A Classy, Cosmopolitan Lifestyle at Half the Price

Imagine stepping out on your balcony and taking in the deep blue waters of Panama Bay. You can see some of the city’s most iconic towers across the water. In the distance, there are a few boats, perhaps making their way to the famed Panama Canal. Glance down and you see your building’s gym and spa area…the sun-warmed pool beckons.

Just outside your lobby door is the Cinta Costera, a network of wide avenues, walkways, bike paths, and recreation areas. You can play tennis or basketball…buy fruit and little snacks…or walk all the way to Casco Viejo, the city’s romantic colonial quarter. The area is safe, clean, well lit, and incredibly pleasant. Droves of locals and foreigners come here every day to enjoy the promenade and get a bit of fresh air.

Ocean views, a building with amenities, and a coveted city-center location—it’s the kind of lifestyle you’d pay a million bucks for somewhere like California. But in Panama City’s renowned Paitilla district, you can buy a two-bedroom apartment for $200,000 to $300,000. The unit I describe above—featuring two bedrooms and three bathrooms—is listed for $249,000. About 1,500 square feet in size, it comes with a ten-year property tax exemption (a common feature in Panama City).

And you don’t have to be in the Paitilla sector to enjoy all Panama City has to offer. In central neighborhoods like El Cangrejo, you can find apartments for even less. With a little extra legwork, I found a unit of nearly 1,000 square feet just off Via Argentina, an avenue lined with cafes, little shops, and eateries with outdoor seating. Asking price for this two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment is $165,000. No ocean views here, but this neighborhood is on Panama’s new metro line—the only city subway in Central America. And it’s just a ten-minute walk from here to the Cinta Costera. Plus, there’s a small park right on Via Argentina.

Whether you’re in Paitilla, El Cangrejo, or any other central area, you have access to excellent amenities and services, including high-speed internet, upscale grocery stores, beautiful new malls, performance venues, fitness centers, and anything else you would expect to find in a world-class city. Getting around is easy, and there are so many great activities and events, you won’t be able to keep track.

And if you like the idea of being near a city, but not in one, Panama City has plenty of green residential areas on its west end. Filled with houses—and nary a tower in sight—these neighborhoods abut the rainforest and provide easy access to nearby beaches.

Panama City’s strategic location is hard to beat. An easy one-hour drive west will get you to Coronado and its pristine beach. Drive an hour east and you can be in the cool mountain village of Cerro Azul. Or go offshore…just hop an hour-long ferry to the nearest island, Taboga. When you’re ready to go further afield, just head to one of the city’s airports and check out all the domestic and international options. You’ll soon understand why Panama is known as the Hub of the Americas.

I could scarcely have dreamed up a more convenient destination than Panama City. I’ve seen many an appealing place—from Caribbean isles to romantic European cities—but I’ve never encountered better overall value and charm. I have the exciting cosmopolitan life I always wanted…and I calculate my expenses are around 50% less than they would be if I’d stayed in West Coast U.S.A.

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