Moving To Panama In 2024 – The Full Guide

Explore the allure of moving to Panama in 2024 with our detailed guide, where diverse landscapes and a rich cultural mosaic await those looking to relocate. This article unpacks the multitude of reasons making Panama the go-to destination for expatriates this year, from its robust economy and ideal climate to its hospitable community. Whether you’re drawn to the dynamic life in its cities or the serene beauty of its natural surroundings, Panama promises a fulfilling experience for all. Discover what you need to know before making your move.

 

Why Panama is the Ideal Place to Relocate in 2024

Panama has emerged as one of the most rapidly expanding economies in Central America. The Panama Canal and a booming financial sector are major contributors to its economic performance. Panama’s infrastructure, business-friendly atmosphere, and growing industries like logistics, construction, and tourism, make it a captivating location for investors and entrepreneurs. In 2024, the country’s economic stability offers a firm footing for expats and retirees in pursuit of new opportunities.  Expats can find a variety of affordable housing options, from modern apartments in Panama City to charming houses in rural areas. Panama holds a unique allure with its diverse cultural heritage sourced from various corners of the globe. Those relocating to Panama can delve into its rich tapestry through avenues like music, culinary exploration, and traditional dance. Expats can live in many different places in Panama, like Panama City, Bocas del Toro, or Boquete. No matter where you live, there are many things to do and discover in Panama. This country has a varied landscape offering an exclusive mix of spectacular natural beauty and diverse environments.

 

Economic growth and stability in Panama

 

Why do people move to Panama?

Let’s delve into the allure of relocating to Panama, where a blend of vibrant expat communities, diverse visa options, and enticing real estate opportunities await.

 

  1. Expat-Friendly Community: Panama’s hospitable atmosphere fosters a vibrant expat community, welcoming retirees, digital nomads, and professionals from around the globe, enhancing the overall living experience.

 

  1. Diverse Visa Options: Offering a range of visas, including the Pensionado Visa for retirees and the Friendly Nations Visa for entrepreneurs, Panama accommodates a wide spectrum of expatriates with a welcoming immigration process.

 

  1. Real Estate Accessibility: Featuring everything from modern city apartments to spacious suburban homes, Panama stands out for allowing foreigners to easily invest, making it a prime location for international real estate buyers.

 

  1. Retiree Benefits: The Pensionado program provides retirees with significant discounts on various services, positioning Panama as a top retirement destination with substantial financial advantages.

 

  1. Warm Climate Year-Round: With its consistent warm climate, Panama offers an eternal summer to its residents, ideal for those seeking continuous warmth and sunshine.

 

  1. Business-Friendly Environment: Panama’s supportive atmosphere for business, highlighted by streamlined processes for foreign investment and various incentives, creates an attractive landscape for entrepreneurs and investors.

 

Rich cultural experiences in Panama

 

How to Move to Panama

Relocating to Panama offers a refreshing change of pace, a laid-back lifestyle, and reasonable living costs, making it an excellent choice for individuals and families. Before making the move, consider the following factors:

 

  1. Establishing Residency: The first step when moving to Panama is to think about obtaining residency. The most popular options are the Pensionado Visa or Friendly Nations Visa. The Pensionado Visa is available to persons of all ages who receive a lifetime pension of at least $1,000 per month. Friendly Nations Visa is available to citizens of 50 countries that have a friendly relationship with Panama.

 

  1. Opening a Bank Account: To open a bank account in Panama, you need to have your passport, residency card, and proof of address. Most banks require a minimum deposit, usually around $500, and a reference from a current client or employer. It is best to research banks’ services, fees, and reputation before opening an account.

 

  1. Choosing a Place to Live: Panama offers different areas to consider from the bustling city of Panama City to the tranquil beach areas such as Coronado and Pedasi. Factors to consider when choosing a place to live include proximity to schools, hospitals, shopping, and entertainment, safety, and accessibility. It is advisable to visit the areas beforehand if possible or consult with locals or expats.

 

  1. Vaccinations: Many expats visit and live in Panama without specific vaccinations. The capital and developed areas are low-risk for diseases like malaria and yellow fever (no cases since the 1970s). Wear mosquito repellent in mosquito-prone areas to prevent diseases like dengue. Check online sources for vaccination recommendations specific to your Panama destinations, such as the WHO and CDC. See your healthcare provider 4-6 weeks before travel for vaccinations or treatments.

 

Preparing the move to Panama

 

How much does it cost to live in Panama?

