My wedding is next Saturday.  We have guests arriving from Canada to enjoy it with us.  I get a kick out of the questions they ask.  "Is it safe?", "Will we get malaria?",  "Is the water ok to drink?".

 

I mean, I get it, but it kind of opens my eyes to how little we are aware of on a global front in Canada.  Panama is a healthy, normal, thriving country with safe water, normal crime rate, and probably the same risk of malaria as lime disease in Manitoba from the wood ticks.

 

Everyone I told that I was moving here got all wide eyed and just could not believe that I would go to such a poor third world country and put my life in such risk.  It is laughable.  I drive a 1998 BMW and it is the biggest heap here.  There are so many luxury cars here that the BMW dealerships are among the largest and most beautiful I have seen, and there are Porsche SUV's everywhere.  Luxury condos and million dollar houses are all that fuel the real estate market here and everyone has a blackberry.  Third world, right.

 

English as a second language is very common and more and more people are seeing the importance of it everyday.  There are many english immersion schools here and half of my wife's coworkers are bilingual.  I can usually find an english speaker anywhere I am, quite easily.  

 

The bottom line is that this is the best country that I can think of for retirement, or just reducing your cost of living and trying out a tropcial location.  Low crime rate, largely bilingual, awesome climate, perks for retirees, insanely low cost of living, beautiful, friendly people, safe water, good health care, improving infrastructure, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, I can go on and on, maybe in my next blog....  I'll title it "Why Panama?"

 

So if your loved ones scare you one day with "I'm off to Panama!", don't worry too much, just ask one of the tens of thousands of North Americans that are already here.

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Just a quick thanks to my followers, my site hit a gigantic 1900 hits yesterday, that is just one day!  After only a short time in existence I thought that was pretty whizzy, so thanks!!

 

I read a lot of scary articles about crime in Panama before I came and I still see conflicting articles on the net.  Some saying it is almost non existent, and others saying be careful for your life!  It's difficult to know what to believe before one visits and even after having lived here for some time, it is hard to tell. 

 

Here is the reality as I have experienced it living among the locals in the City of Panama.  I have never seen a violent crime committed.  I have never spoken to anyone who has seen or experienced a violent crime.  I hear stories about a friend of a friend who got robbed, or was drunk at 3 am and a cabbie robbed him.  I have heard a story that in the wrong area of the city you can be car jacked.  So, like any large city, poverty, drug addiction etc. exist and I'm sure, in the city, things like this can happen.  But I contend that it doesn't happen often at all.

 

Now that's the city.  The stories from the locals are very different when one leaves the city for the beaches, interior, and rural areas.  In fact it's difficult, and i have never found a story of negative criminal behavior outside of the city other than the odd case of vandalism or petty theft.  The people of Panama live a peaceful and very family oriented life. Their religious beliefs are strong and they feel safe to leave their homes in the evenings and have a good time, whether it be with family, or with friends, at a disco, or just sitting in the yard having drinks and visiting with neighbors and passers-by.  It's awesome!

 

The bottom line is that Panama is very very safe.  When in the city, stay away from the "dark alleys", just like in any other city in the world, but the rest of the country is safe, friendly, and free to completely explore.

 

 

 

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Panama isn't a big country.  If you pull up a google earth map and place Panama inside Alberta, it doesn't take up a whole lot of room.  Real estate values have increased, are increasing, and will continue to increase.  It is a really good idea to buy before mid 2013.

 

Developers are erecting buildings at a hectic pace, there are entire towns popping up out of nowhere as large corporations like Dell, 3M, and Caterpillar are taking advantage of tax breaks offered by the Panamanian government to keep this rocketing economy humming.  Subdivision after subdivision is being built, hundreds of houses and condo's at a time selling out before they are even completed.

 

It really excites me that I can still take a drive, or search the classified listings and see that houses can still be found as low as 10,000 dollars.  $40,000 is a very common price, $80,000 gets a brand new house in some areas, and beachfront condos can still be found for less than 200,000.  Now that's a great deal!!!

 

Costa del Este is an area of the city that if you were blindfolded and dropped there, you would swear you were in Florida.  I called for the price of a house there the other day and it was 2,750,000.  Was so nice, but whatever your taste, whatever your budget, it is here!  That same house in Canada would probably be 5,000,000 in Vancouver or Toronto.  Your money goes so much farther here no matter what you are buying.  If your net worth in Canada is 500,000, you are surely a millionaire here.  Panama at minimum doubles your net worth!  Now that is a way better return than those RRSP's I'd say.  If you apply for a Pensionado Visa here, it only gets better!  See my Pensionado Visa perks on my Links Page.

 

Flights are only 750.00 from Edmonton.  That is sure to decrease as 2 new international airports are on the way and more and more foreigners are snatching up the deals.  Venezuelans, Colombians, Canadians, Americans, Germans, and many others are taking advantage of the awesome variety of climates, way more affordable living, cheap real estate values, and the friendly people of Panama.

 

It is impossible to get anywhere quickly in Panama.  It's because the current government is pouring millions into infrastructure.  It is hard to go anywhere without seeing public money being spent on roads, subways, and highways. Driving west from Panama City there is construction almost the entire way and to see the construction in the city all I have to do is look out my window.  It's hard to imagine until one sees it.

 

They even have Clamato in the grocery store.  If I mentioned that in a previous blog I apologize, but it's awesome.  A Ceasor in Panama is better than a Ceasor in Canada, trust me on that one ;)

 

It's never been easier to buy a property in Panama!  With real estate agents from almost every country here standing ready to help out their countrymen, you can do it worry free, and be assured that with only a limited amount of space here, your investment is a great one!

 

Not a lot of liquid capital?  No problem, let's get creative!

 

Questions?  Message me anytime, or sign up to be a member.

 

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So it turns out, the cheapest brand new car I could find in Panama was the Chery QQ.  Brand new it is $6999.00.  I could not get anyone to budge much on prices, but like I said, it's a monopoly for the most part.

 

In the end, I went against my own advice and bought used.  It's a 1998 BMW 523i.  It has 120,000 kilometres and I was able to pick it up for $3750.  It runs like a top!

 

But...

 

The speedometer works only part time, just like the odometer.  Had a check engine light but it's out now, maybe the bulb burnt out.  The fabric on the moonroof is peeling off, the tires are bald, and I mean desk top smooth.  Only 3 of the wheels match, the hood and fender are bad repaints and the passenger side window doesn't roll down.  The front passenger signal light doesn't work but that's an easy fix, I think.

 

I couldn't resist.  It's so Panamanian!  It's even more Panamian now that the front bumper fell off...haha!!  But it runs really good.  You may even get to ride in it when you come down to look at your new house ;)

 

Off to Macaracas today to find the cheapest house in Panama!  Will let you know what I come up with.

 

Have a great day!

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