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

RoadTrips

IL’s Seven Favorite Road Trips

For many folks, the drive down California’s Highway One epitomizes the road trip. The views are glorious. But it’s hardly the only stretch of road that’ll make you stop and stare. That’s why we asked our International Living editors to tell us about their favorite road trips. Here’s the list below, in no particular order of preference.

5DayTrips

Five Day Trips from Panama City: Islands, Islets and White-Sand Beaches

Panama City is a destination itself. You have the canal, one of the seven modern wonders of the world… the historic Casco Viejo neighborhood, a UN World Heritage site… the Smithsonian-affiliated Frank Gehry-designed Bridge of Life Museum… But even the most die-hard city slicker can use an escape on occasion. Here are five worthwhile, easy-to-reach getaways:

ColonialBargins

Colonial Bargains in Latin America — from $115,000

Whenever I travel to any of Latin America’s colonial cities, I can’t help but compare them to my home, the historic Casco Viejo district of Panama City. I’ve lived here for almost five years and I love this neighborhood’s friendly, bohemian vibe and beautiful buildings.

InvestmentSpanish

Investment: Spanish Phone Company Hits the “Sweet Spot”

It’s easy to repeat Warren Buffett’s advice at dinner parties: “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” It’s harder to follow when it comes to your own portfolio.

ILsBest10

IL’s Best: 10 Cities Where You Can Eat Well

From steaks in Buenos Aires to tapas in Madrid, some cities are worth visiting for the food alone. Below, our writers give their tips and recommendations for eating well in 10 of the world’s culinary capitals. First up is Bangkok. Bangkok’s lower Sukhumvit Road area is an oft-missed foodie’s paradise.

GlobetrotterSept11

Globetrotter: News & Notes from Around the World

Visit Mexico’s Colonial Highlands in festival season, travel through Panama VIP style, avoid airport “naked scanners” and get your checked baggage fee back when your luggage is lost. It’s the latest International Living Globetrotter.

The World’s Best Retirement Haven in 2011

The World’s Best Retirement Haven in 2011

In IL’s annual Global Retirement Index, we rank the top 23 places in the world to retire — and lay out why they make sense — so you can more easily target the destination that’s right for you. The 23 countries are rated out of 100 points in categories such as real estate prices, cost of living, culture, health care, special benefits for retirees, infrastructure, safety/stability and climate.

Adventure Travel in The Darien: A Must-See When You Visit Panama

Adventure Travel in The Darien: A Must-See When You Visit Panama

Imagine yourself surrounded by colossal prehistoric trees. Butterflies the size of your hand flutter by. Ferns threaten to envelop you. All that’s missing is a bloodthirsty Tyrannosaurus Rex. This scene is just the start when you decide on an adventure travel vacation in the Darien, Panama’s “forgotten province.”

Video: Need-to-Know Health Insurance Tips in Panama

Video: Need-to-Know Health Insurance Tips in Panama

International Living Panama editor, Jessica Ramesch, talks to Kevin Bradley of Ducruet, who has been an insurance professional in Panama for decades. In this video, he and his business partner Gonzalo discuss health insurance tips that could save you valuable time and money.

Video Postcard: A Day-Trip in Panama

In this video, IL Panama editor, Jessica Ramesch, takes you on a day trip around Panama City. You’ll see parts of the city old and new, as well as nearby beaches. Panama is a fascinating combination of the modern and traditional.

The Benefits of Starting a Tourism Business in Panama

The Benefits of Starting a Tourism Business in Panama

If you’re looking to retire or move abroad—but would like to find new ways to make money—you may want to consider getting involved in tourism in Panama. (And even if you’re not looking to work here, you sure can prepare to enjoy the many new and exciting offerings as a tourist in Panama.)

Buy a Panama City Apartment for $50,000

Buy a Panama City Apartment for $50,000

The bargain property market, the one aimed more at locals than at expats, has remained pretty stable. In simple terms: from 2007 to the present, I have had no trouble finding bargain property listings for the under-$150,000 budget.

Boca Chica Panama’s (Still) Hidden Paradise

Boca Chica: Panama’s (Still) Hidden Paradise

“I had no idea it was like this,” my wife Suzan said. “This part of the coast is like Pirates of the Caribbean!” We were standing on the dock of Seagull Cove Lodge, a tidy little boutique hotel just outside the village of Boca Chica in Panama’s Chiriquí Province.

