Because I recently moved (mid-November), right now I have a bit more current feel for the rental situation in the Las Tablas area, in December 2014.
November through February is probably the most difficult part of the year to try finding a rental here. There are two reasons. First, the snow-birds begin landing around the first of November. Those who have not purchased property are looking for rentals, and many of those who have property in the area will be moving their seasonal tenants out and themselves in. Which, of course, means those tenants are house-hunting and probably have been skimming the cream since August.
Secondly, the Panamanians themselves begin seeking rentals. Many Panamanians like to come to Las Tablas for our wonderful festivals. After a rest that starts in August following the fiesta of Las Tablas’ patron saint, Santa Librada, in November the cycle of festivity begins anew with the Dias de Patria, followed by Mother’s Day in early December, Navidad and New Year and then Carnival, which is followed by Santa Semana (Easter Week), the annual Feria in Los Santos, and lots of smaller patron saint festivals in the surrounding area. What many Panamanians living and working in other parts of the country do, is rent a house here for November through May and use it on weekends. Those who can afford it simply buy one and use it as a family vacation home.
With that as background, I began my house hunt a bit late in the season, about mid-October. Prices had gone up since the last time I went looking. What had been $180 was now $200, and for what had been $300 some landlords were demanding $450. And you can always find something for more than that.
The Bulebar subdivision west of Las Tablas is known for having homes that meet with expat standards. It was notable for raises in price this year (2014), probably because it has been so popular with new expats who don’t know what the going rates are, so are willing to pay more. This, of course, drives prices up, as the landlords want what the market will bear. Expat-owned properties are arguably the worst offenders in that regard.
Another area that has become extremely pricey for Las Tablas (it always was pricey, but it’s higher now) is Mirador del Bosque, a subdivision off the highway not too far from the University. The homes there are quite nice and very much to expat’s tastes. Mirador del Bosque also is the only subdivision in town with a pool. However, before you rent it would very much be in your interest to check with the office as to whether or not the homeowner’s fee payments are up to date, because you will not be allowed to use the pool if they are not.
But the renting news is not all bad. If you speak Spanish and have transportation, you can get out and about and talk to people. Everyone will have something to say to you about your potential housing, and most are only too happy to tell you about places their friends and neighbors may or may not have available for rent. Some of these places will qualify as “perfectly horrible,” but you will also find a few gems. For instance, I turned up a recently-built three bedroom house with two bathrooms and a large yard for $250 per month.
Unfortunately for me, it had no fence, so was unsuitable for my little canine family. But the next time I went looking, I found another recently built place, big enough for me though probably not for most people, with a fenced yard and a charming landlady at less than half what I was paying at that time.
Naturally, I snapped it up. Sorry, it’s gone.
But with persistence, friendliness and half-way decent Spanish, you can do the same thing.
Right there you have a really good reason to learn Spanish.