How I Fund My Life in Panama... Real Estate, Rentals, and a Happy Happy Lifestyle!
I purchased my first rental property in the ski resort village of Whistler, BC, Canada, when I was 23-years-old with a very small down payment.
At the time, I was working as reservations manager for a property management company so I had first-hand knowledge of the strong returns that could be achieved through rentals. Over the following eight years, I proceeded to buy, renovate, rent short-term and ultimately sell nine Whistler properties.
But Latin America was calling me. I always knew I’d be much happier living in locations with year-round sunshine as well as strong investment and rental returns. My first overseas property investment venture was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. From there I headed further south, to Panama, and I’ve never looked back!
I have bought and sold many properties and am currently invested in Panama, Mexico, and Colombia. It was while I was living in Panama City and managing my rentals, that I decided a more laid back lifestyle was for me. So I invested in Coronado, Panama (for profit AND lifestyle!) because of its close proximity to Panama City and its great recreational opportunities.
The beach and the golf course are only two blocks away from me and we often have fun golf tournaments and ladies days. Our annual USA vs Canada competition in January is always fun. There’s also tennis, surfing, yoga, pilates, Spanish classes…you name it. The last few years have seen an influx of expats— not just retirees but also young families and singles. It's the best community I've ever lived in.
On Saturdays I head down to Picasso for the brunch and artisan market, with live guitar music. I might also be there on a Saturday night, dancing to a rock-and-roll band. It’s my “local”, just four blocks from my house. Picasso is run by an expat British lady and serves as our community meeting place. She even has a book exchange and sometimes hosts traveling theatre groups from Panama City or Boquete.
I purchased a two-bedroom home on a huge lot in Corondo, which includes two private casitas (small apartments). I built a 3rd casita this year to keep up with the growing rental demand. I keep my prices very reasonable and thus enjoy a high volume of short term guests. My home is often referred to as a “backyard oasis” with its humming birds, butterflies, tropical flowers, hammocks, and refreshing swimming pool, and.. I’m making new, international friends every week!
Rental returns are so lucrative in this part of the world, that I have recently purchased a 2 bdrm condo on the golf course and being financed by the developer. With only 30% down, it was a no brainer.. and now I'm enjoying furnishing and decorating the condo so it's ready for rental in high season (actually, I've found there is no low season here!). I've recently joined a reputable Realestate/Relocation company in Coronado and having a great time helping others find their own piece of paradise (for retiring or renting or both!). The move into real estate consulting and sales was a no brainer to complement my investment and rental experience.
I have retained my worldwide properties on a short-term rental basis for two main reasons: Short-term rentals achieve higher return, and I am able to enjoy my properties in off-season periods in a variety of wonderful destinations. I often do home exchanges that benefit my “free” travel and lifestyle…there is nothing like going “home” on a holiday!
I‘ve learned so much through my overseas property venture; primarily, I have learned not to be so impulsive! I’m a risk-taker at heart, and that has served me well; however, in the past, properties were less risky in a stronger economy.
These days I do more research, work with realistic numbers, rental returns and exit strategy without getting too caught up emotionally. In these changing times, it’s paramount for me to be well diversified in currencies, locations, countries and property type; (beach, city, golf, ski mountain, house, condo, apartment). I can happily state that along with living the international good life, my properties are all paying for themselves AND making a healthy profit!
It’s what makes buying, renting, and selling property overseas such a lucrative and satisfying activity, while never having to shovel myself out of snow banks, or spend more than a buck or two on a cerveza... ever again!