RE/MAX Beaches & City!

PJ0679-08

December is a busy month for real estate in Panama!!  I recently sold a property in Canada, and it required signatures.  Not a big deal, because my lawyer was able to send the paperwork here so that I didn't have to fly home in the middle of a buying spree, but the catch is that the signature had to be witnessed by a notary.

 

My fist concern in this process was that the documents would be in English, and the Panamanian notaries wouldn't be able to read them.  Secondly, would the Canadian legal system accpept a Spanish notarization.

 

So, I did what a lot of us would do in this situation, and turned to the Canadian Embassy in Panama.  They should be able to notarize a Canadian document right?  ......NO.

 

The good news is, when I finally went to the notary in Panama, it was very easy.  I showed the docs, my witness and I signed and stamped our fingerprints on the docs, and the notary signed that she had witnessed the signatures, and affixed her seal.  EASY!!

 

Cost:  $20 for 4 documents.

 

Cheers,

 

PS  There are Notary Offices all over the city of Panama, some WAY more busy than others.  I went to one called Guillermo Collad Ordonez, across the street of Via Brasil from IDAAN.  It was very quiet, took about 5 minutes, no line.

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I'm not sure exactly how this smartphone app makes money, but I believe it is still a free download.  Waze is a fully functional, user friendly, social navigation system.  I've used it for over a year, in Panama and Canada, and aside from it wanting to route me through some pretty dangerous areas of Panama City to save me time, I have had 0 complaints.  In fact I love it.

 

By social, I mean in real time, you can send messages to other users, warn them of hazards, police, and accidents, and the system even monitors the speed at which the users are driving, so that it can calculate the fastest route for you.

 

The only catch is that you do need a data plan to use the app.  This means that if you are just a visitor to Panama, you should have a sim card with a local data plan, otherwise it could get pretty pricey.

 

Waze is a worldwide app, so no matter where you go with your telephone, you can navigate with it.

 

Visit www.waze.com

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Airport_WR_01

Rio Hato airport nears completion

photos by Wendy Reaman

The construction of the new Rio Hato airport is almost done. More properly speaking, it is a reconstruction of an old airstrip that was built by the US military during World War II and since then has gone through various phases of use and abandonment. It is intended to be a domestic and international airport, with the area’s fresh seafood and produce headed out toward the world’s markets and tourists coming in and out on charter flights.

The project is probably way over its initially stated budget, but these matters are guarded as state secrets by the current administration. As originally described the project would not have met international standards for airport security, but as you can see from some of the photos — especially those of you who know what the place looked like before — a far stronger set of security measures has been incorporated into the project and that would have driven up the cost.

In the immediate vicinity where airplane noise becomes a factor, property values may take a hit. However, it is expected that for the general area from about Coronado to Penonome, the convenience of a nearby airport will be a huge selling point and property values will appreciate. Much of that factor depends on whether international passenger service other than charter flights will connect Rio Hato to points abroad, and the extent to which the rebuilt airport will be conveniently integrated into the nation’s domestic air passenger systems. Certainly it would be more attractive for many foreigners to live in or visit Santa Clara by flying in and out without having to make the drive from Panama City. 

 

Rio Hato airport

 

Rio Hato Airport

 

Rio Hato Airport

 

Rio Hato Airport

 

Rio Hato Airport

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If you are not yet living in Panama compare this to where you are now living. Keep in mind Panama gas starts at 91 Octane.

Fuel Prices Will Go Down Starting On Friday
Wednesday, October 02 2013 @ 07:14 PM EDT
Panama Guide

Contributed by: Staff Journalist

Starting on Friday, October 4th, fuel prices will decrease.

The 95 octane gasoline without ethanol will cost $1.04 per liter, registering a decline of 0.04 cents, while 95 octane gasoline with ethanol will cost $1.05 per liter, registering a decline of 0.04 cents.

The 91 octane gasoline without ethanol will cost $0.98 per liter, with a reduction of 0.03 cents, while the 91 octane gasoline with ethanol will cost $1.00 per liter, registering a decline of 0.03 cents.

Meanwhile, the diesel will cost $0.98 per liter, registering a decline of 0.03 cents.(Panama America)

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Real Estate Taxes - Article 764 of the Panamanian Tax Code indicates which properties are exempt from property tax. In effect until December 2018.  These properties include:

All properties registered at a value of 30,000 USD or less including improvements to the land, i.e. construction;

Land used exclusively for farming and registered with the Ministry of Agriculture and Development at less than 150,000 USD;

The real estate tax basis should be understood as being the value of the land plus the improvements which includes any construction on the land. 

The panama real estate tax table:

Based on the above tax table, if you have a property valued at 100,000 USD, with no special new construction incentives, your break down of real estate taxes should be as follows:

2.10% of 100,000 USD

(0.00 USD for the 0 -30,000 bracket which is tax exempt) +

(349.98 USD for the 30,001 - 50,000 bracket at a rate of 1.75%) +

(487.48 USD for the 50,001-75,000 bracket at a rate of 1.95%) +

(524.98 USD for the 75,001 - 100,000 bracket at a rate of 2.1%) =

a total of 1362.44 USD for annual property taxes. 

New Construction Incentives and Property Tax Exonerations: Panama boasts new construction incentives which grant anywhere from 5-15 years of property tax exonerations on the improvements i.e. Construction.

Depending on the value of the construction and whether it is residential or commercial the following terms apply.

