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
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.
International Living’s Panama Editor, Jessica Ramesch, shows footage of her neighborhood in Panama City.
International Living Panama Editor, Jessica Ramesch, shares video footage of one of her favorite weekend spots, Cerro Azul in Panama.
See the video footage, where International Living Panama correspondent Jessica Ramesch drives into the town of David from the highland town of Boquete (both are in the Chiriqui province).
I’m having dinner at Mosto Bistro. The name sounds a bit fancy, but the place has the kind of laid-back charm I’ve come to expect of the growing town of David. At $11.50 for a Thai curry and a dessert of flan, this is the most expensive meal I’ve had in the past two days.
I just recently returned from a visit to Boquete in the Highlands of Panama. Located in the province of Chiriqui, Boquete is known to many as Panama’s most popular retirement destination.
Everyone knows the world is in crisis. Yet I’m looking forward to the New Year…and you should be, too—because you could make some serious money.
See the video, where Jessica Ramesch, IL’s Panama editor, shows footage of one of her favorite weekend spots—Contadora Island.
I can hardly believe it myself…Panama has topped yet another index. This time, the prestigious Latin Business Chronicle (LBC) has voted Panama number one in the region for infrastructure.
Panama has long been a growing hub, thanks to Copa Airlines. The nation’s premier airline has done much to make Tocumen International the “Hub of the Americas,” as it is known.
I’m having dinner at Mosto Bistro. The name sounds a bit fancy but the place has the kind of laid-back charm I’ve come to expect of this growing town.
You want to leave it all behind for that one idyllic Caribbean island…a place surrounded by incredibly vibrant and colorful seascapes…your very own hard-to-reach haven….
See the video, where Dan Prescher reports from Merida, Mexico, with your weekly wrap-up of International Living postcards for the week ending November 19.
See the video below, where Dan Prescher reports from Merida, Mexico, with your weekly wrap-up of International Living postcards for the week ending November 13.
I’m in the town of Boquete, in Panama’s luscious green highlands. The crowds that were here for the November holidays (Nov. 3-5) have dispersed, and those of us who remain find that Boquete is a very quiet place indeed.
See the video where IL’s Panama editor Jessica Ramesch attends a Wine Fair in Panama City. The footage is taken at a Wine Fair held by Felipe Motta Wine Store.
See the video, where International Living Panama Correspondent Jessica Ramesch attends an event to raise funds for cancer.
The National Pride Parades are celebrated every November in Panama City, Panama.
It’s a stunning drive to Volcan—and that’s not just travel writer hype. As the road winds up into the mountains, one vista after another unfolds. I have driven this road many times over the past four years, and it’s still as invigorating as ever.
When I first arrived in Panama, I was like a kid in a candy store. As a real estate investor, I immediately saw the opportunities.
Panama earned top marks in IL’s recent Retirement Index thanks to its second-to-none pensionado (retiree residency) program. When you qualify, you can save on almost everything, with discounts like 50% off entertainment, 30% off public transport, big discounts on airfares, and even 25% off eating out.
So you’ve moved to Panama City and you want to furnish your new condo. Where will you go to find pots and pans, towels and trinkets, air conditioners and light fixtures? As one of Central America’s largest and most cosmopolitan cities, Panama’s capital boasts a varied shopping scene—and all the choices can be daunting.
See the video, where Dan Prescher reports from Merida, Mexico, with your weekly wrap-up of International Living postcards for the week ending October 30.
This may be some of the most exciting (and controversial) news to come out of Panama City of late: construction has commenced on two new islands in the Panama Bay.
It must be the best view in the country…green hills that inspire artistic tendencies in even the most mundane-minded. Rainbow-rows of flowers line neat footpaths and dress up the little cottages that hide behind them. This is Boquete.
As an expat, there is a lot to do in Panama City. You’ll hear about the large international community, the First-World restaurants and clubs, and every activity imaginable.
I’m surrounded by pines and the birds are singing. Snow White. I can’t help it: All I can think about is that fairy tale.
If you’re from a colder climate, sunshine and beach weather may not scream “holiday season” to you. But over the past five years, I’ve learned that the Christmas season in Panama can be a truly magical time.
A recent article in the prestigious Latin Business Chronicle (LBC) lists Panama as a “Latin America Star.” The tiny bi-coastal nation tops this year’s GDP Outlook Index, released by the LBC this month.
Panama now boasts the second-most competitive economy in Latin America according to the 2010-2011 Global Competitiveness Index from the World Economic Forum (WEF). A report issued this month says the tiny Central American nation came in second to Chile. Costa Rica fell one spot to take third place in Latin America.
“The year I first traveled to Panama,” says expat entrepreneur Cynthia Mulder, “I felt a contagious excitement across the country. Business and construction were booming and we were eager to do business in Panama, too. During our very first trip in 2001, we purchased the property where we would build our new Bed & Breakfast.”
See the video from Jessica Ramesch in Panama. Jessica was at an eco-lodge in the Penonome area of Panama, which is a great place to go for challenging hikes and then enjoy the wonderful spa.
Frank Sherman is a levelheaded guy. He just doesn’t seem like the type—you know, the type that “runs off” to Latin America.
I’m surrounded by pines and the birds are singing.
Obviously, I don’t know how much property tax you’re paying right now…but I’m pretty sure I know a way you can reduce it—to as little as $7 per month…or maybe less.