After renting a car, it became apparent that we would need a car of our own. We live about 11 miles away from Coronado where most of the shopping is located. Unlike Panama City, there is no Uber in this area. Taking cabs would be logistically difficult and more expensive than Uber. To that end, we began looking online for cars and also working with Davis our local car rental and concierge service provider. Davis is Panamanian and has connections with just about every business and service provider in the area.

I found a couple of promising cars online and ran them by Davis to review. He informed me that all were overpriced and within about an hour he sent me links to review. After agreeing that one car appeared best due to low mileage and lower wear and tear than the others,

We needed cash to purchase the car so I decided to use Western Union to transfer the funds needed. The funds were approved within a few short minutes. I let Davis know that we would be ready to review the vehicle the following day with his mechanic and the seller.

On Wednesday, we went to the local Western Union office and found that the funds were approved but since I used my savings account as a source, they would not be available for pickup until 9/12. I pivoted and quickly did a second Western Union transaction using my credit card as the funding source. The funds were approved in minutes and immediately available for withdraw. I walked back to the Western Union window only to be informed by the clerk that they could only pay out $2,000 since they are a small office.

After locating 3 Western Union offices within a 45-minute drive radius, I called each of them and none could pay out my amount. We decided the only option was to drive to the Panama City Western Union office located in the MultiPlaza Mall. We used them before and knew we could pick up the money there. We reached Panama City shortly before evening rush-hour and quickly picked up the funds and drove to meet the seller in La Chorerra. Waze predicted we would arrive at the meeting spot in 98 minutes. Waze was way too optimistic… The weather was rainy, and we hit rush-hour. The traffic was NY City heavy. We were averaging 3-5 KPH. We finally arrived at the meeting spot after almost 3 hours.

Davis and his mechanic (Victor) arrived well ahead of us and inspected and drove the vehicle. There were some unexpected scrapes and blemishes in the paint, low tread on 2 front tires and the headliner was detaching (I’m told headliner issues are normal in the tropics). After I drove the vehicle and based on Davis’s recommendation, we lowered our offer.

The next day Victor changed the oil, oil filter, air filter, antifreeze, repaired a small leak in the coolant hose assembly, checked the brakes and detailed the vehicle so that the car would be safe and clean for us to drive. The tires were ordered but would take a couple of days to arrive.

Car purchase price $6,700.00
Annual Insurance w/ Roadside Assistance $151.99
Itemized Repair $380.00

  • Remove headliner / purchase new headliner & install $150.00
  • Synthetic Oil & Filter/Gas Filter/Hose Assembly Repair/Brake Fluid/Antifreeze $180.00
  • Purchase and install 2 tires $50.00

Total Vehicle Cost $7,231.99

Davis agreed to coordinate the paperwork consisting of the title transfer, registration and car insurance for us which would mean driving to Panama City.

The car…

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