Why To Rent First When You Move

We come to you today live, for the first time, from our new digs in Paitilla. We’re no more than 10 minutes from our former residence, on Avenida Balboa, but, we’re discovering, this is a different Panama City altogether.

At Bayfront, we were at the epicenter of a 24/7 construction zone. Around the clock, digging, dumping, pounding, paving… I took to sleeping with earplugs and a pillow over my head.

Turn the corner on to the small point of land known as Paitilla, though, and you leave the construction chaos of central Panama City behind. From many of our windows now, a calm sea view…from others, the mountains of Cerro Azul in the distance.

Two blocks away, a well-tended park…at the bottom of the hill, a grocer, a dry cleaner, a bank…within walking distance in one direction, a mega-supermarket…in another, one of the city’s big shopping malls…

In other words, we’re still very much in the center of things…but we’re set apart, as well.

This is why, I’m reminding myself, you rent first.

In Ireland, at first, we thought we wanted to install ourselves in a Georgian townhouse in city-center Waterford…but we realized, after a few months in a rental in Waterford City, that, in fact, what we wanted was Irish country life. We invested in a house a half-hour outside the city.

In Paris, at first, we thought we wanted to be at the heart of the old city, and we rented an apartment on rue de la Huchette, directly across the river from Notre Dame.

Turns out, rue de la Huchette is one of the most touristed streets in this very touristed city.

We retreated, after a year, to the 7th.

Here in Panama City, again, we wanted to be in the center of things, to make getting around in this city known for its traffic woes as painless as possible.

We’ve realized already, though, that, while accessibility is a plus…24-hour-a-day construction racket is a bigger minus.

In this case, we don’t intend to buy (as we eventually did in Ireland and Paris). The Panama City market is at a top. Plus, our long-term Panama plan isn’t a city condo…but a beach hacienda. As soon as the surveying is accomplished and all necessary planning approvals are in hand, we’ll begin construction of the house I’ve been building in my imagination for the past year. The more time that passes meantime…the grander my imaginary beach escape becomes. Poor Lief…

Specifically, our plan is to build at Los Islotes, on the (thankfully, still largely undiscovered) west coast of this country’s beautiful Azuero Peninsula…one of the few stretches of coast in Panama from which you can watch the sun set…


Nicaragua has just premiered a new La Aroma de Cuba cigar. The original was made in Honduras. For this one, though, the wrapper come from Ecuador…but the filler and binder are all Nicaraguan.


“You got it all wrong!” exclaimed my new assistant, Marion, after reading last weekend’s reference to ‘Noriega’s former Union Club’ in Panama’s Casco Viejo.

“When Noriega took over the place, it was no longer the Union Club. He called it ‘El Club de Clases y Tropas.’ It was a hangout for his solders and troops. It was not the same place at all…”

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