Journey to Paradise in Panama

By Jay Stafford

Helicopter trip from Panama City to our house in Paradise, Ocean Ridge Estates, Panama

Panama is one of the fastest growing property and investment opportunities in the world. While the real estate in Panama offers tremendous value – it is the low cost of living that really attracts people to Panama. Panama’s pristine beauty, near-perfect weather, friendly locals, world-class fishing and outdoor activities makes owning land in Panama an excellent choice.

At Ocean Ridge Estates you can truly have it all – a top quality lifestyle for a very affordable price. Contact us with any questions you have, and start finding out how you can have your very own piece of paradise.

http://www.thepanamacollection.com/

Ocean Ridge Newsletter January 2015 – Panama

by The Panama Collection

Hello Ocean Ridge people (and honored family and friends);

This isn’t really a full blown newsletter, but I thought you might like some recent photos so you can see how the project is taking off.  First let’s start with the houses:

We just started on our seventh house, for Betty on lot 8. It was just started two weeks ago, and already the foundation is taking shape (photo below).  Hopefully Betty will be moving down from Texas later this year, and providing free dental care for all of her neighbors (okay, I’m kidding!). Yvette’s house on lot 15 is almost complete, and hopefully she also will be moving down sometime this year (photo below). Yvette, your wrap-around porch is getting rave reviews from everybody who sees it. Leo and Willy came in to visit, and did some major clearing around their guesthouse (photo below). Now they have fabulous views in all directions. Meanwhile Bob and Annie on lot 10 are right on schedule to finish their house in a few months (photo below). You might want to check out Annie’s interesting blog, which describes their life in Panama – it’s well done and quite entertaining (panmaniacs.wordpress.com).

Since smelling the roses is one of the core principles here in Paradise, there have been a number of pool gatherings in the last few weeks. Here is a typical afternoon with Leo, Willie, Bob and Annie (photo below). For those of you planning on a pool (which you all should be), we have found that the water temperature year-round is between 81 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit – cool, refreshing and perfect.

We continue to have new visitors from Mother Nature. For those of you who haven’t seen the pics, we have a couple of coatis that come around occasionally and mingle with the agoutis (2 photos below). When you come down you’ll have to learn all the names of the weird animals around here. Coco the squirrel has returned after a six month absence (photo below), and Loco and Twinky say hello to everybody (photo).

Last but not least (for those of you who care), the fishing/spearfishing continues to be outstanding (3 photos below). Last year was probably the best dorado year we’ve ever had, and when my brother Scott visited over the holidays I introduced him to spearfishing. Okay, I’ll say it – big brother big fish, little brother little fish……..  🙂

That’s it for now; here’s hoping that everybody out there has a fabulous 2015.

Jay and Patricia

Panama 1st, in global well-being poll, USA ranks 12th

From USAToday

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Panama ranks first among 135 countries, the U.S. ranks 12th, on subjective well-being – not just how much wealth or good health people have but how they feel about their lives

The top ten:

1. Panama, 61%
2. Costa_Rica, 44%
3. Denmark, 40%
4. Austria, 39%
5. Brazil, 39%
6. Uruguay, 37%
7. El Salvador, 37%
8. Sweden, 36%
9. Guatemala, 34%
10. Canada, 34%

View the article:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/16/global-well-being-poll-panama/15679637/

Ocean Ridge Estates by The Panama Collection Sold Lot #2!!!

Hello future neighbors in five different countries, and welcome to the latest greatest issue of The Ocean Ridge Report. This newsletter is getting so popular that Donald Trump offered to buy me out, so he could start charging a heavy fee to all you readers out there. Don’t worry – I told The Donald to take a hike. Okay, seriously now – the project keeps growing, so let’s meet the new neighbors:

Rob and Joan1) More Florida people. Say hola to Rob and Joan Spering, proud owners of lot 2 (photo). Originally from Pennsylvania, they now live in central Florida, just north of Orlando. Rob has a company that’s involved in the printing business, and Joan works in a seminary. The plan is to semi-retire in about three years, and split their time between Panama and Florida. With five kids and eight grandkids, I predict that they’ll have plenty of visitors.

