The Four Most Affordable Neighborhoods In Panama City (That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of)
“Living in Panama City isn’t cheap, not if you’re talking about the city center,” writes Panama Letter Editor Chris Powers. “Living in popular areas like El Cangrejo, San Francisco, and Costa del Este requires an average budget of no less than US$2,700 per month. And, realistically, you’re likely to spend more than that to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle including dining out frequently and filling your pantry with the imported foods you miss from the United States.
“In recent issues of the Panama Letter, I’ve reported on affordable areas outside the city, but maybe you don’t want to live out in the interior of this country. If being near the city is what you desire, but you don’t want to pay the price of hanging your hat in Casco Viejo or Punta Pacifica, you must be asking yourself, ‘Where do the middle-income locals live?’
“I asked myself the same question when searching for a house to rent in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where I lived before moving to Panama three years ago. Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, isn’t cheap either. It wasn’t until I had moved into the area, into an overpriced rental that I’d found online, that I discovered places like North Palm Beach, just around the corner, and Port St. Lucie, a little over a half-hour away. Until I got my feet on the ground and searched the area in person, I wasn’t able to find a comfortable, affordable place to move my family.
“That’s why, for this month’s issue of the Panama Letter, I set out with the specific objective of identifying the most affordable places to live ‘in’ Panama City. I identified four neighborhoods close to the city, considered by many to be part of Panama City, but far more affordable than neighborhoods downtown. With no traffic (fair warning: there’s almost never no traffic anymore, except maybe Sunday mornings), it takes but 20 minutes to get from these four neighborhoods to the world-class hospitals in Paitilla, the fine-dining options in Casco Viejo, the hodge-podge assortment of shops at Albrook Mall, and the hip-and-trendy nightlife along the Amador Causeway.
“I found this jumble of neighborhoods, all located side-by-side along one street, Via Tocumen, when I was searching for an affordable rental for myself. I consider affordable to be US$800 per month or less. It’s not easy to find a nice place in a decent neighborhood for that amount, not in Panama City, and especially not when you need three bedrooms (as I do). But in these four pleasant, safe, friendly neighborhoods, it is.
“Some of these neighborhoods are nicer than the others, and some may not appeal to you, even though they’re cheaper, because they’re closer to less appealing neighborhoods. However, here’s the bottom line: For the money, you won’t find better options this close to Panama City.
“In many ways, these four areas are alike. Infrastructure is top-notch, the roads are smooth, aside from a few potholes, and water is drinkable from the tap. Cable Onda, Cable & Wireless, and Sky provide cable TV, Internet, and phone services.
“I think the best way to approach this is to start with the neighborhood closest to the airport, which happens to be the cheapest of the four I’m highlighting, and then to travel along Via Tocumen, introducing each of these interesting and very affordable places in turn…”
Chris’ complete (and fully illustrated) report on the four neighborhoods he has identified as the best buys for the money in and around Panama City is featured in the April issue of the Panama Letter, in final stages of production now. If you’re a subscriber, look for your copy in your e-mailbox April 1. If you’re not yet a subscriber but Panama is on your radar, get on board here now, in time for this month’s special issue.