June 21, 2011:
"Kathleen, my wife and I are looking at purchasing oceanfront property in Boca Chica, Panama. I know that you have cautioned against this, because of title concerns in this part of this country. Our title search related to the piece of property we want to buy has confirmed that our prospective property is indeed titled to our seller. However, the original title property transfer was done through reform agraria. It has been explained to us that from this a public right of access setback of 200 meters (from the high tide line) is applicable to the property, rather than the 22 meters shown on our survey plan. Can you or Lief shed any light on what this means?
"I suspect that it might also be of interest to many of your other Live and Invest Overseas subscribers."
--Keith, United States
The "maritime zone" in Panama was changed from 200 to 22 meters in 2009. Generally speaking, whoever owns the land behind the 200-meter mark has the rights to the 178 meters down to the new 22-meter mark. However, until the owner goes through the titling process, this band of land is rights of possession.
Is that a problem? You'd need to consult an attorney on your particular situation. We recommend Panama City-based attorney Rainelda Mata-Kelly.
"Kathleen, I could not agree more that things 'on the ground' so often look different from government 'intel' reports, which may have the agenda of keeping that government's citizens 'safe' at home and some $ in the coffers. Fear is an incredible force of control.
"In most cases I would characterize this chasm between what media and 'official' reports say and what one experiences firsthand abroad as falling in favor of covering backsides and promoting fear. Still, to be balanced and having lived abroad, I do know of instances when unpleasant realities never made it to mass media. And yet, even as a woman and mother of two younger children, as well, I choose to live abroad, as I certainly feel more free and safe than I did in the United States.
"To me, the ultimate responsibility of determining 'truth' lies with the receiver of the message, who should actively analyze it and the motives of the source, not passively believe whatever is spoon fed. You may choose to act on what you read, but do not simply react to it."
--Anne, United States
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Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.
Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.
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