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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- 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
Michael scoured Panama from top to bottom, searching for the perfect place to open his yoga business. In the end, El Valle was a clear winner.
I’m speaking at International Living’s Live and Invest in Panama Conference. One of my presentations is an overview of the real estate market in Panama. It’s not a pretty picture…
If you plan to move to Panama 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. Below is my top pick for the cheapest beach destination in Panama.
If you’re looking to save some money on your “experimental rental,” one city in Panama offers comfort and convenience on the cheap. Nowhere is Panama’s low cost of living more apparent than in the rental market in the town of David. Properties for rent in David are listed regularly from as low as $250 a month.
It’s likely prices will begin to rise here soon. Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli recently announced the site of Panama’s new international airport will be Rio Hato. The government has long been studying the viability of a new international airport in the Pacific coast region. The idea is to make it easier for travelers to head straight to the beach.
If health care is at the top of your priority list, a visit to Panama may well ease your mind. Just ask the many expats who are moving here. The personalized attention… inexpensive procedures…and quality care in Panama presents a winning package.
According to the Panama Bank Superintendancy, this country is well on its way to becoming the region’s chief financial hub.
An international airport on Panama’s Pacific coast would make it easier for travelers to head straight to the beach without having to go through Panama City.
Panama has what some call the “world’s best retirement program.” If you qualify (and it’s not difficult…you just need prove you have the means to support yourself—$1,000 a month), you are eligible to retire in Panama under the pensionado visa program.
We’re gearing up to host hundreds of IL readers in Panama next month, who plan to review and pursue every opportunity this country has for starting a business, retiring, living, relaxing, banking, having fun, and making money.
You may think Panama City is just another megalopolis of steel and concrete. But don’t be so quick to judge. Yes, it’s bustling. And yes, it’s booming.
One of the main reasons most expats enjoy Panama so much is that they can live better for less here. This applies to real estate more than anything else. You can have out-and-out luxury…or modest living…and everything in-between.
We live part-time in Panama, in a small beach community called Playa La Barqueta (about 15 miles from David).
In this podcast, IL editor Dan Prescher interviews Jessica Ramesch, International Living’s Panama expert. Listen in to find out why Panama City is such a rich place to live, why close-in Pacific-coast beaches make sense, where to go for really low-cost living, how the pensionado program gains you discounts and residency, and more.
In this video, Dan Prescher reports from Ecuador with your weekly wrap-up of International Living postcards for the week ending March 5.
I thought maybe I had imagined the rainforest greens, so deep and lush they were almost blue. My memories of the misty mornings seemed surreal, perhaps exaggerated.
The old buildings gaze grandly over the deep-blue sea. Their facades mingle colonial, French and Art Deco styles, with ironwork balconies, walls painted powder-blue, yellow and terracotta, topped with red-tile roofs.
In the heartland of Panama, there are traditional communities big and small. The few “outsiders” that have ventured this way say the best thing about life here is the hospitality of the Panamanian people.
You may think Panama City is just another megalopolis of steel and concrete. But don’t be so quick to judge.
International Living Panama correspondent Jessica Ramesch interviews Susan and Jason Thomas about life and doing business in the mountain town of Boquete, in the Chiriqui Highlands of Panama.
The Roussel children are no strangers to adventure. Perhaps that’s because Jonah, 11, and Elijah, 18 months, have traveled rather more than your average Canadian youths. Mom and Dad—Susan, 37, and Denis, 35—are self-confessed globetrotters. It helps that Denis is able to work from anywhere.
You may think Panama City (affectionately referred to by its airport call letters, PTY) is just another megalopolis of steel and concrete. But don’t be so quick to judge. Yes, it’s bustling. And yes, it’s booming. Yet Metropolitan Natural Park provides vast green space right in the city proper.
Panama offers expats what is arguably the best retiree-incentive program on the planet. Thanks to its second-to-none pensionado program, you can have a First-World lifestyle at Third-World prices.
The first impression is one of noise and bustling activity…a city of steel and concrete. A few days here, though, and you’ll realize the phrase “more than meets the eye” has never rung truer.
The thrill of travel isn’t hitting every spot in your guidebook. It’s discovering the “hidden gems” off the tourist trail that have never been documented.
Here you’ll find some wonderful recommendations for places to eat…spots to visit…and ways to enjoy destinations all over the world. They’re all finds our writers have discovered on the ground. We share them with pleasure…from our insiders’ notebook to yours…
When Robert Cook sold his house and car, quit his job and took off for Panama, his friends and family asked him if he was on drugs.
There isn’t a single business person in Panama who hasn’t heard of Panama Pacifico. One of the world’s largest mixed-development projects, it is poised to become a city within a city.
“We fell in love with the view,” says Susan Roussel of her ocean view condo on the beach in Panama. “We wanted to get away from Canada and experience a tropical climate for a while.” With it’s excellent infrastructure, schools, and safety, Panama was the best fit for the Roussels.
International Living’s Panama Editor, Jessica Ramesch, interviews the Roussels, a Canadian family living on Gorgona Beach on Panama’s Pacific Coast.
A shiny new pick-up truck rolls slowly down the well-kept street, past sidewalks filled with uniformed teenagers chatting, laughing, and dawdling on their way home from private schools. On a manicured lawn, toddlers play under the sprinklers as Mom watches from the porch of their newly repainted home.
“The luminous hour before sunset is special. Every bay is a brilliant turquoise. Villages take on a honeyed glow; vineyards are dusted with gold; mountain crags flare orange. Out to the west, rocky islets change from dusky pink to a deep blood-red,” writes Steenie Harvey in the February issue of International Living magazine.
On my first visit to this Panamanian highland town five years ago, I expected to be wowed by a colonial gem. I was a little underwhelmed when I got to the small main plaza. But I quickly realized that this town is all about the surroundings…and boy are they beyond-words spectacular.
Sipping a cup of thick-as-mud coffee, I breathe out slowly, enjoying the bittersweet taste and the cool mountain air. Around the back of the café, a family is taking pictures of the amazing mountain view.
In Diane Pearl’s view, taking a conventional retirement is the worst thing you can do for yourself; people start feeling old, she thinks, if they have nothing to do…and it’s all downhill from there. No chance of that with Diane—or with the place she’s called home for the last eight years: Ajijic, Mexico, on the shores of Lake Chapala.
I’ve been living in Panama full-time since 2005, and one of the best things about living here is the health care. I’m not the only one who thinks so, either. I’ve interviewed slews of expats here, and nearly every single person I talk to is mightily impressed by the health care in Panama.
See the video below, where International Living Panama editor Jessica Ramesch reports from the city of David in Panama. Jessica interviews Stephen Hyland, who has just opened a boutique café in David.
If you’ve ever been to Panama, chances are, you remember how easy it was to fly here. For many an expat resident, the Tocumen International Airport is a big draw. Known as the Hub of the Americas, the busy airport is a connections hub, providing easy travel to and from anywhere in the region.
The New Year got off to a busy start as local news sources in Panama were busy reeling off stats and predictions. At the beginning of January, Panama President Ricardo Martinelli announced that the economy would grow by as much as 9% this year.
See the video, where International Living Panama editor Jessica Ramesch reports from the city of David in Panama.
I’ll admit it. I became a bit obsessed with Facebook a few months back. It has turned into a great way for readers interested in Panama or International Living to share tidbits or post questions for the IL community.