Coronado, Panama, WRITTEN Report

 

Coronado—Panama’s Fully Furnished Beachfront Community

What is the ideal overseas retirement? More importantly, for anyone reading this, what is the ideal Panama retirement location? Is it a life fully immersed in local culture, where Panamanian neighbors, all speaking Spanish and going about life the traditional way, surround you? Or is it a life enveloped by other foreigners, likeminded expats who’ve made the move to Central America, wanting to escape their old life back home and start anew?

This is a serious question, and it’s one that causes quite the debate in online chat forums as soon as someone asks the question, “Where should I move if I want to be around great shopping, with English speakers, and beautiful views?”

Some people are more than happy to give polite answers while others get aggravated, wondering why in their right mind would anyone want to leave the U.S. or any other country, only to continue on with that lifestyle in Panama.

The truth is. There is no correct way to start a life overseas. To each his own. If you just want to live in a new country and adopt a more relaxed lifestyle, but want to be around things and people you’re familiar with, so be it. And if you want to live completely off-grid, where zero English is spoken, that’s great too. This is your retirement, your living overseas adventure. Do what you want.

I’ve written about life in both scenarios. Just check out my Aguadulce report here or my Penonomé report here to see the other side of the coin. For now, let’s concentrate on what some people consider the colony-like lifestyle of Coronado.

I mention all this because Coronado is either loved by the people living there or loathed by the people who want nothing to do with it. And the reason for both is its ease of living.

I’m asked all the time about the closest beach town to Panama City, a beach town that would be realistic living for the average person, meaning not a difficult change or a place completely secluded from civilization. That town is Coronado. Coronado isn’t the closest beach to Panama City, I guess that would probably be Veracruz, but Veracruz doesn’t provide the beauty and amenities that Coronado includes.

Coronado is not the only great beach town in Panama, but it is the most move-in ready, expat-friendly beach town in close proximity to the city.

Coronado map

Where is Coronado? It’s super easy to find. It’s located about an hour drive West of Panama City (remember Panama runs West to East). It’s between the town of Chame and the road that takes you to El Valle de Anton. Its location is what makes Coronado so appealing.

Let’s talk about what’s going on inside the town.

Appearances Aren’t Everything

Coronado, for the most part, is a handsome place. You know you’re entering the town when you see the bright and colorful outdoor shopping plazas to both sides of the Pan-American Highway.

This colorful strip mall is on the right hand side if driving in from Panama City

These strip malls kind of beckon you, calling you in for a pit stop on your journey. So, even if you’re planning to pass Coronado and head deeper into the country’s interior, there’s a good chance you’ll be stopping for a quick snack or at least for gas, in this little town.

More shopping and restaurants on the left

The layout of the town is easy. You start out on the Pan-American Highway where you find most of the dining and shopping options. Turn down the street between the Rey shopping center and the McDonald’s and you’ll be taken right into the gated community. Be advised that during long weekends (and basically any other time when crowds are expected at the beach) cones are set up on the highway blocking entrance to those coming from Panama City. If the cones are in place, you’ll need to drive about 100 feet farther and make a U-turn. Be very careful making the U-turn as cars are usually speeding down the highway, right towards you.

This way towards Coronado’s main gate

As you drive down the street that leads towards the secured entry point, you’ll pass a lot of small businesses, restaurants, and a café or two. At the gate, you’ll be stopped by security. Your ability to get through the gate quickly depends on a few things:

  • Who’s manning the gate – Some of the guards are stricter than others and may be harder to convince.
  • The guard’s mood – I’ve had guards smile and let me right in and I’ve had guards question me a little bit.
  • Your gringoness (gringohood?) – I say gringo just to be funny, but really, most foreigners have an easier time getting through the gate (from what I’ve heard) than locals just trying to get to the beach (very sad, I know).
  • Your popularity – If the guards know you and know you live in the area, you’ll be waved right through, but if you’re a stranger and don’t even know what address you’re headed to, good luck.

The gate at Coronado is another subject that causes some debate from time to time. By law, in Panama, no one can restrict access to the beach. Panamanians are free to visit any of the beaches any time they want. The problem is, many businesses have gotten slick with this. For example, if a large hotel is built right on the beach, with dense forest and rocky slopes to its sides, and the only real access point is the hotel’s front doors, then the hotel has gotten away with keeping a secluded beach for itself.

If I got any closer to the gate, security might’ve seen the camera and stopped us

I read recently about a resort owner that had put up fences, blocking access to the beach. The town government forced him to take down the fences and provide walkways for everyone to get through his resort and over to the beach. I don’t remember which town this was, but I commend whoever was in charge, for making sure the locals were able to get to the water. It’s only fair.

