What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
I would have left everything that wasn't a necessity or too expensive to replace at home. You can find EVERYTHING in any brand in Panama and at prices comparable to the US. If shipping weight is an issue, just leave it and replace it. Perhaps the only exception is personal care items which by definition are very personal and it's hard to switch brands if by some reason, it can't be found at reasonable prices
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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
Get a feel for the area by driving around, gauging traffic (it's terrible in Panama), checking out amenities and entertainment nearby. Stay away from the casino and nighlife streets as the noise and activity (bad and good) is constant all week. Paitilla and Pacifica are close enough so you can sleep in peace and get to your favorite club or casino in 15 minutes.
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
High Rise Apartment and very typical. There was a real estate boom in the early Y2ks and high rises went up everywhere. Most of Paitilla and Punta Pacifica residents live in high rises. The views of the Panama bay are outstanding if you are lucky enough to live in an apartment that's not boxed in by other buildings
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
Realtors know where expats should live. They will probably steer you towards Punta Paitilla (Pie-TEE-ya) or Punta Pacifica, the upper class neighborhoods. El Cangrejo is a good choice too for "non-Corporate" budgets, and is a more "Soho-ish", hip part of town.
Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
I would say similar to New York City prices, but much more value in Panama. I had a 3 bdroom, 4 bath, 15th fl apt with a balcony directly on top of the bay for $1200. The price went up about 50% upon me moving. Average is betweem $900-$1500 for 2 bdrooms