Cost Of Living In Panama

Cost of Living in Panama

By moving to Panama, you will enjoy the benefits of a developing economy where you can still take a taxi across town for a buck or two, get your haircut for a couple of dollars, or enjoy dinner for two with a bottle of wine at one of the finest restaurants in Panama City for a mere $30.

Gringo Price in Panama: $250k...Local Price: $105k

Gringo Price in Panama: $250k…Local Price: $105k

I was sitting across from a young go-getter at a trendy sushi spot in the cool part of town. Let’s call him Bob. “I’ve been looking for a condo—as an investment and to live in for a while,” said Bob. “I think I may have finally found the right one.”

Panama Then And Now What A Difference A Decade Makes

Panama Then and Now: What a Difference a Decade Makes

In early 2001 we were on our first visit to Panama, our first research visit of any kind, in fact, on our journey to relocation outside the U.S. Our guide that day was Sam Taliaferro. A former Coloradoan married to a Panamanian, he had picked the little mountain town of Boquete in Panama’s Chiriquí province in which to build his version of paradise. And what a pick it was…

Bocas-del-Toro-Panama

The Best Places to Vacation in Panama

After five years of writing about Panama for International Living, you’d think writing about the best places to vacation in Panama would be a cinch. The more you know, the easier it should be…but the opposite is often the case. I know so many great places to vacation in Panama that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few.

A New Business in Panama From $35,000

A New Business in Panama From $35,000

Luckily, starting a small business in Panama can be easy. In some cases, you can have your business up and running in a matter of days. If you just don’t have the time for that, there’s an even easier route: buy a business that’s already operating.

The Best Places to Retire to in Panama

The Best Places to Retire to in Panama

Some of the best places to retire to in Panama also happen to be the most beautiful places in the country. A happy convergence of natural beauty, convenience, low cost of living, and more makes these places ideal for the would-be expat…of any age.

Video: Strawberries and Cream in Panama’s Chiriqui Province

Video: Strawberries and Cream in Panama’s Chiriqui Province

In this video, IL editors Dan Prescher and Suzan Haskins take the drive up past Volcan in Panama’s Chiriqui Province to see the fertile farmlands in the higher reaches. On the way they stop at a strawberry shop, where the owner wastes no time in giving them a guided tour of his vivero and the many things he grows.

panama-boats

Panama: Caribbean Versus Pacific

It’s easy to see why, in Panama, the Pacific coast is generally more desirable. The region is accessible and it gets half the rainfall of the Caribbean coast. That’s why the Pan-American Highway is where it is.

Panama Video: Discover Boca Chica Now Before Everyone Else Does

Panama Video: Discover Boca Chica Now Before Everyone Else Does

Chiriqui is Panama’s western-most province. It’s well known as the location of two of Panama’s favorite expat destinations – Boquete and Volcan. But an easy drive from Chiriqui’s capital of David is a beautiful stretch of Pacific Coast, and along this coast is a spot called Boca Chica.

The No-Bull Guide to Panama

The No-Bull Guide to Panama

Retiree Al Fine is originally from Orlando but now lives in Panama City. Al is 85 and, frankly, the way he’s treated in Panama means he could never be happy anyplace else. Every time he steps in to a restaurant, hospital, or bank, he has people falling over themselves to help him.

Panama’s Most Enterprising Expat

Panama’s Most Enterprising Expat

Sixty-two-year-old Neil Sander knows how to get things done. Throughout his seven years in Panama’s island-rich Bocas del Toro region, this Oklahoma-born pioneer has taken the bull by the horns more than once. The key to his success? “Respect,” he says.

Panama Beach – Where to Find The Best Deals Right Now

Panama Beach – Where to Find The Best Deals Right Now

If you’re looking for a beach home near Panama City, expect real estate agents to steer you toward Coronado—where property on the beach costs $250,000 or more. Buyers in the know seek out homes or condos in towns like Gorgona (less than 15 minutes by car from Coronado).

How to Build a Dream House in Panama

How to Build a Dream House in Panama

Building a home overseas is one of the greatest challenges you can take on. But ask Doug Mannell, 66, and his wife Linda, 63, and they say: “Sure, we’d do it again.”

It’s not for everyone, but building your own home can be immensely rewarding.

Five Business Ideas for Expats in Panama City

Five Business Ideas for Expats in Panama City

I’ve been writing about Panama for International Living for nearly five years. Interestingly, more and more expats are asking me about business opportunities. They don’t want to “just retire”. Our Facebook page is peppered with questions and comments about making a living here.

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