So, the guarded entry point at Coronado is great for the community, helping to make sure everyone inside is a little more safe and secure from maliantes (bad guys) wandering into town, but it does block beach access. If the only way you can get to the area’s beaches is through corridors in the neighborhood, but you can’t get into the neighborhood…see the dilemma? I suppose you could cruise over to Gorogona or Punta Chame and take the long way around, lol.

Welcome to the neighborhood

Ok, enough of the devil’s advocate stuff for now. The gate at Coronado’s entrance does help keep residents safe. Can you get through it? Sure. Someone escaped from Alcatraz. And Coronado is definitely not the rock. I’m sure there are plenty of hidden entryways leading into town, but let’s put it this way. If you’re hoping to sneak in quietly with a big moving truck and unload someone’s belongings, there’s a lot better chance you’ll be discovered here than in one of the remote beaches with no guarded entry.

A police station is parked right next to the main gate

That leads to the question about security, and I’m going to get to this right away, because I’ve been hit with this question a lot lately. “What’s the deal with safety in Coronado?” The question comes up because there have been recent reports of attacks on people in the area. The strange thing is, these reports come out, but every time I ask someone actually living in the area, they seem baffled. And for some reason, the reports always make it seem like 14 attacks happened yesterday. Usually, the combined cases have taken place over an extended amount of time.

The area’s emergency phone numbers

Plus, I hate to say it, but a lot of the cases have to do with either people getting mixed up with stuff they shouldn’t get mixed up in, or they’re flashing around gaudy jewelry while headed to the Punta Barco beach (not that the people in that town are bad in any way, but as with any other town in any part of the world, you don’t flash around what you have in front of the have nots). I’ve also noticed that some of these unsavory stories come straight from the mouths (or written hand) during a press release or report from one of the nearby resort owners. I mean, think about it, if you want people to move to your beach instead of Coronado, wouldn’t it make sense to make the town seem unsafe? Just sayin’!

Do things happen? Yes. They happen everywhere. I’ve heard of attacks in the Volcan area too, but I’d move there in a heartbeat. And I’d move to Coronado just the same.

You’ll be even safer in these condos with 24-hour security

From what I understand, Coronado residents have put together community programs (kind of like neighborhood watch) to help report suspicious activities in the area. And many residents have just taken the proper precautions, same as you would here where I live, in Panama City. Put an alarm on your house or just get a big ass dog. Hell, defang a cobra and let that sucker slither around your living room. Bet it would make robbers think twice about entering.

You might wanna try a different house, sssssucker!

Or even better, set yourself up with an alarm that goes off with the sound of a chainsaw starting up. Nobody wants to mess with someone wielding a freakin’ chainsaw!

All kidding aside, the people in Coronado, the ones I’ve spoken too, don’t feel unsafe in their community. Most people seem to know their neighbors and count on each other to keep things kosher. And as you can see in the photo a little higher up on the page, there’s a small police station parked right next to Coronado’s entry gate.

One of the smaller homes in Coronado

Once you get through the gate, you find a colorful neighborhood, mixed with everything from large country clubs to small single-family homes to even gigantic mansions.

Check this place out!

On the beach you’ll find amazing, art-deco style homes that look like apartment buildings, but I’ve been told are single-family homes, where each family member has his or her own floor. I wish we rolled that way when I was a kid. How cool would that be? To yell, “Get off my floor!” instead of, “Get off my bed!”

See what I mean?

You’ll also see large condos on the beach, with 24-hour security manning the entrance, and awesome amenities. The views from up high are astonishing, as you can see in the photo below.

It’s beautiful up here

I’ve heard people say that Coronado reminds them of Miami, and I can see that, but I’d actually argue that Balboa Avenue in Panama City, the Cinta Costera area, is a lot more like Miami. I’ve heard Tampa mentioned a few times too and I’m not all that familiar with Tampa’s beach area, but a large part of my childhood was spent in Fort Lauderdale, and for some reason, Coronado kind of reminds me of Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas area.

The Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale, of Panama

This is a place where residents are often seen powerwalking (getting their daily fitness in), workers are landscaping, business owners are preparing for evening happy hour, dogs are being walked, and homeowners are chilling in hammocks waiting for the strong Panama sun to subside just enough to make for comfortable errand running. The streets are quiet and friendly during the weekdays.

Nice and quiet during the weekdays

I mention the weekdays because the weekends here can be quite rowdy. For a long time, Panama’s elite have been calling this place home, setting up vacation getaways from the city’s hectic hustle and bustle. Panamanians and foreigners converge on this town during the weekends and any long holiday escape from work and school. The visiting crowds can be a bit maddening at times, but it’s important to always remember that we’re guests in this country. Panamanians want to enjoy their beaches too.

