Dear International Living Reader,
The sun is shining as we drive around Coronado, taking in the town on Panama’s Pacific coast. The houses are impressive, and it seems all of them–from the mansions to the sweet beach cottages–are surrounded by exotic red palms and delightfully bright flowers.
We roll by someone in a golf cart and he gives us a friendly nod. There are couples holding hands, kids on bicycles, even joggers with their designer dogs trotting alongside them. The overall impression is one of a sleepy resort town that’s awakening, a place where a world of possibilities is open to the potential expat or entrepreneur.
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For expats living in Coronado today, these are the golden years–that magical in-between time before growth really takes off. It’s no longer dead on weekdays but the holiday crowd is far from teeming. And though there are no massive malls or cineplexes in sight, I was amazed at how active the community had become (I used to come here with family friends as a teenager). There are mahjong clubs, karaoke bars, charities, art classes, yoga studios, golf tournaments…so much more than you’ll find in any other beach community this close to Panama City.
It all began more than 60 years ago, when the family-run development of Coronado Es Vida began selling beach property to Panama’s elite. Slowly it grew from a village to a town and, in the 1980s and ’90s, this was the place to see and be seen on weekends or summer break. But outside of summer and holidays, it was very quiet, with caretakers and other household employees making up the bulk of the resident population.
Now that’s all beginning to change. Over the past decade, Panama has gained popularity as a foreign relocation destination. Many expats moved here in search of beach property and realized that Coronado was the best option. After all, Coronado has the area’s best infrastructure and it’s under an hour and a half by car from Panama City. Best of all, the beach–a mix of bright white and glittering black volcanic sand–goes on for miles. Most of the time, you’ll have big stretches of it all to yourself.
The cost of living is low (a consult with an English-speaking doctor is $35) and property is affordable (a three-bedroom home on a quiet street is $185,000). Best of all, Coronado offers unlimited opportunities for entrepreneurs. The growing expat population needs restaurants, sports bars, dry cleaners, video rental stores…the business opportunities are endless.
Editor’s Note: Jessica Ramesch is International Living’s Panama Editor and regularly reports back from this country for International Living’s monthly Magazine. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up here.