Casco Viejo’s Charm: Unique Real Estate Opportunities

In the heart of Panama City, the historic district Casco Viejo captivates a growing audience of investors, expats, and retirees, each drawn by the unique charm and character embedded in the very walls of its buildings. This article offers an insightful journey into the lifestyle and opportunities that historic neighborhoods like Casco Viejo provide. From the vibrant life of living in Panama’s historic districts to the tangible benefits of investing in properties that tell a story, we invite you to explore the enchantment and potential that make these areas more than just a place to live, but a place to thrive. Join us as we unfold the countless reasons behind the increasing allure of Panama’s historic districts to a diverse and discerning audience.


  1. Living in Panama’s Historic Districts
  2. The Charm of Casco Viejo
  3. Investment Opportunities in Historic Districs
  4. Benefits of Investing in Historic Zones
  5. Conclusion



Living in Panama’s Historic Districts

Panama’s historic district continues to be a place of strong culture and history. Casco Viejo, also known as Casco Antiguo is a notable historic area of Panama that transports its residents and visitors back in time with its stone streets, colonial architecture, and beautiful culture. With its pastel and brightly colored neoclassical buildings, a maze of unnamed streets, and a laid-back tropical atmosphere, it draws contrasts with Cuba’s Havana and the French Quarter in New Orleans. The area began regenerating in the early 1990s but gathered pace after it was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. Today it is a hip travel destination, increasingly attracting a wealthier type of tourist, some of whom have decided to stay and invest in a home.


Casco Viejo draws a diverse mix of expatriates, locals, artists, and tourists, fostering an inclusive and varied ambiance. The area thrives on cultural immersion, boasting an array of museums, theaters, and art galleries that offer an extensive spectrum of cultural encounters. Notably, the Teatro Nacional and similar venues stage captivating performances spanning opera, ballet, and classical music, enhancing the neighborhood’s rich cultural fabric. Renowned as a culinary paradise, Casco Viejo boasts over 90 dining establishments catering to an array of palates. From the inventive Panamanian fare of Fonda Lo Que Hay to the iconic Cafe Coca-Cola, Panama’s oldest diner, the district promises a distinctive gastronomic voyage. Both locals and tourists revel in the delights of shopping, street food, and the occasional serenade by street musicians or artists showcasing their creations. With a keen focus on community well-being, Casco Viejo maintains a robust sense of safety, bolstered in part by the presence of tourist police. Moreover, organizations like AVACA actively engage the community, supporting local interests and orchestrating social initiatives such as beach clean-ups and pet spay clinics.


The Charm of Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo presents investors with a fusion of historical allure and financial potential. Let’s explore the appeal of Casco Viejo, where colonial legacy merges with a thriving investment environment.

  • Housing Stock
    Most homes in Casco Viejo are two-story apartments in restored converted houses, there are a few family houses in the area, but they rarely come onto the market. Buyers look for historic architectural details such as calicanto, or stone walls, balconies with French doors, and courtyards. While most of the buildings are renovated, high-end amenities are rare.


  • Luxury Amenities
    Casco Viejo has emerged as a prominent focal point in Panama City’s burgeoning culinary landscape. Boasting several supermarkets offering locally brewed beers and coffee, it caters to diverse tastes. Among its culinary highlights is Madrigal, an establishment helmed by the acclaimed Spanish chef Andres Madrigal, renowned for its contemporary Spanish cuisine. Adding to the charm of the area are boutique hotels like the American Trade Hotel, blending colonial elegance with modern amenities, and Tantalo, featuring a superb rooftop bar. For educational options, the Metropolitan School in Panama, situated six miles away in the City of Knowledge, stands as a reputable choice. Additionally, the International School of Panama, located 15 miles away in the San Miguelito area of Panama City, is well-regarded in the region.


  • Price range
    Over the last decade, prices in Casco Viejo have experienced a surge, more than doubling, as reported by local agents. Restored homes now command an average square meter price ranging from $3,500 to $5,000, with starting prices for such properties beginning at $500,000 and reaching upwards of $1.5 million. For those seeking apartments, one-bedroom units typically fetch around $280,000, while two-bedroom apartments range from $300,000 to over $1 million.