Even the entryways are pretty here

Just keep this in mind and make sure you take care of everything during the weekdays. Trust me, you don’t want to head into the supermarket on a busy Saturday afternoon. You’ll find long lines with carts full of beer and meat for grilling. Living in Coronado means learning to base your new life around the town’s popularity. If you don’t, it would be kind of like moving to Miami’s South Beach and expecting a relaxing Cinco de Mayo. Not gonna happen.

What’s Life Like The Rest Of The Week?

Monday through Thursday, this is a peaceful retirement haven, perfect for Panamanians and foreigners. Most things you’d need are located right in town. You’ll find all your major cell phone providers in the Coronado Mall (the shopping plaza behind McDonald’s). Movistar, Digicel, Claro, and Mas Movil all have branches in Coronado.

All your cellphone providers in one spot

Electricity in Coronado is dependable, water is potable, and Internet is high-speed. I saw satellite dishes on the roofs of some homes and watched as the workers from one of the cable companies repaired one of their cables, so having access to your favorite channels shouldn’t be a problem. The streets are clean and I passed the local garbage collection team doing its duty, so as far as the utilities go, everything is just fine in Coronado. You’ll even find a couple of pool service and supply stores. This is one of the rare places in Panama, where most homes seem to have a pool.

The cable guys hard at work keeping service running smoothly

To pay your bills, you can either do it online (usually set up through your bank), go directly to the source, or pay in one of the supermarkets like the Rey or Super 99 at the entrance to town. And with a Mailboxes Etc. in the neighborhood, sending and receiving packages is very easy.

Set yourself up with a Miami PO Box and receive mail and packages easily

Getting access to your money should be easy with so many banks and ATMs around. I saw branches for Caja de Ahorros, Multibank, Banco Nacional, Banco General, Global Bank, Banistmo, BAC, and Banesco. I even saw a Mas Me Dan (pawn shop). All of these will have ATM machines, not to mention the ones you’ll find inside the supermarkets.

The firehouse, the home of the bomberos

In addition to the small police station that sits at the gated entrance to Coronado, you’ll also find a fire station within the community.

If you’re planning to move with school-age children, or have a background in teaching, Coronado has it’s own school, the Coronado International School. We drove by the school to take a look and I have to say, heading down the back roads to get to campus, I can imagine what that must be like for a kid. It’s a much more scenic route than the traffic-heavy Panama City streets. The school itself was small and charming. I imagine the kids get much more personal attention than in the larger city schools. To find out more about the school, go to www.corointschool.com.

The Coronado International School

In addition to the international school, we also saw an English school, a ballet class, and golf lessons available at the Coronado Golf & Beach Resort. Surfing lessons are even available at nearby Punta Barco. I love stopping by the Club Equestre Coronado, where the ranch hands are always very nice and love showing off the horses. Personalized riding lessons are available for adults and children.

You might even see a donkey

If you happen to have a horse and need help taking care of it, you can rent space at the club stables and pay a fee for upkeep and specialized care. Or, you can stop by the club to rent a horse if you just want to go for a ride on one of the area’s trails. To get info about Club Equestre Coronado, go to www.clubequestrecoronado.com, email Roberto@club-equestre.com, or call +507-240-1434/+507-6379-0219.

We love visiting the horses

Getting around town is easy. If you don’t own a car, you’ll find taxis all over the place and even small coaster buses taking people around Coronado, to the neighboring towns, or even all the way to Panama City.

Getting around town is easy

It’s common to see people walking from their homes to the local expat gathering spots. If you own a car, you’ll find gas stations, auto mechanics, a car wash, and auto parts stores.

Taking Care Of Yourself In Coronado

At one point there was a gym in Coronado. I remember seeing it in one of the plazas, right off the highway. This time around, I didn’t see one. Please, if I’m wrong, someone let us know in the comments below. I did see a yoga and pilates studio back on one of the neighborhood streets. I’m sure the condos and country clubs probably have their own exercise rooms. A lot of people simply walk around town or head to the beach for exercise.

A yoga and pilates studio

Now that I think about it, I didn’t see any martial arts classes either, but I’m sure there are private teachers in town. I wouldn’t be surprised to see flyers up at the local supermarkets. If anyone is offering any type of class, feel free to mention it in the comments below (go ahead and put a link to your website or whatever, I won’t take it out).

A spa

I did see laundry/dry cleaners and even a Truly Nolen pest control. Several beauty salons and barber shops are located in town and even a spa.

Coronado’s San Fernando clinic

Coronado has a great San Fernando clinic, which should be able to handle most immediate healthcare concerns. In an absolute emergency, you could always head back to Panama City and go into one of the major hospitals there.

A combined medical and dental clinic

In adition to San Fernando, you’ll find several other small clinics, including dental, OBGYN, opticians, and pharmacies. I visited the clinic in nearby San Carlos once, and spent only $1 to see a doctor and have my blood pressure/sugar level checked. That’s amazing!

