Panama

  Panama  

Right Now Could be the Best Time to Come to Panama...the Hub of the Americas

 

Why do so many expats choose Panama? Often the intangibles…the feel of a place…play a big role. But there are also a lot of concrete, quantifiable reasons Panama is so appealing, starting with its modern infrastructure.

Panama’s cosmopolitan capital, Panama City, is the only true First World city in Central America. The beautifully maintained Pan-American Highway runs the breadth of the country, making travel easy. High-speed Internet and cell coverage are remarkable…as are the power, air, and water quality.

For expats from the U.S., Panama is also convenient because the currency is the U.S. dollar. No matter where you’re from, you’re likely to appreciate the fact that there are many English speakers in Panama, especially among the well-trained medical community. The hub that is Tocumen International Airport makes it easy to fly from Panama to nearly anywhere in the world…often with no layovers.

 

Choose From a Varied Landscape

 

Many of the expats here also cite Panama’s geographical diversity and location, with proximity to North America being a major factor. In a country roughly the size of South Carolina, you’ll find mountains and beaches within an easy striking distance—no matter where in the country you are. Wake up on the Caribbean and have lunch overlooking the Pacific…they’re a couple of hours apart at the isthmus’ “skinniest” sections. Choose your preferred climate, topography, population density and more in Panama’s varied landscape.

And then there are factors the lists and indexes can’t quantify. For instance, the people of Panama are beautiful, inside and out. Get to know them just a little and you’ll see they have big hearts and an even bigger zest for life. They’re welcoming to foreigners, who in turn feel safe here. Increasing numbers of North Americans, Europeans, and others are moving here and contributing to the burgeoning economy.

 

Panama: A Convenient, International Hub

 

Some expats come in search of adventure or a quality retirement destination, while others seek to take advantage of all Panama has to offer as a business destination. There are well-established expat populations (and many clubs and organizations) in Panama from all over the world.

And though Panama has always been a busy little hub (thanks in large part to the Panama Canal), it’s experiencing something of a heyday. In 2007, Panama’s economy was hailed as the fastest-growing in the hemisphere. Despite the 2009 global financial crisis, Panama’s economy has continued to grow faster than nearly any country in the region. Mega-port projects and major investment in infrastructure will continue to fuel the economy into the next decade.

There’s a palpable excitement as the country is coming into its own. You can see it in the exciting food and culture scenes and the flashy, innovative architecture and the new industries that are adding to local offerings. New laws to encourage filmmaking paved the way for Panama to get its very own International Film Festival. The annual jazz festival is a renowned event. Major international summits are held at Panama’s large, modern convention centers.

You’ll find golf, tennis, sailing, fishing, surfing, birding and every other activity imaginable—with the exception, of course, of snow-skiing. With so much going on, expats here will tell you that it is extremely easy to make friends, regardless of age, gender, or marital status.

 

Moving to Panama is Easy

 

For those looking to move to Panama or live here part-time, two new residence options make moving here even easier than it was before. (Quite a feat, as the Pensionado residence program has already helped thousands move here with relative ease.) These days, there's a visa for everyone.

The international community here has always been strong, but thanks to the new residence programs, it’s growing faster than ever. And new arrivals are introducing locals to new foods, activities, methods and more. It’s been great for Panama.

These days, you can get trendy food items like kale and chia seeds…indulge in clothes from Banana Republic and Gap…and buy specialty items, from kitchen and barbecue gadgets to sports and hobbyist gear. What other country in the region can boast such convenience?

Then there’s the cost of living. Panama is not the cheapest country in the region, but it is often cited as the best overall value for your money.

If you daydream about sunshine, tropical beaches, and welcoming locals, then Panama may be for you. A couple can live well here for $2,500 a month or less, including rent.

 

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Fast Facts About Panama

Panama
  • 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

Archives

vilcabamba-central-plaza

Thousands of Jobs That Pay You in Ecuador, Panama, Paris…

There is a tidal wave of opportunity coming your way… Opportunity that could pave the way quickly for your live-abroad move. In fact, whether you want to live in Cuenca, Panama City or Paris, that move could now be financially more comfortable…and you could make it with greater mental satisfaction than you might otherwise expect.

Docking your boat in Panama offers many geographical advantages.

