deals there (they look old & ugly) & they are soooo high up, that I can’t see myself in the mirror. With 2 houses now I’ve had to deal with this, & I can’t see myself in either bathroom mirror (remember I get houses with 2 bathrooms).

    This goes back to the Panamanians never complaining about anything, so NOTHING ever changes.

  6. Light fixtures – in these last 3 houses, the lights are sooooooo high up in the air, they are minimum 7-8 feet high up.  The second to last house the light in the bathroom was next to the ceiling.

    This house I’m in now the light is less than a foot from the ceiling.

  7. Mold smell – I guess they haven’t figured out how to build proper cupboards & drawers both in the kitchens & bedrooms so there’s no mold smell when you go to open them.They should build them with slates instead of full doors, but I’ve never seen that, only heard from expats that this is the proper way to do it.

    In the new house I lived in that did have a much larger kitchen (small by US standards, but larger here) & had the mirror that was actually a FULL mirror that goes flat against the wall so there was no problem seeing myself, they built the kitchens so cheaply, that the plastic leached toxins into the air, so I had to keep EVERY cupboard door & drawer open, otherwise if I kept them close & then opened them, BAMM, I could smell chemicals.

    Same problem with the closets in the bedrooms.

  8. In most of the closets I’ve seen with the exception of one house, they placed the rod to hang your clothes soooo close to the top not only can you fit the hangers in there, I couldn’t reach them to even hang my clothes.
  9. They don’t do anything to the floor of the closet, they just leave bare concrete. One house was okay, but that was a house with drawers & shelving in the bedrooms. I don’t know if this was put in before or after the house was taken over by the owners.
  10. They don’t know where to put the toilet paper holder so it’s easy to access. In one house that was brand new, they had it placed to the left of the toilet (not across) & about 1/2 a foot from the floor. Can you picture that????
  11. Towel holders – again, same issue, they are SO high up, they aren’t anywhere near whether they normally go in a bathroom back home.
  12. While this doesn’t seem to be normal, in the house I’m in now, there’s only ONE outlet in every room. I already know that the electrical wiring isn’t done properly.

So that’s what I have for now, as I come up with more, I’ll keep you posted.



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