If I had to do it over again, I would have skipped the rental period and moved directly into my condo. Here’s why.
- Panama is the place to relax. It doesn't matter whether you are renting your home out or selling it, moving takes work. By the time you arrive in Panama, every fiber in your body is saying, “It’s time to relax!” I thought once I got on the plane that my life would be full of umbrella drinks and afternoon siestas in a hammock. Four months later, I am finally living the life I dreamed of, but being unsettled for four months left me hammock-less and much more stressed than I should have been. The problem is that moving three times in four months is exhausting. Instead of feeling like I had started a new chapter in my life, I felt like I was in limbo with an extremely long moving period.
- You’re old enough to know what you want. Unless you’re an early twenty-something, you know what appeals to you. Are you a beach person or a mountain person? Do you like the bustling city life, the quiet beach life, or the remote mountain life? What do you have to have to be happy? Knowing me as well as I do, I knew that I wanted a place where I could feel pampered with a view of the ocean. I wanted to be surrounded by natural beauty and a peaceful setting with easy access to the city so I could get my fix of culture whenever the urge hit. For me, there was only one property in the entire country that fit my requirements. I live in a community called Playa Bonita (www.playabonitaresidences.com). It’s the only beach community within an easy drive to the city. Depending on traffic, it takes 12-25 minutes to get into the heart of Panama City from my parking garage. That’s a quicker and easier commute than when I lived in a suburb of Dallas and wanted to go into uptown Dallas for dinner.
- Rental properties never feel like home. In the Panama City area, it’s prohibited to rent properties for less than 45 days. The reality, though, is that it’s almost impossible to find a rental property available for less than six months. When I was ready to leave my first short-term rental in the Coronado beach area, I spent two days on the phone (with my non-existent Spanish), and I found exactly one property that would do a less-than-six-month lease. Since I had no options, I took it. I loved the location, but the apartment made me sad. It had baby blue walls, no hot water in the kitchen, and blackout curtains that didn't quite close. Because I was a short-term renter, my landlord wasn't willing to spend the money to fix any of the problems. And like I mentioned before, I had no options. By the time I moved into my very own condo, I was thrilled to have white walls and hot running water in every room. When I went to the Do-It Center to buy paint, I was even more thrilled to be able to pick out paint colors that appealed to me. (And I promise you, it wasn't baby blue!)
I can help you whether you want to rent or purchase, but if you want my advice, skip the rental period and the extra headaches and just find something you love that you can call yours. That way, the moment you get to Panama you’ll feel like you've started a new chapter in your life. Just make sure to put a hammock on your must-buy list as soon as you arrive.