Panama Offers Boaters Overseas Big Savings on Yachts and Docking Fees

Based in Minnesota, Mike and Ann Roess bought their sailboat in Panama and saved at least 15% on the cost, reports InternationalLiving.com. They found Escapade—a Hylas 49 sailboat, which sleeps up to eight people—on Yachtworld.com, a website that connects boat sellers and buyers. A Spanish mariner owned the boat and docked it in Panama. The Roesses had a gut feeling that it was the right boat for them, so Mike flew to Panama.

TheBestWay

The Best Way to Start a Day in Panama City

What do monkeys, orchids and modern art have in common? You’ll find them all on Ancon hill. At 654 feet high Ancon is an island of natural beauty in the western part of Panama City. Formerly part of the Canal Zone, it’s now a protected area of secondary forest. Flowering Bird of paradise grows on the roadside and tawny-eared neque (think a rabbit crossed with a squirrel) hop into the undergrowth as you approach.

HappyVagabonds

Happy Vagabonds – Roving Retirees in Search of the Perfect Place

With cries of “you’re too young to retire” still ringing in our ears, we handed over the house keys and flew away from Vancouver, Canada, in search of a new life. Sixteen months and 22 countries later, we are still enjoying our lifestyle as happy vagabonds. Our adventure is also a mission to explore the world in search of the perfect retirement location.

BestRetirementSpot

The World’s Best Retirement Spot

Winner of the 2013 Global Retirement Index, Ecuador offers sophisticated historical cities…miles of unspoiled, sun-kissed beaches…fertile farmland…and temperate mountain hideaways…and all of it for pennies on the dollar.

LessStuff

The Less Stuff…the More Room for Adventure

When my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I moved abroad 12 years ago, we had some decisions to make. We owned a large house and garage full of the usual collection of furniture, cookware, tools, books, rugs, electronics, knickknacks…all the flotsam and jetsam of American middle-class life.

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It’s Easy to Make Friends in Boquete, Panama

Penny Ripple is perhaps Boquete’s most enthusiastic resident. “The landscapes here just blow you away. I can see Volcan Baru, a dormant volcano and the highest point in Panama, from my window. We’re about 3,500 feet above sea level in Panama’s Chiriqui province, near the Costa Rica border. I love it here,” she says.

Panama has the best special benefits for retirees in the world.

The Top Two Best Places to Retire Overseas and Claim Special Retiree Benefits

Many countries overseas provide retirees with special benefits, but the two that have taken the top spots in our Annual Global Retirement Index 2013 really take care of their retirees. For retiree benefits, Panama holds top place, as our Panama editor, Jessica Ramesch reports in this year’s Retirement Index.

panamacity

Fast Track Your Panama Visa

Few countries can boast so romantic a history, so pleasant a climate, so friendly a people, and so dynamic and modern an economy as Panama. Panama City is the largest offshore and regional banking center south of Miami, serving all of Central and South America. The country has more than 80 well-regulated banks, 50 of which are multinationals, that collectively hold an estimated $100 billion in assets, with liquidity impressively high at an average 30%—far better than in the U.S.

Climate In Panama

Climate in Panama

Panama has a tropical maritime climate with a hot, humid, cloudy prolonged rainy season (May to January) and a short dry season (January to May). It is completely outside the hurricane belt and experiences few if any natural disasters. Most of Panama has two seasons: wet (“winter”) and dry (“summer”).

Invest in somewhere like Ireland and protect your financial future.

Take a Pragmatic Approach to Securing Your Financial Future

The U.S. government is at war…with itself. All across America, government institutions have shut down, leaving just a skeleton staff to man the country. The doors of national monuments, including the Statue of Liberty, America’s greatest and best-known symbol of freedom and the American Dream, clanked shut last Monday…leaving the workers at those monuments adrift in a sea of uncertainty.

Could Spain be your retirement haven?

Where to Get More for Your Dollar (and What to do if it Devalues…)

You ain’t nothin but a hound dog…cryin’ all the time… Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit… And you ain’t no friend of mine… Elvis was in the house last night. Young Elvis. Dressed in a nicely tailored black suit with a white, open-collared shirt, he serenaded our VIP readers over cocktails in the 20th-floor penthouse here at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas. As I wandered through the crowd yesterday evening, I was pleased to hear that—the occasional Elvis recollection aside—the conversations had turned to the details shared thus far about the world’s best retirement destinations.

