COVID-19 has upended my life, but not all of it has been bad. The fact that as a country last week, Panama marked over 1,000 deaths and more than 53,000 confirmed cases is devastating, but watching the positive changes we have been forced to make, has produced some definite bright spots.
It used to be that it was a brave person or couple who decided they wanted a simpler less-stressed life than one of punching the clock, sitting in traffic, getting to the office and enduring small talk and not-always-necessary in-person meetings. So much time was eaten up by non-productive activities, but doing anything different seemed too risky, almost impossible.
There Will Be No Going Back To “Normal”
Most of us have been in virtual lockdown since early March. For a short period, life pretty much stopped and we looked out the window and wondered when we would be able to go back to “normal”. Easter seemed doable and then the start of summer, but as time continues and the news about the virus only seems to get worse, we’ve started to slowly realized we will never go back to “normal” and there will definitely be a “new normal”.
Working remotely can and is being done today with great success. That alone will change how business is conducted globally. I currently have a client working on a project where his collaborators are in Houston, Washington DC, Panama, Germany and the Philippines. He recently told me, from his home in Atlanta that “before” he had to find the right talent in only Atlanta because everyone came into an office. “Now, I can seek talent from a global pool, and not only has that often reduced cost, but it has also increased the talent.”
He didn’t stop there about other benefits he was enjoying from his remote set-up. “We no longer have pettiness and office drama. We are on a Zoom meeting for an hour and back to work. We have connected remotely by a dozen different technology-based tools that make sharing and working together better, so everyone is happy, smiling and collaborating.”
Other COVID-19 Benefits
There are other less obvious benefits of COVID-19. I think we will emerge more healthy—everything from better hygiene to improved diets with healthier foods. Healthcare is evolving and we are trusting science. Telemedicine works even though in January I thought the only way to seek “real” medical care was to go into a facility and speak to a provider face-to-face. I have also noticed a real push for minimalism. Smaller spaces, room for a bicycle and a set of golf clubs, but not so much “stuff”.
How school systems evolve is a much bigger concern than finally realizing we don’t need to go into an office. Children need socialization and younger aged students don’t focus as well as college students sitting in front of a device. But, when I start to question my belief that children need to go into a classroom, I remind myself only a few months ago I thought people needed to go into an office. When considering how schools should change, I am really, really happy experts are tacking that issue.
As Panama continues a very strict stay-at-home policy, I’m realizing it is possible to reinvent the way one lives. I have known and worked with a lot of entrepreneurs who have made their way in Panama, enjoying a less-expensive lifestyle looking out over the Pacific Ocean, but they were the exception to the rule. Today, they are much more the standard issue.
Financing Panama Real Estate Has Changed
Because the pandemic has completely changed the economy and how people manage to grow wealth and thrive, finding the tools to make that happen have gone in different directions. Before COVID-19 real estate developers would offer short-term options for getting into a new residence. With 20% down, individuals could secure builder financing at 8%. Paying the higher rate allowed short-term financing while negotiating for getting a local mortgage in Panama or secured financing in a home country. All that has changed.
Banks have essentially stopped lending until it is clear how Panama will emerge from this pandemic. Real estate developers are anxious to keep the economy moving so they have been offering discounts on all types of properties and financing terms can now be secured through the developer for much better terms banks previously charged.
Ocean-Facing Financing For Less Than 1%
If an ocean-facing condominium in the beach community of Coronado-Gorgona is something of interest, financing is being offered for less than one percent with a good down payment on many larger units. Smaller residences with ocean views in the twin-towers of Royal Palm start at $175,000 with 4% financing. In the upscale suburb of Costa del Este in Panama City, many properties have rent-to-own options with 100% of the first year’s rent going toward a down payment and healthy portions of the rent for the next two years also being credited.
Building close-out deals are available at Casa Bonita in Veracruz 15 minutes outside Panama City, with a private club, views of the Panama Canal and shared amenities with the five-star Westin Playa Bonita. Other properties on offer include the Independent Senior Living @ Generation Tower which starts at less than $200,000 and includes health insurance, a meal plan, a robust offering of activities such as Jazzercise, golf outings and curated cultural events.
Opening Eyes To Possibilities
Being able to sing in a chorus virtually stopped because standing shoulder to shoulder, taking deep breaths and singing out as droplets filled the air was everything the invisible Coronavirus wanted. That was until Eric Whitacre, a musician figured out how to make music virtually. He started with putting together 185 musicians and today has introduced his largest offering with 17,572 singers from 129 countries all singing in beautiful harmony from individual home-based studios. Orchestras have followed.
Earlier, such collaborations would have seemed impossible, but as awful as COVID-19 is, it has also proven to be freeing. Today I am working with a wide assortment of people who want to come to peaceful, laid-back Panama with beautiful beaches, fast internet, wonderful weather and a live and let live attitude. There is the young 20-something that manages the on-line store she runs with her sister who makes beautiful soaps, face scrubs and bath bombs (to die for!) and the retired lawyer who edits law “books” for an on-line research information company. We are building a sound-proof closet for a gentleman who makes his living doing voice-overs and the young “blogger/influencer” who writes by day and picks up shifts at a local bar in Casco Viejo by night. I even need to find a peaceful residence for a psychologist who treats patients over the internet.
Lots Of Options!
Panama is full of options and while COVID-19 has gotten us down, we are continuing vital research at the Panamanian Gorgas Research Institute along with the renowned Australian researcher Dr Nikolai Petrovsky. Panama is aggressively testing and tracing, masks are required along with social distancing. Weekends are completely off-limits except for essential workers.
I’m hoping there will never be another time like this, but I want to emerge with a positive attitude and a plan on how to live my best life in whatever “new normal” we find. I’d love to discuss your situation and see if there is a property and opportunity that is just right for you. Just give me a call or email. Stay safe and stay sane!!