The Need for Panama Oeste: Developing Panama’s suburbs, west of the Canal




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The geography behind Panama’s economic development, and their history, is a subtle, yet obvious marker for residents of the capital and its surroundings. Panama City is an ever-expanding metroplex where property values, logistics, and general investment rely heavily on location. This has created a boom for some areas, and a drought for others. Luckily, however, this is all changing, as certain growth areas in Panama City are oversaturated, creating ample opportunities to invest in other locations, and for a fraction of the cost. One of the biggest areas that is filling this need is Panama Oeste (West Panama). Panama Oeste is not, in fact, western Panama, but is rather the western suburbs of Panama City, and is its own province.

What’s it like in Panama Oeste, and why is it the next frontier for urban/suburban investment?

Traditionally, Panama Oeste has largely been home to the workers that staffed the Canal, and now businesses in the city. This “feeder” type status has actually hurt the area as far as investment goes, as it’s looked at more as a low and middle income residential area, rather than a good consumer market. That, however, is changing fast, and Panama Oeste is primed for big growth. With real estate prices soaring in the city, in both the residential and business sector, more middle class workers, and small businesses are looking for a more affordable market. The immediate areas of Panama Oeste are beginning to fill that need, and early investors are now laying the groundwork for future business and housing opportunities all over the suburban province.

Where investment is needed, and where it will work the best

Panama Oeste is a relatively big province, so when it comes to opportunities, the landscape (figuratively and literally) is pretty diverse. The areas that will fill the most immediate demand is the ones that are closest to Panama City. These will be Arraijan, and La Chorerra, respactively. These two communities have the highest population density, and are right on the Panamerican Highway, just a stones throw from the Canal and city. Both areas are already populated by city commuters, meaning that a viable workforce already lives there, which is great news for those who want to start a new business. They are also good areas for middle-class, and low cost residential development projects, as land is cheap, and the growing population is creating a steadily increasing demand for it. If companies move their headquarters or offices there, they will have access to the city, access to the Canal, access to qualified workers, and access to housing for them, and their business. These are huge bonuses for startups, or investors who want to lower there financial risk.

Don’t count out the beaches

Another important aspect of Panama Oeste when it comes to development and business investment is its access to some of Panama’s most popular beaches. Punta Chame, Coronado, and their surrounding beach towns all lie within reach of the bigger urban areas to the east. This means that essentially, as Arraijan and La Chorerra start to overflow, there is lots of room to expand west, without losing the appeal of both the city and the beaches. In other words, the beaches can provide both a tourism feeder to Panama Oeste, as well as a suburb of a suburb of sorts. We know this sounds confusing, but think of Panama Oeste as both a beach development spot and an urban zone, with room in the middle to meet. Housing and small business development are already growing at a rapid rate on both sides of the province, and drawing in much more attention than in years past. This is something we are keeping an eye on, and will update you as Panama’s western suburbs move towards a Renaissance.

About Manoj Chatlani


Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, Panama Offshore Legal Services offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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