If you’re thinking of moving or retiring here, consider renting in Panama City before you actually buy. It can be easy and inexpensive. Plus, renting in Panama for three months to a year gives you flexibility on several levels.
First, you can take your time and figure out whether expat life in Panama City suits you—without a big investment. Renting gives you time to get to know your new city, find the best neighborhoods, cafés and shops, and make personal and professional connections.
Even if you love being an expat, you may still decide that another country, or even another city in Panama, suits you better. The beauty of renting in Panama City is that you can pick up from one day to the next…and follow your heart to another, more appealing neighborhood.
Renting in Panama City: A Few Need-to-Know Basics
Rental regulations in Panama are straightforward. Your landlord and you, the tenant, have the right to negotiate whatever rental amount you like, and the landlord has the right to increase rent at his discretion. Usually, your contract will indicate that you and the landlord have the right to break the lease at any time with a month’s notice.
So say you move in and six months later, you decide you want to move. All you need to do is notify your landlord, in writing, a month prior. As long as you meet the contract requirements and have taken care of the property, you should get your full deposit back. Sometimes the landlord will allow you to simply apply the deposit to your last month of occupancy—probably the easiest option.
Note that, when renting in Panama City, you have the advantage; the law is always on the tenant’s side. A landlord will find it hard to evict a tenant who has nowhere else to go. So say after a year of occupancy, the landlord wants you out. As long as you continue to pay the rent on time, he’ll be hard-pressed to evict you…and you’ll have the time you need to secure a new location.
Rent in Panama City for $500 a month…or Less
Of course, it’s easier to find good rentals in some areas than others…and Panama City is no exception. If you’re looking for “luxury” or U.S.-style housing, consider areas like Paitilla, Punta Pacifica, and Balboa Avenue, on the Panama Bay. If you’re looking for bargain rentals in nice local neighborhoods, though, there are many easy-access areas to consider…
Here are some sample rentals available at a range of low price points:
You’ll find a great deal of inexpensive property on and around Via España, one of the city’s major arteries. If you’re looking for bargain basement property that’s still right in the center of the city, one apartment near Via España is available for rent for $475 a month. It’s a one-bedroom, 678-square-foot studio located close to clinics, supermarkets, inns, restaurants, shops and more.
I have been living in a large sector called Bethania for more than four years now, and plan to stay here as long as I can. It’s easy to get to and well-established, with more houses than apartments on its hilly slopes. It’s not a flashy or trendy area, but the central location and low rents make it a winner.
Here, the sectors of Dos Mares and Edison Park sit atop rolling hills, and you’ll pay more for the nice views. But in adjacent Hato Pintado, rentals and real estate prices are low. Right now, a two-bedroom apartment of well-over 1,000 square feet is available for $500 a month. The apartment has a balcony and it’s in a building with doorman service.
In Howard, a suburb with green fields and long, country roads, the Panamanian government is developing a Special Economic Zone called Panama Pacifico—a mixed development that’s firmly on track to becoming Latin America’s largest logistic and business hub. In a neighborhood called Las Villas de Howard, a two-bedroom apartment is available for $500 a month. Located on a green, peaceful street in a safe, family neighborhood, the apartment is just 10 minutes from Albrook mall, the biggest in the city.
Editor’s Note: Panama is not only the most sophisticated offshore haven in the Americas, with some of the cheapest beachfront in both the Caribbean and on the Pacific Coast, but it also has the best retiree benefits in the world. Learn more about one of the world’s top retirement destination in our just updated Panama: The Owner’s Manual