Holiday Stressors, NOT this year, in Boquete, Panama!!!!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

Black Friday, Black sale, buy this, a party here, a party there, spend more money, eat, eat, eat…..And these activities are endless….

We here at Unfortunately, Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast finds the same stressors in Boquete, Panama. From the fact that it’s not easy getting around to the congestion and celebrations of the holidays. In November and December, there are an amazing number of holidays. Two different Independence days, Mother’s day, Labor Day, Fireman’s parade, Horse Parade, just to name a few.

 

In the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner research report, in the U.S., working long hours, fighting traffic, caring for aging parents, paying bills are stressful enough, then to add the holidays! Here are some of the key findings:

  • Holiday stress has a particular impact on women, who take charge of many of the holiday celebrations, particularly the tasks related to preparing meals and decorating the home. Women are more likely than men to report an increase of stress during the holiday season. In addition, they have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress, like comfort eating.
  • Holiday stress has an impact on lower middle income individuals. This group feels the weight of stress from work plus the seasonal rush to find time to get everything done. In addition, their worries about money are heightened by the commercialism of the season and the pressure to spend a lot of money.
  • Emotions run high during the holidays: people in the United States report feelings of love,

happiness, and high spirits. The most important aspects of the holidays are the opportunities

to connect or reconnect with friends and family.

  • People in the United States are more likely to feel their stress increases rather than decrease during the holidays. The holidays can be a hectic time for many, and a lack of money, a lack of time, and the hype and commercialism of the season causes increased stress for people in the U.S.
  • During the holidays, stress takes on a different character than at other times of the year.

Men and women alike feel a duty to make the holidays the best they can for their families.

 

I couldn’t find a study for Boquete, Panama, however, I believe the stressors are the same. So, I wanted to come up with some possible solutions as well. I thought about how massage takes away my stressors, at least for a Few days! We have an amazing couple that do a really great job at massage. Then there is nature, and sitting and drinking a glass of wine. Reading a book, attending an art class, or bird watching, just to name a few. All of which can be done here in Boquete, Panama, while staying with us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast.

However, if that’s not in the plans for you this year, here are some other options from the Mayo Clinic to “de-stress” your holiday:

When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
  2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  3. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
  4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
  5. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:

    • Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
    • Give homemade gifts.
    • Start a family gift exchange.
  1. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
  2. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  3. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

Try these suggestions:

    • Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  1. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Some options may include:

    • Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
    • Listening to soothing music.
    • Getting a massage. (We can help you with this if you are in Boquete)
    • Reading a book.
  1. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. (Did you know that Manzar Lari is a certified Life Coach and offers a free half hour initial consultation?)
  • Take control of the holidays

Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

  1. Catch a Plane (My personal favorite and added to the list by me)

Get on a plane and come down and spend the holidays, or any other time of year at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast!

 

 

 

 

Yes, it is the right time to buy real estate in Boquete, Panama! Here is the reason why …

Blog by Manzar Lari

Ok, so I am slightly biased, I happen to own a property and business in Boquete and I would obviously want someone to buy a home and get settled in an area of Panama that has long been named as the land of “eternal spring”. Now there are some latest property tax changes that are coming soon that will be a game changer for anyone on the fence about renting or buying in Panama.  Finally there is some data to support my bias!

There are many wonderful and competitively priced homes for all tastes and budgets available for sale in the Boquete area. While most of them are listed with at least one (or more of the realtors in the area), many of them are available “For Sale by Owners” as well (we know many of the owners so contact us if you are interested!).

If you have done your research and have visited Boquete at least once and are ready for an overseas adventure, why not consider making Boquete your “forever” home?

Here is the latest info on tax relief by Panama Government:

National Assembly approves reform that reduces property tax in Panama!

Tue, 09/19/2017

The National Assembly approved Monday in the third and final debate a controversial bill that reforms the Tax Code on Property Tax (IBI), considered by the Government as the “most important” reduction of this tax in 40 years.