Commercial buildings have 10 years of tax exonerations on the improvement

Residential construction valued up to:

100,000 USD gets 15 years of property tax exonerations on the improvements

250,000 USD gets 10 years of property tax exonerations on the improvements

250,000 + USD gets 5 years of property tax exonerations on the improvements 

How and When to Pay your Panama Real Estate Taxes: Real estate taxes are due 3 times per year in Panama, at the end of the months of April, August and December. In order to pay real estate taxes, you need to know your property's tax ID. The tax ID is referred to as a RUC which stands for Registro Unico de Contribuyente, or Unique Taxpayer Registry. Every titled property in Panama is assigned its own RUC, by which its corresponding property tax payments are credited.

Property taxes must be paid in the form of either cash or certified check from a bank of locality. If by check, the payment must be issued to TESORO NACIONAL, (NATIONAL TREASURY) and it must include the property RUC.

The payments can be made at a variety of locations including but not limited to the following banks:

Caja de Ahorros
Banco Nacional
Banco General
Banvivienda 

There is usually a service charge of approximately 2.00-3.00 USD so that the tax payment is credited to the system instantaneously. The payments must be accompanied with the attached form which can be obtained at certain Cajas de Ahorro, and Bancos Nacionales.

In order to know how much is owed in real estate taxes, it is recommended to solicit a NIT (numero de identificacion tributaria) or Tax ID number. A NIT is essentially a password for on-line access via the department of revenue website. There is no cost to solicit a NIT and once obtained it allows you to view your real estate tax account statements, and print out documents of good standing for real estate taxes (paz y salvos) from the comfort of your home or office. In order to obtain your NIT you will need to fill out the form at the ANIP website: https://www.anip.gob.pa/defaultsecure.asp

It generally takes a couple days to a week before your NIT is approved and assigned. To solicit your NIT you will need:

The RUC for your property;

The passport or cedula number of the property owner, or legal representative if the property is in the name of a corporation or foundation;

The DOB and Expiration date of your cedula or passport of the property owner or legal representative;

The full name of either parent of the property owner or legal representative.

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Panama


GDP: $31 B As of October 2012


At a Glance

 

GDP Growth: 10.6%
GDP/Capita: $8,590
Trade Balance: -12.7%
Population: 3.5 M
Public Debt As % of GDP: 42%
Unemployment: 4.5%
Inflation: 5.9%


Forbes Lists

#57 Best Countries for Business

 

Profile

 

Panama's dollar-based economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for more than three-quarters of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, logistics, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. Economic growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and is scheduled to be completed by 2014 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 10% of current GDP. The expansion project will more than double the Canal's capacity, enabling it to accommodate ships that are too large to traverse the existing canal. The United States and China are the top users of the Canal. Panama also plans to construct a metro system in Panama City, valued at $1.2 billion and scheduled to be completed by 2014. Panama's booming transportation and logistics services sectors, along with aggressive infrastructure development projects, have lead the economy to continued growth in 2011. Strong economic performance has not translated into broadly shared prosperity, as Panama has the second worst income distribution in Latin America. About 30% of the population lives in poverty; however, from 2006 to 2010 poverty was reduced by 10 percentage points, while unemployment dropped from 12% to less than 3% of the labor force in 2011. A US-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement was approved by Congress and signed into law in October 2011. Seeking removal from the Organization of Economic Development's gray-list of tax havens, Panama has also recently signed various double taxation treaties with other nations.

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Have you been scouring the internet looking for a house in the mountains here in Panama?  Trying to find something under $300,000 can be challenging to say the least.  At least anything that you would want to call a retirement home. 

 

Here is something you may not yet have come accross in your countless hours of clicking on the net.  New developments.  Pre construction in Panama is THE most common way to buy new construction here in Panama, and Altos del Maria is playing along.  There are currently 6 new homes being constructed on great lots in the subdivision, and they are priced really nicely.

 

Add to that, 1 year warranty, and the fact that if you catch them early enough, you may have some control over what types of finishes go in, it is a great option.  Available now are 2 and 3 bedrooms starting at only $237,000 dollars. 

 

eldonspears@remax.net for more info!!

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Explore the exciting rebirth of Panama City

Photos by TITO HERRERA / The New York Times
 
People walk along the bay in Panama City.  Over the past 13 years, the Panama capital has been racing to become a  world-class metropolis.

In a great article by  Tim Neville of the NY Times, he explores the main streets of Panama City to the back alleys of the old city.

 

Traffic into Panama City was flowing for once, so Miguel  Fabrega had only a moment to point out the crumbling ruins in the  distance. They were the remains of a 16th-century New Spanish settlement  that the British privateer Sir Henry Morgan eventually sacked in 1671.  Ahead of us rose Old Panama’s modern replacement: a forest of green,  blue and yellow glass skyscrapers that sifted the metallic Central  American sky into great vertical columns.

“You’re going to hear a lot about identity, who we are and where we  are going,” said Fabrega, a 37-year-old artist, writer and partner in a  creative think tank called DiabloRosso, which promotes emerging artists  in Panama.

Despite being founded in 1519, Panama is really only 13 years old,  Fabrega argued, its birthday being Dec. 31, 1999, the day the United  States gave the Panama Canal and its surrounding land back to the  Panamanians. For the first time in a century the country was whole and  independent.

 

“My generation inherited this blank canvas,” said Fabrega. “Now we have the chance to make it our own.”

