Some Common Questions about Las Tablas, Panama

Letters to Future ExpatRecently I received this email from a reader. It asks questions I see pretty often about Las Tablas, Panama, so I thought I’d answer it publicly.

“I will retire in about 5 years and was thinking about buying a place in Panama – Las Tablas seems to be a good match for me (of course I need to check it out in person). Are there a few Canadians or Americans in that area – my Spanish would need to improve? Are there any gated communities that are reasonable in price? I like that idea as I don’t want to do yard work or worry about security. A pool might also be nice. As I have about 5+ years to go – I have time to check it out. I would also be bring a pet. Thank you.”

Gated Communities

As I’ve stated several times before, there are currently no gated communities in Las Tablas. There is one in the very, very early stages out at the beach a few miles from town. The roads are in, but nothing is built yet, and the roads to the subdivision are a bone-shattering 6+ kilometers of rutted dirt. Find out more about it here.

Expats from the US and Canada

There are plenty of North Americans in the area. Some are snowbirds, some live here year round.They live in apartments or houses they rent or own in town, out in the countryside or small towns nearby, or at the beach. There’s a wide variety to choose from. If you need reliable internet, you’ll want to stay in town.

Swimming Pools

There is a subdivision (not gated!) that has a very nice community pool. A group of us meet there a couple times a week for aqua aerobics. It’s just outside the town of Las Tablas on the main road, and you can find a house to rent in there (furnished or unfurnished) or you can buy. They’re still building it out.

There’s also a public pool in Las Tablas, and a very nice pool in Guarare, the next town to the north, which is open to the public.

Do I Need to Learn Spanish?

You can get by here with minimal Spanish, but you’ll need some. Anyone who tells you can can do just fine in Panama without any Spanish is lying. In some places there’s more English spoken than others, but you’ll still need some Spanish.

Try Before you Buy

I would suggest you plan to spend as long a visit here as you can — it’s possible to rent furnished houses in town for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. That’s really the only way to know if it’s right for you. Plan to rent for at least six months before you even think about purchasing a house here.

Do you have questions about Panama or Las Tablas? Send me an email and I’ll get back to you.


  1. Mike, S. Oregon USA says:

    I believe you were considering a place with more conveniences at one time; commenting that although you adore LT, you may seek a bit more in the near future.

    Chitre may have more the appropriate mix of it all for upstarts, yes/no? Your blog reflections on Chitre would be welcome when you could. The Azuero area (very nice & not ripping-on here) seems thought to be alot more “outback” than closer to Pan Am Hwy.

    Wife & I seriously wanting to participate in some kind of relocation tour (by 2018) to Panama, to be more prepared for the USA escape.

    Thanks for all this work,

    • FutureExpat says:

      Hi Mike,

      Chitre is only 19 km north of Las Tablas. It’s a bigger city, for sure, and growing a lot. Therefore it has more shopping and dining options than Las Tablas, but still nothing resembling live theater, arts, music, etc. And it’s only a half hour closer to Panama City, so not a significant difference there.

      On the flip side, we’re closer to better beaches here, and our micro climate is a bit drier and breezier, therefore more comfortable most of the time. So, for us, if we stay on the Azuero we’ll stay in Las Tablas 🙂


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