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Moving to Panama

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Monique1990
8/13/2019 04:41 EST

Good day all

My family and I have been looking into moving to Panama from South Africa. In South Africa we are fearing for our lives as violence is getting out of hand due to racism in this country. I am in constant fear of my children's lives and know they have no future here. Before we make any big changes I am calling on all expats to please give me as much possible information. I know the internet shows all the good and lovely, but there is some reality to come to terms with. Obviously there is crime in every country - you will never get away from that, but just exactly how bad is it? In South Africa we have farm murders every single day. Could you please help me out and give me any information you can regarding safety, medical, financial, educational etc. I would really appreciate as much responses as I can get on this, whether it is sunshine and roses or the ugly truth.

Thank you everyone!!

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Monique1990
8/13/2019 07:42 EST

We are currently looking at Costa Del Este as we have found a school that seems like we can afford it. We have 2 little girls aged 3 and 6, if you have any other school suggestions please list for me as we have only been looking online. We looked at Costa del Este so that we can be close to Panama City, but not in the city as I do not want to make us a target if that makes sense. I can deal with theft and pick pocket etc (crime is everywhere), but do not wish to move somewhere where violent crime is high --- trying to escape that. Thank you

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missinglink
8/13/2019 07:57 EST

Monique this question has been asked in many forums, many times here and answered on a daily basis. I sure if you invest a little of your time and read previous posts you will find the answer to all of your questions and more. Happy reading

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PedasiPundit
8/13/2019 09:19 EST

There is a family from South Africa that has been in Panama for over 6 months and they are now interviewing various Expats throughout Panama about life in Panama. Check out their Facebook page at: Trekking with the Mossies

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jonoyakker
8/13/2019 10:49 EST

Monique, I am sorry to hear about the murders in South Africa. I have been in Panama for 6 1/2 years and I will answer as honestly as I can.

Safety-IMO, this is one of the best things about Panama. Murders are quite rare, and usually are the result of nefarious activity.

Medical-IMO, the doctors here are good, the support staff and administration are so/so. If I needed attention, I would go to Paitilla Hospital (private) Prices are not high, and not low. There is a Social Security system, but it is definitely hit or miss.

Costs-Panama is no longer cheap, though not expensive. In most places you can live without a car if you want. Utilities are cheap, except electricity-keep this in mind if you want to live at low elevation. Real estate is slow now and deals can be had on rentals and purchases (but rent to try out before buying) A couple can rent and live comfortably, but not extravagantly, on $2000 a month.

Education-The public system is very poor. Plan on using private schools or home schooling.

The disadvantages of Panama IMO are a lack of culture, and the presence of litter and trash. National tourism is making noises about cleaning up the trash problem, but as always...we shall see!

The primary advantages (as mentioned before) are security, and integration between races. It is generally a friendly country.

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Jazzmann
8/13/2019 10:54 EST

my son lived in South Africa for six years. He moved back to the US before the current trouble started. Although the racism against white people was very prevalent he work for a company that provided secure living and armed guards. My wife and I have lived in Panama for 5 years. We live in a rural area about 4 hour drive from Panama City. I feel very safe here. There is some crime and some violent crime but that is generally, not always, confined to specific areas that are generally known. in the US I carried a gun almost everywhere. I am a permanent resident and entitled to own a firearm. I don't feel the need for one here. You are correct in being concerned about the people who want you to see Panama through Rose Colored Glasses. I suspect that you will find that the infrastructure and amenities in Panama would be equal to or greater than what is available in South Africa. We retired and Panama because we could not live on our social security in the United States, not even close, now we live literally on the beach very comfortably.

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jr555
8/13/2019 11:22 EST

I’m sorry to hear about your predicament and I hope you find a solution whether it be Panama or elsewhere. I would not let crime in Panama be a facture that dissuades your search in this country. There is crime but not close to anything you are presently

having to live through, it’s basically down to choice of neighborhood and taking normal precautions.
As you mention children and their future, I’m assuming you are far from retirement age and would be looking to come over to work either as an employee or an employer. Understand that employee wages are very low and success in business has its own challenges of language, culture and how/where you would be trying to make a living.
There are international and private schools spread around the country but not being close to anyone involved in the educational system I can’t comment on how they rate compared to other countries. But I feel that the level of education in public schools leaves a lot to be desired, teenagers and young adults find maths and simple mental arithmetic unbelievably difficult.