Today, that canvas is far from blank, however. Over the past 13  years, Panama City has been racing to become a world-class metropolis,  and for travelers, the changes have been enormous. In 1997 there were  perhaps 1,400 hotel rooms in Panama City. Now there are more than 15,000  rooms with 4,582 more in the pipeline, according to STR Global, a  London-based agency that tracks hotel markets. In the last two years  alone, Trump, Starwood, Waldorf-Astoria, Westin and Hard Rock have  opened hotels here. A new biodiversity museum designed by Frank Gehry is  nearly complete. The country’s first modern dance festival unfolded  last year, the same year Panama held its first international film  festival. The Panama Jazz Festival is going strong after 10 years. The  country even has its own year-old microbrewery.

 

“Panama was this compressed spring just ready to go,” said Keyes  Christopher Hardin, a New York lawyer-turned-developer working to  restore the city’s old colonial area. “When the Noriega dictator years  ended and the U.S. returned all that canal land, things just took off.  Everything that could go right did go right.”

Indeed, since 2008, when much of the world was in a recession, the  Panamanian economy has expanded by nearly 50 percent. The canal itself,  which frames the western edge of Panama City, is undergoing a $5.25  billion expansion that is expected to double its capacity and fuel even  more economic growth.

Yes, Panama still struggles with crime and poverty, but foreigners  are clearly intrigued with the way things are unfolding. In 1999 just  457,000 international tourists visited Panama, World Bank figures show.  In 2011, more than 1.4 million came. Plenty are staying, too:  sun-seeking Americans, Venezuelans and wealthy Colombian expatriates who  are buying second homes and retirement properties all over Panama.

 

From slums to cocktail bars

In short, this city of about 880,000 people has gone from a ho-hum  business center on the navy blue Pacific to a major leisure destination  in record time. In doing so it has become a place full of the kind of  paradoxes that occur whenever a very old place grinds against the very  new. While the capital now has luxury apartments and five-star cuisine,  the thing it needs most is a solid sense of identity.

 

In my spring visit, I hoped to get a sense of a city as it enters its  teenage years. I would hike through slums where street merchants sold  black magic spices, then change my shirt to sip $15 cocktails in the  neon glamour of a Hard Rock bar. I would eat terrible chicken and  wonderful octopus. I’d spend time with locals, expats, artists,  entrepreneurs and a former gangster.

 

For now, Fabrega wanted to show me his interpretation of some of the  changes afoot. We drove to Costa del Este, a section of the city with a  skyline that looked like a concrete comb. Our destination was a pop-up  gallery that had opened the night before inside an unfinished retail  space at the bottom of a new white skyscraper. Sixteen of Fabrega’s  abstract paintings with bright yellows, blues and reds hung on the  concrete walls in an exhibition he called “Banana Republic.” It didn’t  take long to spot some common motifs: finger-shapes that formed no  hands, faucets that had no pipes and machines that could do no work.

 

“This is Panama,” Fabrega said with a shrug. “It’s beautiful, but it makes no sense.”

Panama has pretty much always been a bridge for cultures, conquerors  and, well, birds, but once that mishmash gets distilled into the 50-some  blocks of the colonial neighborhood of Casco Viejo, an eclectic, almost  Noah’s Ark-like vibrancy prevails. The Chinese run so many small  groceries here that Panamanians simply call the shops “Chinos.” The  French left their mark on the corner of Avenida A and Calle 4, where a  Parisian-style apartment building displays elegant rounded balconies.  You hear German, Portuguese and English on the streets.

 

Parts of the area are still pretty seedy, though, and an elite  division of stern-looking police officers patrol the area with machine  guns and motorcycles. “I was definitely nervous about coming here at  first, with the shootings and the gangs,” recalled Matt Landau, a New  Jerseyan who moved to Panama City in 2006 and now owns Los Cuatro  Tulipanes, a boutique hotel and apartment enterprise in Casco Viejo. A  stray bullet smashed into the Canal House, the hotel where I stayed, in  2009, and Landau still warns guests not to wander beyond certain blocks.  But Casco Viejo does feel quite safe, even at night, when the  neighborhood comes alive with busy restaurants and rooftop bars. “I  can’t begin to tell you how much it has all changed,” Landau said.

 

Old ‘Canal Zone’ transforms

Eager to explore more of the city, I met up with Jessica Ramesch, the  Panama editor of International Living magazine. We piled into her  Hyundai and fought our way out to a former U.S. military base called  Clayton that sits along the canal in the northwest part of the city.

 

“All of this area was pretty much closed to Panamanians when the  Americans were here,” she said as we crept through the Canal Zone, a  Phoenix-size former U.S. territory where Americans working and defending  the canal lived a strange, cross-world existence. “Zonians,” as they  were called, could get Guess jeans and Jif peanut butter just as on most  military bases abroad, but then monkeys might walk with the children to  school. Huge ships moved through the Miraflores Locks just to the west  of the road.

 

“Many Zonians stayed and some of the bases have become these gorgeous neighborhoods,” Ramesch said.

Clayton is one of them. Though it was now getting dark, I could see  community centers and signs for the City of Knowledge, a compound for  research, tech companies and nongovernmental organizations. We parked  near a soccer field and wandered toward a massive corotu tree where a  crowd had spread out blankets and lawn chairs. A band was warming up  near the trunk.

 

While much of the city’s night life unfolds along Calle Uruguay,  every full moon during the dry months hundreds of people head out to  Clayton to bang on Tupperware containers, buckets and anything else that  might make a noise. They do their best to follow the band — just a  group of friends, really — which plays pop, reggae and whatever else it  feels like.

 

“Who here can drum?” an announcer shouted into a microphone, and the pounding became a roar.