The reform establishes that properties that register as main dwelling will benefit from a reduction of more than 60% of the tax and owners of a primary residence with a registered value of $120,000 or less, will be exempted from paying real estate taxes FOREVER! What a game changer for property owners in Panama!

The MEF said that this project “constitutes the most important comprehensive reform of the IBI in the last 40 years and establishes a greater fiscal balance, which benefits the majority of the owners.”

 Any amount from $120,000 up to $700,000 will be taxed at only 0,5%. Leaving a home owner to only pay the bare minimum per year in real estate taxes once the tax exoneration period is over.  

 From a press release by the Assembly:

Money collected from the taxes will be given to municipalities to secure resources for decentralization.

Having been established, the progressive rate combined with the tax benefit known as family property tax or the main dwelling will be: 

  1. 0.00% on the taxable base up to $120,000.00
  2. 0.5% on the taxable base over $120,000.01 and up to $700,000.00
  3. 0.7% on the taxable base over $700,000.00The combined progressive rate on commercial real estate, industrial, other residences and others is as follows:

     1.    0.00% on the taxable base up to $30,000.00

    2.   0.6% on the taxable base over $30,000.01 and up to $250,000.00                                                     0.8% on the taxable base over $250,000.01 and up to $500,000.00 

    1. 1% on the taxable base over $500,000.01
  1. This is about a 70% reduction in yearly taxes or no taxes for the vast majority of Panamanians… I am guessing this will greatly stimulate an inflow of people who were on the fence about living in Panama, or who wanted to move to any tropical country but could not afford to pay or didn’t want to waste a lot of their money just on taxes before. This is great news!

     This truly is amazing! I think it goes into effect almost immediately (January 2018?). Why not take advantage of it? We routinely have guests at the B&B who are at various stages of relocation to Panama. Most of them end up taking my “Boquete Overview Tour”, designed for someone contemplating a move to Boquete. This 3.5 hour tour is packed with information that only a resident of Boquete can give you. Not to mention the various neighborhoods, developments and gated communities we visit during the tour. Boquete landscape, its people and the community are exceptional. I cannot wait to show you the area! Please book directly  with us to qualify for the current specials. See you soon!

So, you want to buy, build, rent or restore a business in Boquete, Panama?

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We here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast began to think about what it took to move to Boquete, Panama, construct a building for the business, create the business and make it number 1 on TripAdvisor in our region. Then we thought, let’s talk about it to others and tell them just what it takes.

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So, whether or not you are thinking about buying an existing restaurant or B&B or creating a brand new business of some kind, let us walk you through the joys and challenges of making money here in the paradise called Boquete!

Let’s start with the joys:

  • You are your own boss. You have independence from the corporate world.
  • You set and establish your work hours
  • You have much more flexibility
  • You get to meet new people from around the world
  • You can be more creative
  • Panama makes it easy to establish a business
  • We are here to answer your questions and make your dreams come true. (Contact us)
  • Your investment can go a long way
  • Boquete has the highest number of Ex-pats living here in all of Panama
  • There are tax breaks and tax exclusions depending on what you buy. (We can get you in contact with accountants) Contact us

Here are some things to consider:

  • Do your research about where you wish to relocate. You can check with International Living https://internationalliving.com/countries/panama/boquete/ and Best Places in the world to retire. https://bestplacesintheworldtoretire.com/questions-and-answers/1001-what-are-the-expats-like-in-boquete-panama , for example.
  • Once you narrow your search to Boquete (and we know you will!), take a look into the laws around residency.
  • Then you can begin to look into websites that carry the business, land and spaces for rent for the kind of business you are looking for. (You can also contact us  we may have some leads for you).
  • Next you should contact a lawyer to make sure s/he help you with the legal matters of setting up a new business or the transfer of an existing business. (We can also help with this as well contact us. .
  • Consider the culture and what it would mean for you to have a business in a Latin culture.
  • Are you going to have the challenge of needing a loan to equip you properly for your business? (Loans in Panama are difficult to get. Contact us for some possibilities of banks.).
  • Will you need employees to help you run your business? Panama has many requirements for you to employ Panamanians such as paying “Decimo”, “Payroll”, and “Social Security”. We can help with contacts to get you started in the correct direction. Contact us .
  • Take the time to talk with business owners both those that are selling and those that are not. Ask pointed questions.
  • Check out the reviews on the business that you are buying. (This could be a negotiation tool.)

