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

Central-America’s-Culinary-

Central America’s Culinary Capital

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…

You’ll Never Want to Leave Panama’s New Highland Hideaway

You’ll Never Want to Leave Panama’s New Highland Hideaway

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.

Cheapest Places To Retire

Cheapest Places to Retire

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.

The Best Retiree Benefits

The Best Retiree Benefits

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…

The Best-Value Real Estate

The Best-Value Real Estate

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.

Easiest Places to Integrate

Easiest Places to Integrate

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.

Healthcare in our Havens

Healthcare in our Havens

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.

Reclaim Your Retirement Beyond America's Borders

Reclaim Your Retirement Beyond America’s Borders

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…

The Sun-Soaked Shores of the Panama Coast 2011

The Sun-Soaked Shores of the Panama Coast 2012

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.

Panama City: The Ultimate 21st Century City

Panama City: The Ultimate 21st Century City

Panama City is a bustling, vibrant, and exciting metropolis. If you’re looking for inexpensive cosmopolitan living—but with the conveniences you’d expect in New York, Chicago, Miami, or any other major First-World city—you need to take a serious look at Panama City. In Panama City: The Ultimate 21st Century City – Dream it, Find it, Live it, we’ll tell you all about lifestyle alternatives and real estate prices, and give you our insider tips on saving time and money in Panama City.

Why These Retirees Are Happy in Boquete, Panama

Why These Retirees Are Happy in Boquete, Panama

In Boquete, Panama, you want a really good camera. That’s because the mountain views are lavish and rainbows appear nearly every day. Karl and Liz Parker fell for this landscape when they first arrived. Now they live in Panama part of the year, spending the rest of their time traveling or back in the U.S. with family.

How to Find a Reliable Real Estate Agent

When you’re buying a property overseas, it’s good to have help. You want someone who can show you a selection of properties that fit your budget, explain the market’s history, give you price comparisons, and set a fair market value. Someone who will go back and forth with the seller and get you the best possible price. Someone on your side.

Own a Home in an Art City

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Big Business Benefits for Panama and the U.S.

Big Business Benefits for Panama and the U.S.

U.S. President Barack Obama recently put the final signature on what some are calling the last major trade agreements of his administration. With a simple signing ceremony, Obama made Panama—along with South Korea and Colombia—one of only 20 countries in the world to have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the U.S.

Panama: Most Business-Friendly Country in the Americas

Panama: Most Business-Friendly Country in the Americas

Panama is the most business-friendly country for expatriates anywhere in the Americas, a major new study in the International Living November issue reveals. When compiling our Business Index 2011, IL’s researchers examined factors such as visa requirements, financing, how easy it is to set up a bank account, local taxes, business expenses, infrastructure and the local business culture in seven business-friendly countries.

Contacts In Panama

Rolodex: Contacts in Panama

  Embassies and Consulates: Embassy of Panama (in the U.S.), 2862 McGill Terrace N.W., Washington, DC 20008; tel. (202)483-1407; fax (202)434-8413; website: www.embassyofpanama.org. Embassy of Panama (in Canada): 130 Albert Street Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5G4; tel. (613) 236-7177; e-mail: info@embassyofpanama.ca; website: www.embassyofpanama.ca. U.S. Embassy in Panama, Building 783, Demetrio Basilio Lakas Avenue, Clayton, […]

Small-town Panamanian Beach Life

Small-town Panamanian Beach Life

Marvin and Joanne Riddle don’t just enjoy “the best of both worlds”…they enjoy the best the whole world has to offer them. The couple spend part of every year in Florida, part of the year living on La Barqueta beach, in Panama’s Chiriquí province, and—when the mood takes them—they travel the world, too.

Where To Start A Business Abroad: Our 7 Top Picks For The Year Ahead

Where to Start a Business Abroad: Our 7 Top Picks for the Year Ahead

It might be a palapa bar on a white-sand beach, deep-sea fishing tours, a restaurant, a surf shop, importing t-bone steaks, teaching English, making cheese, exporting art work…Whatever your idea, there’s a place overseas where you can make it a profitable reality. But readers ask us all the time: Where is best? That’s why we’ve put together International Living’s first-ever Business Index.

Property Picks Dive Destination Homes

Property Picks: Dive Destination Homes

In this month’s Property Picks, we’re highlighting properties next to some of the world’s best dive destinations.

Business Index 2011…What Our Experts Say…

Business Index 2011…What Our Experts Say…

To evaluate our seven countries for our Business Index 2011 we consulted seasoned entrepreneurs who’ve made the move and learned the ropes, as well as worked through in-country attorneys. We asked them about visa requirements, financing, and how easy it was to set up a bank account. They told us about local taxes, business expenses, infrastructure and the local culture for doing business, Here is what they had to say…

Thinking Of A Business Overseas? Here’s What The World Needs

Thinking of a Business Overseas? Here’s What the World Needs

For International Living’s first ever Business Index we asked our in-country correspondents and a host of expat entrepreneurs what opportunities they see around them in their new homes. These gaps in the market include everything from small guesthouses to dog grooming services… read on to spot your opportunity.

The Property Market in Panama

The Property Market in Panama

You couldn’t ask for a better location than Panama City’s popular and central El Cangrejo neighborhood. As an example, a furnished, one-bedroom, 650-square-foot condo with air conditioning recently sold for $82,000. The building has all the amenities you’d want like social area and pool, sauna, party room, and doorman.

An Expat Business in Panama

An Expat Business in Panama

When not behind the counter of his Panama City bagel shop, Jon Hurst makes the most of his adopted home. The Maine native has lived in Panama City for six years, and with easy access to both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, as well as the country’s magnificent highlands, he’s spoiled for choice.

Colonial Property Bargains in Latin America

Colonial Property Bargains in Latin America

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.

Caribbean Beach Bargains in the Dominican Republic

Caribbean Beach Bargains in the Dominican Republic

Columbus landed in the Dominican Republic in 1492—the same year he “discovered” some of the other Caribbean islands. Like those other islands, the Dominican Republic is ringed by white sand beaches and coconut palms. Unspoiled towns boast stone churches and candy-colored home facades.

Panama: The Best Place to be a Retiree

Panama: The Best Place to be a Retiree

This month, International Living released its Annual Global Retirement Index 2011. To rank our winners this year, we analyzed 37 critical data points for each of our top 23 retirement havens. As usual, Panama is a heavy hitter, taking one of the top 3 spots.

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.

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