As John and Deb prepare for their big move to Panama I asked John, How did you come to choose Panama as a place to invest and retire to? I found it interesting that John had actually chosen Costa Rica first and had even put a deposit down on property there only to change his mind and move to Panama. If you’re comparing Costa Rica to Panama you might gain some insights from this latest of Johns Letters from Panama. Also, be sure to leave your comments and questions at the bottom. John would love to hear from you and is happy to answer any questions you might have. Here’s the rest of his response to my question…
Why did I choose Panama?
Actually Costa Rica was my first choice back in 1988. I had a lot in escrow on the beach near Samara, on the Nicoya Peninsula. I don’t remember exactly why but I didn’t close the purchase.
Costa Rica is a wonderful country and I visited various locations numerous times over a ten year period. I looked at the area around San Jose, the Cariari Country club area, and all of the many small villages in the vicinity. I visited Jaco Beach and the areas up and down the coast.
I stopped going to Costa Rica just before the international airport at Liberia opened. I’m sure that has made the Pacific Beaches on the Peninsula much more popular and certainly more accessible. I looked at other properties in various locations, but for some reason never could quite pull the trigger and make a purchase.
In the nineties I started going to the mainland of Honduras and visited places like La Ceiba and Trujillo. When I was in Trujillo, a great little town, I think I was the only gringo tourist.
All of these areas at that time were quite inexpensive, but as I was looking for a place to ultimately live, as well as a good real estate investment, nothing quite filled the bill.
In 2002, I took a two week trip to Panama. I spent a few days in the City and then went to Contadora Island. I stayed at the Punta Galleon Hotel, and as I went in September, I was the only one there. To avoid boredom, each day when I went to the beach, the maids would move all of my stuff into another unit, and would giggle uproariously until I discovered my new abode for the evening.
I also spent a lot of time at the old Hotel Contadora talking the bar tender because I was the only visitor on the island.
That one trip convinced me that Panama was where I wanted to live in retirement. The people were gracious and fun loving. I loved the City and all of the activities and restaurants. Prices were incredibly reasonable, and real estate prices still had not gone crazy as they had in Costa Rica.
I ended up having a home built at a local golf course and have never regretted it. And while I’m sure I had the normal problems everyone has when building a home as an absentee owner, I had a wonderful attorney and a consulting engineer who kept things on track.
The project took about 10 months longer to complete than I had anticipated. but since the economy in my home state of California had pretty much tanked by the time the house was complete I had put off my retirement plans anyhow. In the mean while I have been fortunate and have rented the home for the past three years to two excellent tenants.
Even though our plans were altered somewhat by the world economic down turn, we are still excited about moving in 2013 and are already in the process of selling belongings and preparing to go.
We have decided to sell the home near the Panama City, once the tenant moves and have decided to explore other parts of the country to locate our retirement dream location.
We are actually planning a three week trip later this year to travel around and scout out various locations. Once we’ve settled on a spot we intend to rent before making another purchase.
That’s it for this week.
Ciao for now,
P.S. Tell me what you thought of John’s letter in the comments area below. What did you like? What could you have done without? What else can John share with you about his move to Panama?
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