I generally love to compete in triathlons. Well, I love them most when I have just finished and feel accomplished. That feeling is immediately followed by the thought of a big bowl of pasta being washed down by a delicious glass of red velvet liquid.
I was raised in Australia so I’ve always known how to swim, run and bike and I’m tall so I cover the running miles with ease. The biking is no problem either, but the swimming is tough. I can’t seem to coordinate my arms with my legs along with the breathing. I swear, my coach says I swim in place. Actually, the other day I was swimming in the ocean and I kept getting further and further away from this high rise building that I should have been passing. I think I was swimming backwards. People kept eclipsing me and when a small boy buzzed by me, my feeling of inadequacy was completely intact.
Many of the people who come to me professionally also feel inadequate when they are trying to make the decision about what type of property to purchase and in which beach community of Panama. They will be very accomplished individuals, but feel like I do when swimming—overwhelmed and confused. They will tell me they don’t even know what questions to ask. Because buying the right type of property is so important, I try to initially give them both the questions and the answers. I’ve found it effective if I just flood them with facts until they hit on the areas they want to understand more deeply. Then we are able to slowly develop a customized plan.
Asking The Right Questions
The first decision we always have to nail down is what type of property someone really wants to call home. There are only two or three basic factors to initially consider. Do you want to be right on the beach or overlooking the ocean with beach access or both? Do you want to live in a condominium with common areas and community living or do you want a free standing home with a yard and your own pool? What budget are you comfortable with? What type of individuals do you want to live among and what amenities are most important.
[thrive_text_block color=”green” headline=””]Coronado is, by far, the most developed beach community in Panama and is located about 50 minutes from Panama City. The other beach areas radiate out from Coronado because that’s where there are 24-hour grocery stores, organic shops, exclusive wine stores, world-class medical facilities and five-star restaurants. [/thrive_text_block]
Coronado may be the center of attention but there are a lot of beautiful developments further out the Pan-American Highway along Playa Blanca. Those developments are a minimum of 90 minutes from Panama City and 30 minutes from Coronado. Playa Blanca’s bread and butter comes from the all-inclusive hotels that dot the white sandy beaches and they include names such as The Wyndham Grand Plaza, Hotel Riu Playa Blanca, Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort and Royal Decameron Beach Resort. Some of those resorts also have residential properties for purchase.
[thrive_text_block color=”green” headline=””]Nueva Gorgona is five minutes closer to Panama City than Coronado, but it currently lacks basic infrastructure. It is in the middle of rapid development, but it is still dependent on it’s neighbor, Coronado, for basic supplies. [/thrive_text_block]
It would be impossible for me to compare all the properties on the market within the beach communities just outside Panama City, but I’d like to throw out some basic facts on three of the most popular: Punta Vela in Coronado, Royal Decameron in Costa Blanca and Royal Palm in Nueva Gorgona.
Developed By a Company In New York
Royal Decameron has three types of residences available for purchase—townhouses, villas and an exclusive free-standing home called the LaRibera. The Panama Royal Decameron property is being developed by a company headquartered in New York with offices in Palm Beach, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rica but none in Panama. These homes will not provide beach views as they are only two stories and located behind the hotel, but they are situated right on one of the most beautiful golf courses in Panama. You would be able to take your golf cart to Farallon Beach from your home in less than ten minutes.
The All-Inclusive Crowd
The Decameron homes are part of a large all-inclusive hotel which caters to the charter flights in and out of Rio Hato International airport carrying passengers from North America and Europe. The hotel is enjoying very high occupancy rates so the property is almost always alive with party goers who enjoy unlimited alcoholic beverages with their room rate, golf course availability, water activities and the option of dining at ten different themed restaurants.
Home owners will share the golf course with hotel guests but they will enjoy a private pool and restaurant exclusively for owners or renters of the residences. If home owners want to use any of the other restaurants, water activities or the casino and disco, they are afforded discounted rates.
