Help needed with the process when buying property in Panama

Recently retired, home up for sale and prepared to downsize and purchase 2 homes. 1 in Canada and possibly 1 in Panama.IL recommends renting in Panama 6 months to a year first, while travelling around (with informative assistance). Highland areas ( like cooler) say Chiriqui Province, while renting in or near Panama City.

Require help with process?

Step 1. Ideal unit rental search to suit my personality and interest, Casco Viejo, unique,quaint, historic? or Panama City proper perhaps, lots to see & do?

Step 2. Legal assistance req'd w/ Panama property purchase.

Require either "0" maintenance apartment/condo w/pool, local amenities, etc. or as I read I could afford someone to care for home property w/garden, hire help to prepare meals & clean house in a beautiful Boquete ...Chiriqui Province location while there 6 months each year initially, secured gated community. I do like beautiful ornamental gardens near waterfalls and fresh water ponds, but plan only self maintenence on Canadian home. Many fun questions and answers to sort out!

Step 3.

Plan to jump on Cruise ships periodically which is another reason of my interest in Panama. Ideal.

Question: Can you point me in right direction on these initial matters. It would mean much to me to have a kick start at this. Would attending IL Seminars really help with above immediate questions?

Thank you

Jessica Ramesch - Panama Correspondent

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your inquiry. International Living takes pride in being your best resource for information about life as an expat, both in Panamaand other locations around the world. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you where to find the information you seek.

I. Planning a visit? Here is some important information about Panama travel and resources:

Arriving/Departing: Most travelers fly into Tocumen International Airport, aka, the Hub of the Americas. Located in Panama City, Panama (call letters PTY), Tocumen is Panama’s only major international airport for commercial flights. Panama’s international airline, Copa, is Latin America’s largest airline and has helped transform Tocumen into the region’s busiest hub, with a great deal of direct and connecting flights.

The Marcos A. Gelabert Airport in Panama City (also referred to as Albrook, after the neighborhood in which it’s located) is a hub for domestic airline Air Panama.

The Enrique Malek airport in David, Chiriqui offers flights to and from Costa Rica; all other flights to and from David are domestic.

There are also small domestic airports or airstrips elsewhere in Panama, including the San Blas/Kunayala region, Chitre/Pedasi, Contadora Island, and Bocas del Toro.

Regarding the newly completed Scarlett Martinez airport at Rio Hato (Pacific Coast near Coronado), at time of writing, the government says this will serve international and domestic charter flights. The recently expanded Colon airport also serves charter flights.

Customs and Immigration: To visit Panama, U.S. and Canadian citizens must have a passport, valid for six months from your arrival here. No visa application required.

Citizens from visa waiver countries, including Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, El Salvador, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and Uruguay, may also visit Panama for up to 90 days without a visa*.

*This list and other information in this message is subject to change. Always check with your nearest Panamanian consulate or your home country’s foreign affairs office prior to travel to ensure you have the latest information.

For help planning your visit contact your travel agent or make use of reduced travel websites such as Low airfares are often available on Copa/United, visit: for more information. Spirit offers budget flights to Panama. Panama is served by many of the worlds major airlines.

New hotels open in Panama every year. For help choosing a hotel and other information try review sites such as

Local tourism/travel contacts:

• Local Travel Agent: Casey Halloran, Co-Owner, Costa Rican Vacations & Panama Luxury Vacations, In Costa Rica: 1-800-606-1860 ext 401, In Panama: 1-866-393-4192, Web:

• Eco-tours and custom tours:

• Road trips, tours, and ground transportation in Panama (including airport pickups): Inside Panama, email:, tel: +507-6675-6601; Sealandsky Journeys, email:, tel: +507-6630-0847; Marco Colucci, tel: +507-6672-1201, email:

• Rental Cars

There are many rental companies in Panama, including:

o National: Budget Rent A Car And more:

* Taxis are available nearly everywhere and are very inexpensive. Fares within the greater metropolitan area are usually $3 to $5. Visits to outlying areas like the Panama Canal Miraflores visitor center can cost $6 to $10.