Leo's house2) Houses everywhere. Tom and Stephanie’s house of lot 7 is steadily nearing completion, Leo and Willy’s guesthouse on 14 is about finished, and Pieter and Joka’s guesthouse on 4 looks great after just three weeks (photos). Yvette on lot 15 is next in line; we should be starting her house before the end of March. Looks like we might actually have some neighbors within the next year or two – won’t that be fun?

Pieter's house3) Residency update. Like I’ve said in past newsletters, establishing residency in Panama doesn’t need to be a top priority at first, because you can live here as long as you want without ever becoming a resident.

However, I thought it might be a good idea for me to go ahead and establish residency here in Panama, if for no other reason than to be able to help our neighbors do the same thing if and when they want. After some research, I think I found the best attorney in Panama for getting this done – thanks to Bob and Annie (lot 10) for giving me the original lead. Her name is Rainelda Mata-Kelly in Panama City; she is primarily an immigration attorney who has done “hundreds and hundreds” of residency applications for foreigners around the world. Her fee is around $3300 – a little high, but my theory has always been that it’s worth paying a little more for the best. I started the process in February, and it should take 4-6 months.

Coco kiss Loco kissThat’s it for now in Paradise. Patricia sends out kisses to everybody, starting with Loco and Coco !

Be safe out there – it’s a crazy world
Jay and Patricia

The Ocean Ridge Report December 2013 – Panama Real Estate For Sale

Hola future neighbors, and welcome to the final newsletter of 2013. Things are finally drying out after a wetter than usual rainy season, and it’s nice to be looking forward to several months of dry weather. Some great things are happening on the project, so here we go:

Leo and Willy came to visit from Canada - lot 14 house1)  Let’s build another house. When Leo and Willy came to visit from Canada in October, they decided that they liked lot 14 better than lot 5, so that’s the one they bought. They didn’t waste any time – they’ve started building a small guesthouse so they’ll have a place to stay until they build the main house at some point in the future (photo). The house will be done in January, after which the crew will move right over to lot 4 and build a similar house for brother Pieter and his wife Joka. I’m a lucky guy; how many people can say that both of their next door neighbors are named Hoogenboom?

Tom and Stephanie's house - lot 7 houseMeanwhile Tom and Stephanie’s house on lot 7 is nearing completion, and looking quite magnificent in my humble opinion (photo). Sometime in 2014 they’ll be having a big housewarming party, and all of you are invited! Well, maybe I should check with them first………..

2)  Residency information. I’ve discussed residency options in past newsletters, but I found a new link that is very good: http://vivatropical.com/panama/panama-visa-and-residency/

The author does a great job of explaining why establishing residency in Panama should be about 50th on your list of priorities when you move down here. You can literally live in Panama for years and years with no residency status of any kind (like me, Patricia and the author), so you will have plenty of time to figure out your best option when you’re living here.

Loco is as ornery as ever3)  Critter update. Since several of you keep asking, it seems like the Paradise Zoo keeps expanding. Loco is as ornery as ever (photo), Coco comes in from the jungle every day to eat and hang out (photo), and now we have a new daily visitor. Two years ago we raised a couple of baby birds that were smaller than Loco and his siblings (orange-chinned parakeets, if you really must know). We released them into the wild, and assumed we would never see them again. About five months ago one of them showed up with his entire lower beak missing – Coco comes in from the jungle every day to eat and hang outmaybe lost it in a fight? He was almost dead, but of course Patricia nursed him back to health, and now he flies in every day for his bread and milk (photos). We named him Teenyweeny, which I think is pretty catchy.
Teenyweenie flies in every day for his bread and milk
We also continue to see more and more wildlife in the area – check out the toucan in the back yard (photo).

That’s it for this year. Everybody have a great Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Festivus, and any other holiday that I forgot to mention.