The Decameron homes are large—up to as many as five-bedrooms—and all have the option for an additional bedroom and bath to house a domestic helper and/or gardener. The current unemployment rate in Panama is 2.9% so finding domestic help is challenging but inexpensive. Minimum wage is just over $500 a month.
You can join the Decameron Rental Program and for a fee, the management company will rent out your property. Because occupancy rates are high in the hotel, there is a great deal of demand, but the perks of an all-inclusive vacation does not come with the home rentals.
No Ocean View
Decameron residences are the right choice for people not interested in direct beach access or an ocean view and who don’t mind an ever changing group of party-goers or the extra time required from Panama City or to Coronado. They are generally an expensive purchase option because they are free-standing and home owner fees are some of the highest in the area. But, the golf course is beautiful and you have the fee option to eat at a number of local restaurants, catering to an all-inclusive crowd. The chance of finding a fairly steady stream of renters is good which could off-set some of the high cost.
Multiple Pools and Beachside Location
Royal Palm in Neuva Gorgonia is much different than Royal Decameron in that it is right on the beach and caters more to the expat community than all-inclusive vacationers. Royal Palm has multiple pools in addition to the beachside location and is designed with families in mind. There are two towers, but no restaurant and no golf course. This development is all about the ocean and is situated only 50 minutes from Panama City and five minutes from Coronado.
Royal Palm officially offers one-to-three bedroom units, but there are options where different units can be combined to afford a larger condominium. The views are stunning, especially from the upper floors of this 28-story structure providing both the ocean view and direct beach access. There is no need to worry about lawn maintenance since all the common areas are maintained by the on-site staff who also like to pick up private unit cleaning assignments for about $30 including tip.
People who are looking for rental investment property would be wise to look at Royal Palm. It offers individuals who want a beach-focused vacation an easy location. While it doesn’t have a golf course it does have a sizzling price advantage.
Punta Vela is ideally located in the exclusive gated community of Coronado close to existing amenities including an 18-hole Tom Fazio designed golf course, multiple pools, a spa and jacuzzi, a driving range, four tennis courts and an equestrian center. The one-to-three bedroom units are not located on the beach but are a quick golf cart drive away.
Oversized Balconies and Panoramic Views
Every Punta Vela unit has an oversized balcony which provides panoramic views of both the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It is more sophisticated than any other condominium property close to Coronado and has a grand entrance, upscale kitchen appliances and ensuite baths in the master bedrooms. Floor to ceiling vistas are proffered from every part of every unit.
Punta Vela was designed with the discriminating resident in mind. All amenities are important and provided for in Punta Vela and the units are priced at a higher point, but unbelievably low by North American and European standards. Residents still get a great deal on real estate in Panama and Punta Vela carries a five year tax abatement. There are lots of fabulous restaurants all around Punta Vela but no all-inclusive hotels.
Coronado is Panama’s exclusive beach destination so any kind of investment there, is a wise one. Rental opportunities are at a premium in Coronado so if a resident did want to rent, there would be a line of interested upscale clientele from all over the world along with any number of rental property specialists eager to manage your unit. The choice would be yours.
Punta Vela attracts the sophisticated expat who wants to enjoy life among peers with all amenities at their fingertips. It is communal living so all lawn maintenance and common areas are provided for along with 24-hour security.
Two Generations of Panamanian Builders
One of the most important considerations about both Royal Palm and Punta Vela is the fact they are developments by Empresas Bern, a two-generation Panamanian builder who has more than 150 completed successful upscale projects and a reputation without rival. The family lives in and loves Panama. Their headquarters are located on Balboa Avenue in the heart of Panama City.
It is not important that you come to Panama knowing exactly what you want. It is however important that you start to ask the right questions that will paint the most accurate picture possible of every purchase opportunity you want to consider. Think about your budget, how you want to spend your days and with whom you want to spend them. Think about the long-term, if you really want to rent and the importance of a golf course with easy availability or beach access.
I’m more than happy to answer questions all day and will be especially grateful if anyone can help me clear up my own questions like how to stop swimming backwards.