One of the many vets in town

If you have a pet, this is the place to be, as I counted at least 5 veterinary clinics and pet supply stores. They seem to be all over the place. There’s practically one in every shopping plaza and one on the main road leading to the controlled entry gate. I think your pet probably has more healthcare options than you do.

Everything Else About Coronado 

You won’t find any huge shopping malls (the closest mall is the new Westland Mall in Chorrera, about a 30 minute drive away), but you’ll find quite a bit in Coronado. I saw a few small clothing boutiques and a couple of footwear shops.

There’s even a dollar store in Coronado

The El Machetazo, which is kind of like a Walmart here, will also carry some clothing items (along with a lot of other stuff). If you need to do any other fashion shopping, head to the mall in Chorrera or even as far as Albrook Mall, which is only about an hour drive away and has practically everything you’d need (including a movie theater, bowling alley, casino, supermarket, new Metro train terminal, and lots of stores you’d be familiar with).

Coronado’s closest thing to a Walmart

Or you could even travel the opposite direction to any of the nearby small towns. Penonomé is maybe 45 minutes away and has a cool, old-fashioned, budget shopping area. It’s definitely worth taking a leisurely drive for some cheap shopping.

Some books in English at the Rey supermarket

In Coronado itself, you’ll find quite a few hardware, home decorating, and home improvement stores. Plus, a couple of paint supplies, garden and plant, and other specialty shops, like air conditioner and mattress stores. I spotted a computer store, cell phone supply store, and an electronics shop.

The new mini Riba Smith

When it comes to groceries, Coronado has an excellent variety of stores squeezed into such a small place. Four major supermarkets are located here, to include Rey, Super 99, El Machetazo, and the newly opened mini-Riba Smith. Watch out though, as truthfully, nothing about Coronado is super affordable, at least not to the average Joe. With so many foreigners in town, you’ll find plenty of imported goods. Expect to spend a lot if you’re planning to buy the brands you’re familiar with.

An organic goods store

You’ll also find some great specialty stores in town, like the organic food store, Organics. The mini-Riba Smith also has a lot of specialty items. The Riba Smith in Coronado is kind of like a tiny Whole Foods.

Save money and help a farmer, buy produce from street vendors

If you want to save money, buy your produce from the local street vendors. This is not only going to help you save money, but it really benefits the farmers. If you don’t mind traveling a bit, you can even plan to hit Penonomé’s Saturday market, where you can really stock up on affordable fruits and vegetables. Or check out El Valle de Anton’s awesome market. If you just want to get away for a day, both of these towns are fun places to visit and shop.

In Coronado, I saw churches of several different religions, including a Catholic church, a synagogue, a Christian Bible church, an Apostolic church, and a few others.

This used to be an old-fashioned, open-air church

As far as restaurants go, you’ll find everything from the small fondas that have been in the area for a long long time, to the newer, fancier places for fine dining. Even some of the fast food hotspots you might be familiar with call Coronado home; places like McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Domino’s Pizza, and the Panamanian fried chicken chain, Pio Pio.

I’ve heard this place makes a mean burger

You’ll find most types of cuisines, but as one friend put it, most of the time in Coronado it seems to be, “Which type of pizza do we want for tonight?” A new pizza place seems to pop up all the time.

Gourmet Pizza tonight?

One complaint I’ve heard is the lack of Asian cuisine. Don Lee’s Chinese fast-food (kind of like a Panda Express) was the only place I saw in town. Sushi, for being so popular in the city, hasn’t exploded yet on Coronado (so if any sushi shop owners are reading this, get in early).

Cholo’s, my favorite Mexican restaurant in Panama moved to Las Lajas, right around the corner from Coronado

Ready for some of my completely random nonsense (I tend to go off on tangents from time to time)? Where are all the Mongolian Barbecue joints? I’m talking in Panama period, not just Coronado. For cryin’ out loud, they were all over the place in the U.S. when I left. I miss shimmying down a line, putting raw veggies, meats, and sauces into a bowl, and then having some dude (or gal) with two big sticks flip my food around on a hot table before magically throwing it off the table only to land perfectly in a bowl.

Oh…and donuts…can we please get something other than Dunkin Donuts (like I need any more donuts)? A Tim Horton’s would rock! Ok, enough of my crybaby antics! I can hear the Facebook chants now, “Go back to the U.S. if you want donuts and Mongolian Barbecue!”

Café Viana, a cool place to chill

Speaking of donuts, which make me think of coffee, one of the great things about Coronado is its cafes. I counted 3 this time, and I may have missed one. I know one of our readers owns Café Viana, so I think it deserves an extra special mention (https://www.facebook.com/cafevianapanama). I wanted to stop in when I was in town, but by that time of the day, I was covered in sweat and didn’t feel right popping in, unannounced, to someone’s business.