Could you see yourself retired here in Mexico?

“This Retirement Haven Keeps Getting Better and Better”‏

“From curried kale chips to soy milk…every time I say, ‘I wish we could get that here,’ the person I’m talking to tells me we can and where I can go to pick it up…or I stumble on the item myself at the store two weeks later,” said Jessica Ramesch this morning to a packed house of 800 International Living readers. “Panama just keeps getting better and better.”

panama-boats

Buying a Boat in Panama Could Save You Money

After landing in Panama City, Mike traveled to Shelter Bay Marina—situated at the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal—to meet up with the owner and check out Escapade. Mike was thrilled with the vessel, so, after getting the green light from Ann, he bought it. The boat-buying process works about the same way as purchasing a house.

A couple can live near San José, Costa Rica for just $1,700 a month.

Americans Living Off Their Retirement Savings Overseas

The average U.S. Social Security check is $1,230 a month for a retired worker. That may not seem like a lot–but when you retire overseas you can cut your cost of living. Below are stories from expats who did just that.

Cuenca, Ecuador is famous for its colorful festivals, food and beautiful scenery...and has a low cost of living.

Top Five Cities to Retire To

First-World cities packed with ultra-modern amenities, and ancient vineyard-shrouded hill towns close to tropical beaches and mountain valleys. Among the top retirement spots in the world this year, you’ll find great variety in the cultural offerings, climates and lifestyles. Each destination is desirable in its own way, but they all offer something increasingly hard to come by at home: A good quality of life for a reasonable price.

panama-zero-stress

A Zero-Stress Lifestyle in Panama

Cero estrés. Zero stress. It’s a constant refrain in Panama City, where I now live. It refers to the idea that hiccups are meant to be taken in stride. That if both sides remain calm, all will be well. That there’s no need to “stress out.” Take the other day for example. I’d ordered a few hundred photocopies, but when I went to pick them up I realized I‘d left my wallet at home. The supervisor said “cero estrés,” and let me take the copies anyway. I went back to pay the next day.

Panama is the first city in Central America to get a Metro.

Panama City: Putting the “Metro” in Metropolitan

You may have already heard that Panama’s capital will be the first city in Central America to get a metro or light rail system, but did you know that the first line is nearly complete? When the project was announced, regional rags dismissed it as yet another Central American pipe dream. But Panama is the kind of place where big projects come to fruition.

Ecuador enjoys a spring- like climate all year round.

The Top Three Best Places to Retire Overseas and Enjoy a Great Climate

Many places all over the world have great climates, but those that took the top three spots in our Annual Retirement Index 2013 are three of the best. The country taking the number one spot not just in the climate category but overall in the Retirement Index lies directly on the equator. It enjoys 12 hours of direct equatorial daylight 365 days a year.

A Canal in Nicaragua to Rival Panama’s?

A Canal in Nicaragua to Rival Panama’s?

Central America has often drawn investments from other countries due to its vast untapped resources and its significant location. France tried to build a canal there, America actually did and now it’s the turn of China to try. China has been looking for alternative trans-oceanic routes and now there are talks of a 170-mile, $40 billion deal to build a canal across Central America being in the works. If this project comes to pass it will connect the Pacific (Brito) with the Caribbean (Bluefields) and will take five years to complete.

table

The Decline of the West

There’s always room for wealth creation. Despite the world’s economic woes, the number of people with $30 million or more in net assets rose by 5% globally last year. And according to the Frank Knight Wealth Report 2013, over the next 10 years there’ll be a 50% rise in the number of people breaking that barrier.

belize beach

Love, Color and Opportunity in Panama

Penny Ripple is perhaps Boquete’s most enthusiastic resident. “The landscapes here just blow you away. I can see Volcan Baru, a dormant volcano and the highest point in Panama, from my window. We’re about 3,500 feet above sea level in Panama’s Chiriqui province, near the Costa Rica border. I love it here,” she says.

linda card

Building a New Business on Skills from Home

“We decided we needed another start,” says expat Hellmut Pedersen. “Our lives in Washington were becoming too complicated. Prices kept going up, bureaucracy became more difficult, and the stress was too much. So we sold just about everything and arrived in Panama in 2005 with five suitcases.”

Prepare for real estate opportunities in Panama City, Panama.