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volcan357
8/13/2019 11:55 EST

In Panama and Latin America in general people pay more attention preventing theft by having bars on the windows and keeping everything well locked up, etc. Usually when something is stolen it is because you got a bit careless. I consider Panama to be safe. Nobody has ever attacked me in the 20 years I have lived in Panama. It also depends on where in Panama you live. Some areas are much safer than others. Of course this is true in any country. If you are considering a move to Latin America then Panama is probably one of the better choices. Wages are higher in Panama than most other Latin American countries. Also import taxes are lower than most other Latin American countries. Panama's location as a hub and the canal are positive things to consider. Maybe Trump's stupid trade war with China might make Miami a less popular place to shop for affluent Latin Americans. Panama could be in a good position to get some of that business by having lower tariffs on Chinese goods than in the US and by not requiring visas which are harder to get also because of Trump. Getting established in a new country is always a challenge. You would need to learn some Spanish. Not easy but overall Panama might be a good option to consider.

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PedasiPundit
8/13/2019 12:11 EST

Any particular reason(s) you want to be near Panama City? PC is expensive, clogged with traffic from 6 AM to 9 PM. The further you get from PC, the less expensive except for the "Expat Enclaves" like Coronado & Boquete, they too are expensive.

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PJBarrett1944
8/13/2019 12:57 EST

There are many folks moving (or have moved) to Boquete from South Africa. One of the best things about Panama is that there is very little racial animosity. Most Panamanians are a mixture of Spanish, Indigenous, and African. Some have a little Chinese thrown in for good measure. Everyone seems to get along and there is very little political correctness.

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ranadelnorte
8/13/2019 13:52 EST

Your post sounds desperate and panicked. I’m sorry for your distress.
The biggest security risks in Panama IMO are scams by other expats taking advantage of your vulnerability, and scams by Panamanians taking advantage of your lack of Spanish-language skills.
If you could try to frame your decision to leave your homeland, positively, it might help you to settle elsewhere.
Good luck!

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jonoyakker
8/13/2019 14:30 EST

Monique, if I was going to live in the city, I would look hard at the International School https://www.isp.edu.pa/

They employ an approach that is more student centered, (and less authoritarian) and thus encourages students to be leaders in their own lives. This is much more beneficial in this era of rapid changes. I do not know their tuition, but it is a non-profit school
You will find good, safe housing in the area of that school.

There is also an International Coastal School in Gorgona which I hear good things about, if you care to live close to the beach.

Coste del Este is quite an expensive area and traffic entering and exiting there is very choked during peak periods.

I hope that the idea of student-centered schooling appeals to you, If so, you may contact me through a PM and I can share more. My daughter attended such a school with amazing results. I wish more kids had the experience-the world would be a better place.

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PanamaJackie
8/13/2019 19:17 EST

I will send you a PM to a government website which has crime statistics for each province in Panama.

Then, you'll be able to see how low crime is in Panama in most areas and which areas have the highest crime rates.

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JaimeC
8/14/2019 00:05 EST

Monique, check out www.numbeo.com it gives crime and cost of living stats for 5 Panama cities. Keep in mind that Latin America has higher murder rates )(per the UN) than all but 3 countries in the Western Hemisphere ie; Canada, US, and Chile.

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volcan357
8/14/2019 01:16 EST

www.numbeo.com is an interesting site but it is not a good comparison. Some of their prices are way off. For example numbeo.com says that consumer prices are 17% higher in Panama as compared to the Dominican Republic which is not true. A direct comparison of prices in PriceSmart between their store in the Dominican Republic vs their store here in Panama shows higher prices in the Dominican Republic by about 30% on the exact same items. My wife's electric bill in the Dominican Republic runs 21 cents per kilowatt hours vs me paying 10 cents per kilowatt hour here in Volcan. On numbeo com. it says the opposite that electric is cheaper in the Dominican Republic. Not true. There are some items cheaper in the Dominican Republic but overall Panama is cheaper. The cost of buying and operating an automobile is very significantly cheaper in Panama. In fact cars are cheaper to buy and operate in Panama as compared to most other Latin American countries. Overall Colombia is cheaper than Panama but there is a negative tax situation if you become a resident in Colombia. They don't even have the right price for beer in the Dominican Republic which is normally sold in one quart bottles instead of 12 once bottles as numbeo.com thinks it is. Anyway you can get some idea but not very accurate.

