Walking along the deep blue waters of the Pacific, I stop to take in some of the most impressive city views I’ve ever seen. Across the wide, tree-lined avenue are gleaming new towers, housing everything from modern condos to offices, restaurants, and hotels. I could easily cross over now—using the bright red pedestrian bridge—and find a great little cafe or cute bar/restaurant for an evening drink.
If instead, I carry on along the bay—which is lined with walkways and bike paths—I’ll pass multiple exercise and recreation areas framed by beautifully landscaped grounds. There are stalls selling fruit, smoothies, handicrafts, and more during evenings and weekends. At the end is the city’s famous fish market, surrounded by ceviche stalls where you can have a meal and a cold local lager for under $10.
From there you can meander into the historic district and take in the stately plazas, colonial churches, art venues, and more. On weekends the historic district is nightlife central, with people of all ages streaming in to take in live jazz and dine out at gourmet restaurants in romantic centuries-old buildings.
This is Panama City, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more cosmopolitan, convenient city in all of Latin America. Expats have come here from North America, Europe, and beyond to take advantage of the burgeoning economy, international flavor, foreigner-friendly retiree resident programs, and more. It’s an exciting, comfortable place to live. But the best thing about this cosmopolitan capital may well be its location.
Just an hour’s drive will get you to the Pacific coast region known as the Arco Seco. Beaches line the coast, from the hub town of Coronado to the resorts of Farallon. In and around Coronado, expats have also discovered they can live comfortable, convenient lifestyles with all the amenities they’d expect to have in a First World country. Reliable power and water that you can drink from the tap…internet fast enough to watch your favorite Netflix shows…you know, all the necessities.
The expat community in and around Coronado is well-established, welcoming, and incredibly engaged. Many of these expats will tell you that they moved here to retire…and found themselves living more active, social lives than they had back home.
Live in Panama City and you can escape to the beach at the drop of a hat. Or live in Coronado and rest assured that a major city—along with its world-class hospitals and malls—is just an hour away. Either way, you have the best of both worlds. And you won’t want for high-value properties with plenty of extras.
In Panama City’s central metropolitan area, condos offer the best value. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck in the $180,000 to $280,000 range. Most apartments come with property tax exemptions of five to 20 years. The newer the building, the longer you’ll have remaining on the property tax exemption—granted when buildings complete construction and obtain their occupancy permits.
Modern buildings have excellent amenities, including doorman service, pool, social area, and more. Older buildings also have their merits—they can cost up to 25% less per square meter (the preferred unit of measurement here…for a rough equivalent to square feet, divide by 10).
I recently saw an apartment in a trendy building—in the city’s convenient San Francisco sector—for $198,000. It’s a two-bedroom, three-bathroom unit of just over 1,050 square feet. Located on the 11th floor, it has a balcony with an impressive city view. The building comes with a gym, sauna, party room, events room, and pool. The building is also next to the Atlapa Convention Center, which hosts everything from opera and ballet, to big food and business expos. Supermarkets, banks, the vast Omar Park, and beautiful Multiplaza Mall are all just minutes away.
If you prefer life at the beach, look to modern two-bedroom apartments and older resale homes in Coronado’s gated communities. These tend to start at around $200,000 and the closer you are to the water, the more you’ll pay. Many homes come with pools and/or memberships to the Coronado BlueBay Resort’s golf club. New buildings in this region tend to come with amenities like social areas, pools, and fitness rooms.
Take for example an apartment in Coronado priced at $210,000. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit is just over 1,200 square feet, including a balcony overlooking a vast park area. The building is in a gated community, has a barbecue area, visitor parking, fitness room, and party room. The unit is just three years old and even comes with major appliances. All this just a five-minute drive from the beach.
Another slightly smaller apartment has the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms—and a large balcony. And the wave-shaped building is one of the area’s most attractive. It has gated access, a rooftop pool (with 360-degree views), sauna, gym, play area, party room, and an open-air social area with infinity pool. The building is right on the beach…step from the social area onto the sand. It’s on the market for $225,000.
Granted, there are attractive, safe places in Panama where you can buy a new home for $80,000. Adventurous expats have discovered the joys of rural Azuero and Chiriqui. But when you stop to consider the California lifestyle expats enjoy in Coronado…or the exciting cosmopolitan capital that is Panama City…the value just jumps out at you.
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