Right Now Could be the Best Time to Come to Panama...the Hub of the Americas
Right Now Could be the Best Time to Come to Panama...the Hub of the Americas
Panama has long been the prime choice for retirees, second-home buyers, and property investors alike. Today you can still find apartments in sought-after areas of Panama City for $80,000 and live well on $1,200 per month.
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- Population: 3,559,408
- Capital City: Panama City
- Climate: Tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)
- Time Zone: GMT-5
- Language: Spanish (official), English 14%; (many Panamanians are bilingual)
- Country Code: 507
- Coastline: 2,490 km
From Panama City, no island is easier to get to than tiny (and often overlooked) Taboga. The best island in Panama for true local flavor, it’s just 12 miles off Panama’s Pacific coast. Locals call Taboga “the Island of Flowers.”
For me, with my own company doing project management for large Information Technology infrastructure deployments, my job was a means to an end. I worked to earn money to travel and take photos of interesting and exotic places. But I longed for a job I could do from anywhere, which would permit me to travel as I worked.
Six months ago we moved to Panama. We knew that we didn’t want to live in a gated community. For us, it just made more sense to live among the locals where we could immerse ourselves in the culture and get to know everyone.
It’s one of Panama’s newest expat destinations, with all the amenities you could want in an overseas retirement haven. There’s high-speed Internet, inexpensive restaurants, good clinics and hospitals, and a burgeoning expat community. It’s a fast-growing city and the busy domestic airport is being expanded. But the real allure of David, capital of Panama’s Chiriquí province, is its strategic location. David is a hub for the region’s best vacation spots: natural hideaways like the lush green highlands to the north or the many beaches on the Pacific and Caribbean.
David, the capital of Chiriqui, is becoming more and more popular as expats discover the delights of living amongst Panama’s successful ranchers.
Ingrid Senne spends a great deal of time at the beach, doing yoga, or exploring the villages near her new home in Pedasí, Panama—“especially the tiny ones,” she says. Las Tablas, just 15 minutes away, is one of Panama’s best-known rural colonial towns…a place where local traditions thrive and where Carnival season engrosses the entire town.
Here’s a round-up of the events you should be keeping an eye on over the coming months. First up, the Fast Track Panama: Lifestyle and Opportunity Conference which is kicking off this April in Panama City. Panama is, arguably, the one country on our beat that offers something for everyone. Beaches. Big City. Colonial enclaves. Highland retreats. In this diverse place, the sun shines someplace, 365 days a year.
I’m sad to report that most visitors to Panama never leave the capital city. But if you’re willing to look beyond the city skyline, a world of choice awaits. This is a country roughly the size of South Carolina, so you needn’t go far to find idyllic mountain, beach, and valley hideaways with a “so close, yet so far away” feel.
Panama City is color, light, noise, and action—a thrumming, modern city that surprises first-timers with its stellar roads and steamy nightlife. But the beauty is more than skin-deep. Panama is also the region’s most convenient capital.
If your dreams of life in a new country mean securing an overseas income, then Panama must be high on your list. Here’s five reasons why Panama fits the bill for today’s move abroad adventurer. Reason #1—Economics: Panama is fast becoming an economic giant on the world stage. Why? Simple—geography.
Stephen and Linda lived in Northern California. But if they wanted to retire there, they knew they’d only be able to afford “some desolate place and live in a double-wide.” So they began searching for somewhere in the world that had the surf they craved but at prices they liked, too. They found a little Pacific Coast beach town about 60 miles west of Panama City.
A man with his own private zoo…a Dutch transplant with a penchant for black and white movies…and a former builder who just wanted to make the region’s best burger. They all have one thing in common: The tiny mountain hideaway in Panama they now call home. Veraguas is a massive tract of land—the only province in Panama to touch both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
Located in the Panamanian beach town of Coronado, the always happening Picasso is owned and run by British transplant Claire Ross. Claire didn’t come to Panama intending to start a restaurant here, but while doing some consulting work in Panama City she found a town an hour’s drive away that has it all.