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KeryCruz
8/15/2019 03:22 EST

I have to confess that I do not feel safe as I used to feel in the past. But, it is also true that in comparison with other Latin American countries, Panama is safer. Wages are higher, and the infrastructure is better than others.
Electricity and cost of living are costly. I live between Panama and Seoul (the 13th expensive city in the world), and Panama is as costly as Seoul, rent price can be higher in Panama as well.

The transportation system is not good, and it is better to have your car. Also, for safety reasons, it is better to drive your car because you never know who is driving a taxi. There have been cases of robbery and rape perpetrated by taxi drivers.

Does not expect anything from the police, because the cops are corrupted. For instance, some people escape traffic fines by bribing the cops.

Usually, murders are in specific areas and are usually drugs relative crime.

Private medical is cheaper than in other countries, and it is not bad. Do not use public social security. You will wait indefinitely to book an appointment, even for surgery.

Customer service is in general inadequate in Panama. Unless a Colombian is the worker of the place, they are great at customer services.

Beauty salon could be affordable and is cheaper than in other countries.

The economy has been slow lately due to a miss administration of the past governments. A lot of companies fired employees, and their sales index were low.

Real Estate prices are getting more stable now (in my opinion) because pricing is dropping to something close to an actual cost. I know people, who buy properties at a high price, and now the property value drop (sometimes by the developer who is desperate to sell the units in their projects). Investment in real estate in Panama is a good option because you can find a reasonable price, rent is high and depends on the property you can have a property tax exoneration. Property taxes are lower than in other countries.


If you buy properties through a bank mortgage, you need to know that there is not fixed interest, just for a particular properties regime, called preferential interest for this buying their first home. Interests Rate is fixed for ten years. I am not sure if foreigners can apply to a preferential interest loan.

Education is pretty bad, even in a private school, and some private school schools are very expensive.

Costa del Este is an expensive neighborhood, but you have everything you need over there. Not sure what do you mean with making yourself a target, just by living in Costa del Este you could be a target.

Regarding diversity, Panama has been a place of transit because of the Canal. Some nationalities are more welcome than others. For instances, Americans, European are likable amount Panamanians. Others, as Venezuelan, are not so welcome. Mostly because of some Venezuelan behaviors. Racism exists. Though it is not a tough as in other countries and is more "under the table," people do not publicly express their racist opinion. There is phrase amount Panamanians about marrying a white guy to improve the race.

On the other hand, Panama has a lot of potentials. It is too bad that the governments steal the taxpayer's money. Panama has beautiful beaches, nice mountains. I appreciate the variety of fruits and vegetables (which are expensive now).

I hope you find a good place for you and your family.

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JessieElMunoz
8/15/2019 06:57 EST

Hello Monique, we have family in SA, and leave there for a short time. Now in Panama, we also did lots of researches and come a stay and visit several time in the last several year. I f you are interested to have further discussion contact me on private message, will be please to provide you with reseach and experience.

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cinparadise
8/15/2019 08:26 EST

Volcan357,

You wrote:

"Maybe Trump's stupid trade war with China"

When I was a little boy growing up in America me and all of my friends rode bicycles made in America, not an import to be found. Today none are made in America thanks to former President Bill Clinton (1).

Trump is playing a game of chess, not checkers. His ultimate goal is to return manufacturing from China. For example, a tariff on imported bicycles would create thousands of manufacturing jobs across America in addition to jobs n natural resources to make the steel, the rubber for the tires, etc.

But then again, if you're a far right liberal then you hate America and don't want to see those jobs return.

As for President Trump declining to participate in the Paris Accord, if you've read it which most people haven't, there are serious financial penalties for America as well as America being required to give billions of dollars to developing countries like India where as China doesn't. There are zero financial penalties for countries like China and India who are the largest polluters. Why was China let off the hook? Follow the money.

What fool would participate in an agreement like that?

*

(1)

It's very sad how former President Clinton sold out the US manufacturing jobs to China.

U.S.–China Relations Act of 2000

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S.%E2%80%93China_Relations_Act_of_2000

Clinton Gives Push To Admitting China to WTO

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/04/08/news/08iht-clint.2.t_1.html


*

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marta231655
8/15/2019 08:58 EST

I love top see posts like this. Remember if you are voting for Trump send in your absentee ballot. If you are a Democrat you are probably to cheap to pay for the postage

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