Taxis do not use meters; they carry charts showing the price increase by district. Add $0.35 per additional person to the fare. Taxis charge extra for pickup at hotels, airports, and other tourist destinations. Any taxi can take you to the airport. Only special white "tourism taxis" are allowed to pick up passengers from the airport. Tocumen Airport fare should be $25 total for up to two people or $10 each for groups. Private ground transport companies usually charge $35. For more airport fares see:

It is not customary to tip taxi drivers (unless the driver has gone above and beyond or helped load luggage).

Always ask the taxi driver what the fare will be before getting in.

II. Country Information:

• Currency: Panama uses the U.S. dollar or $ (referred to as the Balboa or B/.). All bills are U.S. bills; you’ll find a mix of coins from different U.S. states as well as Panamanian coins. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Panama City, Amex is accepted in some but not all locations. Outside the city, you may need to use cash for some expenditures, including hotels/motels. A good rule of thumb: Assume nothing & Ask before you go.

• Foreign exchange: this is not a country where you’ll find exchange posts around every corner. Withdraw U.S. Dollars from ATMs in Panama City, ask whether your hotel offers exchange services, or plan on getting to a bank during local operating hours.

• Climate: Panama is tropical with average temperatures of 88º F and two seasons: dry (summer) and wet (“winter”). The dry season is usually December through April. In highland regions such as Boquete, temperatures can drop to 60º F at night. No matter where you go in Panama, consider bringing a light cardigan or jacket (it can get cold on the beach when it rains and indoors due to strong air conditioning). For current weather information consult Google News, The Weather Channel, or any other trusted news or weather source.

III. Resource Rolodex

Kindly note: As Panama editor I travel the country in order to write about it. As I am a full-time writer, I do not offer any consulting, concierge, real estate, or travel-related services. Here are some providers that will be happy to hear from you and help with these and other matters:

Real estate: International Living does not sell or broker real estate or rentals, so for real estate or rental queries, contact Pathfinder International Real Estate, exclusive marketer to International Living:

Pathfinder International Real EstateTura Murdocktmurdock@pathfinderinternational.netinfo@pathfinderinternational.netWebsite:

Advertising: To learn more about advertising in International Living magazine and other publications visit

Legal assistance: Whether you plan to live, invest or retire in Panama, you'll need a Panamanian lawyer to assist you with legal matters. If you don't already have one, send your legal questions to:

The Law Offices of Rainelda Mata-KellySuite 406-407, Tower B, Torres de las AmericasPunta Pacifica, Panama City, PanamaLocal tel: +(507) 216-9299From the U.S. or Canada tel: (011 507) 216-9299Email: rmk@mata-kelly.comWebsite:

International Living is the ultimate information source

Subscriptions and Memberships: For questions on IL subscriptions, products and services please contact International Living Customer Service via the website:

Buy subscriptions, detailed reports, and other products at the International Living bookstore,

To answer your question about the seminars:

Seminars such as the recent Fast Track Panama Conference are extremely popular because we err on the side of information overload when giving presentations to our attendees. On post seminar surveys most attendees rank the seminar is extremely helpful and well worth the time and expense, because topics covered include the breadth and depth of Panama, taking attendees to nearly every corner of the country to get a bird's eye view of the cities, towns, beaches, highlands, jungles, and mountain hideaways. We aim to give one of the most comprehensive overviews of the country imaginable, focusing on areas that are attractive to expats.

The seminar also covers the ins and outs of buying real estate overseas and legal information on everything from visas, trusts, bank accounts, titles, fees, taxes, etc.

Thanks again for your inquiry. International Living appreciates your patronage and trusts you'll benefit from the ultra-specific, actionable information provided in IL publications and products.

Best of luck with all your Panama plans.


Jessica RameschPanama editorInternational Living Publications

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