In this video, International Living Panama editor Jessica Ramesch talks about her cost of living in Panama City, Panama. Though it’s possible to live (and spend) like a millionaire here, Jessica says it’s easy to live the good life, even if you’re on a budget, like her. Your cost of living can be low in Panama but you can still buy the same groceries as back home.
If you decide to live anywhere in or near the Veraguas province of Panama, chances are you’ll visit the provincial capital of Santiago often. Most “capitalinos” (Panamanians from the capital) will tell you there’s nothing much in Santiago, but on a recent visit I found the opposite.
Campana National Park may well be Panama’s best-kept secret. That’s amazing considering its location—just an hour west of Panama City, a big sign marks the entrance. It’s on the Pan-American Highway, also known as Highway One, which spans the isthmus (in fact, it runs from Canada all the way down to Argentina, with just one “gap” between Panama and Colombia).
“Lazy” isn’t quite the right word to describe the village of Santa Fe de Veraguas, located in Panama’s Veraguas province. Other words come to mind: “bohemian,” “quirky,” and “effortless.” A town of about 3,000 people, Santa Fe has no traffic. Even on the main road cars pass infrequently. And everyone—every single person—says hello or buenas as they pass.
Amid the towers of steel and chrome waft the tantalizing smells of seafood and spices. Argentine, Cuban, Swiss, German, Thai, and Indian are only a few of the offerings you’ll enjoy today in Panama City.
Fast-Track Panama: Lifestyle and Opportunity Conference
April 12-14, 2012 – Panama City, Panama
Say goodbye to mounting debt and dashed dreams… Instead, get on the fast track to the retirement you deserve. Picture-perfect beaches kissed by turquoise waters… pretty mountain villages with year-round spring-like weather… a cosmopolitan seaside city with world-class restaurants and designer shopping for pennies on the dollar… For $1,500 a month or less you can be living the good life in Panama.
What Life Overseas Really Looks Like…
Skeptics inquire: Are the opportunities overseas really as great as we at IL portray them to be? The short answer is “yes.” But don’t take my word for it… Listen, instead, to the many ﬁrsthand stories we’ve collected in this month’s issue—on-the-ground reports from folks who decided to answer the question for themselves…at the beach…in the hills…in cities…or on islands…
Being a ﬁreﬁghter was the best job in the world according to my husband Clyde, but after 26 years, it was time to retire. However, we were buried beneath a mortgage, car payments, gym membership, the high cost of health care, outrageous electric bills, and taxes, with no end in sight.
Fireworks explode in the sky above me. Reﬂected in the Panama Bay, I see ﬁery skyrockets, tungsten stars, and spidery bursts of pink, purple, and green. It’s the celebration of the Chinese New Year—an event Panama City has adopted as its own and celebrates with gusto.
A round-up of the events you should be chalking down on your callendar.
Go for the Canal…Stay for Everything Else. That’s what the New York Times is saying about Panama. The publishing giant’s travel section listed Panama as number one out of 45 Places to Go in 2012. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones don’t disagree. They are on vacation in Panama this week with their family.
There’s a highland village in Panama you probably haven’t heard of yet—a handful of North Americans are only beginning to establish a bohemian community. Pines and flowering shrubs, beautifully paved roads and neatly painted houses, where no-one locks their doors and everyone has reliable Internet.
In this video, International Living Panama editor Jessica Ramesch visits the mountain village of Santa Fe in the Veraguas province of Panama. The tiny town is rich in mountain charm, from its small, friendly community of locals (and just a few expats) to its lush vegetation and rural mountain feel.
Fast-Track Panama: Lifestyle & Opportunity Conference
April 4-6, 2013, Panama City, Panama
Stay home and face mounting debt and dashed retirement dreams. Or come to Panama and enjoy picture-perfect beaches kissed by turquoise waters… pretty mountain villages with year-round Spring-like weather… a cosmopolitan seaside city with world-class restaurants and designer shopping for pennies on the dollar… In Panama, you really can live well on $1500 a month or less. Discover if Panama is for you at the Fast-Track Panama Conference.