Over the next several days, few things I saw or did in the city had  quite the same wow factor as this bucket band gathered under an old  tree. I sipped cocktails at Barlovento, a new rooftop bar where slinky  women and V-shaped men swirled around in a cyclone of perfume and  cigarettes, and I shopped for tapestries made by Kuna Indians along a  waterfront paseo. A hike on a steep, carless road up a jungly hill in  the middle of the city stood out, but that’s because an anteater crossed  my tracks, and I’d never seen one of those before.

 

But here on the ground with wine and cheese and a fat moon hanging in  the trees, I wondered if a city needs to add up to make sense. As  absurd as Panama City can feel at times, it is certainly a lot of fun,  too, and between the cracks of all the chaos, these mini-miracles are  burbling through.

 

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Live large, pay small in Panama City

By Gabriel O’Rorke, for CNN
May 17, 2013 — Updated 0645 GMT (1445 HKT)

 

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Panama City is the world's third cheapest major city. Over the past decade, however, Panama has enjoyed the fastest growing economy in Latin America, bringing new luxury hotels, restaurants and services. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Panama City is the world’s third cheapest major city. Over the past decade, however, Panama has enjoyed the fastest growing economy in Latin America, bringing new luxury hotels, restaurants and services.
For the indecisive gourmand, Manolo Caracol serves a fantastic nine-course tasting menu for $36 per person. Blueberry ice cream with sugarcane honey (pictured) is a typical dessert. For the indecisive gourmand, Manolo Caracol serves a fantastic nine-course tasting menu for $36 per person. Blueberry ice cream with sugarcane honey (pictured) is a typical dessert.
In the old town of Casco Viejo, the Canal House has just three suites (from $320 per night) set around a large wooden staircase. The high-end guesthouse is owned by two sisters and loved for its quirky charm and homemade cooking. In the old town of Casco Viejo, the Canal House has just three suites (from $320 per night) set around a large wooden staircase. The high-end guesthouse is owned by two sisters and loved for its quirky charm and homemade cooking.
Latin America's first Waldorf Astoria hotel opened in March 2013. Book early and rooms start from $159, with that swanky pool included. Latin America’s first Waldorf Astoria hotel opened in March 2013. Book early and rooms start from $159, with that swanky pool included.
It's not just about heavy shipping. The Panama Canal is one of the world's true man-made marvels, and beautiful, too. Numerous land, water and aerial tours are available from Panama City. It’s not just about heavy shipping. The Panama Canal is one of the world’s true man-made marvels, and beautiful, too. Numerous land, water and aerial tours are available from Panama City.
Casa del Horno is a pretty boutique hotel on a colorful cobbled street in Casco Viejo. Surrounded by churches and plazas, it's one of many colonial buildings to be renovated in recent years, making Casco Viejo feel a bit like Cartagena in neighboring Colombia. Casa del Horno is a pretty boutique hotel on a colorful cobbled street in Casco Viejo. Surrounded by churches and plazas, it’s one of many colonial buildings to be renovated in recent years, making Casco Viejo feel a bit like Cartagena in neighboring Colombia.
The year-old Tantalo Hotel has brought a new sense of style to the capital. Each of its 12 rooms was designed by a different Panamanian artist. Designs range from gentle and flowery to seductive, with red and black walls and silver ceiling studs. The year-old Tantalo Hotel has brought a new sense of style to the capital. Each of its 12 rooms was designed by a different Panamanian artist. Designs range from gentle and flowery to seductive, with red and black walls and silver ceiling studs.
New everything seems to be sprouting up across the capital. Healthy competition is keeping standards high and Panama City now has a plethora of top-quality, luxury experiences for cut prices. Affluence is bringing sights like these yachts to Puerto Amador, a Panama City suburb. New everything seems to be sprouting up across the capital. Healthy competition is keeping standards high and Panama City now has a plethora of top-quality, luxury experiences for cut prices. Affluence is bringing sights like these yachts to Puerto Amador, a Panama City suburb.
 
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

 

  • Panama City is the Americas’ most affordable capital city, but luxury standards often prevail
  • Book early and you can stay at Waldorf Astoria Panama for $159
  • Cup of world’s most expensive coffee is $6.50. In Tokyo, same cup goes for up to $50
  • Panama has Latin America’s fastest growing economy

(CNN) — When the Economist Intelligence Unit released its most recent Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, the spotlight, as ever, fell on the world’s most expensive cities.

Tokyo came in on top of the pile of places that drain the color from your wallet, while Osaka and Sydney were second and third.

World’s most expensive cities

But what about the other end of the spectrum — how about a holiday where you can live it up without hemorrhaging cash?

The world’s cheapest city is Tehran, Iran, followed by Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Both have rich heritages, but Iran and Saudi Arabia are better known for generating controversial headlines than attracting tourists.

In third place, however, Panama City popped up. The Central American country is best known for hats and a canal — now we’ve got a reason to make sure our passport is up to date!

Over the past decade, Panama has enjoyed the fastest growing economy in Latin America.

As a result, new hotels and restaurants have sprouted across the capital. Healthy competition is keeping standards high, and Panama City has a plethora of top-quality, luxury experiences for cut prices.

Panama City is the most affordable capital city in the Americas.
Panama City is the most affordable capital city in the Americas.

Logistics

Before stepping foot outside the airport, you’ve started saving. All tourists arriving at Tocumen International Airport are given travel insurance for 30 days. It is granted by the Panamanian Tourism Authority; the government has provided the service since it signed an $8 million deal with Assicurazioni Generali.

