Spend Less & Enjoy More in Panama
Panama stands out among the world’s expat destinations because it offers solid infrastructure and First World amenities…close to North America.
And when it comes to value and variety, Panama can’t be beat. Here, you really get what you pay for…never less. A little money can buy you a lot of luxury. And even if you’re living on a pension, life here is easy, breezy, and fun.
There are parts of Panama where one can live on $1,000 a month, all told. Places where you’ll find few cons and plenty of pros, from pretty views to friendly locals. Where you feel miles away from the First World capital—though, truly, the country is so small, you’re never far from the city. Places where you can live a good life.
Take for example Panama’s Los Santos or Herrera provinces…there are miles of coastline, beaches varying from dark to light sand, medical facilities and homes costing as little as $60,000.
But what if you’re looking for more? Something closer to the California lifestyle you may have dreamed of (or had)…a lifestyle that may not be sustainable due to rising costs or a decrease in monthly income. Panama can offer you that, too.
There are upscale areas where life isn’t about roughing it in the developing world. Where you won’t find any Peace Corps volunteers, but rather Panamanians and expats who came in search of a comfortable, convenient environment. Simply put, Panama has it all…and the choice is entirely yours.
IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch discusses these and many more reasons why she chose to live in Panama:
You Call This A Third World Country?
With outstanding growth over the past five years, Panama’s cities and hubs have begun to attract everything from golf clubs and beach resorts to shopping plazas, grocery stores, restaurants, clinics, and more.
And nearly everywhere you go, there’s high-speed internet, reliable power, and water you can drink straight from the tap. Cable television and cellular service are ubiquitous, the roads are the best in the region, and every year new investment leads to improved conditions.
That’s all thanks to Panama’s government. Of course, no government administration in the world is without its flaws and scandals. But in Panama, the government is stable. And consistent—supporting civil liberties, pro-business policies, and foreigner friendly laws. No other country in the region can boast such a steady, dependable track record.
Panama Has Cities, Mountains, Beaches & More
Despite Panama’s tiny size, it’s one of the most diverse countries you’ll find. The incredibly long coastlines—Pacific and Caribbean—offer endless opportunities for waterside living…not to mention fishing, scuba diving, surfing, and more. Mountain hamlets like Boquete and El Valle boast cooler climes than you’d expect this far south of the border. There are rural areas for farm-loving types, tropical rainforests everywhere you look, and hundreds of islands seemingly adrift in bright blue waters.
Though tourism is a burgeoning industry, Panama has long been a business destination. Panamanians are accustomed to foreigners—and have been since the Panama Canal was completed in 1914. There isn’t the envy or racial tension you might find in other economically deprived areas where “wealthy expats” have swept in. Perhaps because Panama is a land of opportunity, and locals who strive to improve their lot can go far.
Indeed, Panama’s prosperity is astounding to those who arrive anticipating Third-World conditions. Panama City boasts an ever-changing skyline reminiscent of Hong Kong…growing banking and business sectors…and too many cultural and entertainment options to choose from. Locals from different walks of life drive new cars and carry smart phones. Malls and shopping plazas are full, full, full…every day.
Lower Your Cost of Living in Panama
Choose one of Panama’s trendiest areas…or retire to your dream home in the lush green countryside. No matter where in the country you go, you’re likely to find that your cost of living goes down (not to mention your blood pressure) without much effort.
This is in large part due to Panama’s quality, affordable healthcare. Back home, you may spend hundreds of dollars a month on everything from car and health insurance…to doctor and dental consults…to medication. But most expats in Panama find these things are significantly cheaper. Real life examples include visits to small clinics for $11…$6…and even as little as $2. Auto insurance as low as $40 a month. And dental visits for under $30!
Though apartments in Panama City rent for $800 to $1500 a month, there are locations where savvy expats have discovered they can rent for $300 to $500 a month. Countrywide, water bills are typically under $20 a month. You can buy hundreds of minutes for your cell phone for $5. And Panama brand beers cost around $0.50 each…at upscale supermarkets that sell every brand you remember from back home, plus all the inexpensive regional ones.
No matter what your taste or budget, you’ll find that Panama offers quality, comfort, and convenience.
Still not convinced? Here are ten great reasons you should live in Panama:
Panama is a regular favorite in International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index. It ranked in first place in 2016, and second in 2017.
Resident retirees can avail of many benefits and discounts, such as:
- 50% off entertainment
- 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
- 25% off domestic airline tickets
- Up to 25% off medications
- Between 10% and 20% off healthcare costs
Don’t worry about confusing exchange rates, the U.S. dollar is the official currency in Panama.
