I am going to take a risk based upon the pulse I feel in the Boquete Panama community. Some of these observations are based upon what is happening, some on projections and some on clear speculation as I peer into a recycled crystal ball.
The wave of new immigrants to Boquete Panama will continue, people from the United States will join others from Canada, Europe and Venezuela. Many of the Americans will come, rent and leave within the year because they think they are fleeing Socialism only to discover Panama is far more socialist than what they are leaving.
2012 showed that financial deals that sounded too good to be true, were indeed too good to be true; COACESS, Financial Pacific and Pronto Cash all washed out in 2012. Expect great new opportunities lusting for your money in 2013 and expect some of them to fail too. With all of the regulation Panama has of it’s financial industry there is no effective regulation, just laws selectively enforced when it is good press or good for those in power.
Boquete is a great place to retire as long as you understand this is a rural area based on an agricultural and tourist economy. The US Panama free trade agreement will change the agricultural economy and many small farms will need to change or they will fail. Climate change is already effecting coffee production and should it continue, coffee will become a lesser part of the local economy. That is a shame since our coffee is wonderful.
Tourism has developed as an industry in Boquete during the world wide recession. It has always existed here, but tourism has grown tremendously in the past few years. It is likely to continue to expand if the government does not destroy all of the ecotourism destinations with dams and pavement.
Union Fensoa will keep installing street lights even where the streets are really paths for cows. The cattle need to find their way also. The question will be whether they will move the poles out of the Boquete David Highway or just cut them flush with the new blacktop.
Expect the road to David to be completed in 2013, the same with the airport in David. I predict direct flights from David to Tocumen. If Copa or Air Panama are into speculation one of them might try David to Florida, but I am not holding my breath.
When the transportation corridors are open look for new commercial projects to start. Also some large new hospitality projects, like the environmentally destructive project in Jaramillo Abajo. I do not understand why developers have not figured out that what makes Boquete unique and desirable is the environment. Cutting down the trees and paving the mountain eliminates all that makes this area special.
Panama is a land of opportunity, if you have the knowledge and correct connections, but most expats who come here to build a business fail. They fail because they don’t have the knowledge or the correct connections, this is not Kansas.
Boquete will see still another crop of restaurants, seems many new immigrants want to open restaurants. No one knows the Boquete market size, how many people live here at any time, how many are dining out, how many venture out at night, who has sufficient discretionary income. Still without market informaiton investors will come, invest and often lose. Still other ventures are bitten by the labor laws, the sound regulations, the health laws, the immigration laws etc. Some of these new ventures will succeed, most will last less than one year.
The BCP will have it’s best season of plays ever, hopefully people will pay to see them even if it means being out after 8pm. The Tuesday market will continue to grow and evolve as the hub of the expat community in Boquete. The meetings will continue and become more interesting. Bid4Boquete will have their best year ever and the community will continue to support needs of it’s most needy and the dogs too.
For all those here it will be a year of inflation, change and politics. Panama is heading toward primaries in 2013 and in 2014 a new cycle of politicians all of who will promise to clean up corruption and none of whom will.
I do not see anything dramatic changing in Boquete in 2013, just a continuation of growth without a plan, despite the fact there is plan and immigration without understanding by those fleeing known into unknown. On the positive side hopefully we will see an evolution into a stronger tourist economy for all the residents here who need to earn their daily rice and lentils.
One final note, I can predict with some security, that for me the January winds will not be a bother to me since I am taking a vacation from my full time vacation and will be writing from venues to the far south for about a month.