Next up: cash. The Panamanian balboa is linked with the dollar and the two currencies are interchangeable, so there’s no paying a commission for changing currency.

As for airport transfers, a standard taxi to the city center costs $28. You could arrive in style with a Panama Luxury Limousine for $88.50. The same service would cost $145 in Rio de Janeiro, or $427 in Tokyo.

More cents can be saved (and you can do your bit for the environment) by avoiding bottled water. Tap water in Panama City is safe to drink, not a given in the region.

Hotels

Waldorf Astoria Panama

Latin America’s first Waldorf Astoria hotel opened in March 2013.

Book early and rooms start from $159.

Located on Calle Uruguay, aka “restaurant row,” the 248 rooms have metallic, glass and crystal decor designed by Miami-based Ba-Haus/KNF.

A stay here certainly doesn’t feel like skimping. The outdoor swimming pool is covered in gold tiles, there’s a swanky spa and each guest is given a personal concierge.

Overseen by head chef Kalych Padro Alvarado, four restaurants include a sushi bar and a French brasserie.

Waldorf Astoria Panama, 47th and Uruguay Streets; rooms from $159; +507 294 8000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +507 294 8000 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Casa del Horno

Founded in 1501, Panama was a Spanish colony for three centuries. Known as Casco Viejo, the historic part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Casa del Horno (Oven House) sits on a colorful cobbled street in Casco Viejo. Surrounded by churches and plazas, it’s one of many colonial buildings to be renovated in recent years, making Casco Viejo feel like Cartagena in neighboring Colombia.

Built in the 1850s, the eight-room hotel was originally a bakery. Stone walls remain, alongside art deco wooden furniture and all the modern fixtures, including LCD TVs and iPod docks.

The hotel’s cafe and restaurant are reached via the pavement, avoiding the clinical feel that can befall hotel restaurants.

Casa del Horno, Avenue B and Eighth Street; +507 212 0052 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +507 212 0052 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting ; rooms from $250 for two-person suite

Big city, big lights, at Tantalo Hotel\'s rooftop bar.
Big city, big lights, at Tantalo Hotel’s rooftop bar.

Tantalo Hotel

The year-old Tantalo Hotel has 12 rooms, each designed by a different Panamanian artist. Designs range from gentle and flowery to seductive, with red-and-black walls and silver ceiling studs.

Downstairs, a “living wall” is made from 900 lush plants. The restaurant dishes up Panama-style tapas, such as octopus with lemongrass and ginger. Cocktails, wine and several dishes to share will cost around $30 a head.

Each month, paintings in the communal areas change.

“The idea is for the fourth floor to be like an art gallery that you can wander around with a drink,” says assistant manager Catalina Bermudez.

The big, buzzing rooftop bar has panoramic views and hosts events including a monthly Cuban music evening.

Tantalo, Avenue B and Eighth Street; +507 262 4030 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +507 262 4030 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting ; rooms from $120

Canal House

Canal House is a creaky 19th-century mansion in Casco Viejo, and checking in feels like staying with a stately aunt. With just three suites set around a large wooden staircase, this high-end guesthouse is owned by two sisters and loved for its quirky charm and homemade cooking. It was called “the finest accommodation that exists in Panama,” by Panama 980 magazine.

Canal House, Calle 5a Este; +507 228-1907 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +507 228-1907 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting ; rooms from $195, suites from $320

Dining and nightlife

Restaurante Angel (Via Argentina No. 6868, El Cangrejo; +507 263 6411 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +507 263 6411 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting ) is the city’s special occasion Spanish restaurant. You’ll get impeccably prepared seafood, beef, lamb and rabbit in an elegant setting with crisp service for around $20-25 per person, not including drinks.

There’s big food and big atmosphere for reasonable prices at Las Bovedas (Plaza Francia; +507 228 8058 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +507 228 8058 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting ), a French restaurant set in the arched vaults of a 300-year-old fort in Casco Viejo. Fresh seafood, steaks, snails (it’s a signature dish) and great service are the hallmarks at this dressy classic.

Blueberry ice cream with sugar cane honey, from Manolo Caracol.
Blueberry ice cream with sugar cane honey, from Manolo Caracol.

Panamanian food is a mix of European, Asian and African tastes. The best way to experience the fusion is at Maito (Calle 50, Coco del Mar; +507 391 4657 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +507 391 4657 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting ). It’s not often you order plantain hash with fried ceviche and come out smiling. Then there’s the ropa vieja main of shredded beef with a goat cheese sauce. Panamanian chef Mario Castrellón trained in Barcelona and returned to his hometown with a mission to start a “new gastronomy” inspired by the canal — the idea being that the waterway literally brings these different influences to the city.

For the indecisive gourmand, Manolo Caracol (Avenida Central and Calle 3, +507 228 4640 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +507 228 4640 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting ) serves a set nine-course tasting menu for $36 per person. Busy and smart, yet relaxed, the open kitchen churns out seafood, meat and vegetable dishes made with local ingredients, the majority of which come straight from chef Caracol’s farm. Highlights include seafood bisque, corn tortilla with chorizo, and coconut fish curry with yuca tortillas.

Not exactly luxury but tasty and cheap all the same, Mercado del Marisco seafood market (Avenida Balboa and Calle Eloy Alfaro) is a great place to wander. When Anthony Bourdain came to Panama, this was his first stop. Here you’ll find rows of al fresco stalls selling ceviche for $1.25 a cup. There’s also an upstairs restaurant with a larger menu with hearty fish stews and filleted sea bass.

