One of the questions I’m seeing most often these days has to do with finding a place to live in Panama — specifically in Las Tablas. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting several couples recently who are thinking of moving to Las Tablas, but finding a place to live here seems like a daunting task.
Here’s a fairly typical email:
We are very excited to come to Las Tablas to look for our future home.
The biggest thing we are puzzled about (there are many) is how on earth do you go about finding a place. The internet is not much help with most listings on Real Estate sites in Panama either very expensive or in the city. We are looking for more rural living in or around Las Tablas.
Can you help to give us any insight into how to find a home either to rent or buy. It looks like there are some new gated communities but we cant find any info on them other than some youtube videos with very little information. Are there any websites with sales listings? Any help to get us stated with be helpful.
I’ve read your blog on 9 Lessons I’ve Learned about Finding a Rental House in Las Tablas, Panama. Maybe you have learned some more info since you created that blog?? If you have any more info that would be helpful.
Not to discourage you, but it’s not like finding a place to live in the US or Canada.
Back in North America, the real estate markets for both renting and buying are pretty well organized.
On the rental side you have companies that specialize in matching prospective landlords with tenants and vice versa.
On the ownership side you have real estate agents and the MLS with listings available online. You also have sites like Zillow.com where you can get an idea of relative values of different properties, and many communities make their public records easy to search.
Here, not so much.
If you find a place listed online, you’ll be paying a premium — often a big one. The online ads are aimed at attracting incoming gringos who don’t have any idea of prevailing values. For example, I know of a house out at Uverito Beach which the owner has rented out in the past for $600/month. Recently a North American emailed me, ecstatic that she’d been able to arrange a three-month rental of that house at twice the price. Seriously. Double.
Here in Las Tablas I’ve met just one person who calls himself a real estate agent. There are several in Chitre and Pedasi. But there’s no multiple listing service, so if you want to see everything you have to work with multiple agents.
If you have three different agents show you the same property, chances are good you’ll here three different prices as well.
My recommendation is the same as it was when I came here: get yourself here, rent a hotel room for a couple of weeks and talk to everyone you meet. Tell them what you’re looking for. Chances are you’ll find someplace that will suit because someone you talk with knows someone who knows someone who knows someone. . .
Rent for three to six months — minimum — before you even consider buying. Longer is better.