Having A Good Time In Coronado 

I think the best thing about Coronado is its group of outgoing expats and friendly Panamanians. These are people not afraid to dance to salsa music, cheer on a live band, sing karaoke…all the fun stuff goes on in Coronado. It’s really a great place to be. Expats gather frequently at pre-established hangouts, like Picasso’s happy hour.

A favorite gathering spot for happy hour

People get together often to watch the game or play bingo, or just listen to live music while eating great food at Loco’s in the Coronado Mall food court.

Fun times for all at Loco’s Restaurante

Coronado is even home to a few casinos. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, you can go for a horse ride or hit the green and play a few rounds of golf.

Play golf at the Coronado Golf and Beach Resort

It’s the beach that draws most people to Coronado. I’ve found that there are two sides of the beach in this town. If you head through the main gate, drive straight until you reach the first condo, then turn right, you’ll be taken over a very bad road into the neighborhood. When you start to see the corridors on your left leading to the beach, you’re there. 

Just a quiet, empty beach on this side

This beach is secluded most of the time. It’s probably the less beautiful of the two beaches in the area, as it’s mostly just a flat mix of black and white sand. You usually won’t be bothered out there. I visited once with Marlene, on a Sunday, and I think there were only two other couples on the beach.

Not a soul in sight

If you’d turned left at any of the neighborhood streets, after entering the gate, you’d reach the other side of the beach, the side with the larger mansions and prettier corridors.

One of the corridors leading to the beach

This is also the more popular of the two beaches, which means you’re much more likely to encounter crowds. When we visited on a Tuesday, the beach was empty, except for two ladies walking along the sand.

Just a few others out on the beach this day

This is the beach with the rocks and beautiful scenery. I love it there because it’s the perfect snapshot of what you can get in Panama. You can see the mountains in the background, with condos rising up, and the tide breaking on the crescent-shaped beach around you. This is where I snapped the photo for our homepage. It’s awesome.

A great place for some fun in the sun

For entertainment, you can always go surfing, knee boarding, swimming, jogging, have a barbecue, play some beach volleyball, toss a football around, or fling a Frisbee. Go outdoors and your entertainment options are seemingly endless.

One of Coronado’s newest hotels and casinos

I was glad to see that Coronado finally has hotels. I tried to book a room a couple of years ago and couldn’t find a real hotel in the area. I got lucky and a friend hooked me up with a room at Morgan’s Paradise Bed & Breakfast, which turned out to be a wonderful experience. The Morgans are really great people and definitely create a family-like atmosphere. If you want to check out their B&B, go to www.morgansparadise.com. In addition to their B&B, I saw two actual hotels this time around. One of them has a casino attached. I’m pretty sure there are other B&Bs in town as well.

What’s Not To Like About Coronado?

I have to admit that I’m a fan of Coronado. If I could afford to live there, I probably would. It makes sense for me, with the International school, nonexistent traffic, and stress-free lifestyle. I can imagine having a blast there. As with any other town in Panama, and in any other country, there are some things you should know. These are things I’d rather you hear from me rather than having you find out when you visit, then go home and badmouth the area in one of the expat blogs. That happens all the time.

No place in Panama or in any other place is perfect. That said, there’s not much that bothers me about Coronado, but I did pick out a couple of small things. The roads in town aren’t great. The Pan-American Highway is smooth, but once you turn onto the street that takes you to the secured entry gate, you’ll find that the road gets very bumpy. I’m kind of surprised it hasn’t been fixed by now. This has been an issue for a long time.

This is the main road leading into the neighborhood.

If you travel to the beach I mentioned earlier, the one on the right hand side of town, it gets even worse, to the point that I actually stopped the car and decided to just turn around. Could I have kept going? Sure. I wouldn’t say that any of these roads are so bad a regular car can’t make it around town, but I’d definitely be careful driving at night.

You wouldn’t want to speed through here at night

The road that circles around the prettier side of the beach isn’t quite as bad. It’s actually very smooth.

This road isn’t so bad

One other thing that drives me nuts, and it’s not even the fault of the people living in Coronado, is the amount of garbage you find near the beach. This, unfortunately, comes from the crowds of people visiting on the weekends. Coronado has provided trashcans in the corridors that lead to the beach, but people seem to ignore them. Take a look at the photo below and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s mostly just beer cans and beer bottles from the weekend parties. It sucks that the people living in the area have to see this.

This is just nasty

You’ll also find construction materials, like old wooden planks and cinder blocks stacked up in the corridors. This is a shame since some of these corridors are actually very pretty. It seems the maintenance crews in the area have started using the corridors as some sort of makeshift storage area.