New Casco Viejo coffeehouse Bajareque sells the world’s most expensive coffee, Geisha, for a reasonable $6.50 a cup. Panama is the world’s only producer of this rare coffee, which typically retails for $172.50 per kilo. Fitting for its name, Geisha coffee mainly sells in Japan and costs $50 a cup at Tokyo coffee shops like Horiguchi Coffee.

The primary nightlife spots are Calle Uruguay and Casco Viejo, both of which are lined with places to sample Panama’s four national beers, Panama, Balboa, Suarana and Atlas, for a couple of dollars.

In Casco Viejo, Habana Panama (Calle Eloy Alfaro y Calle 12 Este; +507 212 0152 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +507 212 0152 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting ), isn’t just the hottest dance spot in the city, it’s an atmospheric salsa hall that recalls the elegance of old Cuba and Ricky Ricardo style. Live bands typically don’t hit the stage until midnight. For a typical $10 cover you’ll find fewer better shows (or more fun) anywhere.

Then there’s Barlovento (Calle 10 A; +507 6613 4345), a tropical-style rooftop bar where the beautifuls hang. With views over Casco Viejo (rather than the Panama City skyline over at Tántalo) and a DJ playing a mix of electronic music and Latin beats, the place is pumping on the weekends. Again there’s a $10 cover charge (if you’re male that is; women enter free) but you’d easily pay a $25 cover for the same deal in Mexico City.

The Panama Canal is one of the world\'s top man-made attractions.
The Panama Canal is one of the world’s top man-made attractions.

Attractions:


Panama Viejo

The oldest section of the city, Panama Viejo was burned to the ground in the late 17th century by British pirate (or privateer, depending who you ask) Sir Henry Morgan.

The crumbling remains of towers, forts and houses run along the coast waiting to be explored. The visitors center has a model showing the city before Morgan showed up.

 

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal took 250,000 people more than 10 years to build (not counting the original failed French-led effort), transports 40 boats each day (taking eight to 10 hours per transit) and costs an average of $85,000 per vessel.

Luckily, tours are a little less, and a partial transit with Canal & Bay Tours costs $135 per person, including breakfast, lunch and transfer though two sets of locks.

The Panama Canal celebrates its centenary in 2014, and to mark the occasion it’s undergoing a $5.25 billion modernization and expansion.

Progress is best viewed from above. Air Charter Panama arranges one-hour helicopter tours covering the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the canal from $749 for three passengers in a Robinson R44.

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Travelling with Pets

Here are the Steps:

 



1. Obtain an International Health Certificate from your vet for each pet traveling to Panama. This certificate will state that your pet is in good health and has been vaccinated against rabies. This certificate must be issued no more than 10 days prior to the date of travel.

2. Take the International Health Certificate to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency nearest you. They will stamp the certificate for you. There is no cost for this service.

3. Take or send the stamped certificate to Foreign Affairs Canada for authentication. There is no cost for this service.

4. Take or send the certificate to the Panamanian Consulate nearest you for authentication. The cost is US $30 per document. For more information about the authentication of documents please visit the Authentication of Documents Section.

5. Three (3) days prior to arrival to Panama, send the Domestic Quarantine Form (English) or (Spanish) to cam@minsa.gob.pa This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fax the completed Quarantine for Domestic Animals form to (if you are calling from Canada) 011507 238-3855 This document will let the authorities in Panama know that a dog will be arriving to Panama, and will assure that an officer will be waiting at the airport to inspect your pet.

6. When you arrive to Panama with your pet, you will have to pay US $130 for Domestic Quarantine. This fee allows you to take your dog home with you, and will avoid overnight stays in quarantine.

 

7. If the owner fulfill the requirements, the animal (s) must be given to its owner. If the owner no fulfill, the pet will be sent back to the country of origin using the airline used in the arriving to Panama.

 

Take note of the following ministry working hours in the Tocumen International Airport in Panama:

 

• The schedule of attention is from 8:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m Monday to Friday.

• The pets that come on weekends or holydays will be kept on the canil area of the airport.

 

If you do not arrive in Panama during these times, please make the necessary arrangements with the above mentioned authorities.

 

http://www.embassyofpanama.ca/index.php/component/content/article?id=140

 

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I am pleased to be able to offer a vast variety of lots and land for sale here in Panama.  For people with aspirations big and small, I have something listed for everybody.  Mountain lots, beachfront land with development potential, and large plots of mountain property with ocean views.  

 

I try to keep my land listings organized on www.landwatch.com.  By clicking on the link below, it should take you most of my exclusive land for sale in Panama.

 

http://eldonspears.landwatch.com?utm_medium=linktous&utm_source=2

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So those 2 pointy towers I have been driving by for the last year are finally ready and delivered.  Remax Beaches & City has a listing in Santa Clara Residences, so I was fortunate enough to get a first hand look today.  

 

Wow!!  Not only is the building beautiful, but the area.  If you loved the beach, and the area of the Decameron Resort, then Santa Clara Residences really is worth considering.  Still just a jet ski away from the popular island situated off the coast in front of Decameron Resort, this development leaves you with a feeling of familiarity when staring into the distance from the large balconies.  As soon as you walk into the welcoming lobby, you can feel the exclusive luxury that the designers have strived to portray.  Bright, rich, airy, and so different from any other building you are going to see on your condo tour of the beaches.

