Digest: Charming Rural Retreats in Panama from $55,000

In this week’s digest:

  • Idyllic Mountain Retreats in an Expat Haven
  • Charming Homes in a Dormant Volcano and a Cloud Forest
  • Own Near an Overlooked Beach Town from $55,000
  • Plus, Your Feedback on Real Estate in Uruguay and Golfing in Thailand

Here’s what Ireland’s tourism board doesn’t tell you about my homeland…

All that green comes at a significant price.

Last weekend, I took a trip down to the region around Kenmare, an idyllic town on the iconic Ring of Kerry driving route in southwestern Ireland.

One of the advantages of being an international real estate scout is that you get to be a tourist in your own country. That was my plan… I was heading into Ireland’s idyllic countryside to visit some farms and soak up the iconic green landscapes.

The Irish weather, however, was not cooperating.

The temperature was a chilly 52 F. And the “heavens had opened,” as my countrymen like to say when the rain is particularly heavy.

Not that my trip was ruined. In time, the sky cleared and the sun reappeared…shining a spotlight on the lush green landscapes created by all this rainfall. That’s another thing about Ireland’s weather—you can get four seasons in a single day.

In Ireland, it’s always a good idea to have an umbrella on hand. But then, the natural beauty created by the unpredictable weather and frequent rainfall is something to behold.

The weather has continued in this unpredictable pattern for much of this past week…

No matter.

My attention, and that of my team, has been firmly fixed on another destination on our global beat…one that could compete with Ireland in terms of lush, natural beauty: Panama.

Over in Real Estate Trend Alert, I’m about to bring members of my RETA group an incredible off-market deal in Panama City.

This is an opportunity to own condos on prime waterfront land in the heart of this thriving, cosmopolitan city. This is the last land of its type in Panama City. And the visionary developer we’re dealing with is planning an iconic, landmark community there…one where I expect us to lock in gains of nearly $300,000 eight years after delivery. I also expect rental income of $36,000 a year renting long term. (To learn more and get access to this deal, click here to join RETA today.)

Meanwhile, here in Overseas Dream Home, we’ve been digging into another side of Panama…

One of the great joys of living in Panama City is the incredible unspoiled natural beauty that lies just beyond the metropolitan area.

Within a few hours’ drive of Panama’s thriving capital, 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.

Until recently, these destinations were not well-known outside Panama…

But in the recent years, the world has been coming to Panama and word is getting out about the incredible natural beauty found in this country. That includes Panama’s temperate highland regions.

The next generation of migrations want the sun…but they’ll also want temperatures and a landscape that are conducive to being active and outdoors. So, certain mountain towns in Panama have been seeing an influx of new residents and buyers.

This week, 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.

In today’s digest, you’ll find a roundup of all the opportunities he uncovered, including an A frame home set in the jungle but near a beach for just $55,000 and a spacious home in a lush dominant volcano for $199,000.

Also below, you’ll find readers’ questions and comments on the best places for a golfing retirement in Asia and where to own in Uruguay… (Have a question or comment, I’d love to hear it. Let me know here.)

Idyllic Mountain Retreats in an Expat Haven

First up for Oliver was a trip to Boquete. This town is a popular expat haven high in Panama’s mountains near its border with Costa Rica. Known for its pristine natural environment, Boquete has become trendy and upmarket. You’ll find high-end supermarkets, fine-dining restaurants, and chic bars and cafés to serve the ever-growing numbers of foreign retirees and work-from-anywhere folks coming here.

The real estate market in Boquete is not cheap…There are plush mansions. Prices can run into the millions. And they’ve been rising in the town of late due to an influx of new residents since the pandemic.

But if you step outside the downtown area, and look in the hills above town, or along the highway that leads down the mountain to the city of David, you can still find value.

Oliver scouted these areas around Boquete and viewed a new three-bedroom home there listed for $315,000 and charming one-bed on almost two-and-a-half acres of land for $274,000. You’ll find those listings in his boots-on-the-ground report from Boquete here.

The mountain town of Boquete, a popular expat haven, is renowned for its pristine natural environment. Read our boots-on-the-ground report from Boquete here.

Own in a Cloud Forest…or a Dormant Volcano

Closer to Panama City, Oliver also scouted some of the most unique highland communities in Panama…

El Valle de Anton (also known as Anton Valley) is a small town perched in the crater of a dormant volcano. Two hours’ drive west of Panama City, the town is set amid a densely forested landscape dotted with vibrant bougainvillea. This is a popular spot with tourists, who come for the hot springs and exceptional hiking.