Jay and Patricia

http://www.thepanamacollection.com

Ocean Ridge, panama lots for sale, land in panama,panama land,panama land for sale,panama real estate,panama real estate listings,The Panama Collectioncheck out the toucan in the back yard

The Ocean Ridge Report May 2013 – Panama Real Estate – Lots for Sale

Hola yet again Panama people; get ready for the latest and greatest from Ocean Ridge Estates. I know it’s only been two months since the last issue, but the neighborhood keeps expanding. Let me tell you all about it:

Pieter and Joka1) The Dutch invasion. Say hello to Pieter and Joka Hoogenboom, a really nice Dutch couple who have been living in northern British Columbia, Canada, for the last 25 years or so (photo). They’re a little tired of Canadian winters, so they bought lot 4 and they seem pretty excited about the place. In fact, Pieter called his brother Leo in Alberta, Canada, and Leo was so impressed that he bought lot 5 – looks like a Hoogenboom takeover to me! Pieter is in the gas and oil servicing industry, while Leo is a greenhouse consultant. That means that he can help us all build greenhouses to grow food year-round, which I think is pretty great. Feel free to contact Pieter and Joka (Peter@dutchcasing.com) and Leo and his wife Willy (hoogenboom@albertahighspeed.net) anytime you like.

big winners2) Just like winning the lottery – sort of. I think that most of you are familiar with the Machetazo, the supermarket in Santiago where we buy most of our groceries. Unknown to us, they have a “Customer of the Day” program where the cash register randomly picks one customer per day to get all of their groceries for free. I knew something was up when the horns and sirens went off, the confetti came raining down, and all of the employees rushed over with balloons and cameras (photo). Panamanians don’t need much of an excuse to party, that’s for sure. Okay, it was only $60 in groceries, but it was still fun.

chicken coop3) The Great Chicken Experiment. Some of you have expressed an interest in raising chickens when you make the move to Panama, so we thought we’d give it a try. We built a deluxe super-modern chicken coop (photo) and fifteen cute little chicks for 50 cents each. When they got big enough we had Jose the caretaker kill nine of them – turns out I’m a little squeamish about killing critters that I’ve been feeding. Patricia wasn’t squeamish at all about cleaning them (photo), and she cooks a good bird. However, when we did the math it came out to about $20 per chicken – now I know why the locals just let their chickens run around, and don’t feed them anything.

chicken cleaningWe turned loose the remaining six chickens, intending to have them more or less as pets, and hopefully get some eggs. However, a few nights ago something attacked and killed five of them – Jose says it was probably coyotes. I guess the moral of the story is to close your coop at night; we named the one surviving chicken Nervous Nellie, and the name certainly fits.

4) New hotel. Okay, it’s not new, but the Heliconia Bed and Breakfast (hotelheliconiapanama.com) has established itself as the only decent place to stay on the entire coastline. Owned by Loes and Kees, a Dutch couple (I told you we were having a Dutch invasion), the hotel has a very eco-friendly theme, and they take customers on tours throughout the countryside. They even go into the Cerro Hoya National Park at the southern end of the peninsula. If you’re looking for a nice place to stay that is much closer than Santiago, I definitely recommend the Heliconia. No, I’m not getting any commission for telling you this, but I might want to talk to Loes and Kees about that!

That’s it for this issue – come on down to Paradise just as soon as you can.

Jay, Patrica and Loco

 

Panama Lots For Sale from The Panama Collection

The Panama Collection - Panamainian Lots for Sale - Real EstatePanama is one of the fastest growing property and investment opportunities in the world. While the real estate in Panama offers tremendous value – it is the low cost of living that really attracts people to Panama.

The Panama Collection selected Ocean Ridge Estates for its pristine natural beauty and ideal location. Located just 1 hour from Santiago and 3 ½ hours from Panama City it is perfect for retirement and investment real estate.

Ocean Ridge Estates is picture perfect, bordered to the north by the Rio Negro (Black River), mountain views in all directions, and the Pacific Ocean four miles to the west.

Lots 4,5 and 6 are pretty similar. All are bordered by the Black River, the largest river in the region (see photo).

Bordering the Black River, The Panama Collection

All of them are large parcels, around 7 acres, perfect for putting together your very own country estate. You can have up to three horses, fruit orchards, large gardens, walking trails, etc. About the only limitation is your imagination.

Lot 5 at The Panama Collection - Own a 4 - 12 Acre Mini Ranch in Paradise

All three lots offer some ocean view, but the main visual appeal will be the vast mountain views (see photos). Monkeys, parrots and many other animals are common here on the project; it’s easy to see why the name of this area is actually Paradise !