Fast-Track Panama: Lifestyle & Opportunity Conference
April 4-6, 2013 – Panama City, Panama
As quality of life (worsened by crumbling economies) deteriorates elsewhere in the world, Panama looks better and better…Nowhere else can you enjoy such a comfortable life…with near-perfect year-round weather, excellent medical care, fresh, healthy food straight from the farmer’s truck…and a retirement incentive program that’s truly welcoming of expats…Discover if Panama is for you .
Richard Brady goes by Ricardo these days…he’s been in Panama since 2001 and has no plans to return to Florida. That’s probably because he spends his days surfing at one of the best sites in the region. When he’s not surfing, he’s out on Elizabeth, a gleaming white 25-foot skiff, from which he’s spotted everything from manta rays to howler monkeys.
“It’s my favorite wave on earth,” says Jon Hanna, a championship surfer who’s seen more than a few waves in his travels around the world. He’s talking about Santa Catalina, a little surf town in Panama that was once a well-guarded secret.
Erica and Kevin Moore didn’t want much…a quiet setting where they’d be able to run a business and be a part of a welcoming community. In Panama, they found dozens of towns with potential…but the tiny village of Santa Fe de Veraguas called to them.
Amid the towers of steel and chrome waft the tantalizing smells of seafood and spices. Argentine, Cuban, Swiss, German, Thai, and Indian are only a few of the offerings you’ll find today in Panama City. Back home you may find yourself banished to the burbs for affordable food. But here you can eat at the finest gourmet restaurants in the financial district where the beautiful people play…
I’m sipping rich coffee—just poured from a French press—when it happens. A white horse ambles by, no rider or groom in sight. Behind him, there appears another… his chestnut brother. Single file they clippety-clop into focus and I make a mental note: Favorite image of the day.
Ecuador stormed to the top of our list in the cost of living stakes. We’ve heard from couples who are living well on $800—and less. Everything from home rentals and health insurance cover to eating out and motoring costs come in significantly lower than in the U.S. There are also regional differences – small towns like Cotacachi are significantly cheaper than the bigger cities.
Panama has put together the most appealing program of special benefits for foreign residents and retirees you’ll find anywhere in the world today. Its pensionado, or pensioner visa program, is extremely generous. If you become a pensionado, you’ll also be entitled to a one-time exemption of duties on the importation of household goods (up to $10,000) and an exemption every two years of duties…
Whether your dream retreat is a graceful colonial home with lavish gardens, a simple beachfront bungalow where you can prop up your feet and watch the tide roll in, an expansive hacienda with enough acreage for horses to roam, or a cliff-side villa with sunset views and cool, steady breezes, you’ll find it in Mexico.
While small pockets of Irish people still speak the native Gaelic as their first language, English is spoken by everyone in all parts of the country. While the accent can be difficult to grasp at first, most visitors will find themselves accustomed to it within days. Because language is the single biggest factor in ease of integration, Ireland naturally scores highly here.
Panama offers high quality health care and modern hospitals in the metropolitan areas. For example, the Johns Hopkins-affiliated Punta Pacifica Hospital is the most technologically advanced medical center in Latin America.
Six months from now, you could be living in paradise… for much less than it costs you to stay home. In the best destinations overseas, your dollar just goes further…ﬁrst class healthcare is affordable…you can keep a housekeeper or gardener…and live better than you can back home for a fraction of what you pay now…
If your Panama plans call for clear blue waters and long stretches of sandy beach, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of places to choose from. After all, most of Panama consists of coastal areas. Plus, unlike in some other countries, Panama allows foreigners to own beach property outright, rather than requiring them to own via trusts or foundations. The Sun-Soaked Shores of the Panama Coast – Dream it, Find it, Live it, details our favorite coastal locales, lifestyle and real estate options.