Lots of Panamanians speak English fluently, including many well-to-do locals who have studied in the United States, Canada, or Great Britain. Servers in fast-casual restaurants often speak well enough to have a light conversation and most medical doctors and pharmacists are completely comfortable discussing complex medical situations in English.
And then there are the Zonians who have been described as “more American than Americans.” As soon as you hear a Zonian speak you can almost always identify them as a Zonian. It sounds like a first-language accent and is usually near perfect, but different, maybe a bit more elegant. As is the case for most historical things there are two schools of thought about Zonians–one with great pride and the other with contemptive undertones.
Zonian is a Word
When the call came from a woman in New Jersey explaining that her husband had been born in the “Canal Zone” and educated there, it was easy to understand when she said, “he’s not going to retire anywhere else–he’s a very proud Zonian–so I need to discuss residential properties.”
The word Zonian describes individuals and families who lived and worked in the unincorporated territory of the United States known as the Canal Zone. The “Zone” stretched five miles on either side of the canal and while it was on Panamanian soil, it was governed by the United States and was completely cut off from Panama and most Panamanians.
City of Knowledge
Today that area is known as Clayton or The City of Knowledge. There are many reminders of the time it was under US military control including lots of Army-issued buildings that are now home to a wide array of world organizations such as the UN, the Red Cross, UNICEF and the World Food Program along with lots of exceptional educational offerings including several universities and some of the best international high schools.
“Retiring in Panama was all the talk at the annual Zonian Convention,” the woman continued. “The youngest Zonians are nearing retirement age. We still have maybe five to seven years ahead of us but we want to get in on the real estate deals in Panama,” she continued, as I considered an actual convention of individuals who had lived, worked, and raised in the Canal Zone.
“Clayton real estate is pretty rare,” I said while thinking of the well-maintained lawns, palm tree-lined streets, and upscale cafes, bakeries, spas and retail offerings. “Individuals who live in Clayton are mostly employees of the world organizations and universities located there with a smattering of retirees and ex-pats.”
Costa del Este Continues To Grow
“Oh, we are not thinking Clayton but maybe Costa del Este, or the beach area just over the Bridge of the Americas,” she explained. “We want to rent out the residence for a few years before we retire there completely. I really think we’ll be most happy in an urban setting.”
This woman knew her facts about several of the best areas to consider for both renting as well as a personal residence. According to the World Bank, Panama has the fastest-growing economy in South and Central America. In 2022 Panama closed the economic gap caused by the pandemic and has continued with a strong recovery based on revenue from the Panama Canal, foreign investment, the copper mine and tourism. With this sustained economic growth the defacto business center of Panama, Costa del Este, was a perfect choice for her to consider.
“There is a new project in Costa del Este which might be perfect for you called Nogal,” I said. “Costa del Este is the fastest growing area of Panama City because it is home to so many multinational companies that have regional headquarters there. Often times the employees are only there for a couple of years and they want to rent. The rental market is very strong in Costa del Este with only about 5% of the properties available,” I added.
“Costa del Este is a planned community with wide boulevards and absolutely everything you would ever need in terms of daily living. An upscale mall, a Johns Hopkins international affiliated hospital, plenty of large grocery stores but also a permanent farmer’s market and meat shop. If you want racquet courts, you have them within walking distance. Renters often look for international schools and they are in Costa del Este. If you’d like more information about Costa del Este, go to my YouTube channel where you’ll find my top ten reasons for living in Costa del Este 10 Reasons to Live in Costa Del Este | Panama | Liz Larroquette,” I continued. “The variety of restaurant offerings is amazing. There is a Spanish one that may be my absolute favorite,” I laughed.
“Nogal is still in pre-sales but it might be exactly what you need,” I began. “Secure it now, get the best location options and then have it ready to rent or move into when the time is right. This building has always been designed for full-time residents, but these units are also perfect for families who are looking to rent for two to five years. All the units come with two bedrooms, by far the most popular option, and have as much as 1,410 square feet or as little as just under 1,100.”
I encouraged my caller to go to my website https://www.lizlarroquette.com/ for more information on Nogal and other properties such as Casa Bonita and Generation Tower, but I wanted to add that Casa Bonita had very little inventory but was ready to deliver if she wanted to move quickly and that Generation Tower, was a bit further out than Nogal.
A Proud Zonian
“Nogal will be a 43-story tower with 36 apartment levels,” I continued. “The location in Costa del Este is urban and will be perfect for a ‘proud Zonian’! Upscale, embracing the physical beauty of Panama, loaded with everything one might need, surrounded by interesting people and fifteen minutes from Tocumen International Airport with great connectivity to the world and other Zonians.”