Lot 5 east view - Panama Real Estate For SaleAt Ocean Ridge Estates you can truly have it all – a top quality lifestyle for a very affordable price. Contact us with any questions you have, and start finding out how you can have your very own piece of paradise.

Jay Stafford
www.thepanamacollection.com
954-309-2837
cell in Florida
507-6679-7540 cell in Panama

 

The Ocean Ridge Report – December 2012

Hola future neighbors, and welcome to the latest edition of The Ocean Ridge Report. After the lightest rainy season that anybody around here can remember, we’re all settling into the nice dry verano (summer).
The river is down, the watermelons are planted, and a couple trillion stars are out at night. As usual, great things are happening in the area, so let’s jump right in:

1) Let’s build another house. Even though Tom and Stephanie (lot 7) are probably 5 – 7 years away from a full time move to Panama, they’ve made the wise decision to build now while prices are still low. The foundation is coming right along , and the house should be more or less finished by next June. It’s going to be a beautiful two story beast – I just hope it’s big enough for two people!
lot 7 foundation The Ocean Ridge Report   December 2012

By the way, they need to come up with a name for their place, if anybody has any ideas. I suggested “Tom’s House of Pleasure”, but I think Stephanie vetoed that one.

2) Santiago happenings. Santiago is steadily becoming one of the “in” cities in Panama, largely because of its central location in the country. The population has gone over 70,000, with new amenities coming in all the time. The new six story hospital is nearing completion, and will be the most modern medical facility in the whole interior of the country. It will have entire floors dedicated to cardiology and oncology, with state of the art diagnostic equipment throughout. The new supermall has been started, and should open within two years. The hotel Mykonos has just opened, and is one of the few four star hotels outside of Panama City. Not sure how much business they’ll get at $130/night, but it’s a nice option for you players out there. Supposedly Mel Gibson owns half the place, but we haven’t seen him hanging around.

Santiago hospital The Ocean Ridge Report   December 2012

Santiago mall construction The Ocean Ridge Report   December 2012

Mykonos The Ocean Ridge Report   December 2012

3) Insurance matters. After our usual thorough and painstaking research, we’ve purchased insurance for the house. The cost is $378/year for $200,000 in coverage, less than one fourth the cost of a similar policy I have on one of my properties in Florida. We already submitted a claim for some roof damage, and they paid the full amount promptly, with none of the hassles that you have to go through in the states. I think I like Panama.

We also shopped extensively for car insurance, which is a little more expensive; about half as much as I pay for similar coverage in the states. When you make the move to Panama, I think we’ll have you covered for any insurance needs that you might have. We’re still researching health insurance; seems to be more complicated, so I’ll get back to you on that one.

Once again, we are the proud winners of the coveted “Best Decorated House in the Neighborhood” award. You guys are making it easy on us – maybe next year Tom and Stephanie will provide some competition.

Christmas lights The Ocean Ridge Report   December 2012

Have a great Christmas, Hanukah, Ramadan, or whatever your persuasion is.

Jay and Patricia


Jay Stafford
www.thepanamacollection.com
954-309-2837 cell in Florida
507-6679-7540 cell in Panama

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The Ocean Ridge Report March 2013

March 10, 2013 – By Jay Stafford

Hola future neighbors, and welcome to the latest edition of The Ocean Ridge Report.

We’re nearing the end of the dry season (verano) here in Panama – the hills are brown, the river is down, and the cows are skinny.  As usual, great things are happening in the area, so let’s jump right in:

1)  More neighbors.  Say hello to Richard, his girlfriend Cynthia, and their good friend and business partner Yvette. They hail from St Augustine, Florida, and they liked the project so much that they bought lots 15 and 16. Between the three of them they bring a lot to the table, including experience in building, woodworking, property management, growing plants, as well as starting several businesses, like a healthy “life foods” restaurant. They also enjoy wine, vodka and fine cigars (okay, Richard likes the cigars), so you know they’ll fit right in with this group. Feel free to contact Richard and Cynthia at panamasurfershark@yahoo.com, and Yvette at sailorsexchange@yahoo.com.

