Bargains in Panama’s Forgotten Beach Town

Panama is best known for its world-class capital…

Set on the Pacific Ocean, by the entrance to the country’s renowned canal, Panama City is a global center of trade, finance and culture.

Its skyline glitters and soars with skyscrapers housing global banks and major multinationals.

Its streets are lined with trendy cafés…craft beer bars…fine-dining restaurants…designer clothing boutiques…and expansive shopping malls…

This is one of the world’s great cities—a place that’s drawing in wealthy folks from across the globe, who come for the business opportunities and the rich lifestyle it offers.

Panama City boasts one of the world’s most impressive skylines…and the tallest in all of Latin America.

An often-overlooked benefit of living in Panama City is the incredible natural beauty that lies just beyond it…

Just outside this vibrant metropolis, you’ll find white-sand beaches, tropical islands, towering rainforests, and lush highlands where you can swim, fish, golf, and hike in the most breathtaking natural environments.

This week in Your Overseas Dream Home, we’re digging into this side of Panama…

I asked one of my scouts, Oliver Lovett, who’s based in Panama City, to set off into the country’s highlands to investigate some of the stunning towns and villages there.

Earlier this week, he sent back a report from the popular expat haven of Boquete, located high in the mountains near the country’s border with Costa Rica. (Check out that article here.)

Today, he reports back from a “forgotten” beach town…

This town, situated on a stunning stretch of Panama’s Pacific coast, was once prosperous. Then the local economy collapsed when the area’s major employer left.

But while on the road, Oliver heard talk of new investment and an influx of foreign buyers snapping up bargain real estate there.

So he put boots on the ground to check it out…

Ronan

Ronan McMahon, Founder, Overseas Dream Home & Real Estate Trend Alert

P.S. I’m about to bring members of my Real Estate Trend Alert group a landmark new deal in Panama City. Members will have the chance to own condos on the last prime waterfront location of its kind in this world-class city at unbelievable off-market, RETA-only pricing. That’s why I’m expecting gains of nearly $300,000 eight years after delivery. More details coming soon… (Not a RETA member? Learn how you can join here.)

Bargains in Panama’s Forgotten Beach Town

By Oliver Lovett

Sitting on the terrace of a fishing lodge called Hooked on Panama, enjoying a lunch of freshly caught tuna and yuca fries, it was easy to see the appeal of Puerto Armuelles…

This community lies on a stunning stretch of Panama’s western Pacific coast. You’ll find hidden golden-sand beaches and secret surf spots here. And just offshore, in the radiant blue and green waters, there’s world-class fishing.

Despite its natural beauty, Puerto Armuelles has a reputation in Panama as a sort of ghost town…a place that fell on hard times and now only attracts folks looking for cheap real estate.

But I’d come here after hearing from brokers in the nearby mountain town of Boquete that this is changing…that new investment and foreign buyers are moving into Puerto Armuelles.

It didn’t take me long to find evidence to back up their claims…

Puerto Armuelles boasts long stretches of unspoiled beach, backed by lush jungle.

The Rise and Fall of Puerto Armuelles

Puerto Armuelles in Chiriquí province was once a thriving city.

The Chiquita banana company, a division of United Fruit, had vast operations here. They built whole neighborhoods for their workers, as well as a baseball stadium and movie theater. The city’s airfield welcomed international flights. Foreign dignitaries and presidents stopped off in Puerto Armuelles during visits to Panama…

But in the late 1990s a union dispute with Chiquita led to the company leaving. The city’s jobs and prosperity went with it.

Since then, Puerto Armuelles has floundered. But now there are signs that the city is recovering.

Puerto Armuelles is home to some of the best fishing in Panama.

As I toured Puerto Armuelles, new infrastructure investment was readily apparent.

Work is starting on a pier in the downtown area. It’s designed to bring tourists on cruise ships and to export goods from Chiriquí province, the breadbasket of Panama. No more trucking the goods down to Panama City.

A new malecon (seafront promenade) has been built, in the same area as the pier. A large modern hospital opened a few years ago. A new baseball stadium built to MLB standards was finished in 2020.

Before COVID, work had started on rebuilding the old airfield, and Copa Airlines were rumored to be planning flights from Puerto Armuelles to the cities of David, Panama City, and Bocas del Toro. Construction stalled during the pandemic, but workers have recently been seen on site again.

The malecon in Puerto Armuelles. The pier in this photo is set to be replaced with a brand-new structure capable of receiving cruise ships.

After arriving in town, I met with Debbie Fishell, a real estate broker here.

As new investment comes, Debbie told me she was seeing an increase in wealthy expats buying in Puerto Armuelles. They’re here for the outdoor activities and lifestyle, seeking value in the premium real estate market or buying up coastal lots at low prices and building their own overseas dream homes.

Debbie took me to see a new master-planned community here called Coco Beach that’s intended to appeal to these new arrivals…

Coco Beach is being built around 20 minutes south of Puerto Armuelles. To reach it, you turn off the highway and pass through several acres of palm oil fields until you reach what is effectively a private beach for residents.