On average, the cost of living in Panama is 35.1% lower than in the United States, while rental expenses in Panama are approximately 52.5% lower compared to those in the United States. Below is a detailed breakdown of the cost of living in Panama.

 

Category Cost
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre $2,296.90
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre $1,400
Apartment (1 bedroom) for Rent in City Centre $815.50
Apartment (1 bedroom) for Rent Outside of Centre $545
Apartment (3 bedrooms) for Rent in City Centre $1,735.45
Apartment (3 bedrooms) for Rent Outside of Centre $1,005.50
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant $10
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course $65
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) $8
Cappuccino (regular) $3.55
Milk (regular), (1 liter) $1.75
Rice (white), (1kg) $2.10
Eggs (regular) (12) $2.65
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) $0.55
Monthly Pass (Regular Price) $25
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) $2
Gasoline (1 liter) $1
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult $47.50
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat $7.00
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment $97.20
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) $47.95

 

Daily Life in Panama

Discover Panama’s daily life: quality healthcare, diverse education, a bilingual setting, vibrant traditions, and cosmopolitan living amidst stunning natural beauty, blending modernity with rich cultural heritage.

 

Social and Leisure Activities

Exploring Panama’s outdoors is a top activity, from rainforests to beaches and the iconic Panama Canal. Boquete boasts famed hiking, while coastal spots offer surfing and snorkeling. Golfing is big, with top courses in Coronado and Santa Maria in Panama City. National parks like Darién and Chiriquí highlight unique flora and fauna. Socially, expat communities organize events, and Panama City’s nightlife is vibrant, especially in Casco Viejo.

 

What do People Eat in Panama?

Panama offers a diverse culinary blend of indigenous, Spanish, and Afro-Caribbean flavors, with must-try dishes like “ceviche” and “ropa vieja.” Street food staples include “empanadas” and “patacones.” Hygiene standards are generally good, especially in tourist spots. Dietary options are expanding, especially in urban areas. International cuisine is abundant, but prices vary. Availability of certain specialty items may be limited outside major cities.

 

Healthcare System

Panama’s healthcare system is highly regarded, particularly in urban areas, often compared to Europe and the US in terms of cost and accessibility. Public and private healthcare options are available, with public services being affordable but crowded. Expats prefer private healthcare for better service and shorter wait times, especially in cities like Panama City. However, finding specialists for very unusual medical conditions might be challenging in Panama. Additionally, in remote areas, access to a good hospital may be several hours away in case of serious situations.

 

Transportation System

Public transportation in Panama relies primarily on buses and taxis. In Panama City, the Metro Bus and Panama Metro serve as major modes of transport. The Metro Bus covers extensive areas, while the Panama Metro, still expanding, offers limited reach. These systems are reliable and affordable, favored by locals and expats. Outside Panama City, options are more restricted. Local buses, known as “colectivos” or “diablos rojos,” are common in smaller areas with less predictable schedules. Long-distance buses offer comfortable and affordable travel between cities.

 

Education System

Panama is a favored spot for expat families, offering diverse education and activities for kids. International schools, like International School of Panama and Balboa Academy, provide US, UK, or IB curricula, ensuring educational continuity. Panama City hosts several educational options, offering extracurriculars and support. Local schools, though in Spanish, offer cultural immersion at a lower cost.

 

Settling in Panama: Tips for a Smooth Transition

 

How is the Job Market in Panama?

The job market in Panama offers diverse opportunities for expats, particularly in finance, technology, engineering, tourism, and English teaching. Panama City, a regional corporate hub, also provides roles in marketing, IT, and HR. However, some professions like medicine, law, and engineering are exclusive to Panamanian nationals. Expats need employer-sponsored work permits to work legally. Starting a business is straightforward but requires understanding local markets and legal procedures.

 

Banking and Finance

Panama boasts a strong, modern banking system, often favorably compared to those in the US and Europe. Many banks here comply with global standards, and efforts have enhanced transparency, reducing its tax haven status. Opening an account as an expat can be intricate. Services mimic those in the US and Europe, including checking, savings, cards, loans, and investments.

 

Culture and Social Norms

Panamanian culture emphasizes personal relationships and respect. Handshakes are customary upon meeting, using titles like “Señor” or “Señora” followed by surnames until invited to use first names. Punctuality is more relaxed, especially in social gatherings, while business meetings require timeliness. The dress code leans towards smart attire in business and neatness in social settings, with conservatism advised in rural areas or religious sites. Immersing in local traditions, Panamanian festivals, and cuisine showcases cultural interest and fosters connections with locals.

