When looking at Panama City, it’s important to keep a couple of thing in mind with a city of this size. Different markets are at work and the city can be vastly different from neighborhood to neighborhood. If you are looking to live in Panama City, we recommend that you “thin-slice” the city into the areas that best suit your lifestyle and tastes.
In fact, neighborhood to neighborhood in Panama City, everything about your life could be different. The view from your bedroom window. The noise level (depending how much construction is going on around you). Your neighbors. The amount of English you hear on the street or in the shops nearby. The kinds of shops you’ll find nearby. The opportunity for walking to shops (rather than having to take a taxi), if you prefer. The ease of hailing a taxi (some Panama City taxi drivers don’t like to travel to some neighborhoods). The number and the kinds of restaurants. The opportunity for nightlife. The number of parks. Places to walk your dog if you intend to keep one. Level of disruption during celebrations like Carnaval (which completely disrupts some sections of the city). Etc.
A Brief Rundown
In some Panama City neighborhoods (notably Costa del Este), you’ll feel like you’re living in a Miami suburb. In others (Casco Viejo), you’ll know you’re in the Third World.
In the areas of Marbella around Calle Uruguay (where all the nightclubs congregate), you’ll want for a decent night’s sleep, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
Others (in fact, many qualify on this score) will shake you awake every morning to the sounds of jack-hammers all around. Remember, Panama City today is very much a city under construction.
The types of real estate available (from high-rise apartments to single-family homes, from suburban development communities to 300-year-old colonial buildings, etc.) and the costs per square meter vary. Sometimes even dramatically, neighborhood to neighborhood.
Neighborhoods of Panama City
Costa del Este
Near the airport, this is a suburban area, fast growing with its own grocery stores, schools and other services. Created in 1995, it is one of the largest and most exclusive developments in the city. Its design meets first world standards like residential areas with restricted access, underground wiring, and its own water processing plant. There are homes and a few high rise projects. In residential terms, it is the second highest valued property area in Panama City. The Balboa Avenue takes the first place. Life in Costa del Este is, as we like to call it, Panama Lite.
A high end area on a landfill peninsula that juts into the Pacific Ocean. This exclusive neighborhood is next to lavish malls, high rent offices and is home to the most luxurious high rise condos and hotels in Panama with fantastic Ocean Views. Examples include the Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower (formerly Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower).
There’s a select development project currently undergoing in this area. The project’s name is “Ocean Reef Islands”. It features two artificial islands. These are being made targeting an upscale market. They will include exclusive condos with world-class amenities, a high-end marina, and even helipads. The “West” island is finished and is going through project development, while the “East” island is still under construction.
Next to and similar to Punta Pacífica, but older and with fewer new offerings, mostly resales. Luxury condos and developed neighborhood has some condo re-sales with fantastic views of the city and ocean. It has many amenities like close-by malls, Hotels like the Radisson And Hard Rock Hotel, and the Paitilla Medical Center.
The banking and business center along the main ocean side boulevard that is the heart of Panama City. Home of Panama’s business elite. Skyscraper offices and condos offer towering views of the the Pacific and Casco Viejo. It is the most modern road in the country, and the most costly kilometer of a road in the world in real estate terms.
The magnificent antique part of town where French influence is clear among these lovely facades. There’s much ink about the potential of this once fabulous area that is quickly being renovated by foreign and local investors alike.
Casco Viejo was a slum some years ago. Now, Casco Viejo is an evolving gentrification project and the hippest night spot in the city. The Spanish-, French-, and American-colonial structures here, a world-class UNESCO-protected collection of buildings, renovated into private homes, condos, restaurants, bars, art galleries, and shops. The whole place now is encircled by a highway suspended above the water.
Nightlife, boating and tourism area, home to several projects underway that are excellent investment opportunities. This area stretches out to the sea and greets ships as they enter the Canal. Sweeping views back to the mainland city and Casco Viejo.
Another spot in Panama City that should be on any nature lover’s list is the newly opened Biomuseo, at the base of the Causeway.
Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the Biomuseo has a contemporary structure in the category of the Pompidou Museum in Paris. The museum’s exhibits base on Panama’s biodiversity and curated by the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Panama. One recent exhibit showcased the fossils of giant sharks and tiny camels. they were unearthed during the ongoing Panama Canal expansion work.
This former military (Air Force) base converted to a residential area with one story homes and large yards. It features renovated former officer’s homes, newly constructed houses, and condos. They enjoy lots of greenery and a country feel, despite being just minutes from the city.
A former military (Army) base home to the “City of knowledge”. Nice rural housing and lots for sale. Lots of green area and a slower, more residential suburban feeling that’s preferred by many families and retirees.
This residential neighborhood with slight elevation and parks has several new high rise condos in construction. Great for those looking into investing in rentals.
El Cangrejo, epitomizes urban life in Panama. The neighborhood itself is at once fascinating and infuriating, exciting and slightly intimidating. All manner of people pop up in El Cangrejo. This neighborhood has it all. It’s never dull here. With its active nightlife of clubs, pubs, concerts, casinos, cafés, and theaters, there is a little of something for everybody here.
El Cangrejo, which translates to English as “the crab,” is so named because the layout of its streets somewhat resembles the shape of a crab. Founded in the 1950s by Jewish residents, at the time was the most modern and exclusive neighborhood in Panama City.
It took on a much more diverse makeup in more recent years, as the Jewish community relocated mainly to the Punta Pacífica and Costa del Este. The legacy of the Jewish community epitomizes in the many memorials to the great Albert Einstein in and around the area. Including a giant statue of his head and both a plaza and a clinic named after him.