2)  Pool party anyone?  After interviewing at least 10 pool builders, we finally found the right guy for the job. He’s in Panama City, and has built hundreds of pools throughout the country. Check out the photos; he did a great job, and now we have a nice place for those all important sunset cocktails. For those of you who want pools to go with your dream house, we can definitely help.

pool at sunset4 300x225 The Ocean Ridge Report March 2013pool1 300x225 The Ocean Ridge Report March 2013

3)  Airport update.  I’ve mentioned the new international airport being built in Rio Hato in a previous issue, but I thought you’d appreciate knowing that construction is coming right along; here’s the best link I could find; http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php/20121109150247625. It is scheduled to open later this year, which probably means sometime in 2014. It will be a true international airport, with flights coming in from the U.S. and all over the world. The site is about 2.5 hours from Mariato, which will be a big improvement over the current 4.5 hour journey from Panama City.

On a side note, there are still no commercial flights available into the Ruben Cantu airport in Santiago. Rumor has it that flights will be opened up within a couple of years; you know I’ll keep you posted.

4)  Dental care. Inexpensive healthcare has been a recurring theme in these newsletters, and dental care is no exception. Patricia has had problems with her lower wisdom teeth for the last couple of years, so she did some of the local research that she’s so good at and found a highly regarded female dentist in Santiago. The dentist took over two hours to remove both teeth, in a comfortable, modern facility.

Patricia was very impressed with the dentist’s skill, and had no problems afterwards. The bill was $120, probably 10% of what it would have cost in the states. For future reference, filling or redoing a cavity costs $40. You gotta love Panama!

That’s it for now. I know that several of you are planning on starting to build your home within the next year or so, and we’re excited about that. What’s the point in catching so many fish, when you don’t have neighbors to give ‘em to?

pool3 300x225 The Ocean Ridge Report March 2013

Jay and Patricia

 

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Panama vs Costa Rica – Where to Purchase Real Estate

by Jay Stafford

The Panama Collection - Land for Sale - Panama Real EstateWhen you think about living full or part time in Central America, Costa Rica seems to be the first country that comes to mind. Having spent a fair amount of time in both Costa Rica and Panama, I may be able to offer a somewhat unique perspective when comparing the two countries. While both countries are similar in many respects, there are some major differences that you should be aware of.

First of all, there are many similarities. Both Panama and Costa Rica have mountains, oceans, beaches, volcanoes, tropical rain forests, zip line and eco tours, hot springs and exotic wildlife. Both countries have more residents who speak English in the bigger cities, while very little English is spoken in the more remote areas. Both countries have similar temperate climates, and both are quite beautiful. I honestly can’t think of a single good thing about Costa Rica that you can’t also find in Panama.

Now let’s talk about the differences, and they are significant:

Retiree incentives:  Panama rolls out the red carpet for retirees, with one of the best benefit programs in the world (http://www.panamainfo.com/en/benefits-foreign-retirees). Retirees can enjoy steeps discounts of up to 50% on everything from hotels and airfare to entertainment and healthcare. Costa Rica has no such program – retirees are not offered a single benefit, discount, or incentive of any kind.

For this reason alone, it amazes me that anybody would retire to Costa Rica. I have to assume that the only people moving to Costa Rica are the ones who simply have not done their research.

Roads: Costa Rica is famous for its bad roads, and they are terrible. Some of the main roads are so bad that they are nearly impassable. Panama’s main roads are all paved and relatively pothole-free .President Martinelli has made a major road building commitment throughout the country, which has already resulted in an even better road system.

Cost of goods: Panama is a big winner here. Thanks to the Panama Canal and its huge port, manufactured goods are much less expensive in Panama. Household appliances, electronics, building materials, almost everything is more expensive in Costa Rica. I haven’t had any experience buying cars in Costa Rica, but I’ve heard from reliable sources that Costa Rica has a huge tax on automobiles that I know for a fact Panama doesn’t have. Apparently a $20,000 car in Panama would cost around $35,000 in Costa Rica.

Currency: Again, Panama comes out ahead. The official currency in Panama is the Balboa, which is tied directly to the U.S. dollar. The paper money (one dollar bill and up) is all U.S. currency, and there is no exchange rate. The currency in Costa Rica is the colon, and exchange rates fluctuate on a regular basis. You need to constantly change your U.S. money into colones, bring a calculator everywhere you go, and always be aware of locals trying to take advantage of you. Financial transactions of any kind are much easier in Panama.