If people would just learn to use these…

That’s it though, really. Learn the roads and you shouldn’t have too much of a problem and just ignore the garbage until the trash collectors get to it (that or start a neighborhood cleanup program).

What’s It Actually Cost To Live In Coronado?  

I’ve done a lot of these budget breakdowns and you’ll notice that some of the figures don’t change, no matter where you go in this country. Like Internet, cable, and telephone. A package deal for all 3 will usually start around $50. Of course, if you want the highest speed Internet available and you like all those channels most of us have never heard of (say goodbye to CMT as it’s not available here), you’ll pay a little more.

No matter what I plug into the budget, there will always be people who will disgree with some of the figures. Why? Because this is all so subjective. I might spend $400 on food while someone else might spend $200 or up to $600. So I do my best here to explain what I think is an average for what a couple would spend in Coronado.

As I mentioned before, Coronado is not a budget destination. It’s probably one of the most expensive areas outside of Panama City. And you get what you pay for. The high price tag dangles from the arm of a very cozy place, what I like to call Panama’s beachfront furnished home. So let’s take a look at what makes Coronado such an expensive place to live (maybe not so expensive if comparing it to Boca Raton or Beverly Hills or The Hamptons).

A great alternative if you want to live in the mountains but near the beach

First, the rent starts at a fairly high figure, right around $1,500 and can skyrocket from there. That’s comparable with the apartments in Casco Viejo and Marbella in downtown Panama City. So, with this being a town out in the interior, you can see why I consider it expensive. The good news is, you can live in other towns around Coronado, and still benefit from all the town has to offer.

You can live in places like Punta Chame, Altos del Maria, Chame, Gorgona, Cabuya, Las Lajas, Punta Barco, San Carlos…the list seems to go on and on. I’m not saying these other towns are super affordable, but you may find a slightly more reasonably priced home in one of these places. For now, let’s keep the focus on Coronado.

A beach town that’s not too far from Coronado

I set the electricity at $250 because Coronado can be very hot, and I figure just running the air conditioner could boost your bill up quite a bit. I’ve been told that $100 per month is probably more realistic. And that’s fine, but I’d rather overestimate a little just to give you some wiggle room. My electric bill has never been below $200 in Panama City (hovers closer to $300) but remember, I have 4 kids, and the AC is running constantly.

I set food costs at $400 since the supermarkets in Coronado carry a lot of imported goods and you have a lot of options. If you stick with buying your produce from the street side vendors, you can save quite a bit. And try to get used to buying Panama brands. Entertainment costs I figure will be no less than $300. You’re going to want to go out a lot in Coronado. It’s common for groups of people to gather at the restaurants in town for happy hour. If you’re not careful, you can spend well over $300. Plus, remember, you have other things to do in town like casinos, a golf course, and an equestrian club. If you get involved with those things, you might spend a lot more. Stick to barbecues with friends and hanging out at the beach if you want to bring that figure down.

The rest of the budget is pretty self-explanatory, so go ahead and check it out below. This is the budget for a couple living in Coronado:

Monthly budget for a couple living in Coronado, Panama (Beach)

RentSeems to start at $1,500
ElectricityMostly from AC usage$250
Gas2 Small propane tanks, for gas dryer and cooking$10
Telephone/Internet/CablePackages for all three usually start at this amount$50
Phone card for calling the U.S. (if you don't use Skype/MagicJack)Telechip International, for 5 hours talk time$5
FoodFor 2 people$400
Entertainment You'll probably eat out a lot$300
Routine Doctor VisitOnce per month for each person ($25 each)$50
MedicationVaries, but for my monthly high blood pressure and diabetes meds this is what I'd pay just to give you an idea$45
Getting around townBuses and taxis are affordable, everything is close$20
Travel outside of town To Panama City and back once a month by bus$20
ExtrasOther things you may need$50
Total Monthly ExpensesFor 2 people$2,700
My Overall Gut

If you plan on living in Coronado, you have to know that you’ll be surrounded by likeminded foreigners, all looking to simply chill and have a great time. You will hear English spoken, a lot. This is a life meant for people who are looking for some of the comforts.

www.PlayaCommunity.com Rock’s Panama’s Pacific Coast.” – Jamuna

This is not the lifestyle for someone wanting to move to a foreign country to escape their countrymen and go off-grid. Panama has plenty of other places for that. In some ways, Coronado is almost like a resort town. It’s good times.

