Expat Guide to Living in Panama
Whether you're already living in Panama or preparing to move to Panama, our Expat Guide to Living in Panama offers articles and reports submitted by expats about expat life in Panama. For answers to specific questions, visit our Panama Forum to talk with expats in Panama.
Expats, global nomads and retirees are drawn to Panama's ease of residency, low taxes (Panama does not tax on worldwide income), friendly Panamanians who always put family first, inexpensive healthcare and laid back lifestyle. Like any country, life in Panama does come with a few challenges. This articles covers all of these topics and more.
This article covers the ins and outs of the most common tourist and residency visas that expats and global nomads obtain when moving to and living in Panama. How long you can stay in Panama without a visa (or on a tourist visa depending upon your citizenship)? What are the advantages of becoming a legal resident of Panama? Would I qualify for the Friendly Nations Visa? How old do I have to be to qualify for the Pensionado Visa? How do I apply for a work permit in Panama? It also addresses how and why some expats choose to become citizens of Panama.
Expats living in Panama talk about making the big move to Panama, what they wish they had brought (and left behind), visas, culture shock, cost of living and more. It's a must read for anyone thinking about moving to Panama.
From lower cost of living to affordable healthcare and beachfront living, expats discuss the top reasons they moved to Central America.
Panama's Pensionado Visa offers retirees with a retirement income of at least $1,000 an easy way to become legal residents of Panama and includes many perks.
Panama's pensionado discounts are available to legal residents (55+ for women, 60+ for men). These generous discounts include 25% off airline tickets, 25% at restaurants, 50% off at hotels during the week, exemption on import tax for up to $10,000 household goods and much more.
An expat talks about moving to Nueva Gorgona and advises newcomers to rent before buying so that you can move if you don't end up liking the neighborhood. We couldn't agree more with this advice!
An expat who moved to Boquete, Panama talks advises newcomers to find a short-term rental to have time to explore without committing to one place. She has found that rental prices in Boquete are about a fourth of what they are in the US.
An expat who has been living in Panama has written a long culture shock report about life in Nueva Gorgona. She has a great perspective on what it means to be an expat in Panama, which is probably why she's enjoying life there!
An American woman and her husband visited Panama yearly for 10 years before making the move from Texas. She describes the challenges they faced dealing with a dishonest gringo contractor who was building their house. The Panamanians' love of family and their friendliness are two things she appreciates most about the local culture. She confesses that it took her a year to unwind from her fast-paced life in the medical field.
A retiree in Boquete, Panama talks about life in Boquete. She explains that it's easy to meet people in Boquete through the newcomers' club, Tuesday Market at BCP and through numerous volunteer activities. She cautions anyone coming to Panama with intention of working to make sure that you can legally work in Panama before making the move.
A resident of Panama city for 60 years provides a brief glimpse of life in Panama for expats. Job opportunities and the modern amenities are a few of the features described.
An expat in El Valle, Panama suggested that anyone moving to Central America read up on what to expect so that you are prepared for the good and bad. He's been most bothered by the fact that many Panamanians litter. To help with the issue, he and other expats are doing litter pickup in order to keep Panama beautiful.
A expat in Panama talks about what it's like being retired in Bocas del Toro - adapting to island time, building a home on Isla Solarte, the friendly people in Bocas, the lower cost of living, the new hospital and challenges traveling in and out of Bocas.
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More Living in Panama Reports
What are people's priorities in Panama - work? family? What are the best ways to meet other expats? Are people accepting of racial, cultural and religious differences? Below are some of the responses from expats in Panama:
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Reviews of Schools in Panama
Reviews and school profiles from expat parents and even a few school administrators in Panama. Great place to find insight into school facilities, teachers and curriculum. Below are some of the reviews from expats in Panama:
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Dream vs. Reality of Living in Panama Reports
Most expats have have "dreams" (and fears) about the expatriate experience before they moved to Panama. If you are already living in Panama, share how those "dreams" have been fulfilled, and how they have not. Below are some of the reports from expats in Panama:
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Retiring in Panama Reports
Retiring abroad can be a great option for retirees seeking their dream lifestyle at an affordable price. Help other retirees, who are thinking about retiring in Panama, by filling out our Overseas Retirement report. Below are some of the reports from expats in Panama:
Submit a Having a Baby Abroad Report
Having a Baby in Panama Reports
How did expats choose their doctors, midwives, hospitals? What is childbirth like in Panama? Below are some of the reports from expats in Panama:
Working Abroad Report
What's it like to find a job in Panama? How difficult was it to obtain a work permit? What types are jobs are typical for expats in Panama? Help others following in your footsteps by filling out our Working Abroad Report.
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Panama's Friendly Nations Visa
Panama's Friendly Nations Visa was introduced in 2012 and enables immigrants from 50 nationalities to easily obtain residency and a work permit.
How to Open a Bank Account in Panama
How to open a bank account in Panama from the expat perspective: covers what documents you'll need to open a bank account, key criteria when choosing a bank, opening a bank account before you obtain residency and more.
Expats Talk About The Biggest Challenges They Face Living in Latin America
Expats talk about some of the biggest challenges they've faced living in Latin America. Whether you're moving to Panama City or Punta del Este, this article is a must read to help you prepare (hint: you'll be much happier if you learn the language) and adjust your expectations (realities: the roads are rough, the pace of life is slower and bureaucracy is unavoidable). Despite all of the challenges, the list of what expats like about life in Latin America far exceeds the challenges.