Capital Cities: When you fly into San Jose, Costa Rica, it feels like you’ve landed in a third world ghetto, but when you fly into Panama City you feel like you’ve arrived to a modern, cosmopolitan metropolis. It’s really about that simple – the difference between the two cities is staggering. San Jose is a dirty, dangerous place with about four street signs in the entire city. Panama City has dozens of gleaming new skyscrapers and is in an obvious phase of progressive expansion. One reason that Panama City is light years ahead of San Jose is the fact that the U.S. was actively involved in the Canal until 1999, so the infrastructure is surprisingly modern. It’s not a coincidence that a Trump Tower is going up in Panama City, but not in San Jose.

On a side note, I have found the people in Panama City to be much friendlier and more helpful than those in San Jose.

Crime: No contest here; Costa Rica has a much higher rate of crime. Armed robberies, carjackings and other violent crimes occur far more frequently in Costa Rica. In 2007 the U.S. State Department designated Costa Rica as a “high crime rate country” for tourists. While these crimes do occur in Panama, the incidence is much lower and they occur primarily in the Canal Zone, between Panama City and Colon. I’ve been living part time in Santiago (three hours west of Panama City) for over two years, and nobody I’ve talked to has ever heard of a murder, armed robbery, or even a mugging. I’ve left tools and work boots outside of my house for weeks at a time, and I’ve never had anything stolen. This would be unheard of in Costa Rica, where theft is a common, everyday occurrence.
https://www.osac.gov/Pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=12155

Real Estate: Let’s save the best for last; you can purchase land in Panama for a fraction of what it would cost you in Costa Rica. For example, the same five acre mini ranch with ocean views and riverfront that I’m selling in Panama for around $90,000 would cost more than $500,000 in Costa Rica. Land in Costa Rica is roughly five times more expensive than comparable land in Panama.

Another big difference between the countries involves squatters. In Costa Rica if you buy land and squatters move onto it, in three months they actually have legal rights to your property, and protracted legal action is required to get rid of them. Incredible, but true. In Panama, squatters have no legal rights of any kind. If you buy land in Panama, leave it alone for ten years, and upon your return people are living on it, you can have them removed immediately.

Having spent about half of my time in Panama over the last two years, I was initially puzzled by the fact that the interior of the country is so far behind Costa Rica in terms of real estate development. It is a vastly superior country to Costa Rica (for the aforementioned reasons), and when I started inquiring as why this was the case I kept getting back a one word response – “Noriega.” Up until 1990, when he was forcefully removed from power, Noriega had a stranglehold on the country, and he allowed very little development from outside investors. That was only 20 years ago, and Panama has been catching up ever since.

There are some popular, well developed places in Panama. Panama City itself (as well as the entire Canal Zone), Valle de Anton, and Boquete are probably the better known areas. They all have large “gringo” communities, and prime land is often well in excess of $100/meter squared (the way land is measured in Panama).

In my opinion, by far the best area in Panama in terms of future growth potential is the western slope of the Azuero peninsula. Located on the Pacific side of Panama about three hours from Panama City, there is a new (completed four years ago) paved road that runs the entire length of the coastline, ending at the Cerro Hoya National Park. The land is beautiful, the views are outstanding, and it is very early in the development cycle. At present there are no large projects in the area, but there will be. I believe that marinas, hotels, large housing projects, etc will all happen in the next several years.

One can look at Ocean Ridge Estates to get a feel for the low prices that are available in the area. I have 16 mini ranches between 3 and 12 acres, most of which have riverfront and ocean views. The purchase price of $5.00/meter squared includes water, electric, a road to each lot, and full title, as well as any assistance needed in the building of a house. This is one of the best values in Panama, if not the best.

I think the facts speak for themselves. If you visit both countries you’ll find out for yourself that Panama is far superior to Costa Rica for many reasons. Do your research, and you should come to the conclusion that Ocean Ridge Estates on the Azuero peninsula is one of the best values in the entire country of Panama. Visit www.thepanamacollection.com to find out more.

The Panama Collection
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