 

How Safe is Panama?

Panama is generally safe for expats compared to neighbors. Crime includes theft, pickpocketing, and burglary, usual in urban areas. Panama City has safe zones like Punta Pacifica, San Francisco, and El Cangrejo, but El Chorrillo, Curundu, and parts of Santa Ana are less safe. Outside, places like Boquete and Coronado are safe with strong expat communities.

 

What is the Religion in Panama?

Christianity dominates Panama, mainly Roman Catholicism. The majority follow Catholicism, shaping culture and traditions. Churches are abundant, and Easter and Christmas are celebrated fervently. Despite Catholic dominance, Panama embraces religious diversity openly.

 

What is the Climate like in Panama?

Panama’s climate varies by region. Panama City, the capital, enjoys warm weather year-round (22-33°C). Conversely, places like Boquete have cooler temperatures (13-24°C). The country has a tropical climate, with a wet season (May-Dec) and a dry season (Jan-Apr). The best time to visit is Jan-Apr, the driest period. If you don’t like a high temperature between 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t want to live at a higher elevation than sea level, Panama is not for you. Also, you can get a good amount of rain in many areas of the country, and, when you get to higher elevations, in some microclimates, wind can be an issue.

 

Understanding Panama's Tax System and Financial Matters

 

Best Places to Live in Panama for Expats

For individuals considering relocation, Panama stands out as the ideal choice, providing everything from the vibrant urban scene to tranquil beaches. Each locality presents a distinctive fusion of excitement, relaxation, and community. Now, let’s explore the top living destinations for expats in Panama:

 

  • Panama City
    Panama City boasts a vibrant expat scene, drawing people worldwide with its urban charm, tropical vibe, and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Its diverse, multicultural environment offers endless activities, from local festivals to exploring the art scene and savoring global cuisines. Casco Viejo is a top pick for its historic charm. With varied living options, including condos, apartments, and luxurious homes, residents can embrace Panama City’s cultural richness and natural beauty alongside a thriving expat community. View our most exciting Panama City listings!

 

  • Coronado
    Coronado, nestled in Arco Seco, attracts expats for its beaches and proximity to Panama City. The gated residential area offers diverse housing options from single-family homes to condos. Residents enjoy golf, tennis, swimming, and more. The coastal waters provide opportunities for fishing, snorkeling, and diving. Dining options cater to various tastes. With its amenities, schools, and healthcare, Coronado appeals to families, retirees, and professionals.

 

  • Pedasi
    Pedasi, a serene spot in Panama, attracts expats from the U.S., Canada, France, and Israel with its coastal charm and fishing spots. Despite limited international schooling, it offers essential amenities for a comfortable lifestyle. Housing options range from beachfront villas to custom homes, catering to diverse preferences and budgets. The welcoming expat community embraces a laid-back lifestyle, celebrating the region’s natural beauty and outdoor activities like surfing and fishing.

 

  • Boquete
    Boquete is famed for its coffee plantations and abundant fruits. This mountain town attracts expats with its mild climate, lush landscapes, and inclusive vibe. Activities like coffee tours, hiking, and birdwatching thrive in its natural beauty. Boquete offers varied housing options, vibrant arts, diverse dining, and easy access to David, Panama’s second-largest city. It’s a haven where expats blend with local culture amidst stunning vistas. Browse through our top selection of properties in Boquete!

 

  • Bocas del Toro
    Bocas del Toro, with its captivating archipelago and diverse rainforests on the mainland, draws expatriates worldwide. Nestled between Costa Rica and the Caribbean Sea in Panama’s northwest, it offers an off-grid lifestyle with a Caribbean flair. Known for its stunning beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and lush rainforests, Bocas del Toro attracts families seeking nature-centric activities. Bocas del Toro housing options vary from beachside condos to luxurious villas, appealing to those craving adventure and community in Panama.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, Panama comes with its promise of adventure, opportunity, and cultural richness in 2024. From navigating financing hurdles to embracing legal processes, our guide equips you with the knowledge needed for a seamless transition. Whether drawn to Panama City’s dynamic energy or the serene landscapes of Bocas del Toro, the possibilities are endless. As you embark on this journey, remember that Panama isn’t just a destination—it’s a lifestyle waiting to be embraced. With its welcoming community and diverse offerings, 2024 marks the perfect time to embark on your Panama adventure.

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