Expat Interview: Veronica

How I bought the Finca (Farm) – Our New Home in Panama

Veronica Expat in PanamaHello Veronica! So, where are you and Tony from?
We are from Vera Beach, Florida and we both have a culturally Hispanic background.

Why Panama?
We have had a home in Central America for several years already. We decided to sell our farm in Costa Rica and move to Panama because of the wonderful people here, the government, and so much more.

You have a beautiful view up here! What made you decide to buy in this location?
We chose Puerto Armuelles and believe that it is one of the undiscovered gems of Panama. From our new finca we can see Volcan Baru, the Pacific Ocean, Punta Burica, and on the other side of the jungle is Costa Rica (about a 20 minute drive to the border).

How did you find this hidden property?
We feel lucky to have met a local gentleman in town who agreed to help us. I believe this is a key to success for “gringos”. I am sure the price we paid would have been double if we didn’t have a local negotiating for us. Gringos (Caucasian/European) all over Central America tend to be charged a higher price than locals for property.

Veronica Land PanamaWhat was the purchasing process like?
It is important to get “titled land”, which is another topic of its own. This land is titled. First we did our due diligence, like you would anywhere, making sure the title was clear, etc. Most everything can be researched on the internet now and it’s very easy. Then, we hired a Panamanian attorney and the whole process took about a week.

What type of residency did you get?
I have a ‘Pensianado’, because I have a retirement income from the U.S. As a single person you must have a monthly pension of at least $1000 per month, or $1200 for couples, to qualify. We had to set up a bank account in Panama to have the pension deposited into every month, fill out some paperwork and hire a Panamanian attorney to file for us. Within 5-10 days we got our temporary cards and a stamp on our passports. Now we can come and go as we please. Panama has a very attractive retirement program for foreign retirees and you really can live on a lot less here!

How does the price of this land compare to comparable parcels in the U.S.?
We have about 36 acres here and we couldn’t touch this view back in the states for what we paid. It would have cost several million dollars back home. The average going rate for land in Panama for gringos is about $20 per square meter, although we paid less by going through a local when we purchased it. *Note: 1 Acre = about 4047 square meters. Land in Panama is measured in meters and Hectares. 1 hectare = about 2.47 acres.

Panama FlowersAny other advice for expats looking for land to buy in Panama?
Don’t just march in on your own demanding things. Embrace the culture and work with locals. Use a Panamanian attorney for the paperwork. Also, try to learn your Spanish and attempt to speak it no matter how bad you think you are. It’s appreciated more than you know!

Next time, in part 2, we will chat with Veronica about the process of putting a road through her property and building a custom home on her ‘finca’, including securing proper permits, labor, costs, and the time frames required to get things done.