Moving To Panama Expat Guide

Moving To Panama Expat Guide – that will be the topic of today’s article.

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Why do you think many people love to relocate to Central America? For expat from the United States, Panama is a convenient place to live. No matter where you’re from, you’ll likely appreciate the fact that there are many English speakers in the country. And guess what! Panama is beautiful inside and out.

This country is finally starting to catch on as a top-notch destination for expat. Some people are looking to retire overseas, while some are looking for a life on the beach, others tend to move abroad and start a new life. Regardless of your motive for moving, Panama has a lot to offer, and we are here to explore.

Moving To Panama Expat Guide

Well, a large number of expats relocating to this country have chosen this tropical paradise as a destination for retirement. However, there are many things to explore in the country. From different outdoor activities to unique cultural backgrounds, the benefits of living in Panama cannot be overemphasized.

Moreover, one of Panama’s primary attractions is the miles of beautiful coastline. In fact, we can tell you that a move to Panama is almost like moving to an island due to the tremendous amount of beachfront, both Pacific and Caribbean. Also, many Americans favor Panama as a destination because it’s close to the United States.

Moving to Panama, therefore, does not greatly separate your friends and families in the United States. Of course, we’ve got you covered in this article. We have compiled this article to explain the concept of moving to Panama. Here, you’ll understand the pros, cons, and many others. Read further to know more!

What to Know About Panama

At first, you should know that Panama is a country located in the extreme southeast of Central America and the official language is Spanish. While there are tons of Native English speakers in Panama, the tourism sector represents a large part of the country’s economy. Let’s quickly take a look at the facts.

Before the, when mentioning where is Panama, for many, only its famous channel will come to your mind. Others may have heard that it’s one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. And some may have heard of its paradisiacal beaches. To all this, we must add additional facts that seem special about Panama. So, without further ado, let’s proceed.

Panama’s Capital

Panama’s capital is a stunning city with a skyline that’s made up of modern skyscrapers that are reflected in the ocean. This city is perfect for going shopping, eating, or having drinks, and staying in luxurious hotels. With local ingredients and lots of passion, and creativity, Panamanian cuisines are extremely a compelling reason to visit the country. Besides, one can get around in the city with ease.

Folding Panama Hat

This is one of the countries whereby you hardly leave without a folding hat. However, we are not saying that you have to get a Panamanian folding hat, but it is something you’d see everywhere, and that’d trigger you to buy one. The Panamanian folds their shape, and they’re affordable for both the locals and expats.

Panama Travel Costs    

Getting around Panama is quite easy and straightforward. They use both the Panamanian Balboa (PAB) and the US Dollars. ATMs can be found in all larger towns and touristy areas and thus contribute to what makes the travel cost easy and affordable. Perhaps, accommodation is cheap, with a night in a hostel dorm costing from $11-$13 per night for nearly 6-8 bedrooms.

Moving To Panama Expat Guide

Cultural and Language Challenge

If you’ve ever dreamt of dating a Panamanian, you should always prepare for a cultural and language challenge. A good example is when you marry a Panamanian, be rest assured that you’re connecting with the family members too. This is because; family is of paramount importance in Panama. Also, you need to beware of the sugar daddy and mommy situation because the arrangements may never end well.

Panama Might Not Be As Affordable As You Think

You might be hearing several bloggers telling you that Panama is affordable. Well, it may seem as though what you’ll expect could create a shock. Perhaps, where you live and how you spend your money will determine how affordable the country is. Although Panama City used to be affordable but not like before. So, you should expect to pay at least $1,200 to rent a decent place in the city.

Buying Of Local Brands

As an expat, if you’d like to save money while moving to Panama for the first time, you’ll need to buy local brands. This means buying fruits from local or street vendors is crucial. Not only that, you’ll save money on your products, but they will be fresher, and if you live in a small town, it is both cheaper and fresher.

Buying In Bulk Often Cost More

In Panama, buying goods or shopping in bulk could sometimes be more expensive than buying in one. Also, if you buy a case of something in the state, the per-unit price will usually be less than if you bought one of those items. That’s why we advise you to read through this fact before planning to relocate.

Panama’s Travel Information and Guide

As said earlier that Panama is a country popularly known for its mountain, beaches, and historic ruins; there are a lot of activities to do while living in the country. In recent times, the number of tourist visits has steadily been on the rise since the turn of the decade. Now, let’s quickly talk about the travel guide.

Panama Visa Types

A visa requirement is essential when moving to the country for the first time. There are different visa requirements for Panamanians depending on the destination or your stay in the country. The type of travel permit also varies according to the length of time you plan to stay and the purpose of your visit.

Moreover, Panamanian nationals can obtain a visa or travel authorization online for a number of destinations. And this is regarded as the easiest and quickest option for getting an entry permit. However, visitors from Panama can apply for one of these electronic visas (eVisas) or electronic travel authorizations (eTAs) from the comfort of their own homes.