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These are just a handful of things that you will need to do when you begin your journey to your business. We are here for you in any way we can be. Come down and stay with us. Call  us up to let us know that you are looking at buying a business and we can give you the best possible price during your stay. Take a Boquete Overview Tour or the Boquete Scenic Tour that we offer. You can read more about this by clicking on Specials). And ask us as many questions as you have. We can help you in your decision making by our contacts, and ex-pats that live here. You will not be alone in your journey to a fantastic new life! Call Manzar now, let him know what kind of a business you are looking for and even get more information on possible businesses that are available for sale!

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Staying at a high standard Bed & Breakfast

Blog by Terry Richmeier & Manzar Lari

 

When planning a trip to Boquete, Panama, or any other place in the world one has many options in choosing a place to stay. For some of us it’s important to have a pool, others a serene space all their own is critical, and still others may have their own quirky demands! That’s why not all “high standard” Bed & Breakfasts and Inns are created equal. Although one thing that these places do have in common is that they are properly licensed, follow strict health codes, and all the other legal requirements of the country they are located in. This “standards of operation” help insure that the guests receive the best levels of service and accommodations and can be rest assured that the facility is functioning in a legal and responsible capacity.

 

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Along with the many choices of Hotels, Motels, Inns and Bed and Breakfasts available, finding the one just right for you can be quite a process. Do you do a “Google” search and go directly to the top websites on the first or second page? Do you use the same hotel search as you used in the past because you understand how that one works? Or do you go straight to “TripAdvisor” to see the top rated places to stay? The options are endless and can seem overwhelming!

In addition to the more traditional accommodations like hotels, Inns and Bed & Breakfasts, recently several websites have come out that offer short-term stays in private homes. Such websites are VRBO.com (Vacation Rental by Owner), Airbnb.com (Air Bed and Breakfast), and FlipKey.com to name a few. With so many choices, how does one make a good decision?

With the new “Private Stay” accommodations and the websites that are used to advertise these places, we wanted to share with you some things you may want to consider as a savvy traveler so that you have the best vacation experience possible. You can then compare these private accommodations with other types of accommodations such as Bed & Breakfasts, Inns and Hotels.

When considering staying in someone’s personal home you may want to think about the following:

1. Are you safe?

 Many private residents may not have a proper fire alarm system. Several may not have an evacuation procedure or an emergency plan should you need urgent help. Many times there are no security cameras and the neighborhood hoodlums know this and may intend to harm you and your vehicle given the opportunity.

 Is there a safe mounted into the wall of the place that you are staying? Often time passports and expensive jewelry can have a way of disappearing from the rooms. This may cause unnecessary problems for you and robbing you of your peace-of-mind. The process to file a police report and filing to re-create your passport can be really daunting.

Is the foundation and structure of the establishment you are staying at strong and stable? Homes often times can have decay that has happened over the years, creating an unsafe environment for your stay. This can happen when places don’t follow the strict regulations to operate as a business. Many times these issues are not known by the owner as there are no regular inspections.

 

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2. Sanitary conditions?

