Whenever I travel to any of Latin America’s colonial cities, I can’t help but compare them to my home, the historic Casco Viejo district of Panama City. I’ve lived here for almost five years and I love this neighborhood’s friendly, bohemian vibe and beautiful buildings.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the bright lights and amenities of the modern side of Panama City, too. But here, in the city’s “old town,” you can feel the romance and mystery of centuries past.
Scarlet and pink bougainvillea drapes an oceanfront walkway…a simple church conceals an ornate golden altar…a ship’s prow swoops skywards on the corner of an old sea captain’s house…
In my search for great-value real estate for Pathfinder, IL’s preferred real estate advertising partner, I’ve visited a lot of Central and South America’s colonial gems. And it’s not just the charm and number of attractions that make these places special—it’s the value, too. Because you can have your own colonial from $115,000.
In the current issue of International Living magazine, I reveal my three of my favorite colonial towns and a taste of the properties on offer there… and some buying tips that can help you get a fair price.
The Casco is the cultural heart of Panama City, Panama. Properties on the market include a renovated 108-square-meter apartment for $269,000. This one-bedroom, loft-style unit features granite countertops in the kitchen and antique-style tile floors. Another one-bedroom renovated apartment for $195,000, which is 119 square meters in size, comes with exposed stone walls and an internal courtyard garden.
In Granada, Nicaragua, the cluster of cobblestone streets, terracotta roofs, and cathedral spires shines brightly against a backdrop of green, cloud forest, the vast expanse of Lake Nicaragua, and the summer-blue sky.
Listings include a fixer-upper, close to the blue-washed San Francisco Convent, with an asking price of $160,000. The home sits on a 400-square-meter lot and the building covers 250 square meters. This is a great central location. A smaller move-in ready home with two bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths is $115,000. This property has a central courtyard garden, and both bedrooms have small balconies.
The landscape surrounding Cuenca, Ecuador is stunning. Purple and blue mountain peaks drop to fertile green valleys where you find rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and ancient Inca ruins.
You’ll find more apartments than you would in Granada, but not as many as in Casco Viejo. As in Granada, many of the largest houses are now luxury boutique hotels, finished with antique-style furniture.
Larger colonial properties are good value. For around $250,000 you can buy 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot homes.
For my full report, see page 14 of the October issue of International Living magazine.