“Even if you don’t have a pool at home, someone you know will have one and will throw an impromptu Sunday BBQ.” Sarah at www.panamaholidayhomes.com

I don’t live in Coronado and I’ve never lived there, so I could be wrong about this, but with such a close-knit community, I think you need to go into this town knowing that everyone kind of knows everyone else. It’s not a good place to start gossiping. In other words, I wouldn’t tell Sally that Susie spends too much time in the casino or that Jimmy seems to have a drinking problem. I can imagine that enemies can be made just as easily as friends, so you need to make this move with the intention of being happy. It’s not a place for the negative.

“Life in Coronado is not the laid back, quiet time I had expected. Don and I have lots of things we can do with others, so many interesting people with whom to interact!” – Phyllis

This is a place where Panama’s wealthiest citizens have come to spend their weekends for many years. It’s a place where foreigners, from all over the globe, are coming to open up businesses or to retire. Young families are starting to make their way to the beach area.

“Life at the beach is different, time doesn’t move hour by hour but by the moment. It’s very spontaneous and moves like the ocean tide.” – Niccole playamamapanama.blogspot.com

It’s so common now for freelancers and telecommuters to pack up their laptops and head for Panama. This might mean young singles or full families complete with school-age children and maybe even teenagers. With the international school in town and other schools in the surrounding areas, Coronado is probably one of the easiest moves someone could make, if they can afford it. As I mentioned in the cost of living section above, this isn’t a cheap place to live, not for most people.

“We live close to Coronado and head there often to hang out with friends.” – Terry Coles alongthegringotrail.blogspot.com

This is a place where the people come together, not only to hang out and have a great time, but to keep their home safe and secure. People watch each others’ backs and expect you to be a part of that if you move to town.

“I went from wearing fire fighting gear to singing Jimmy Buffet music in my Hawaiian shirt.” – Clyde Coles facebook.com/clydestikibar

Overall, if you’re looking for an easy move (easy compared to some other parts of the country), in a place where others have already set up shop and opened up supermarkets, restaurants, and other businesses, where you won’t experience extreme culture shock, this could be the place for you. If you’re looking for a super-chill, outgoing lifestyle, with others who’ve made this brave leap into the unknown, you might want to check out Coronado.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out our Coronado VIDEO Report by clicking here,

Chris

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13 Responsesso far.

  1. Stephen Stenberg says:

    Hi,
    Trying to make up my mind if I want to spend the Winter in Coronado or David, … the tipping point may be whether or not there is a ‘Movie Theater’ in Coronado or not … I don’t want to drive 30 miles to go to one whenever I get the urge. Are there any there, or would I have to travel to another town?

  2. Gordon says:

    Accurate report regarding Coronado. However let me add some negatives. The singles scene here is weak. Most expats are old and married and the few young expats generally are married with young children. There are very few single expats in Coronado. El Palmar is a party surf town with lots of young singles but not everyone is into that scene. It is always hot and humid during the days and sweating all the time can get old. The dining scene is sparse in Coronado. There are only a few good restaurants and little to no ethnic restaurants. The seasonal market makes it hard to open a restaurant that serves exotic food. Finally the culture, or lack thereof. Coronado is an old village with lots of new construction. There’s no historical significance to the place or interesting architecture. The expats are generally nice, however there is a rumor mill that is alive and kicking. What else? The lack of a public park where people can gather or a boardwalk along the beach and public showers, bathrooms and dressing areas. It’s misleading to equate Coronado to any beach town in the USA because it’s missing these key items. There are other differences also involving quality of service and reliance on contractors and the two tier pricing structure. So it’s critical that a future expat not jump off the deep end and live here for a while before fully committing.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for commenting, Gordon, and for reading the report. It’s always nice to hear all sides of the story. So it sounds like you’d have to look outside of Coronado when it comes to the dating scene. I agree that Coronado is, when it comes to the beach, best for people living in the area so they’d have access to their home showers and things of that nature. I know what you’re talking about, having spent many years of my life in the Fort Lauderdale area, where most of the beaches do have showers and restrooms of some sort. It’s kind of like that all over Panama though. Isla Taboga is a cool place to hang out for the day, but you’re going to pay for the bathrooms/showers and they’re quite cramped and uncomfortable. I agree with you that anyone considering a life in Coronado (or anywhere else in Panama) definitely should visit and spend some time in the area (renting first if possible).

