Thursday, February 23, 2012

Poco loco gringos.... Buying a house!

The cat's out of the bag now since I wrote about it and it was published in International Living Magazine.  We're in the process of buying a house, another first in Panamá.  And just like everything here in Panamá, it takes time.

Front view with driveway and carport

Terry in front of gate to property

Front view, other side

Way back in December while visiting a friend in the little town of Chame, we drove by a stately house, surrounded by a beautifully landscaped yard. On the fence was a sign that said "se vende," which means "for sale."  Clyde immediately called the number on the sign but it was not in service.  So off we went and whenever we were over that way we'd drive by again, hoping to catch someone home.  Since the house seemed abandoned, we assumed that it must be a weekend house for some Panamanian that lives in the city. Several more times we called the number but it still didn't work.

Front left view, gazebo under a coconut palm

The gazebo

One day Clyde typed up a letter in both English and Spanish, wrapped it in a plastic bag and tied it on the fence in front of the house.  The letter stated that we are interested in buying the house but have not been able to reach them by phone.  Days turned into weeks which turned into about a month.  And one month later Clyde received a call while at the gym in Punta Chame.  It was the owner of the house who told Clyde about the home, how much he wanted for it and how much it was appraised for.  Immediately we headed over to meet the owner and see the house. 

Close up of  gazebo,
the thing hanging down is an old deflated beach float

Front corner of property

We were greeted by a well dressed, mature, classy Panamanian gentleman who introduced himself and his son in English.  He soon told us that he is the Chancellor of a prestigious medical school in Panama City, and encouraged us to inquire about him to discover his honest reputation and well known family name.  His son works as a French translator and spoke only a little English.
A coconut palm

A very large Mango tree next to the gazebo

He proudly showed us around the grand house that sits on 1.6 acres of lush, tropical land with lots of mature fruit trees.  In the back of the pristine garden sits an old guard shack with an attached full bath and shower unit.  To the left of the house a clay tile covered gazebo with a barbecue for parties, and enough room for a table and chairs.  There is even an outdoor shower to rinse off after a day at the beach.

See how the flowering hedges run
 the whole fence line of the property

Tiny guard shack with full bath way in back of property

Once inside we walked into a good sized entry way, and I immediately noticed a huge kitchen straight ahead. The gentleman explained that he personally designed the kitchen so that three women could be preparing food at the same time.  At the end of the long kitchen sits a tiny bedroom with a full bath which served as the maids quarters.  It even had a door to the outside so that the maid could come and go without disturbing the family.  Maids quarters are common in Panamanian style homes, since domestic help is very cheap here.

Living dining area, from this picture
 bedrooms are to the left and kitchen to the right

Huge kitchen, in the back is the maids room with full bath
through door on right is the living room

Off to the right was the living room-dining room combination.  The dining room is so big they had a table in it that could sit 10 people.  To the right two bedrooms with an adjoining full bath, and behind them the master bedroom with a full attached bath and big walk in closet.  A huge outdoor terrace wrapped around two sides of the home making for an ideal place to relax.  The overall square footage is 3000 square feet, but that includes the terraces too.  Technically the house has 4 bedrooms and 3 full baths, plenty of room for friends to spend the night and to accommodate visitors. 

Back view of house

Close up of guard shack, on back of property

Now having said all that, this still IS a Panamanian style house, which means hot water is only piped to the showers.  And although the house has windows with bars on them (common here) and screens, there is NO GLASS in the windows, except for in the master bedroom since that room has an air conditioner.  Life in Panamá includes living with open windows day and night to let in the breeze, so they feel no need for glass windows. And several of the outside doors only have screens and bars too.   And since this was a family vacation home for many years, another reason to keep it open.  So, part of our project before move in, is to get windows and doors installed.

Side of property with path to guard shack,
which will probably become a tool shed for Clyde

Driveway and carport

After weeks of negotiations and coming to an agreement on the price, we had to have our lawyer draw up the documents and open a bank account.  All of this takes time and we're still a few weeks away from closing on the house.  Many trips back and forth to Panama City to meet with our lawyer and the sellers.  I will explain the house buying process in another blog along with opening a bank account.  All of this red tape and paperwork really make us realize that we're not in the U.S. anymore.  Things are done different here, and we just have to be patient and do what we're told.

Outdoor sink covered with colorful tiles

They are leaving this hutch and dining set.
 The door leads into the master bedroom at the back of the house, and notice the light which leads out onto the porch.

Just a ten minute drive from where we live now is the town of Chame where the house is located.  From there it's a five minute drive to the gorgeous beaches of Gorgona, and just ten minutes to the shopping malls, restaurants, and clinics of Coronado.  And we'll be just five to ten minutes from a choice of two different gyms also. 

View of kitchen facing out the front door

Dining room, wall needs some patching

We certainly had no intentions of buying a house this soon, but fell in love with the piece of property, and know that the house has potential.  When two crazy gringos make up their mind to immerse themselves in a new country, they jump head first into the unknown.  Here we are only six months later feeling comfortable, buying a house, and loving our new life here.  Call us "poco loco"

Dining area facing front of house.
These leather chairs are hand made here and very common.  Yellow wall is living room on front of home, and the door to the right leads into the entryway

Side porch

 (a little crazy), and that's OK because we don't have to work today.  Instead we are enjoying the good life, living the dream in Panamá.......along the gringo trail. 


  1. OMG! YAY! It's really really nice! GURL!

  2. Congratulations! You must be so excited!

  3. Getting a house is one of the investments that most people are trying to have. With this, people will be able to get a good place to live in for their entire life. One can use simple loans in fulfilling these dreams.

    Payday Loans in San Antonio

  4. Yes! This story belongs to you and Clyde! I read this in IL not too long ago (we started the "want to become a crazy gringo and retire to Panama" research in February). Love seeing on your blog that what I recently read is the two of you plunging into buying a house! Keep up the writing of this fantastic blog! I am still only in February and don't want to get to April yet! :)


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