 

The pool and social areas have been well thought out, catering to your every need, with bar service, consierge, and much more.  Security is never an issue, with a gate at the highway entrance, and the entrance to the parking lot.  There is even a large control room inside and above the lobby with cameras monitoring what is yours.  The road leading in is freshly paved, and the security gate is not only functional, but a work of art, standing guard over the kids play area, and the driving range.  Mom and Dan can hit some balls and keep the kids safely entertianed with no effort.

 

I took a more than ample amount of photographs that you can enjoy here:

 

http://eldonspears.com/mylistings.html/details-31586498

 

http://beachesandcity.com/detalles.php?elemid=631&elemid_cat=0&elemid_subcat=0

 

http://www.remax-caribbeanislands.com/900301010-51

 

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You are never alone in Panama.  Let me tell you, I wish I had a list of every Canadian that is currently spending 6 months or more in Panama every year.  It would be large.  

 

I have so many clients that feel so alone when making the move to Panama.  The truth is, there are so many of us down here that it is really unbelievable.  Every Canadian down here has done it.  Every Canadian down here is doing it, and they are very happy to help you do it too.  Information is fine, and there is a ton of it, but experience is another thing, and us Canadians have it.

 

Here are some groups you can join, and some other imformation sources.  Facebook pages are awesome for poking around and finding the people who are doing it.

 

http://beachesandcity.com/blog/

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/303345916376539/

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2397416901/

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2361122601/

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/5729158578/

 

https://www.facebook.com/PanamaCanadaRealEstate

 

These are just a few places where one can network, and ask questions in order to gain the perspectives of those of us who have done it, and wouldn't you know it?  Canadians are always happy to give you their story!!

 

Another great thing to consider, is that even after you have made the move, you don't have to be a pioneer.  You can ask a fellow Canadian what the best way to get a driver's license is, or how to import that car.  Many people have made great Panamanian contacts who can get things done much quicker than you, doing it for the first time.

 

Cheers!!

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Ministers discuss more Panama-Canada flights, visas

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The governments of Canada and Panama are both interested in expanding flight frequencies between the two countries, says the Panamanian Foreign Ministry.

The issue was discussed during a Sunday March 17 meeting in Panama City between Panamanian Foreign Minister, Fernando Nunez Fabrega, and the Minister of State of Canada, Diane Ablonczy, to expand bilateral relations.

Nunez Fabrega said that the Rio Hato airport will be inaugurated soon and would be a great start to increase the flow of tourists through Canadian Airlines flights.
The Panamanian foreign minister suggested a review of the bilateral Air Transport Agreement, as well as streamlining the procedures for granting visas to Panamanian nationals. The difficulty of obtaining a visa to Canada has long been a sore point, and was raised by media representatives when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Panama to discuss the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries. Nunez Fabrega even suggested that consideration be given to the abolition of visas in general, or at least as a first step, to Panamanian diplomats, in reference to the principle of reciprocity. Panamanians visiting the UK for less than six months do not need a visa.
The Canadian minister said that her country shared the interest with Panama of being a member of the Pacific Alliance, a mechanism in which the two countries have observer status.
She said Canada would at the next meeting of the Alliance on May 23 in the Colombian city of Cali, with the aim of achieving full membership.

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I continue to get the question from buyers, do you think now is a good time to buy?  YES!!  In 2012, in Panama, housing sales increased by 13 pecent, and will likely climb by another 16% in 2013.  This is not only due to foreigners buying here.  Of course it helps, but what is really driving the housing market in Panama at present is just the fact that it is becoming more prosperous for it's citizens.  The middle class is growning everyday, and thier incomes are too.

 

Many Panamanians now can afford to buy a home in the suburbs, or a condo in the city AND a beach property to enjoy  on the weekends.  The economy here grows every year by well over 10% and often close to 20%.  People from governments all over the world are flocking here with their money to avoid taxes, outright government theft, and opressive, failing systems and economies.  The Tocoumen airport is busier than ever with travellers using it as their hub rather than the overly secure American airports.  New airports are being built close to the beaches, prompting new hotel developments, and the opening up areas of Panama's beaches that before were a hassle to access.  

 

In fact, the population is growing fast.  People are realizing that it is very easy to gain residence, start a business, and not only compete for market share, but create it.  The country is hungry for new products and services.  Every service that we take for granted in North America is overloaded here.  All one need do is throw up a shingle, and the business is yours.  Money is being spent like crazy!!  It is something that you won't believe until you see it.  Walk into any retail outlet in Panama, and there are 50 cashiers working to keep the gears of commerce turning as better paid Panamanians spend like never before to achieve the lifestyles they have never been able to.

 

You just can't help but feel the energy in Panama City.  It is electric with change.  New subway, no more Diablo Rojos, freshly paved roads absolutely everywhere.  Newly expanded Canal, museums, mansions, Porches, Ferraris, BMWs, big hummers and Ford Raptors.  It all indicates what is to come for this little third world country.

 

All this points in only one direction.  UP.  If you aren't buying today, you WILL pay more tomorrow.

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for Panamanian Pacific Coastal Properties

The Panama City construction boom is a major factor in creating increased demand for country “second homes”. As the city becomes ever more hectic and successful as a commercial location, the same families buying expensive urban condos will start looking for a quiet country place to unwind and relax on weekends and holidays to regain their sanity. The Pacific coast beaches and mountain highlands are as natural as night follows day.

In addition to this internally generated demand from urban condo sales, there are 100,000,000 million baby boomers, including persons under age 65, only in North America many of whom are looking for an idyllic retirement spot. Pacific coast Panama has the right profile at the right time. Today, Panama is on almost everyone’s radar.