  • Investment Opportunities
    Historic districts boast buildings steeped in cultural and historical significance, drawing investors and offering a distinctive appeal for businesses and residential properties. These areas serve as prominent tourist destinations, ensuring a steady flow of visitors and generating demand for accommodations such as hotels, dining establishments, and retail outlets, which proves advantageous for commercial endeavors. The Panamanian government extends tax incentives, grants, and subsidies to support the restoration and upkeep of these historic properties, thereby alleviating financial burdens for investors. With their limited supply and enduring appeal, properties within historic districts often experience appreciable value growth over time. Investing in such districts not only aids in preserving a community’s heritage and character but also fosters a sense of pride and belonging among its residents and business proprietors.



Investment Opportunities in Historic Districts

Exploring investment potential within Panama’s historic districts, especially in areas like Casco Viejo, presents a captivating blend of cultural richness and promising economic prospects. Here’s a rundown of the various investment avenues thriving in these locales:


  1. Preservation of Culture and History: The commitment to preserving historic areas extends beyond merely boosting real estate and tourism. It involves efforts to refurbish ancient structures and foster cultural events that celebrate Panama’s profound historical background.


  1. Investment in Historic Real Estate: The appeal of Panama’s historic neighborhoods is escalating among real estate investors. These districts offer a captivating mix of old-world architecture and contemporary conveniences, making them ideal locations for exclusive hotels, upscale residential units, and sophisticated retail outlets. The demand for properties in these locales is on the rise, attracting buyers with their distinctive appeal and prime positions.


  1. Expansion in Tourism and Hospitality: The Panamanian government’s strategy to enlarge its tourism industry, with a particular emphasis on eco-friendly and high-end travel experiences, positions historic areas like Casco Viejo for potential growth in popularity. These regions, celebrated for their historical significance and cultural richness, are poised to benefit from the establishment of additional hotels and attractions, drawing diverse groups of international visitors.


Benefits of Investing in Historic Zones

Banks provide incentives such as lower interest rates for loans used in the renovation, building, reconstruction, or acquisition of real estate properties in Casco Antiguo and surrounding areas. Properties in Casco Antiguo and nearby areas that have not previously been invested in or renovated are not subject to the property transfer tax, which is usually 2% higher than the purchase price or the property value. Additionally, properties that are being constructed, renovated, or rebuilt and are in their first transfer can also be exempt from the Property Transfer Tax if the investment in such activities is more than $50,000.00.


Property owners who have fully or partially undertaken construction, renovation, or reconstruction works are eligible for a 10-year exemption from Income tax on earnings derived from business operations, sales, or the transfer of property. Likewise, owners or lessees involved in managing public parking facilities are entitled to a 10-year exemption from Income tax on the revenue from this business activity. Furthermore, tenants living in properties solely used for residential purposes are allowed to subtract rental payments from their income tax declaration for 5 years, commencing from the issue date of the occupation permit.


Buildings that have been constructed, renovated, or reconstructed following the introduction of Law 136 in 2013, and that have received their occupation permits post-enactment, qualify for a property tax exemption lasting 30 years. Additionally, construction materials and equipment required for projects in Casco Antiguo and surrounding regions, which are either not available domestically in Panama or are in limited supply, will not be subject to Import Tax.



In conclusion, the historic districts of Panama, especially Casco Viejo, stand as a testament to the allure of blending rich history with modern living. This article has journeyed through the vibrant lifestyles, the unmatched charm, and the lucrative real estate investment opportunities that these neighborhoods offer. The benefits of investing in such districts extend beyond the aesthetic appeal, promising both cultural richness and financial rewards. For investors, expats, and retirees alike, Panama’s historic districts offer more than just real estate; they present a chance to be part of a legacy, making it clear why their appeal continues to grow. As we’ve explored, living or investing here is not just about acquiring property but embracing a lifestyle woven with history and character.

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