Just to the east of Panama City, you’ll find Cerro Azul. Nestled within the expansive Chagres National Park, this region boasts access to one of the Western Hemisphere’s oldest cloud forests.

These two towns are among the most breathtaking and beautiful in Panama, yet you can find spacious detached homes in excellent condition from prices like $199,000.

You’ll get a roundup of the most interesting listings Oliver found in these towns here.

El Valle de Anton is a popular hiking destination. Many residents of Panama City have second homes in this region, but prices here remain affordable, as Oliver uncovered in his report here.

Quirky Homes in an Overlooked Beach Town from $55,000

While scouting in Panama’s highlands, Oliver heard rumors of new investment and an influx of foreign buyers snapping up bargain real estate in a “forgotten” beach town on the country’s Pacific coast.

When you’re on the road scouting, often your best discoveries come from local tipoffs like this. So, Oliver went to investigate…

The city, called Puerto Armuelles, sits on a stunning stretch of Panama’s 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.

This was once a prosperous place, but the local economy collapsed a few decades back when the city’s major employer left. Though recently there are signs that the city is recovering.

Work is starting on a pier in the downtown area to host cruise ships. There’s also a new malecon (promenade) and a new hospital, and work is planned to upgrade the local airport…

There are new master-planned communities too targeting expats. And yet you can own here near the beach, in the lush jungles around this town, for prices from just $55,000.

All the details are in the full report here.

The beaches around Puerto Armuelles are unspoiled…and the fishing in the deep waters just offshore is world-class.

Questions and Feedback

Have a question or comment? Share it here. Here’s a few I got recently from some of your fellow readers…

Recently, I answered a question from a reader about the best places for a golfing retirement overseas. (Check out that question and answer here.)

Bill M., a lifetime member of my RETA group, generously wrote in to share his thoughts…

Bill M says: You can’t talk about golf overseas without talking about Thailand, specifically Pattaya Beach. I’ve lived here for five years and there is no place like it for the cost and quality golf. There are 45 courses within 90 minutes of Pattaya…$50 to $75 for a round including cart, caddy and green fees. The food is out of this world. Real estate is one-fifth of what you’d pay in the U.S. and much of it is on the water. I’ve played everywhere from Costa Rica to Bandon Dunes and Pinehurst and there is no place in the world like it.

Ronan says: Thanks, Bill. Great information. And I agree…in terms of food culture, affordable cost of living, and natural beauty, Thailand is hard to beat. The only downside with Thailand is that there are restrictions on foreigners buying real estate there. But there’s no question about the incredible lifestyle potential of this country. I haven’t golfed around Pattaya, but it’s on my list now.


Ron B. asks: I am starting to look at Uruguay. What are your thoughts and if positive, where is a good place to start looking there?

Ronan says: Hi Ron, I’m very positive on Uruguay. In recent decades, this country has quietly become one of the best places in the region to invest in real estate (and to live) thanks to its safety and security, government incentives, top-notch infrastructure, and business-oriented political leadership.

In terms of where to look in Uruguay, I’d suggest Rocha. I ranked this area joint-third on my list of the best places in the world to buy real estate in 2024.

Located about 1.5 hours’ drive east of the popular resort destination of Punta del Este, the Rocha region has the longest oceanfront coast in Uruguay. Inland, you’ll find nature reserves, lagoons, and forests. Yet despite its rural charm, Rocha still has all modern conveniences, small towns with nice restaurants and shops, and access to larger cities if you need it.

Recent infrastructure improvements, like an airport, and a $11.6 million bridge over Laguna Garzón, have made it easier to get to Rocha.

The super-rich were first to arrive here (looking for an alternative to built-up and maxed-out Punta del Este). Today you’ll also find more expats in the know from the U.S. and Europe, too. But you can still find incredible bargains here on beachfront and ocean-view real estate.

Recently, in Your Overseas Dream Home, we share some listings that my team uncovered in Uruguay, including some homes from just $55,000. You can check out that article here. This will give you an example of the kinds of homes you’ll see on the market there.


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

P.S. If you have a question or any feedback, I’d love to hear it. Have a question about owning in Uruguay or Panama? Want to suggest a town we should scout? Let me know here.

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