EX-PATS: Perform your Due Diligence BEFORE writing the check in PANAMA investment.


“JB” Op Ed

If your new to this blog, pay close attention. If your a veteran, same old story of me venting my shit.

I just posted a POSITIVE outlook contributed by both La Estrella, CNN, and Trip Advisor, that list PANAMA as a “must visit” tourist destination. Key word “visit”.  There is still MUCH to improve upon before you join OUR ex-PAT community. Panama is still rife with back hand deals and political bullshit.

A chunky “Gringoe” retiree, flush “with 401K and retirement funds look like a Fish in a Barrel to the scumbags that operate down here. Here is my PERSONAL list of things to do PRIOR to BUYING or INVESTING in anything PANAMA related:

  1.  “Don’t”!!!!!    Just kidding, I’m here after all. BUT you truly need to investigate, The system works NOTHING like what you are used to in MOST western based economies.
  2. AVOID Joe Haley”    Remember that name or proceed at your own peril. “AVOID”, and read the OVER 200 page ARCHIVE of Due Diligence I already did for you and just buy me a bottle of MacAllan. (Not 12 year old either you cheap bastards, the GOOD stuff. Trust me you will still be coming out fine.)
  3. Ask Questions from OWNERS, not SELLERS”   The BEST advice can be found from people who have already taken the hits and learned the game. And if you don’t think it’s a “game”, your being very cavalier and naieve.
  4. Visit Ex-Pat Sites”-  Even if you don’t like my opinionated site or rough demeanor, visit others. “EX-Pat EXCHANGE” I recommend. “BLASTBOOMER”, done by our own contributor, the lovely JOYCE, who will gladly provide a NO BS opinion of PANAMA transitioning. Just take your time and don’t go it alone.
  5. INVESTIGATE EVERY SINGLE PERSON that claims to be a LAWYER”-  I personally think the term “PANAMA LAWYER” is an oxymoron. Like “THIN SUMO WRESTLER”. The political climate is ALWAYS hostile, yet keeps it’s animus aimed at the “previous administration”. Each accuses the other of rampant corruption, when the truth is ALL of them are.There indeed is an oligarchy within PANAMA, and it very often is “who you know”. Even having said, printed, and posted that FACT, as a whole it indeed is the MOST stable and SAFE of ALL LATAM neighbors by comparison. Much of that can be attributed to the CANAL and a vibrant export industry. VENEZUELA, COLOMBIA, NICARAGUA, even the once popular COSTA RICA, can’t compare to the benefits that PANAMA offers to EX-PATS, Espescially in terms of SAFETY.
  6. HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN URBAN and ISLAND LIVING”-  When most think of retiring in PANAMA, you think of Palm trees, and sandy beaches. That is NOT the case. We live in a nice CONDO in the CITY, with a view of the “BAY”. It’s generous calling at a “Bay”, having seen “Biscayne Bay” in Miami where my daughter lives. This “Bay” is more like the World’s Largest Backed Up Toilet. A decades old infrastructure issue that has yet to be dealt with properly by each administration. Urban Living has improved  with a world class  expansion at PTY- Tocumen International Airport. And a recently completed MASS TRANSIT RAIL system to reduce traffic in the city, But if is TROPICAL PARADISE you are seeking, it will be found on the outer islands that surround PANAMA.    Locales like :    CONTADORA-   TABOGA ISLAND-  BOQUETE-  CHITRE- CORONADO- and PEDASI have all been HIGHLY RATED by EX-PAT EXCHANGE for those who truly seek a “lifestyle change” and away from the hustle and bustle. This Due Diligence is precisely why we chose a great locale in the city, that is still close to “Old Town” and the PANAMANIAN culture. Did I mention Bocas del Toro?……SEE RULE #2.  I happen to know there are some “REAL” developers with plans in that region, and it is home to “Bocas Bali” which is a resort done right. But in terms of retirement for “us”, it was too much of a change from Chicago. SHAME truly, as the island has it ALL. Incredible beaches- World class surfing- amazing clusters of coral reefs- and phenomenal fishing runs. But the airport feels like Benghazi, and they need to clean up Isla Colon. VISIT – “Yes”  BUY- “Not Yet”.
  7. “TITLE-TITLE-TITLE”-  This issue is the “oldest” and “successful” of GRINGOE GRIFTS that exist, yet it still occurs. Especially off the mainland. It represents the largest GULF between completing a land purchase in a FIRST WORLD country and NOT. You can visit the website of any COUNTY in the US, let alone a STATE, and with full TRANSPARENCY, see who is recognized as the LEGAL owner of a property. In the US, literally almost anyone can complete the requirements to become a NOTARY. The first step in assuring a document is legal and endorsed by the appropriate parties. In PANAMA, a notary is an appointed position and as revered as a judge. PANAMA functions under the U.I.N.L (International Union of Notariats). So a land purchase is not as simple as merely going to a “closing”. There is a second step in authentication of documents, that involves a visit to The Consulate of the country to get required documents “authenticated”. And even after that, PANAMA follows the guidelines set forth by The Hague, and require an “Apostille Seal”which requires a visit to The Department of State or Exterior Relations.        The issue with this archaic system, is that it opens the possibility of so many hands being involved in the transaction, that fraud can take place. THAT is PANAMA.   So if you are not present in the country to oversee these actions and requirements personally, with vetted representation, your a Goldfish in a Shark tank.   It’s a CASH grab.  Unless money simply isn’t an issue to you and you pay for the entire purchase outright, the overwhelming amount of transactions start with a DEPOSIT. Normally in the 20-30% range. So if you are an excited EX-PAT back in the states>
    your dream may be fast becoming a nightmare”. PANAMA is filled with many indigenous people that are generally poor and not astute or educated. These people are often identified by scumbag brokers and realtors as “squatters”, and they will construct a ramshackle structure on your property and start to reside there. Thus starts the costly and criminally motivated process of litigation in a Foreign Country, where “YOU” are beholden to prove to a judge and the Public Registry, that these people have not been residing there all along. In “No Time”, the fleeced buyer reaches the point of diminshing return, and walks away from the deposit as opposed to piling more good money on top of bad, You’ve been HAD.


So to PNO’ers ,both OLD and NEW, heed my words as those of my “opinion” and mine alone. Maybe you join us here and experience NONE of what I mentioned. I hope that is the case and welcome you to my new home with open arms. Much to love here. 

But #2…………ignore me on that RULE and you get ZERO sympathy or empathy from me whatsoever. Regrettably, I will probably just laugh my ass off and play “QUEEN”-  “Another One Bites the Dust”.

Saludos all-

“J- “the one and only”- B”.   Get going on a great 2024



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