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How to find an apartment in Panama City

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    Real Estate Rental market in Panama City

    The Panamanian real estate market is very well thriving and offers a large number of different rental options. Consider contacting local real estate agencies for assistance in finding rental properties. The overall process of searching for an apartment and getting to live there takes around 2 weeks.

    Look for a temporary place during your search, you can also find some cheap hotels online.

    Search and Find your apartment

    If you just moved to Panama, it’s not hard to find an apartment. The search could be more difficult if you have no credit history and/or a residence permit, owners prefer more stable tenants. It’s easier to find an apartment if you are already in Panama, you can visit apartments in person, and avoid scams.

    Define Your Budget

    Create your budget by evaluating the amount you can allocate for rent every month. Take into account your income, expenditures, and any supplementary expenses such as utilities, internet charges, and maintenance fees.

    Rental options

    There are 3 main rental options in the city: regular apartments, short-term apartments, and shared apartments.

    Standard apartment - minimum 1 year rent contract

    Regular apartments usually come with furniture, and most of them are ready to live. You must get an internet connection and a TV subscription.

    Regular apartments are a good medium-term solution, the standard rent contract in Panama is 1 year and can be renovated at the discretion of the owner and the tenant. A guide about how you can find a regular apartment is in the following chapter.

    Ready to live, short-term apartment

    Short-term apartments in Panama City are very expensive, but they could be used when you arrive for the first time in Panama and can be rented for weeks or months. They are a good short-term solution when you just move to Panama, instead of staying in a hotel.

    Short-term apartments are fully furnished with internet and utilities already connected. You can just move in, without loose time. You can find short-term apartments on these websites:

    Single Room in a shared apartment

    Renting a single room in an apartment could be a good solution if you're looking for something cheap. These kinds of apartments are fully furnished with utility and internet connection.

    Finding a room in a shared apartment could be more difficult if you just moved to Panama City, you should ask your network and/or visit Facebook groups

    Buy an apartment

    Buying an apartment in Panama is not easy and could take months. Consider this option if you already live in the city, and already know the various areas of the city. If you just started a new job, it's not easy to get a mortgage, as well as if you don’t have a permanent residence permit.

    Step 1: Documentation and basic requirements

    Prepare the required documents for the apartment rental contract:

    • Identification: Make sure to have a valid passport or Panamanian ID (cedula).
    • Proof of Income: Collect documents that demonstrate your ability to pay rent, such as pay stubs, a letter of employment or a bank statement to demonstrate your wealth.
    • References (optional): Collect personal and professional references.
    • Open a local bank account: to pay your rent by national bank transfer. Any Panamanian bank account works, you can also send money from another country with Wise or by international transfer but you will pay fees. If you don’t have a local bank account make sure that your bank is able to send payment in Panama and check the cost and time to do that.

    Step 2: Search for an apartment

    Start Your Search Online

    Using online platforms! Most people search for apartments on the most popular Panamanian sale website Encuentra24. There are also other good options like CompreOAlquile, and Gogetit. The apartment listed online could be managed by real estate agencies or brokers. Search also on real estate agencies' websites.

    Real Estate Agencies

    Consider contacting local real estate agencies for assistance in finding rental properties. Moving with a real estate agent is a good and easy option to find an apartment. The commission of the real estate agent is fully covered by the property owner, so no additional cost will be charged to you. Panama real estate agents must be licensed. They must carry a card identifying them as licensed real estate agents, you should ask for it to avoid a scam.

    Here are listed the most popular real estate agencies in Panama:

    Ask your friends and colleagues

    It could be a good option before you start your search to ask the people you know: friends, colleagues, classmates. Ask them for some tips about the rent prices and good neighbourhoods.

    Step 3: The right spot

    Choose Your Neighborhood

    There are different factors that you should take into consideration during your research, including how close you will be to your workplace or school, the level of security and the lifestyle that suits your preferences. There are some districts of Panama City where expats tend to live: El Cangrejo, Punta Pacifica, Obarrio, Marbella, Avenida Balboa, San Francisco and Casco Viejo.

    Casco Viejo is the most touristy neighbourhood, filled with restaurants, boutique hotels, and nightclubs. It’s cool to live there for the nightlife but also it's very expensive and most places are tourist spots.


    While Panama City has many safe neighbourhoods, there are some areas that expats and tourists should avoid for safety reasons due to higher crime rates. You should avoid neighbourhoods like El Chorrillo, Santa Ana, San Miguelito, Curundú, San Felipe, Veracruz Beach, Santa Librada, etc. Be careful if you would like to be in Casco Viejo since some streets on the border of the neighbourhood could be not safe.

    Rent Price

    Panama City offers different options, ranging from luxury apartments to more affordable units. Research the current rental market to understand the price for apartments. Use Encuentra24 to compare different rent prices, the map option shows rent prices in the area. For more detail check the article Cost of Living in Panama City


    Main roads are very noisy because of cars, police and ambulances and you can hear noise even with your windows closed. Busy areas with lots of bars and restaurants are also loud, even late at night, while business districts are noisy in the day and quiet at night. Living on a high floor or in an apartment with new insulated windows should avoid this problem.

    Which kind of apartment, which floor?

    The skyscrapers of Panama City make it one of the tallest cities in the Americas, most of the apartments are in skyscrapers. Higher apartments are quieter, you hear less traffic and they get more sunlight. The view from the high-floor apartment could be better but consider a slightly higher price for these units. In Panama, you should live in skyscrapers that usually provide you 24-hour security, a swimming pool, a gym and 1 or 2 parking slots in the basement.

    Step 4: Make contact

    After you find apartments you like, contact the landlord. Write to multiple ads at the same time, to see more apartments and make the right choice. Speak or write in Spanish if you can, you get more responses and chances in replies. Real estate agents usually speak both Spanish and English. Some landlords only answer phone calls, others only answer emails and WhatsApp is a very common instrument here. When you contact the landlord, include all the important details about you: your name, age, job, salary, when you want to move in, who will live with you, if you have a pet and which documents you have.

    The standard rent contract in Panama is 1 year. Landlords want tenants with a good income, a stable job and possibly a residence permit.

    Step 5: Schedule an Appointment to see the apartment

    Schedule an appointment with the landlord or the real estate broker, it’s better to schedule more visits by day. Be prepared with some essential questions regarding rent conditions, rent contract, price terms, etc.
    Talk about rent, deposit, lease duration, and any extra costs. Bring Documents, and have your identification, income proof, and references ready. Inspect the exterior and the neighbourhood, evaluate the building's condition and the neighbourhood's atmosphere. Check Apartment's Condition: examine room by room, looking for damage or needed repairs. And finally, trust your Instincts, listen to your intuition; choose what feels right.

    Step 6: Sign the lease contract and move in

    Finally, sign the contract, pay the rent and deposit and move into your new apartment. You must get an internet connection and a TV subscription, and change your address on residency documents.

    Sources & Foot Notes

    [1] JP Group SA - Cómo Alquilar Mi Apartamento en Panamá
    [2] Alquiler de Casas en Panamá - Requisitos para Alquilar
    [3] República Inmobiliaria - Rentar Apartamento en Panamá: Documentación
    [4] Relo Firm - How To Rent Panama Real Estate

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