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Impressions of Pedasi, Panama

Pedasi is both a district and a small town on the southeastern tip of the Azuero Peninsula in Los Santos province. It has seen increasing coverage as the up and coming retirement destination in Panama, with its “friendly locals, delightful architecture and beautiful beaches”.

We found that the town of Pedasi was not what we expected as the information gleaned from our prior research was on the district of Pedasi as a whole. The multiple seaside villas and condominiums advertised as being in Pedasi  are in the Pedasi district not the town itself. Pedasi town is not on the ocean and has no beaches of its own. There are indeed numerous beaches in the Pedasi district and all are at least a few kilometers out of town.

Pedasi Panama-2

It is a very tidy little town of Spanish Colonial architecture. Homes are gaily painted and residents greet all passing with Hola as they rock or swing on their covered porches. The central road (Avenida Central) and a small plaza surrounded by homes, businesses and the beautiful church is the focal point of the town.  Most of the town’s hotels, restaurants and stores are on the main drag, or close to the plaza.

Pedasi Panama-4

There is a fast growing expat community here and they are very proud of their home. Newcomers receive a warm welcome and everyone is willing to tell you how to get to their favorite beaches or their favorite restaurant.

Pedasi’s growing popularity is already causing a shortage of rental options in town—along with inflated prices. We had planned to stay for at least a month however, we did not find anything for which we were willing to pay the asking price. See Notes below:

Infrastructure

The town has a public health clinic, two banks, a library, and a handful of restaurants including wonderful Italian food at Pasta y Vino. There is also a Chinese, Pizza and local Fondas along with mini – supermarkets and small shops. Although there is not a produce market, there is a blue truck loaded with produce from Chiriquí every Thursday, and a grey one which operate as mobile markets.

Decent roads, cable and high-speed internet are also in place thanks to Panama’s first female President Mireya Moscoso. Native to Pedasi, she made it an objective during her term to improve her town of birth. A commemorative bust and plaque take pride of place in the main town square.

Pedasi Panama-3

The (hopefully) soon to be opened airport at nearby Rio Hato will provide an alternative to driving the 360 miles from Panama City.

Activities

These primarily revolve around the beach and the ocean. Nearby beaches, include Playa Venao (30 minutes away) famous for its consistent surf. Playa Toro or Bull Beach (2 kilometers) is an almost deserted stretch of dark sand beach. To get to the picturesque Los Destiladeros head towards Playa Venao turn left off the main road in Limon and keep going.

Playa El Arenal is close by and is the place to catch a boat for the trip to Isla Iguana, a national park and wildlife refuge.

Spend a day at Isla Iguana–this beautiful island has white sand beaches, hordes of iguanas and (when we visited) nesting frigate birds. This is the place to go snorkelling, although the coral has experienced bleaching in the past it still supports a variety of surprisingly large parrotfish, tangs etc. Whale watching is a popular pastime here from June to September.

Fishing is also a favourite here as is hanging out in the plaza and joining in the various festivities and festivals especially during February.

Beeronomics

  • A Balboa local beer in a restaurant is about $1 to $1.50
  • A cold Balboa from a supermarket 65 cents each.
  • Restaurant meals $5 to $15 and up
  • 1 kg Boneless chicken breasts $5
  • Dozen Eggs $1.75
  • 1 kg Tomatoes $3.00
  • 5 Bananas $0.50

Current Property Prices (November 2013)

Two bedroom townhouse close to Playa Arenal $209,000

Beachfront lot in Lagarto Beach $60,000

Two bedroom, one bath home renovated home in Pedasi town $80,000

Rentals (monthly)

Note: Some accommodation is very basic a filthy moldy house with a shared outdoor kitchen was one offering for the outrageous rent of $400. A small grotty apartment just outside of town for $570 was also easy to refuse.

Suitable accommodations can be found if you allow enough time. A great resource is Karla who runs the gelato shop and knows who has what to rent in the area. She is a delightful Australian lady and very willing to assist. Be prepared to spend more time and maybe more money than you would expect in your search here.

Two bedroomed unfurnished Panamanian style house in town $400

New small modern apartments on the main road are available for $550 to $750

Ocean lofts in Los Destiladeros $995

Two bedroom villa near Playa Venau $3,000

What’s to love?

Pedasi is a laid back, no rush comfortable place with a small village feel. The locals are friendly and helpful, although you will need at least basic Spanish.

Make sure you swing by the Gelato shop in the plaza for the best $1 ice creams ever, also home to the super friendly Karla.  Smiley’s Bar is a great place to meet the local expats, they have live music Tuesday and Friday evenings.

What’s not to love?

Water pressure varies, it can be common to have very low water pressure during the daytime, in town itself. According to one source water supply is a concern for the whole of the peninsula as it does get very dry and very hot.

As development continues and demand increases this could be an important issue. If planning to purchase here make sure you know where your water supply is coming from.

Our Perfect Abode Checklist Comparison

  •  A stable government and economy        √
  •  Affordable properties with foreseeable appreciation   ?
  •  Sunny and warm climate   √
  •  Friendly locals   √
  •  Ease of obtaining residency or buying property   √
  •  Affordability, total living costs have to be less than $2000 per month   ?
  •  A home with a view, either mountain, lake or ocean   ?
  •  Close enough to the ocean to fulfill our SCUBA urges    X
  •  Prefer a small village or town rather than a big city     √
  •  Readily available fresh produce and/or room to grow our own   √
  •  Some expats nearby, especially in a non-English speaking country    √
  •  A vibrant community spirit that we could be involved with    ?

Pedasi score’s high on our checklist, however we are not convinced it is right for us.

How would this list compare to your own?

Note: We spent 10 days there in November 2013

As always we recommend spending a minimum of a month, in anyone place. Unless you have already decided that, it is not for you.

Useful contacts, links

http://www.expatexchange.com/expat/index.cfm?pr=search&frmid=270

http://www.pedasi.com/content/cnPanels.php?cid=20

 

About the author: Born in the UK, with what must be more than a dash of Romany blood in her veins, Yvonne loved to travel even before she met Michael. Yvonne has a varied career history, which includes several laborious years as a laboratory manager, followed by a fun few years as a scuba instructor and crew in the British Virgin Islands, and then many boring years in financial services. Her discontent along with the passing of a dear friend was the prod that led to the realisation that there was a lot more do in life. It has taken almost 40 years to come full circle to realize what Yvonne’s English teacher saw all those years ago……… Yvonne’s true passion (apart from travel) is writing and now finds herself fortunate to have the time to follow her bliss and combine the two as a blogger and travel writer. Yvonne writes most of the content and talk to lots of strangers (the best way to get the real scoop on the place). Yvonne is a “rainmaker” and males things happen!

1 comment… add one
  • Dave Sturdee

    Hi Yvonne, thanks for sharing your thoughts on Pedasi — they are very helpful. My wife and I are considering Pedasi as a destination for a 3-4 month stay with our two girls (11 and 14) and would benefit from some on-the-ground knowledge. You mention Karla in your post — I searched but couldn’t find her gelato store and am wondering if you could tell me the name, or if you have her contact info, if you would be kind enough to share it? Thank you in advance! Dave

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