||Eight Days in Panama
My wife and I explored Panama
City the first week in December. Our intent was to consider if we
could relocate or at least have a second home there. We had 8 days
to explore and separate fact from fiction in our view. I am wise
enough to know that 2 people can look at the same thing and have
extremely different views. My wife and I have achieved a degree of
success in our life. So our interests are not living in a low end
area of any city just to live on pennies a day. We want a degree
of quality in our life. We are looking for a middle class life
style equal to or better than that what we now have in the USA.
For those looking to live in Panama City on $500 a month or less,
they will not find our observations helpful. I think one could
live in Panama City on $500 a month but not at the level we would
Our plan was to take a look around Panama City on our
first day. It was our objective to get the over all general view,
or lay of the land. City maps are almost non existent. We needed
to put regional names like San Francisco or Paitilla or Bella
Vista to a location within the city. Nora was our guide. At 9am
sharp we are ready to go. We got in her like new air conditioned
car. The morning sky was clear and sunny, not a cloud to be seen.
Hot and humid. The local air outside the hotel was salty and had
that low tide smell one gets used to when living near the ocean.
Some times confused with sewer gas. However after a heavy rain
storm, we did smell sewer gas around our hotel for several hours.
It was explained that heavy rainfall over loads the old sewer
system. Unlike Mexico, we did not see raw sewage running down the
First thing any explorer of Panama City will encounter is
the local traffic. Balboa Ave starts up at about 7am on the way
into the city and gets stop and go. Speeds up a little from 10am
to 2pm. And by 3pm the traffic is stop and go heading out of the
city. It is a mix of "Red Devil" buses, cars, small and
large trucks and taxi's. It looks like it is slow going, but
getting around town never seemed like it took that much extra time
even in traffic. If you live in some rural city in USA, you might
be overcome by the traffic. Coming from Southern California and
Phoenix, it is just about a normal day in big city traffic. Seat
belts are required. And if you do get into an accident, it will be
more likely be a fender bender. Not like the death and destruction
I have seen on Southern California freeways. There are few traffic
lights or signals. There is an order to driving in the traffic and
most drivers seem to be some what cautious.. Some streets have
named street signs. The city roads are in fair condition with
occasional ruff spots. The most difficult challenge is crossing
through on coming traffic. Unlike USA, horn honking is common. Not
usually honking out of anger but more like courtesy warnings.
hotel room wall was all glass from floor to ceiling wall to wall.
We looked high over Balboa Ave, a main road in and out of
the city. In our 8 days we saw no accidents from our room. There
one accident in the morning on city bound side of the "corridor
or toll road". Except for the well used and sometimes beat up
taxi's, most cars looked in good shape and in many cases newer and
Our first stop was the ruins at Viejo. The short
trip there took us through Paitillia, Punta Pacific, San
Francisco, Coco Del Mar and Panama Viejo. Punta Paitillia
residential region is a mix of newer high end high rise condos,
doted with older units 30 or more years old. Stacked in real close
and with marginal privacy from neighboring condo's. Paitillia is a
bluff above the bay. Tree lined streets with sidewalks and even a
ocean side park. Some water front condo's with breathtaking views
of the city, bay and islands. High end shops, 4 story enclosed
mall, niceness most modern grocery store we have ever seen. A
forest of high rise condos 30 to 40 stories. Some new high rise
condo projects, but Paitillia is almost built out. Soon learned that
condos that are blocked from wind or breeze and no view can be hot
Punta Pacific is where the highest end projects are
under construction. Fantastic modern 2 story enclosed shopping
mall, huge new hospital. This area looks as if it is planned for
the affluent "Baby Boomers". Perhaps 10 or 12 perhaps
more projects starting or under construction with deep water ocean
fronts and multi million dollar views!
San Francisco is a mix
of some new and lots of old. New high rise condos spread out over
a larger area, set back from the ocean, but some with bay views.
It is a mixed area of older some shabby and other real nice homes.
Most houses have security grated widows. Lots of local shops, gas
stations and stores.
Coco Del Mar was the "hot spot" in
the 60's and 70's. Now faded older and its grand days long
It became apparent that the growth of the city is on
the move. Giant high rise condo projects are pooping up ever
where. It looks as if the high rise condo building boom is to the
south or toward the Tocumen international airport. Older is not
better. The faded high end homes of 30 years ago are becoming
old-fashioned. New more modern is considered better. I had to ask
myself if long term ownership say 15 to 30 years is going to leave
buyers with an outdated unwanted property? Such as Coco Del Mar
region. Especially since in 15 to 20 years the property tax
holiday will expire.
We drove into the ruins at Viejo. Just a
quick look. As was explained, until recently this area had been
neglected since Henry Morgan sacked the city, pirated the
treasures and demolished the fortress city. Now there is a effort
to restore the castle like walls to attract tourist. It would be
interesting to go back and spend more time looking around.
first impression of Panama City is that it is much smaller than I had
Next posting: Our visit to central city along and
around Balboa Ave.
and Assistance for Retirees Who Want to Live in Panama
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