How does one find a good builder, contractor or a handyman in Boquete, Panama?

Blog by Manzar Lari.

Short answer – It is not easy! Long answer, do your online research before coming here. In addition, talk to acquaintances and friends who have been here a lot longer than you. As I usually say to our guests at the B&B who are contemplating a move to Boquete, “talk to at least 12 different people locally about a topic of interest to you, synthesize and then distill the answers and then come up with your own truth”. Each person speaks from the standpoint of their own experiences and points-of-view. As a good “researcher” one has to initially gather as much information as one can until one starts hearing the same kinds of answers and collecting more data is not going to help inform the conclusion(s).

I do a “Boquete Overview Tour” for people who are considering moving to Boquete and we touch on many topics that may be relevant to a future Boquete resident. I have noticed that the visitors generally have tons of questions and they are “hungry” for answers. Frequently, people are looking to buy land and build their dream home here. I inform them that you will never hear people publicly say that someone is an awful builder or that the contractor didn’t do what they were paid to do. You can only find those things out when you talk verbally and in person with someone. We have different slander and libel laws here as compared to the U.S. and people are very cautious about divulging their true (negative) experiences to strangers.

Just recently our friends Joyce and Scott had this to say:

Friends here in Panama wanted me to discuss the issues with contracting. This is a tough and complicated subject that I (Joyce) have been thinking about for a while.

The problem is that contracting is never fun, wherever you are. There are always problems from delays in construction, parts not being available, costs being more than you expect, etc. This happens in the US as much as in Panama.

I’ve been trying to figure out the difference in these situations and I think it’s mostly that in the US there are more ways to find out about a contractor before you try to work with him. In the US, there seems to be more controls through state licensing and disciplinary procedures on incompetent contractors, YELP reviews and so on. It’s a bit more based on word of mouth references here.

Word of mouth references are always good, of course, wherever you live. Some of our best experiences in both the US and Panama have been in working with friends or people recommended by friends.

The problems that we have experienced in Panama seem to be that it is harder to find out if a contractor isn’t what he is cracked up to be. We have heard stories from friends of contracting with an electrician, who blows up everything in the house through bad wiring mistakes and then later says, “But I’m really not an electrician, so it’s not my fault if things don’t work out.” Other bad experiences include contractors getting the money for parts and using that money for someone else’s job or just never showing up at all (or, as in our case, abandoning the job after taking money and just disappearing from existence). It’s just difficult to find out if a contractor really knows what he is doing and whether he will complete the job.

I suspect that word of mouth worked better in the past when Boquete was a very small town, and everyone knew what was going on everywhere in town. With the growth in population in the past few years, the competition for the best contractors and the escalation in costs that come with population growth, the historical practice of working only with contractors who have a good reputation through word of mouth has some problems.

Let’s just say that while there are always horror stories about contracting experiences wherever you live, the stories, experiences and lessons learned are a bit more expensive, worrisome and common here in Boquete!

We have been in Boquete for almost four years and our experiences were not so different than the newbies Joyce and Scott when we first arrived in August 2013. Hopefully we have become a little wiser in those four years! Bad experiences have a way of teaching us some life lessons. We are fortunate that we have been able to find some reliable and trustworthy individuals who show up (mostly!) when they are supposed to, finish the job, give us a warranty, and not charge us exorbitant amounts of money.

If you are contemplating a move to Boquete, why not book a room with us  and schedule a Boquete Overview Tour? Terry and I (Manzar) love to assist our guests in any way we can to make your transition to Boquete a smooth one. See you soon!


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





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.


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 and Best Places in the world to retire. , 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.)


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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