      Thanks again for your input, Gordon. 🙂

      Chris

      • Gordon says:

        Well Chris, your reviews are the most accurate I’ve read so far although still a bit soft. Any place can be made to appear wonderful using well composed photos and positive commentary. But boots on the ground is another story where you can see beyond the framed composition. One thing rarely mentioned are the cultural differences. This key omission is the make are break point for most expats. It’s never spoken about due to political correctness and the fear of reprisal from fellow expats or Panamanian wives for that matter 😉 But during private conversations the truth does come out and harsh words are spoken. There are certain behaviors that are hard to accept, ever. Juego viva which loosely translates into trying to outsmart (take advantage of) your opponent is ingrained in the culture. There is always a winner and a loser. Win-win does not exist. And be careful to give an inch because a mile will be taken. If you invite your neighbors over for a swim their entire extended family might show up. There are countless more examples and the bottom line is there is no right or wrong in the matter. It’s all about compatibility and tolerance level. We all see through different lenses so that explains why some expats loathe while others love. It is important to accept the reality of the situation and not take sides and rationalize and infight with other expats. There exists a cultural divide in Panama along with a class divide among the local residents. Many expats will not notice but some will and they may not like what they see. One thing indisputable is that Panama is a beautiful country with amazing natural wonders. It also has a stable climate. But for many expats that is not enough to keep them here. As a long term expat living in Coronado who is in the process of moving to another country, I wanted to share my insight with others who are considering the move here. It was an eye opening experience and I hope everyone enjoys their ride. Bon voyage!

        • Chris says:

          Haha, ok I accept that I’m a bit of a softy, lol. Sounds like you’ve had a rougher experience than mine. Maybe that’s the one good thing about not having a pool! I have seen some examples of Juego viva. It happens in traffic every single day. People knowingly get into the wrong lane, just to beat all the traffic, then force their way to the front of the line. Here, you really have to learn to either drive like the rest of ’em or just sit and seethe with frustration. Wherever you’re headed, I hope you find what you’re looking for, my friend. Keep us informed.

          Chris

          • Gordon says:

            Hello Chris, being soft is better than being blatantly dishonest and deceptive. So you are doing a great job and leading the pack in the accurate reporting department. Intentionally omitting the negatives and painting an inaccurate picture in people’s minds is crossing the line of good ethics. I have met a few ghost writers and bloggers in town and their sole objective is to sway people into buying real estate from said Realtor or developer. Little do they realize or care they are affecting other people’s lives in a significant way. Packing up and moving your entire life to a developing country is a major commitment, expense and risk. Giving the impression that all is good other than a few minor caveats that are easily overcome is being disingenuous because some caveats are major deal breakers. There is a feeding frenzy in Panama to capitalize on the economic boom here. Everyone wants a piece of the action. Unfortunately there are consequences to this situation. The petty infighting, malicious rumors and disingenuous behavior among the expats become tiring. The social dynamics between locals and foreigners is not healthy either. On the surface we may seem to all get along however true feelings and beliefs are usually kept quiet.

            Now onto the good stuff. While traveling to neighboring countries it is surprising how different they are to Panama. The culture, history, architecture, work ethic, attitude and cleanliness of the people are very different. It’s an eyeopener. Even the expats are different among various countries because birds of a feather flock together. There are some amazing places outside of Panama and I recommend that people keep their options open and check out other places and not be so quick to write off an entire country without visiting there. Tripadvisor and Travelpod are great sites that will give you first hand impressions from regular people of any place in the world. Just have a closer look, keep your options open and you will find your future paradise.

  3. Alicia says:

    Another great report Chris. I live in Chame and I think your report was fair and very close to accurate from what I observed first hand and friends who I have. I enjoy all of your reports and look forward to others as I would like to learn what all Panama has to offer. I am biased towards the beaches though. Keep up the excellent, hard work.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Alicia. Your feedback is always appreciated. You rock! And I’ll try to get to more beaches, which eventually include Punta Chame and even Chame (not technically a beach area, I know).

      Chris

  4. Kris says:

    It reminded me of Florida too, maybe Naples or Tampa/Clearwater area! I got the impression that the expat community was more peaceful and got along better than most, and I can see how this place would work wonderfully for some. Thanks for another great report!

    • Chris says:

      Thanks, Kris. Not sure why I keep having to approve your comments. By now yours should be going through automatically. Sorry about that. I’ve never been to Naples, but from what I’ve heard, it does kind of sound like Coronado. A friend of mine lived there and told me all about it.

  5. Carl says:

    Another great report!

    Coronado certainly has it’s own appeal. It may not be my ideal place but it’s more proof that Panama has a happy place for anyone.

    • Chris says:

      Excellent attitude, Carl. I just got kind of slammed on Youtube with someone’s comment about the Coronado video and how my video seemed more like propaganda than REAL info. I don’t live there, so I can only report on what I see when I visit, what I know from past visits, and what I hear from people living in the place. Everyone has his or her own opinion, and for some people Coronado just doesn’t make sense. For others it’s Cloud 9. As with any place I ever report on, I strongly suggest that people visit the place first, check it out during the day, check it out at night, spend time there during the week and on the weekends. Pick the place apart. Then decide if the small issues are ones you can live with or would you rather be someplace else. It sounds like you know it’s not right for you, but acknowledge that it’s great for others. That’s the right attitude. Thanks again, Carl.

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