Cost of Living: Costa Rica vs. Panama
People considering a move to Central America often narrow down their list to Panama and Costa Rica. Expats talk about the cost of living in Panama and Costa Rica - housing costs, gas, car, electric, internet, groceries, budgets for various lifestyles and more.
Pros and Cons of Living in El Valle, Panama
We are grateful that Jon, an Expat Exchange member living in Panama, took the time during the pandemic to submit an article about the the pros and cons of living in El Valle. Thanks, Jon!
Panama City, Panama
Global nomads, retirees and expats are attracted to Panama City for many reasons. Our Guide to Living in Panama City, Panama covers the Best Places to Live, Schools, Healthcare, Cost of Living, Transportation and more.
International Schools in Panama City
If you're moving to Panama City with school-aged children, living near your children's school will make life easier. There are schools in central Panama City, Clayton and elsewhere. Below you'll find information about the most popular schools for expats in Panama City.
Best Places to Live in Panama City, Panama
Learn which neighborhoods rank as the best places to live in Panama City according to expats. Plus, learn which two neighborhoods may not fit the bill despite one of them being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Panama City.
Healthcare in Panama
Expats have differing opinions about healthcare in Panama. Many advice against public hospitals and healthcare, but some recount good experiences. This article covers public vs private healthcare, cost of healthcare, obtaining prescription medications and much more.
Cost of Living in Panama
Expats in Panama enjoy a relatively low cost of living. However, it's important to do your research to make sure you'll actually enjoy those saving while creating a high quality of life as an expat in Panama.
Expat Banking: Tips for Expats in Panama
Expats in Panama face unique challenges in managing their finances while living there, and that always starts with settling on the right expat financial services. Here are some basic tips from expats living in Panama - their insights are based on their actual experiences managing their finances while living there.
Best Places to Live Overseas: Costa Rica vs. Panama
When expats consider a move to Central America, there are more and more options available to them. Often, the conversation will turn to Costa Rica vs. Panama. Read what expats who have lived in both of these countries have to say.
11 Expats Talk about Living in Boquete, Panama
11 expats talk about what it's like to live in the beautiful mountain town of Boquete, Panama. From the Tuesday Market at the BCP to group hikes and drinks at Mike's Global Grill, expats love living in Boquete.
International Schools in Panama
Expats with children who explore the possibility of moving to Panama first and foremost want to know what educational options are available there. Here is a great start on exploring the options in Panama City... and beyond.
Expats in Panama: Pros and Cons of Living in Panama
Expats in Panama talks about the pros and cons of living in Panama. Topics include the lower cost of living, bureaucracy, friendly people. Expats in Panama seem to agree that you'll have to come down and explore the country to find out if it's the right place for you!
8 Important Tips about Healthcare and Health Insurance in Panama
Expats in Panama offer 8 important tips about healthcare and health insurance in Panama. While the quality of healthcare varies, there are world class doctors and facilities throughout Panama. Health insurance is much less expensive in Panama. Doctors visits (with and without insurance) are very affordable. The one negative seems to be that medications can be more expensive that in the U.S. Despite these pros and cons, many expats mentioned that people have healthier lifestyles in Panama - cleaner air, cleaner water, fresh produce and less stress.
Moving to Panama: 7 Things to Know Before You Move to Panama
Do you have to buy a round trip ticket when moving to Panama? How difficult is it to bring my dog? Should I buy a home in Panama? Can I find health insurance that covers me in Panama and my home country when I travel back to visit relatives?
5 Tips for Living in Bocas del Toro, Panama
Bocas del Toro, Panama is a popular tourist destination and filled with laid-back expats and locals enjoying the island life. With its low cost of living, thriving nightlife and welcoming expat community, Bocas del Toro is a great place to live.
Thanksgiving in Panama
American expats in Panama can enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal at these restaurants.
Panama Retirement, The Other Option
Miguel Sirus retired in Panama 10 years ago. Instead of choosing a popular expat destination such as Boquette, Volcan or El Valle, he bought an overgrown piece of property near a village in Panama. In this article, he offers a glimpse at how his new life unfolded.
7 Best Places to Live in Panama
Panama is a great place to live or retire with easy residency laws, warm people and lots of expats. Whether you want to live by the beach in Bocas del Toro or need to live in Panama City for work and schools, there are many places to explore. We highlight 5 great places to live in Panama.
5 Great Places to Retire in Central America
Central America is an increasingly popular retirement destination. Retirees love it's proximity to the United States, lower cost of living, beautiful cities, amazing beaches, healthy lifestyle and friendly people.
10 Tips for Living in Panama
Did you know it's hot in Panama City all year round? Did you know that it's hard to get a work visa in Panama? Did you know that Panama has great incentives for foreign retirees?
World's Top Retirement Havens 1 Through 9
Where are the best places to retire overseas? Which retirement haven is right for you? France? Ecuador? Panama? Nicaragua? Thailand? Kathleen Peddicord shares the pros and cons of the world's top 9 retirement havens.
Investing in Panama
Trying to decide where to move abroad, don't overlook Panama! If you're a retiree, Panama has the best incentive program in the world for foreign retirees.
Escape the Economic Crisis - Consider Panama
It is going to be interesting to see how this all plays out in Panama. Are the international investors with wounded portfolios going to try and fire-sale their investments in Panama for a cash injection?