Is Panama Safe and is it OK to Buy Real Estate in Panama?
One of the most common questions I get – “Is Panama a safe country?”
Yes, without a doubt. In fact Panama has been ranked one of the safest tourist destinations in the world right along side Canada and the United States.
Some Personal Experiences
Let me give you some personal examples and then let me give you some additional reasons why I believe Panama is so safe.
For some time we lived near the village of Boquete Panama in the Chiriqui Highlands region. It was a daily scene – young children and young women walking many miles to work or school. My wife and I are exercise addicts and you might recall from my ‘Letters from Panama’ that we were in the health club business. At that time there were no health clubs in Boquete Panama so I purchased a used mountain bike. I just found one so my wife and I had to share. Each morning I would go out around 6am and then about 7am my wife would go. She would cycle through town and out of Boquete town on the quiet winding country roads for about 10 km. Not once did she feel unsafe. Another example, at the time my boys were just 11 & 9. They would walk out to the road and grab one of the local taxis, pay 25c each and get a lift into Boquete where they would buy 25c ice cream. Honestly, I would not have had that much comfort and trust back in our home town in Ontario Canada. In fact I wouldn’t have done it there.
So what makes Panama so safe?
First, I believe we need to look back at Panama history. Panama is a peaceful republic and for most of the past century has been under the watchful eye of the United States. Today’s Panama was born of a multi-culture mix of peoples from around the world thanks to the Panama Canal. To this day the people debate “Who is the true Panamanian?” Most agree that the 7 indigenous tribes probably have the best claim. For the rest they are all immigrants of one sort or another. As a result it is difficult to tell the Panamanians from the visitors. You may see someone who looks very much like an American, a Canadian, maybe they are from India or China – the reality is they could all be Spanish speaking 2nd or 3rd generation Panamanians. Because of the multicultural mix of the country it is easy to blend in – to make sure you don’t stand out as a foreigner – or different. So, when you or I arrive in Panama you are immediately accepted – we tend to blend in.
Panama adopted the US dollar as it currency many years ago. This contributes to safety as well. Often when traveling in foreign countries we are taught to keep our dollars out of sight – it’s just too tempting to the locals. In a country where the local currency may be devalued, the US dollar has a certain allure. But in Panama everyone is using the same money be they a farmer, banker or tourist.
Another Safety issue many investors fail to consider is the Panama Weather. In recent years hurricanes throughout the southern US and most of Latin America have brought this issue to the forefront. As you saw in my last ‘Letter about Safety’, Panama lies in a unique region where violent weather is almost unheard of and it is the only Latin American country which is Hurricane Free – that’s right, records dating back to 1851 show that Panama is in a safe zone where hurricanes never hit. As investors from Florida to Texas can attest rising insurance rates can take a dramatic bite out of your return. In Panama your vacation and your investment will never get blown away!
It’s also very safe to buy Real Estate in Panama
Foreigners, whether residents or non-residents, enjoy the same rights and privileges when purchasing and selling real property as do Panamanian citizens. Foreign investors are given a 10-year stability guarantee that all legal, tax, customs, municipal and labor rules will remain identical to those in force at the time of the investment registration. Law # 54: Foreign Investor Protection Law provides these guarantees The U.S. Embassy publishes the U.S. Government Report on Buying Panama Real Estate and says, “Titled land, and the process of buying this, is similar in concept to that in the U.S., and land and deeds are duly recorded with the Public Registry”.
Buying real property in Panama is so safe that major U.S. Title Insurance companies like like Land America Title provide low cost policies in Panama.