Retire to a Panama Expat Pad, For Under $90,000

When you first look at real estate websites you might get the impression that Panama‘s Chiriquí province is beyond your budget. But discovering great deals is only a matter of being in Panama and hitting the pavements. You will soon discover there are some amazing properties well within your budget—older neighborhoods as well as new projects, where you can buy a home for under $90,000.

Housing developers throughout the province are building North American style homes. These homes have three bedrooms, two bathrooms with around 1,000- to 1,500-square-feet and start at $89,000. Larger models with more bedrooms start at $100,000. They include features such as tiled bathrooms/showers, granite kitchen counters, tiled floors, built-in closets, and covered carports.

More than 20 new housing developments are being built close to the well-established expat destinations of David (Panama’s second city) and Boquete. These newly constructed neighborhoods include wider streets with ample lighting, usually a central park, good WiFi, and water. They look exactly like what you are used to seeing in North America.

These developments consist of middle-class homes built for Panamanians, but now expats have discovered them as well. One such development is in Alto Boquete. About 50 homes have been built so far in this neighborhood. Prices start at $99,000. Homes here are 1,100 square feet and have three bedrooms and two bathrooms. All homes have views of Volcan Baru and are high enough to enjoy the breezes in Alto Boquete.

A development in the surrounding countryside of David has several homes already built and occupied. A two-bedroom, one-bathroom home starts at $108,000. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom home with 1,420-square-feet starts at $117,000. In this area alone there are over five such developments along a two-lane winding country road with picture postcard landscapes.

There are plenty other options to new construction. There are established neighborhoods all around Chiriquí that have homes for sale—furnished and unfurnished.

Many expats in Chiriquí choose to live in locations close to Boquete. As a result, several of your neighbors in Boquete will likely be English-speaking residents. Here, as well as in some other areas in Chiriquí you will also find condos and duplexes available. You may notice that several homes in the Boquete area have an extra casita (or small house) on the property that the owner rents out for extra income.

In Panama, many owners will not post “for sale” signs on their homes. So visiting with local real estate agents, looking at online sites such as Craigslist, Encuentra24, Compreoalquile, and FSBO as well as talking with the locals will give you a broader sense of what is for sale.

It is always a good idea to rent for a few months to get a feel for the real estate market in the area. Making friends and talking with expats is the best way to uncover good deals. Seeing what has been on the market awhile, what is selling, and at what price will give you a better understanding of the value of the properties you are interested in. Often you will be able to negotiate a good deal with an owner who has had a listing for over a year.

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