When and Where to Buy In Panama City

Prepare to buy in Panama. I first scouted real estate opportunities here nine years ago and since then there has been a lot of changes. The canal is being expanded with a $5.25 billion investment and an investment of $1.9 billion investment in a new city-wide metro. Balboa and Colón were two of Latin America’s busiest ports last year.

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Panama City: First-World, Cultured and Affordable

Eight years ago, I decided I wanted to live in Panama full-time. And though I’ve sometimes toyed with the idea of living in the cool mountains of Chiriqui or even on one of the Pacific Coast beaches, I can’t seem to tear myself away from Panama City. From the steely, spiky skyline of the city…

panama-city-casco-viejo

An Affordable Home in 3 of the World’s Best Cities

It may be your lifelong dream to live in the grand old cities of Europe…cities with a foot in the past and another firmly in the present. Or maybe you’d rather be closer to home in the Americas, enjoying the sultry Latin lifestyle of Panama City or Buenos Aires.

How to “Buy” a Second Passport

How to “Buy” a Second Passport

During the decade since I first published my popular Passport Book, now in its 10th edition, rarely have I seen so many countries at one time willing to trade official access for foreign cash.

sora-panama2

Good, Old-Fashioned Respect for Retirees in Panama

Call me old-fashioned if you will. But I’ve never seen why embracing modern times should mean you have to leave behind all the good things about…well, the good old days. I suppose that’s what I enjoy most about life in Panama—the good old days live on.

BuyingABoat

Buying a Boat in Panama: The Deal of a Lifetime

When it’s time to retire, you won’t find Ann Roess sitting on the porch with a pair of knitting needles, or her husband Mike puttering around the yard with pruning shears.

My Scouting Notes from a Recent Trip to Panama City

My Scouting Notes from a Recent Trip to Panama City

I recently returned from a scouting trip to Panama City. This was my first visit in four years. Over the previous five years, I was a regular visitor. Then the market got frothy: Too expensive and too much construction. There were grand plans for even more condo buildings along the bay. The city seemed set for a correction. Since then I have been tracking the market closely. I’m waiting for a buying opportunity.

Your Perfect Pied-À-Terre To Enjoy Big-City Life

Your Perfect Pied-à-Terre to Enjoy Big-City Life

It may be your lifelong dream to live in Paris, Rome, or London…the grand old cities of Europe with a foot in the past and another firmly in the present.

Bocas-del-Toro-Panama

A Visit to Panama’s Caribbean Paradise

This is the Caribbean as it should be—clean, white-sand beaches; the freshest fruits and seafood; colorful wildlife; and smiling, laid-back locals. You won’t find the huge resorts of other Caribbean destinations in Bocas del Toro, Panama…just an easygoing, water-lover’s paradise, where snorkeling, island-hopping, and beach-combing are the order of the day.

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Video: My Favorite Place in Panama

I grew up in Eugene, Oregon—a fantastic place because of its cool, artsy people and green, lush landscapes. Later I lived in Richmond, Virginia—a city with an exciting restaurant scene.

Right now, real estate values in Panama’s highland country around Boquete are perhaps the best they have ever been—certainly the best in seven years.

Property Prices Fall in Boquete, Panama

A short stroll up the hill from Boquete town center is the exclusive neighborhood of Santa Lucía. Here I saw a 1,900-squarefoot home on a corner lot. I met the seller who wants out now. I reckon he would accept an offer of $152,000. Before the economic crisis he would have easily gotten $210,000. Close by, in Volcancito Village, for just $95,000 you can own…

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Prices Have Fallen in Boquete, Panama’s Highland Country

Right now, real estate values in Panama’s highland country around Boquete are perhaps the best they have ever been—certainly the best in seven years. I’ve scouted Boquete many times in the past decade. Now, for the first time in over six years, I’m seeing deeply undervalued…

Why I Didn't Use Health Insurance in Panama

Why I Didn’t Use Health Insurance in Panama

One of the reasons my husband Clyde and I chose Panama as our retirement home is because it offers high-quality health care, at affordable prices.

Once-In-A-Decade Values In Boquete, Panama

Once-in-a-Decade Values in Boquete, Panama

Right now, real estate values in Panama’s highland country around Boquete are perhaps the best they have ever been—certainly the best in seven years. A short stroll up the hill from Boquete town center is the exclusive neighborhood of Santa Lucía.

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