Thought you might find this interesting. From a site talking about living in Panama:
Here is what real freedom is all about. As we live in a rural area, building anything you want is a “piece of cake." Although a building permit is required it is very easy to do “your thing." All you have to do is provide them with a rough drawing and pay a moderate tax. Zoning restrictions are vague. Go ahead and put up that 100’ tower or have a home business but on the other hand, your neighbor might be raising chickens. No one comes around to tell you hey! “You can’t do that”. Building inspectors are few. I have been remodeling for four years and have not seen one yet. Even though there may be a lack of inspectors, It is recommended to follow standard building practices for your own protection. Quality building materials are readily available including exotic woods. You can have custom “all wood” furniture, doors, windows and cabinets made at a fraction of the cost in the U.S. Block, cement, sand, re-bar, and imported plumbing and electrical hardware are all available at very reasonable prices. Carpenters, masons, plumbers and electricians generally run about $16-$20 a day.