Expat Exchange
Punta Paitilla Neighborhood in Panama City

Real Estate in Panama

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Expats and retirees talk about real estate in Panama? How do you find a home in Panama? Should you buy or rent? What is the cost of housing?

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How do I find a place to live in Panama?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"The first condo we found in Nueva Gorgona was through VRBO. We didn't know a lot about the area here, but we rented so if we decided it wasn't for us, we could always move to another area. After that, it's been by word of mouth that we have found places to live," said another person in Nueva Gorgona .

"I lived in Leon, Nicaragua and was tired of heat, The temperatures here suit me well. I found an apartment in Alto Boquete on the Internet, and took a 6 month lease. I will be moving closer to town as I don't own a car," added another expat who made the move to Boquete.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Panama?

"We currently live in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo on the 17th floor at the beach," remarked another foreigner who made the move to Nueva Gorgona .

"I rent a small house in Volcancito. A lovely area but you really need a car to live here. The rents are cheaper than Bajo Boquete. I love the house and neighborhood but have a hard time getting to town. The shuttle bus is erratic, it serves all of Volcancito," explained one person living in Boquete, Panama.

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What is the average cost of housing in Panama?

If you are thinking about moving to Panama, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"About rents that is one big advantage of Panama. Rents have sky-rocketed in the USA but they are still reasonable here. You do need to do some looking. I would recommend staying in an airbnb place for a couple of weeks in the area that you like so you can take your time looking for a place to rent, If you are going to rent long term it is probably cheaper to buy your own furniture and rent an unfurnished place," added another expat who made the move to Panama.

"Housing costs are still lower than the U.S. Smaller homes in town run 300 to 800 per month to rent. Condos rent from 900 to 1800 per month to rent. Condos for sale between 200k to 450k, depending on amenities and the floor," explained one foreigner living in Nueva Gorgona , Panama.

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Should I buy or rent a home in Panama?

If you have not spent a lot of time in Panama, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"We were going to rent but we found a great location and price on a house we really liked really liked and ended up buying. It was a super easy process once we hired a Lawyer," added another expat who made the move to Playa El Uverito.

"I rented a house. At first I made the mistake of letting a local person insert himself between the owner of the house and me. Money got diverted. Now I'm looking to rent a bedroom only, trying for 80 to 100 dollars per month. Shouldn't be difficult. But mind you, I don't mind living in abject poverty," explained one foreigner living in Las Tablas, Panama.

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What do I need to know when buying property in Panama?

When we asked expats what advice they would give a foreigner before buying a property in Panama, they said:

"DO your due diligence, engage a realtor who A - speaks English, B-is responsive and pro-active, where EVER you are calling them from. KNOW what you are looking for (we made a LIST of 'must haves' and 'must NOT haves'! We found our DREAM here," explained one person living in San Carlos, Panama.

"Use only a well known reputable realtor and have an attorney. If you hire professionals listen to their advice. We bought prior to moving here 2 1/2 years ago, and we bought sight unseen as it was an unusual opportunity. The process went smoothly, no issues. We couldn't be happier with our property and in retrospect we really got a great deal on a great property," remarked another foreigner who made the move to Boquete.

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Are foreigners allowed to own property in Panama?

When we asked expats what advice they would give a foreigner before buying a property in Panama, they said...

"Some years ago the government passed laws limiting "visitor" stays to maximum of 3 months. Property owners apply for and can be granted residency status which may take some time and $$$$, but is a must if the property here will be your primary home," remarked another foreigner who made the move to San Carlos.

"Foreigners have the same property rights as Panamanians, with one exception. Foreigners are not allowed to own property in their own name within 10 kilometers of the border of Costa Rica. Of course, there are still legal ways to have your dream beach house! ROP properties are not included in this rule, since they are not technically "owned" and Titled properties can be held in a Panamanian Corporation or Foundation that is set up properly for this. Another reason to hire a competent attorney," explained one person living in Puerto Armuelles, Chiriqui, Panama.

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What appliances are typically included in a rental?

We asked foreigners in Panama what appliances are typically included in a rental, and, if there is anything else included or not included that a newcomer would not expect. Replies included:

"In the furnished condos along the beach, kitchens have all appliances.. these include refrigerator, stove and microwave, many even have washers/dryers, dishwashers, and garbage disposals. They are often furnished with toasters, blenders, coffee makers and other small kitchen appliances and table service too. Units usually have air conditioners too. It's a good idea to check the kitchen out thoroughly and see what is there," explained one expat in Nueva Gorgona.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Punta Paitilla Neighborhood in Panama City

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