If you are going to build at the low-end, the cost will be around US $75 a square foot to build a house in Coronado, Panama. If you go below that, you're not going to get anything a typical American would like. You would pay about $120 a square foot for a nicely finished home. Our charges are around $100 for our standard finishes.
For a low-end construction of $75 per square foot, there are different materials that are usually being used. For instance, we use 6-inch structured blocks. When you go down to the $75, you're going to get the little thin walls. You're going to have the roofs that don’t have the proper tile on them. You're not going to have insulation. If you can go a little bit more to that $100 per square foot, you're going to get to a standard that you're going to find more fitting to what you came from.
If you pick somebody to build an American home, it would probably cost around $90 per square foot. If you went to a better builder, for example, Toll Brothers in the States, I would say the $120 per square foot is going to get you what you expect here. I don't see you paying more unless you're going to be buying the best granites in the world, or gold taps. At $120 a square foot, you're going to be looking at a fairly good finished home.
Well, the last houses I built in Punta Gorda, Florida were $180 per square foot and that was eight years ago. Now, I think things have changed. You probably can't say they have gone up a lot because I know there's been a lot of downward pressure on construction cost in the States. The same home that would cost you a $100 per square foot to build in Coronado, Panama would cost $180 per square foot where I was living in Florida. By the way, we were doing hollowed core doors for $180. These are solid Cedar doors and we've got granite work tops, which are all double edged for $100 a square foot.
The land is also less expensive in Coronado. 7,000 feet is a fifth of an acre and would cost you about $36,000 here in Coronado, in a developed community with underground electric, underground cable TV, your and own water source. All the roads are done with black tarmac so it is a fine quality development. If you were to buy raw land in a less developed area, it would cost you a lot less, probably around $10,000 to $12,000 but of course, it would not be in a development with a gated community.
In the development with a gated community, we have a common area. In our development, we just installed a new pool that’s 110 feet by 40 feet and built to American standards. It’s a fine swimming pool; absolutely beautiful.
Typically, in Florida, where I came from, the HOA fees would be $700 to $1,000 a month for what you get here in Coronado where you have a fully guarded home 24/7, common areas, a swimming pool, etc. In Coronado, you also get your water, all your storage and your trash picked up every day for $200 a month.
In Panama, as of right now, if you buy a brand new house under $250,000, you get a 10 year property tax exemption. If it's under $100,000, which is going to be unlikely, you get a tax exemption of 20 years. So what that means is if the improvements on your house, or the cost of your house to build, or whatever you put as the sale price is less than $250,000, you do not pay any taxes. There is a land tax, which you pay separately, but what we do is we sell our lots at $29,999 because you don't pay taxes on your land for life if it is under $30,000. As a result, you get the land for life and you've got a 10 or 20-year property tax exemption on your house. That can save you a lot of money here in Coronado.
(Cabana and pool in Azura Development, Coronado, Panama, pictured.)