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Current location: Living room of apartment, Boquete, Panama

07.10.11

Price of beer in a bar: I was paying about US$1.25 for each bottle on Friday night, though the bar down the street was selling them for US$0.60.  We just wanted to check out some different places.
Song currently stuck in my head: Panama (Van Halen)

There’s nothing quite as amusing as the first time a European backpacker (or an especially young American one) discovers that Van Halen was aware of Panama before they were.  Hang out in any hostel here long enough and you will hear someone cheerfully bobbing their head to a silent, imaginary guitar riff and crescendo a greeting of  “Panama!” to some friends.

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the Boquete weather since we arrived.  I’d long since given up on numbers as a representation of temperature; a number like 80 gets rendered kind of meaningless when your body has adjusted to so many different micro climates over the last year.  Really, it just starts to fall into categories.  “Am I pouring sweat?  Is there a dependable breeze?  Can I sleep without a fan?” or, more rarely, “Do I need a blanket?”  Here it’s no, no, yes and yes.  When the sun hits, it hits surprisingly hard (maybe it’s the elevation) but most of the time it’s pleasant.  But like i said, I couldn’t say what “pleasent” translates to in numbers anymore.  Well, today I found out.  We’re basically living in San Francisco.

While The Girlfriend and I are very pleased with our 1 bedroom apartment (US$400, all in with power, gas, cable, internet and linens), I did want to mention some of the other places we saw, specifically two lofts a few blocks off the  central square.  They  were in the US$850-$1100/month range, depending on which unit and how long you wanted to rent.  I believe that was all in and they were very nice in a nice, clean, modern building, seemed very secure and the location is very convenient for anything in town.  While the price is high and better deals can certainly be found, it’s not outlandish for what you get.  I have acquaintances with much larger budgets and if they visited I’d probably advise them to check it out.  I don’t have the name handy, but it’s a multi-unit building on the second floor about a large real estate office, North of the park a few blocks on the West side of the main street.  The entrance is in the rear.  If you want contact info post a comment and I’ll track it down for you.

As I write this we’re on day 24 of our Boquete experiment.  I would estimate we’ll bring the month in at US$900 or US$930 (for, as always, two people including rent, food and all day-to-day expenses).  Thus far, this budget has provided us with a pretty comfortable month.  We aren’t eating out much since the grocery availability gives us lots of opportunity to experiment.

2 Responses to “Current location: Living room of apartment, Boquete, Panama”

  1. V Says:

    hello- interesting to hear you bring up the “high end” apartments- I’m afraid that’s all I will run into when I arrive. you said that a local expat helped you get your current place – were there problems finding one in your price range? what about in other towns, when youv e used realtors – any problems in getting them to work with you, oncethey knew your budget?

    Thanks for your help!

    • cgearhart Says:

      We’ve been able to find something in our price range everywhere we’ve been with the exception of Panama City (that summary is forthcoming, more detail later) and Chitre/Las Tablas/Pedasi. In Panama overall there’s a shortage of reasonably priced, furnished short term rentals. The minute we saw our current apartment (Boquete) and heard the price we knew we weren’t going to look at much else; it’s seems to be a real good deal for the area. So deals like this are available, you just have to look. In Panama, looking includes website and discussion forums. Elsewhere it’s literally just asking everyone you come in contact with when you arrive in a town; your hotel/hostel staff, your waitresses, walk into other hotels and ask their front desk people, etc. You’ll find postings on walls, boards or posts around town and you muddle through the Spanish. If you’re a gringo, people will assume you want something expensive so STRESS that you want something economic or that budget is a major concern.

      Realtor’s haven’t been much help in our price range. It’s worth finding a local one and asking, but I wouldn’t break my back searching if none are apparent.


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