The Government of Panama has very wisely put out the “welcome mat” to attract permanent residents as “pensionados” based on minimal financial requirements of $600 per month pension income.

The surprising fact is that the average “pensionado” in Panama happens to be very well educated and has retirement resources and cash flow much in excess of this minimum number.

Another main source of demand for Pacific coast properties is tourism. Tourism has been increasing by leaps and bounds in Panama with incredible annual percentage increases. Tourism has virtually doubled just in the past 18 months but it is still very low by say Mexican or Costa Rican standards. Hotels room shortages remain a major problem throughout the country and things will only get much worse. Strains are increasingly apparent in the construction area. Labor shortages are starting to develop and waiting 10-12 months for a new house to be built is not unusual adding to a demand for rental properties in the resort areas.

A recent article noted that 50% of people approaching retirement age in the UK have an interest in retiring offshore … albeit not explicitly in Panama. This could be a harbinger of things to come. The American retiree population may not be far behind as home prices rise rapidly in the “sun belt” making this a much less interesting option than even 5 years ago. Even Mexico is being priced out of the market for “modest” housing options.

Canadians are an interesting source of demand and happen to be significantly “over-represented” in the Coronado area because of cold winters and high taxes. On a purely statistical basis based on population one would expect that about 10% of North American expats to Panama would be from Canada. In fact, because of the long historical ties of the USA with Panama, a prudent guess would be that even 95% of all North American expats would be American. The fact, however, is that almost 33% of all North American expats in the Coronado region are from Canada which is a 300% over-representation.

As mentioned earlier, Costa Rica may become a major factor in the demand for Panamanian coastal properties as home prices continue to rise in Costa Rica at levels twice those of Panama. The Costa Rican Government has acted to eliminate “pensionado” privileges without any “grandfathering” provisions. High crime rates continue unchecked in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican Pacific shores attracted many well-to-do Californian surfers, among others, who are slowly realizing that they can catch the same waves at half the price along the Azuero south shores. 

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3 Ways to Gain Residence in Panama
By Rainelda Mata-Kelly

There are thousands of expats living in Panama: Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and many more from around the globe, who come here for the beautiful weather, the tropical beaches, low cost of living, and because Panama makes it easy to start a business.

 

Add to that a stable banking sector, the fact that Panama has the fastest growing economy in the Americas, and it makes even more sense.

 

And Panama is an exciting place to be. Jobs are being created faster than Panamanians can fill them and the government has been dreaming up incentives for entrepreneurs, multinationals and expats.

 

On top of already attractive visa options, the government has added new ones. Today, it’s easier than ever for foreigners to obtain residence. Here are just three of your visa options:

 

Pensionado Visa


Panama’s best-known residence program. If you have a lifetime pension of at least $1,000 a month and you’re over 18 years of age, you can qualify for permanent residence in just one application (normally within just six months of applying).

 

If you are legally residing here and if you are of retirement age—60 for men, 55 for women—then you can enjoy most of these discounts no matter which residence program you choose.

 

Permanent Residence for Nationals of Specific Countries


The title isn’t catchy, but Panama’s newest residence option (let’s just call it the NSC) opens the doors for professionals and entrepreneurs from the U.S. and 46 other countries that "maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships" with Panama.

 

The NSC’s straightforward requirements include establishing a local bank account with a minimum balance of $5,000. You must also do one of the following: purchase real estate; open a business; or obtain a job in Panama.

This visa awards permanent residence straight away.

 

Professional Residence Permit


This option is similar to the above, but it is open to foreigners who don’t qualify for the NSC and who would like to work in Panama. Traditionally, would-be residents have had to either invest or have a job with a company with enough Panamanian employees. The new Professional Residence Permit makes it easy to qualify for residence (with no major investment or pensioner status).

 

The programs are subject to change, so contact your Panama attorney (well before traveling to Panama). You can get an updated list of requirements and, more importantly, ensure there’s time to gather the necessary documentation...

 

Reinalda Mata-Kelly is the owner of Mata-Kelly law firm here in Panama.  Google them if you need any info on imigration or real-estate legal matters here in Panama ;)  They are on my list of trusted law firms.

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Well, it's February 4th today.  That means Carnival in Panama starts in 3 days.  Wow!!!!  The year has gone so fast, Carnival 2012 seems like just yesterday.  I'm sure it will be the same great experience as last year, except one thing, this year I am selling real estate.

 

Everyone in Panama celebrates at Carnival time.   Well, except the poor workers at the grocery stores and some resaurants and gas stations.  But between the dates of Feb 7 and Feb 12, if you are looking for a lawyer, real estate agent, or homeowner to show you their property, you just won't find it.  

 

I will probably be available to answer the odd email, but for the most part, I will be soaking wet drinking cold cerveza's in the streets of Las Tablas, listening to local music, watching the parades, fireworks, and cheering on this years new Queen.  The country just abslolutely shuts down, and party mode begins.

 

There are several celebrations throughout the year, and as I have said before, it has been difficult to get used to the fact that one cannot expect a business transaction to proceed with the same efficincy and stealth as it might in North America.  It's a fact that buyers and sellers here absolutely must embrace, thus they be driven to the brink of insanity.  To change the care free attitude of the Panamanian people is to change a stone into gold, or to stuff a pool ball into a wine bottle.  It just doesn't happen.  

 

So, I am shutting down for 5 days and going to work with the Panamanian system.  It will drive my clients crazy, but will give me some much needed rest.

 

Happy Carnival 2013!!

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