Around 15 homes have been completed in Coco Beach so far, with more under construction.

Coco Beach is a U.S.-style community, featuring a beach club, swimming pool, and pickleball court. Buyers in Coco Beach have the option of choosing from one of the developer’s own designs or to design their own house, subject to approval.

The beach club at Coco Beach has been completed and includes a swimming pool.

Debbie told me that one of the homes here—a six-bedroom seafront mansion with a swimming pool and a separate studio listed for $850,000—is currently being rented for $4,000 per month to an expat. Right next door was a beachfront lot listed for $199,000.

I viewed a two-bed house, about 50 yards from the six-bedroom mansion. Outside there’s a spacious terrace with a swimming pool and a stairway up to the roof, which could easily be converted into a rooftop terrace with ocean views. It was listed for $175,000.

The two-bedroom home is listed for $175,000 and is just 500 feet from the beach. Listing here.

After Coco Beach, I headed for the neighborhood of Las Palmas. This is a quiet community close to the downtown area of Puerto Armuelles and the beach, but set in jungle surroundings. Monkeys, sloths, parrots and toucans are a common sight.

Las Palmas was the neighborhood where the Chiquita execs used to be housed. The homes are large and come on plots of around an acre. Within the community, there’s a school, community swimming pool and baseball field. Everything is spacious, private and very green. There’s an abundance of mature fruit trees.

Once many of the large homes here had fallen into disrepair. Now they are being rejuvenated.

I viewed a three-bed house that had direct access to the jungle and its numerous hiking trails via a gate in the back of their garden. Built in the 1940s, it had recently been fully modernized and renovated.

Upstairs there were three bedrooms and two baths, and downstairs there was another private, one-bed condo, which could be used as a rental. Debbie told me that there’s a real lack of rental homes suitable for expats in Puerto Armuelles. The house is listed for $239,000.

This expansive home, built in the 1940s and recently renovated, is on the market in Puerto Armuelles for $239,000. Listing here.

These six-figure price tags are what you’ll pay for the larger homes here.

For something smaller and further away from town, you’ll pay much less. For instance, this A-frame home, 20 minutes from town and close to a sandy beach, is on the market for just $55,000.

This A-frame home is nestled in the pristine jungle of Limones, outside Puerto Armuelles. Listing here.

Will the glory days ever return to Puerto Armuelles? There’s a long way to go, but there’s some reason for optimism. The Panamanian government is making all the right noises about investing in tourism, and Puerto Armuelles has a huge amount of potential

There are drawbacks, however.

The town doesn’t have the same range of places to eat and drink as Boquete or other major expat havens.

And foreign investors need to be careful when buying here…

Puerto Armuelles sits right on the border with Costa Rica. As in many countries, Panama restricts foreign buyers from owning within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of the border for national security reasons. (This is about the only restriction on foreigners buying in Panama.) Areas of Puerto Armuelles fall within this range. So when buying here, you need to make sure you own outside the 10 km zone.

Next up, I’m making my way back toward Panama City to scout mountain towns closer to the capital…places like Anton Valley, Altos del Maria, and Cerro Azul.

More details to come on those in Your Overseas Dream Home later this week…

Ronan says: Wow…I love that A frame house. What a bargain…a retreat…a dream…set around nature and just a stroll down a sandy lane from the beach. All for $55,000. I could see myself sitting out on the terrace, morning coffee in hand, just watching the movements of the ocean and the ducking and diving of birds. Maybe grow a few fruit trees. What a fun project it could be.

I’ve recently developed an interest in A frame architecture and follow some accounts on Instagram like this one that promote this style of home. This is also the type of home you’ll sometimes see on our Your Cheap Dream Home Instagram page.

It’s hard to believe this stunning coastal region is in the same little country where the upcoming RETA members-only opportunity is. Panama City is a juggernaut of trade, business and banking and one of the most internationalized cities I know. I love the vibrancy of the city…and then I love to leave it and enter the mythical worlds that lie just beyond its suburbs. This area is one…

Your Daily Dream Home

Restábal, Andalusia, Spain

$107,500

This lovingly restored home in Restábal offers 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a ground floor patio, and a roof terrace with views. The compact yet cozy design features a fitted kitchen connected to an open-plan living room with a woodburning stove.

The first floor has a single bedroom, bathroom, and main bedroom with balcony. A mezzanine attic room provides storage or occasional guest space. Air conditioning and fiber-optic internet are included. The house is within walking distance of village amenities and is situated less than half an hour from Granada and the Costa Tropical beaches.

Remember, we don’t make money from any listing shared here in the Your Daily Dream Home section. We have no dog in the fight. We’re just sharing cool properties we’ve found.

I haven’t visited this property or done due diligence on it. If you’re interested in the listing, you should hire an attorney and do your own due diligence.

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