●        Friendly Nations Visa – The friendly nation’s visa is also known as the permanent residence for nationals of specific countries. This kind of visa opens the door for professionals and entrepreneurs from 47 countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with Panama. Some of the countries eligible for this kind of visa include the U.S and Canada. However, the visa requires an individual to open a local bank account with a minimum balance of $5,000 and many others.

●        Professional Residence Permit – This type of visa is open to foreigners who would like to work in the country, provided they do not choose professions reserved for Panamanian nationals. Also, applicants must have a university education, and unlike other visas, must make two applications two years apart. On the other hand, applicants must show that they have been employed in Panama for nine months.

●        Panama Tourist Visa – If you’re from the U.S or Canada, you probably do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. For a Panamanian visa, tourists may stay up to 90 days, and, in general, extensions are not available unless expat can prove they need more time because you’re changing their status from a tourist.

National Public Holidays in Panama

Date ObservedHoliday Description
January 1stNew Year’s Day celebration
February 15thCarnival Monday
February 17thAsh Wednesday
April 2ndHoly Friday
November 3rdSeparation day
November 4thFlag day
November 28thIndependence day

Pros and Cons of Moving to Panama

High-Quality Healthcare Service

High-quality healthcare service is one of the advantages of moving to Panama. In fact, it has one of the best healthcare facilities in Latin America. However, Panama City offers top-notch medical facilities, equipment, and well-trained doctors in all areas of medicine. Besides, more remote areas have local clinics where expats will often find doctors regularly visiting hospitals in Panama City.

Modern Infrastructural Facilities

Panama city at night.

Aside from the high-quality healthcare services, Panama has a modern infrastructure that captivates foreigners’ attention to live in the city. Not only that, but they have a good and reliable internet al. ong with the best phone service. Also, you’ll find good drinking water from your kitchen faucet. Overall, Panama’s infrastructure is seen to be the best in Latin America.

Political and Economic Stability

In recent years, the country has enjoyed good economic stability, intending to transform the country. Irrespective of the city’s location, it’s quite impossible that you’ll visit a Panamanian town without a sufficient supply of social facilities such as drinking water, fast internet connections, social centers, and improved healthcare systems.

US Dollar as Currency

Don’t be surprised to see that the official currency used in Panama is the US Dollar. Their currency unit is called the Balboa, which is similar to one US Dollar, but Panama hasn’t printed it for decades. Similarly, all prices are in US dollars, but it avoids everyday annoyance and discomfort by measuring the worth of something when it’s in a foreign currency.

Excellent Security Measures

As a principle, the Panamanian doesn’t like conflict. With that being said, they prevent it at all costs leading to low conflict. Like everywhere else, the country has some sort of crime, but it’s usually petty theft. However, using the same caution and common sense as you should have in every environment worldwide will contribute to your safety while living in the country.

Affordable Living

If it comes to importance and variety, there’s no better place to reside than in Panama. This is the place where you can get what you’re paying for. In addition, for as little as $1,000, you can lead a comfortable life in the country for decent access to food, transportation, and a month’s worth of grocery supplies. Meanwhile, renting a property in Panama is relatively cheap in more remote regions, and friendly locals are always available to help you with everything you might need on a daily basis.

Diverse Weather Conditions

Undoubtedly, Panama has diverse weather conditions. Moreover, you’ll find cooler temperatures in the Sore Mountains and the already popular Boquete and Aton valley in the country. Also, if you prefer hot and dry, the eastern coast of the Azuero Peninsula tends to be dry, as well as parts of the Central Pacific, including Playa Santa Clara.

Moving To Panama Expat Guide

Cons of Relocating to Panama

Language Barrier

Language barrier seems to be one of the factors that could hinder an expat while moving to Panama for the first time. This is because; the people of Panama are Spanish speakers. And depending on your location, you might even be required to learn the language if you want to interact and integrate perfectly with your community.

However, learning the language is a bonus in expatriate cultures, and this is due to the fact that you’ll fit in with a better knowledge of some Spanish. Meanwhile, some people find it frustrating to go to a store to buy something, and they don’t know how to ask for it.

Life May Seem to Slow in Panama

Don’t be surprised to see things moving slower in Panama. Most times, you might think that the person you’re dealing with doesn’t care, but in the face of it, just the way it’s here, you just have to be careful. Also, if you want to get some things done in the country, you may need to cultivate a special skill to keep you calm.

Cultural Differences in Panama

Cultural differences could also be a problem when you’re relocating to Panama for the first time. This is because; its culture is very different from the U.S, and the systems and structures can sometimes make no sense at all. Therefore, if you can’t roll things when they’re going wrong or get frustrated, going to Panama may not be the right decision for you.

