Pros and Cons of Living in Panama
Last updated on May 08, 2023
Summary: The pros of living in Panama include its tropical climate, its diverse culture, its low cost of living, and its excellent infrastructure. Panama also offers a wide range of outdoor activities, from surfing to hiking, and its location makes it a great place to explore Central America. On the other hand, the cons of living in Panama include its high crime rate, its lack of reliable public transportation, and its limited job opportunities. Additionally, Panama's healthcare system is not as advanced as other countries, and its political system is often unstable.
What are the pros and cons of living in Panama?
Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Panama responded:
"Good Residency visas are well-priced and easy to obtain. Panama is welcoming to legal immigrants. It's a vibrant, energetic, international city. Good humoured, friendly, contented, open-minded people. Family-oriented society. Many nationalities make for interesting contacts and friendships. Modern housing is in good supply. Large apartments give you more space for your money than in Canada. High quality fresh foods are available at reasonable prices (meat, fish, fruit, vegetables). Most consumer products are available, including luxury goods. Fairly reliable high speed internet connections. Living without a car is possible. Metro is efficient, clean and safe, allowing some avoidance of traffic jams. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive. Overall cost of living is lower than in Canada (biggest savings are in services), despite the poor exchange rate for the C$. Availability of domestic help and caregivers, if required, at reasonable prices. No need for assisted living because in-home help is affordable. Transportation hub with easy airline connections to rest of world. Eastern time zone. Modern banking system, including internet banking and quick international transfers. Basic medical care is available at reasonable prices for office visits. Dental care is very good for a reasonable price. High economic growth rate and dynamic economy (before Covid hit). Stable economy thanks to Canal revenues. Low unemployment rate (before Covid). Favourable tax structure for residents. Fairly stable democracy. Benevolent bureaucracy if you stay on the right side of the law. Freedom due to non-invasive authorities and a bit of chaos. No winter. Natural beauty and exotic wildlife, in particular, birds. Good musica tipica and interesting folklore. Secure if you are mindful and live in a well-protected building. Minimal threat of terrorist action or civil disorder. Less hurried, less stressful pace of life. Bad Unreliable supply chain and/or poor management mean uneven distribution of consumer products (you can wait for months for your favourite products to reappear on the shelves, or you have to run all over hunting down what you need). Time is not valued (I recognize this is a cultural bias on my part). Service personnel (from blue collar workers to professionals) often are not dependable. Advanced medical care, rehabilitative care and long-term care are not available, quality of care is uneven, hospital care and diagnostic services are expensive by comparison with Canada and Western Europe. Infrastructure (sidewalks, streets, power lines, sewers, water mains) ranges from poor to mediocre state of repair. Traffic is chaotic due to ineffective control and excessive number of vehicles. Noise pollution from constant construction and development projects. Extreme climate (heat, humidity, plus heavy rains in season). Inflation rate is higher than in Canada. As a young country, Panama does not have well-developed cultural institutions. Ugly. Environmental protection is not on the government's radar. Pollution, due to unenforced emission controls and illegal burning in the countryside, results in high levels of fine particulate matter in the air you breathe, especially during the dry season. Incomplete and erratic garbage collection, extensive littering. Endemic graft and corruption. Low quality public education and technical training. Income inequality between the "haves" and the "have nots"," wrote one expat in Panama City.
"Nothing works right in Panama. It's very difficult to get quality workmanship. Also, it's too humid here for most people. The Covid lockdowns have been terrible and Panama is going through a near-depression right now. We plan on leaving this year for Portugal," explained one expat living in Panama City.
What do expats in Panama appreciate most about the local culture?
About the Author
Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.
- What do I need to know before moving to Panama?
- How do I find a place to live in Panama?
- What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Panama?
- What is the average cost of housing in Panama?
- Should I buy or rent a home in Panama?
- What should I pack when moving to Panama?
- What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in Panama?
- Why do people move to Panama?
- How are healthcare services Panama?
- What are medical services in Panama like?
- What are typical rents in Panama?
- What appliances are typically included in a rental?