Where’s My Mailbox? Questions from a New Panamanian

I took the leap and moved overseas in mid-June of 2017 in hopes of finding somewhere peaceful to call home. Luckily, Todd, my long-time partner, was glad to be along for the ride.

After some research, we set our sights on Panama City, Panama. And so, there we went.

Some of the differences we would encounter were already apparent from a visit to Panama in March for a quick preview trip. We wanted just a taste to see if we’d like to relocate, and fell hard for the city’s eccentricities. After that week in March, we were sold on Panama.

There have been a few normalcies left behind and things to adjust to, having moved from the U.S.

Mail doesn’t exist here in Panama the way that we know it. There is no door-to-door mail service. However, there are a few companies that have popped up in recent years, such as the one we use, Mail Boxes Etc. This is essentially a forwarding system, which gives a Miami address to each member living in Panama. The mail then gets forwarded by shipment to Panama, where it can be picked up or delivered from any Mail Boxes Etc. office location, of which there are several.

One friend recently pointed out how Panama is ahead of the game in this regard. The absence of regular daily mail eliminates so much paper waste. In this way, we are progressive here in Panama.

Hot water is not always guaranteed, and so steamy showers have grown to be a thing of the past. However, living in steamy Panama with its heat and humidity, we often race to the shower after a nice day out exploring—can you believe that? We embrace the cold showers here, thankfully, because here, cold showers are to be had.

We’ve learned to stock up on candles and batteries to be prepared for occasions when the power goes out. One time comes to mind, as we were preparing for a normal night’s dinner when the lights went out unexpectedly. This resulted in a romantic, candlelit supper with the city sounds surrounding us as we enjoyed the lovely, intimate meal.

The peace we have living here in Panama far outweighs the hiccups. What may be regarded as challenges if you’re unprepared can instead by seen as adventures—even by candlelight.

Among the traits we fell fast for in our new country was the welcoming nature of Panamanians. Everywhere we go, someone is quick to greet us with a warm smile and “Buenos días.” Casco Viejo, the lively neighborhood that is the heart of the old city, also reminds us of what we love about the French Quarter back home in New Orleans—the magnificent architecture and winding streets full of people walking, talking, laughing—like something straight out of a storybook. It is magical.

The area we call home, El Cangrejo, is a hotspot for expats like ourselves. It is also home to Via Argentina, the bustling street which boasts every type of food you could wish to eat, from traditional Panamanian to Greek to Indian, Mexican, Japanese, and more. And it’s all within steps from our front door. You cannot beat that convenience—it reminds me of my time spent in New York.

One thing I was afraid we’d miss is live music. To our surprise, there is an abundance of live music here in Panama, and you can find it almost every night if you look in the right places. I have found a place with just about every genre we enjoy—from acoustic to reggae and even country music.

It’s little reminders of home like this, combined with the differences that come with being in a new country, that make living here feel so special.

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