Sexual Harassment in Panama

Another problem faced by expats in Panama is about sexual harassment. This is because; the country is a male-dominated society where a single woman may be sexually abused and maybe raped by local men who see them as a new toy to use and then throw away after they’ve gotten what they want. However, the majority of the people in the country are good people, but there is also a layer of people who will victimize you, particularly if you have little to no understanding of the complexities of this community.

Noisy Neighborhood in Panama

From our research, it is drafted that the Panamanian motto is work, not to live to work. This means; parties are the norm and usually start at around nine o’clock in the night, going into the early hours of the day. This factor can be annoying and disturbing to the early birds who prefer to have a quiet and peaceful day.

Moving To Panama Expat Guide

Cost of Moving to Panama

While we all know that Panama offers a very comfortable retirement solution, you should glimpse the cost of living in the country. By moving to Panama, you’ll enjoy the benefits of a developing economy where you can still take a taxi across town for a buck or two and get your haircut for a couple of dollars. Also, your power depends on where you live.

Like many foreigners, you may find it challenging to resist having a maid, and it’s easy to find help in the country. Besides, a full-time, live-in maid can cost you as little as $250 a month, while a part-time maid can cost you nothing less than $15 per visit. Without further ado, below is an analysis of the cost.

Description of GoodsAverage Costs
Airfare to Move to Panama$1,500
Pet relocation fee$650
Pensionado Visa in Panama$2,300
Panama Driver’s license$150
Monthly rents and security deposit$1,900
Eating out expenses in the city$250
Stock up on groceries in Panama$250

Is It Hard to Relocate To Panama In 2021?

According to the USNews, Panama is one of the world’s top retirement destinations for expats. Additionally, in a survey done by the international living magazine, the country came out on top in their 2020 Annual Global Retirement index. With that being said, you should know that Panama is interesting.

However, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has been struggling with its economy due to the lockdown measures placed by the government. So, before you travel, it’s quite better to understand that Panama is easy, but you need to have the necessary documents and visa applications.

Negative Impact of COVID-19 on Panamanian Economy

In the quest to understand the concept of relocating to Panama, it’s quite essential to know how the impact of coronavirus has affected the country’s economy. Although the country’s economic slowdown can be attributed to several high-profile corruption scandals, but there are several factors placed by the pandemic. Without much talk, below are the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the country’s economy.

Decline in Panama Tourism

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions and policies banning employees of multinational companies from traveling have led to hotel reservation cancellations. With that being said, there’s a decline in revenue for restaurants, shopping, retails, transportation, centers, and the tourism industry in general.

Drastic Drop in Consumer Spending

As restaurants, nightclubs, cinemas, bars, beauty salons, and many other establishments were forced to close, consumers spending is falling drastically. And many restaurants have seen their sales fall by 80 percent due to the pandemic.

Unemployment Rate in Panama

Undoubtedly, the unemployment rate in Panama stands at 7.1 percent, and 13,000 jobs are needed to reduce unemployment by one percentage point. However, the pandemic has caused higher unemployment as businesses are forced to close, and owners may need to dismiss personnel.

Impact on Banking Sector

The pandemic has also caused a great impact on the banking sector. This is due to the fact that the Panamanian Superintendency of Banks approved a first package of temporary measures that will allow banks to modify loans to customers who have been affected by the coronavirus and allowed delayed payments. With this in mind, the country has suffered more on the banking sector.

Lower Tax Collection

As at the period of writing this post, the research disclosed that a ninety-day extendable moratorium on tax obligations is currently being debated in the country’s National Assembly. And if enacted, payments on taxes and public water as well as electricity provided by the states have been suspended.

Frequently Asked Questions about Panama

How strong is Panama’s Passport?

As of 2021, Panamanian citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to nearly 142 countries and territories, making the country’s passport rank 34th in terms of travel freedom according to the Henley Passport Index.

Can I have dual citizenship in Panama?

As of today, Panama does not allow dual citizenship. Therefore, you need to renounce your current citizenship to become a Panama citizen. In addition, Panama’s policy of jus soli – or right of the soil – means that children you give birth to while living in Panama will obtain Panama citizenship through birth.

Is Panama safer than other countries?

Of course, Panama is relatively safe in comparison with other countries. However, with the rates generally higher than one would expect to find in most parts of the United States, Panama is safe and could even be considered safer than country like Costa Rica.

What’s the safest city in Panama?

As of the time of writing this blog post, Boquete is considered the safest city in the country. The city is a quaint mountain town along the Caldera River, and it captures the hearts of travelers from all over the world. Not only is it scenic and a cultural haven with popular jazz festivals, but it is safe for travelers.


The idea that moving to Panama means a drastic change of life has made many expat choose this country as a destination. Panama attracts expatriates and has become an increasing trend of Americans moving to the country for work. Nonetheless, if you choose to relocate to Panama, check more details as we’ve mentioned above.

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