In Panama, the cost of living is affordable…in some parts of the country a couple can live well on as little as $1,600 a month, including rent or mortgage. Try doing that in the U.S.
In Panama, you’ll see the sun nearly every day of the year. At sea level temperatures range from the mid-70s F to the high 80s F. And there are no hurricanes here…ever!
Direct flights from Miami to Panama are 2 hours and 50 minutes.
From two-bedroom condos for $140,000 in Panama City, to brand-new houses for $85,000 in David, to traditional style homes for $100,000 in Santa Fe, there’s plenty of affordable real estate available for you to buy.
Panama has many top-notch facilities in Panama City, David, Coronado, and more. Don’t take our word for it…the Punta Pacifica hospital in Panama City is affiliated with Johns Hopkins International.
Whether it’s lush green valleys in the highlands, white-sand beaches on the Pacific Coast, or cosmopolitan cities like Panama City…Panama has something to offer every taste.
There are already well-established expat communities in areas like Panama City, Coronado, and Boquete, so finding like-minded expats is a cinch. These communities will also be there to lend a helping hand when you first move over.
The Pros and Cons of Living in Panama
By Nanette Witmer
Panama’s popularity has much to do with its modern infrastructure, proximity to the U.S., beautiful scenery and mild climate. Pair that with the pensionado program that offers residence and special benefits to pensioner expats from North America and beyond, and you have an ideal retirement destination.
But of course, nowhere is perfect so, here’s my list of the pros and cons of living in Panama.
Panama is Safe for Expats to Live In
As a rule, Panamanians don’t like confrontation, so they avoid it at all costs. Panama, like everywhere, does have some crime, but it is usually petty theft. Use the same due diligence and common sense that you would in any setting worldwide and you will be fine.
Panama Uses the U.S. Dollar
Panama uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency, which makes living and doing business in Panama easy. Many U.S. credit cards don’t charge extra fees for making purchases in Panama, ATM’s are easy to use, and international wire transfers are straight forward, making purchasing just like home.
Panama’s Residents are Happy People
Panamanians love their country and are an extremely cheerful people. And will even take the time to help you even if you don’t speak Spanish.
Panama has an Affordable Cost of Living
In Panama you can live very well on a lot less than many other countries. As a couple you could live comfortably in Panama on $1,995 a month . But you can spend as much or as little as you want to find your perfect comfortable lifestyle.
Panama Has High-Quality Healthcare
Panama’s healthcare is some of the best in Latin America. Healthcare costs are much less than North America and the quality of care is excellent. Panama City offers top notch medical facilities, equipment, and well-trained doctors in all areas of medicine. More remote areas have local clinics where you will often find doctors visiting on a regular basis from hospitals in Panama City. Larger cities have great hospitals and specialists and no matter where you are in the country you can almost always find an English-speaking doctor for your care.
Panama Has Modern Infrastructure
New roads and bridges are always being built and maintained. Good reliable internet is countrywide along with good cell phone service and in most areas of Panama, you will find good drinking water from your kitchen faucet. There are still intermittent electricity outages, but they get less and less frequent each year. Over all, Panama’s infrastructure is the best in Latin America.
The Con’s of Living in Panama are Easy to Deal With
Panama Embraces the “Mañana” Effect
The definition we have for the mañana effect is, “when they say tomorrow, it just means not today.” That means it could be any day, but today. This attitude can be of the most frustrating things for expats to get used to until you have acclimated to a slower lifestyle. So, take a deep breath and lower your blood pressure. It will get done, but just not today.
Panama Has Its Share of Bureaucratic Problems
Getting anything done at a government office here requires patience and time. Don’t compare how things are done in the U.S. to Panama or you will be disappointed. Things are done slowly in Panama and they don’t move quicker by criticizing it.
Panamanians Love to Party and Enjoy Life
Panamanians motto is” work to live not live to work”. That means parties are a norm and usually begin around nine at night going into the early hours of the morning. This can be annoying, however, when you become part of the group and go with the flow, you will find yourself partying as well and enjoy the social interaction with your Panama neighbors.
Panamanians Always Tell You What You Want to Hear
Many times, asking a question in Panama will give you an answer that is not necessarily the correct one. This is especially true if they don’t know, don’t want to tell you anything negative, or don’t want to deliver bad news. Panamanians think this it is being polite to tell you what you want to hear. So, don’t always necessarily believe what you are told.
In the end the cons of Panama are only cons until you realize that you just need to adapt, go with the flow, slow down, and make living each day your priority. Latin culture is different, not bad. When you surrender all your preconceived notions about what Panama should be like, the cons disappear. Then you are left with the best of Panama and you will enjoy your time here.