First issue scarier than expected

Launching the first issue of a newsletter is scarier than I expected. A number of questions ran through my head. Will my readers find it useful? How will I know? Will there be as many tomorrow as there are now? How do I know what they most want? In fact, without talking with them, how do I know what they want at all?

Life for most of us is too busy for newsletters that do not deliver exactly what we want. I have done away with most I have subscribed to in the past. So here’s what I propose:

* I will try to keep these newsletters brief (and you don’t know how difficult that is for me);
* Their main purpose will be to tell you about new content on They will contain links to new pages so that you can have easy and convenient access to those articles you find interesting. Nothing interesting? Wait until next month, in that case.
* If I have something to chatter about that I think you may find interesting, I might include that. Again, I will try to be brief.
* I might quote from e-mails received, if I think that doing so would be helpful to others.

I would certainly like ideas for fresh content on the website. If you want to know about something specific, there’s no need to wait until I eventually get around to writing something. Send me a note; that might quickly result in a new page. Others probably have the same questions you have.

I hope you find Your Panama Nuggets and this month's crop of stories worthwhile.

Best wishes,


New this month

Reader's letter leads to story about driving in Panama

The rules for driving in Panama are not much different from those anywhere in North America. We drive on the right side of the road. Maximum speed limit on the open road is 100 kilometers an hour (62mph). There are freeways (usually toll roads) where the maximum speed is 110kph (68mph). The limit drops quickly entering communities and in areas under construction. Watch out for Transitos (traffic police) who frequently stake out these areas.

Horns are a fact of life when driving in Panama. You will hear them a lot more than you are used to. No, the drivers are not swearing at you, they are warning you that they are about to pass. Don’t swerve, looking over your shoulder to see what’s wrong. Nothing is wrong, at least not unless you swerve. Horns will also sound the instant a light changes to green – just in case you were taking a nap and had not noticed. Simply accept it as part of the culture, in the spirit of helpfulness. To read the fill story, go to driving in Panama.

Buying real estate in Panama

There has been interest in other real estate articles on our website. That tells me there's a probable need for more, so there are two new ones this month.

The first thing to consider when buying real estate in Panama or any other country is that the rules are probably not the same as they are ‘back home’. This should not necessarily scare you, but it should serve as a warning to make yourself aware of local customs, practices and pitfalls.

In Panama, for example, it is easy to ‘buy’ land from someone who has no right to that land. To read the full story, go to buying real estate in Panama.

What to check when buying property in Panama

If you’re thinking of buying property in Panama, you may find the following checklist handy.
* Checking the title on property is quite straightforward. The public registry has records of all titled property organized by finca (lot) number. The register shows the size of the lot, ownership, and whether there are liens against the property or mortgages on it. This will show whether the person selling the property is the real owner.
* Rights of possession cannot be bought or sold, but they can be transferred. To read this story, go to checklist.

How's the weather in Panama?

Ex-pats expect that as one of the first questions from relatives and friends living elsewhere.

Sunny, raining, cool, sticky: all descriptions apply in Panama. Like most places in the tropics that have a range of elevations, you can choose your own climate, from hot and humid to dry and downright frigid.

I lived for more than a year in Panama City, close to sea level. After about 10 or 11 a.m., the weather in Panama City is warm and humid. Most ex-pats are uncomfortable without air conditioning – and electricity is expensive. With air conditioning running most of the time in a three-bedroom apartment in Clayton, just outside the city, power cost about $140 a month. Cooking was done by natural gas.

Now I live at an elevation of about 7,000 feet, just outside the tiny community of Volcán. For me, it's the world's perfect climate. To learn more about how you can have custom-made weather, go to

(A last-minute mailing program problem prevented the URL above from being a live link in the HTML version of the newsletter. Waiting for it to be fixed would have meant missing our deadline, and I didn't want to do that. Please cut and paste into your browser, and accept my apologies for the inconvenience.)

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Your Panama Nuggets. Watch for the next issue on the first Saturday in April at 10 a.m. EST. The first of our hotel reports are planned for that issue.