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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Altos del Maria, Panama


One expat talks about living in Panama and warns that it's buyer beware in the real estate market. Also, ongoing power outages and limited internet access are common.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Altos del Maria

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

We spent several years coming to Panama and talking with XPats.... No one told the truth to make the sale!

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If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?


Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

All utilities, GAS, food ate more costly than the U.S. not counting all the costs of Visas and a drivers license. Anthing International Living tells you is a LIE!

How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

People here are Great, XPats LIE to make the sale

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

Do Not use any XPat to purchase a home. Make sure you are working with a legal Panama Licensed Realtor.... XPats do not hold a Panama License... Buyer beware!

What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.

All the basic costs for this area are higher. Utilities don't work due to failures and if you get Internet for this area it works less 50% of the time and costs are high

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

Panama local, people!

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Utilities for our area. Power failures are daily...

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

Use only legal, licensed realtors. Ask the for a copy of THEIR License not some brokers license. Do not give deposits without a good Attorney

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Comments about this Report

Apr 8, 2013 09:34

If you are looking to "de-stress" and searching for peace and tranquility, there is no better place than Altos del Maria. The miradors (steps and paths) created throughout Altos del Maria, make it enjoyable to connect with nature. The aroma of 150,000 pine trees, the numerous varieties of birds, and the view of Picachu (the Sleeping Cat) are breathtaking. Just an FYI from someone who has been overwhelmed by its beauty! spectacular

Apr 8, 2013 10:07

My wife and I made trips down to Panama before deciding to buy in Boquete. Having lived year round here for 2 years, I always tell people that Panama is not for everyone. I for one love it and my wife doesn't want to live here. I think that you should rent for at least a year to get a feel if this is where you should be.

Apr 8, 2013 11:04

It's unfortunate that the author has had such a poor experience, yet it seems that he/she is sticking it out after having gone through so much to get to where he/she is today. Hope that things improve. As to the comments about Intl' Living... it strikes me that we readers need to understand that the info in Int'l Living and elsewhere is often cited for a low to middle class person who has earned below $100k annually and has little saved. If you're accustomed to and expecting a better lifestyle than that, the numbers don't reflect reality.

Dec 14, 2014 11:18

The author is 100% correct about ALL the details. BEST ADVICE - RENT, RENT, RENT before you ever consider buying! Once you buy IN you may NEVER be able to sell to get out! And you will SUFFER there!

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