 

Is the kitchen clean and sanitized? With bacteria all around us, it’s very easy to get sick from a piece of meat that was incorrectly stored or an egg that was not properly cleaned off the counter top and created a contamination. Accommodations that have gone through the process of being certified by the department of health are frequently reviewed for health and sanitation and can offer you a peace of mind.Have your bed linens been washed and disinfected? This seems to be a no-brainer item that you would really not think you would have to worry about. The truth is that bacteria can live within sheets that are not properly disinfected and our research shows that some owners try to save money by fluffing the sheets instead of washing them and remaking the bed. Poor housekeeping and shabby conditions of the home that you are staying in should be researched by reading the reviews of the place you are staying at.

 

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3. Is the Bed & Breakfast operating legally?

Each country has its own laws about legal operations of Bed & Breakfasts. In Panama, it is important that the Bed & Breakfast is registered with the Tourism Authority, has legal permits to operate as a Bed & Breakfast, has “Aviso de Operacion” (business license), has had Department of Health certification and, in addition, each individual has to have valid green and white health cards in order to cook and serve food respectively. In order to keep up with the Health Department certification, regular fumigation and maintenance of the facility is also crucial. Since the facility is functioning as a commercial business, proper smoke detectors in each room and fire extinguishers in designated areas are some of the requirements from the “Bomberos” (Fire Department). In addition, a Panama government “Factura” machine has to be installed and proper reporting of taxes for each of the sales has to be logged into the machine daily. These sales taxes have to be filed (and paid) no later than the 15th of the subsequent month to the government.

The above information includes the main requirements to function as a Bed & Breakfast in Panama. How do Panama businesses fare compared to similar U.S. businesses? In our research, this is what we have found:

Regulations regarding Guest Houses and Bed & Breakfasts and even room rentals by owners have standards that must be upheld in the U.S. However, most other countries do not have any regulations that can be enforced upon your behalf. Here is an article on Madison WI to allow room rentals with required regulations: http://reason.com/blog/2013/10/31/madison-wi-votes-to-allow-airbnb-room-re

In one other article, these same concerns are talked about and advice to help you make the best decision for your needs. http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/travelers-ed/airbnb-and-beyond-tips-for-safe-legal-vacation-rentals

 

In Panama, room rentals and short term rentals effect the entire country as there are no taxes paid by the private room rentals and parties. Our research shows that in Panama private properties cannot be rented for fewer than 90-day rentals. Short-term rentals are only allowed for Bed & Breakfasts, Hostals, Inn and Hotels that have proper permits and licensing to do so. Not following these regulations essentially adversely effects tourism in a big way. Not only does it affect legitimate businesses monetarily, the government is robbed of a chance to rightfully collect taxes and fees on these services. Fewer tax dollars means lower level maintenance as we will watch roads continue to decay and become unsafe for travel, there will be decrease in police and government officials on the payroll.  Without the fire and safety inspections, the life of the tourist can be greatly at risk. In 2009 Panama made it Illegal for private residences to rent short term in Panama. Here is an article from “PanamaGuide.com” that was written by Don Winner:

“On 13 August 2009 Panama’s new Administrator General of the Tourism Authority of Panama issued Resolution Number 52, effectively making it illegal for anyone other than a hotel to rent out private property, apartment or house, for a term of 90 days or less. Their reasoning is that this activity of short-term private rentals of apartments is in effect an unfair business practice, and that these people are operating “on the margins of the law.” The Director of the Tourist Authority, Salomon Shamah, feels people who offer their privately owned homes or apartment for short term rentals are in fact acting as hotels, but they are not paying the same 10% tax as required by the hotels, nor are they subject to the same standards of fire and safety inspections as the hotels. The resolution is clear – this activity is now prohibited in Panama”. (For the full article, please check out PanamaGuide.com)

Here at Casa de Montaña we have done whatever we can to set-up and operate as a legitimate Bed & Breakfast. We want our guests to have a peace-of-mind when they stay with us that we have done our best to meet and exceed the standards set by the local authorities and governing bodies to insure an enjoyable stay for our guests. Hope to see you soon at Casa de Montaña!

 

 

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