The Top 5 Expat Communities in Panama

Exploring Panama’s expat communities unveils a vibrant tapestry of cultures and lifestyles. In this article, we delve into the top five expat havens within this Central American gem. From the bustling streets of Panama City to the serene shores of Bocas del Toro, each community offers a unique blend of adventure, comfort, and community. Whether you’re seeking a retiree’s paradise, a digital nomad hotspot, or a family-friendly haven, Panama has something for everyone. Join us as we navigate through these diverse enclaves, uncovering the reasons why expats from around the globe choose to call Panama home.


  1. Panama City: A Coastal Metropolis with a Vibrant Culture
  2. Bocas del Toro: Magical Caribbean Paradise
  3. Pedasi: Tranquil Coastal Living in a Quaint Town Setting
  4. Boquete: A Lively Mountain Community with Refreshing Temperatures
  5. Coronado: Panama’s Pristine Beachfront Paradise
  6. Conclusion


Panama City: A Coastal Metropolis with a Vibrant Culture

Panama City is renowned for its dynamic expat community, attracting individuals globally with its urban sophistication, tropical ambiance, and cosmopolitan flair. The city’s diverse, multicultural vibe is among its greatest attractions, presenting an endless array of activities. From engaging in local festivals, and immersing oneself in the vibrant art scene, to savoring international flavors, Panama City never lacks in entertainment options. For expatriate families, Boston School International stands out as a premier educational institution. The city also boasts the Multiplaza Mall, a destination for those seeking high-end shopping experiences. Living in Panama City means having access to numerous transportation options, facilitating smooth travel throughout the city. The healthcare system, particularly at Pacífica Salud Hospital Punta Pacífica, is notable for its high standards and accessibility, with many English-speaking professionals who have trained in the US or Europe. Challenges such as traffic, the humid climate, and a primarily Spanish-speaking society exist, but the robust international community and frequent expat gatherings create a welcoming environment for newcomers to connect and form friendships. Casco Viejo is a favorite among expats for its distinctive appeal and historical ambiance. The city offers a broad spectrum of living arrangements, from high-end condos and apartments to luxurious houses, catering to varied tastes and preferences. Panama City’s cultural diversity, bolstered by its thriving expat population, ensures that residents can easily find companionship, engage with local traditions, or simply enjoy the rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty Panama has to offer.



Bocas del Toro: Magical Caribbean Paradise

Bocas del Toro encompasses both a stunning archipelago off the coast and a part of the mainland characterized by diverse rainforests. This province, which shares its borders with Costa Rica and the Caribbean Sea in Panama’s northwestern region, has become a favored destination for expatriates globally. Its appeal lies in the adventurous, off-grid lifestyle it offers, combined with a distinctive Caribbean vibe. Renowned for its exquisite white-sand beaches, lively coral reefs, and verdant rainforests, Bocas del Toro invites a plethora of activities like snorkeling, swimming, fishing, and hiking, attracting younger families seeking a nature-immersed lifestyle. Education options include a few small private schools, with homeschooling being common, alongside language schools and private tutors for those wishing to enhance their Spanish language proficiency for better community integration. Healthcare facilities are available within the archipelago, including the Centro Medico Dr. Thomas S. Harricks in Bocas Town, though more comprehensive medical services may necessitate travel to the mainland. Transportation mainly involves bicycles and yellow taxis for short distances. The locale boasts a variety of dining and shopping venues, offering everything from local delicacies to imported goods, which might be slightly more expensive than elsewhere in Panama. Nonetheless, local produce remains readily available and reasonably priced, often sourced directly from local farmers. Housing options in Bocas del Toro range from quaint beachside condos to luxurious Mediterranean villas, with other options like beach shacks and modern tropical huts nestled between the rainforest and coast. Bocas del Toro stands out as an enticing choice for expatriates contemplating a new life in Panama, offering a blend of adventure, tranquility, and a close-knit community.



Pedasi: Tranquil Coastal Living in a Quaint Town Setting

Pedasi, a quaint region in Panama, has become a favored destination for expats from the U.S., Canada, France, and Israel, drawn by its oceanic allure, fishing opportunities, and more. This charming area is known for its serene rural charm paired with essential amenities for comfortable living, despite its limited international schooling options due to its smaller, locally-focused community. Families often opt for local schools or consider education options in larger cities. The healthcare infrastructure, with the Minsa-Capsi facility providing urgent care, lab tests, pharmacy, ambulance services, and a public clinic, caters to immediate needs, while more complex medical services necessitate travel to cities like Las Tablas or Chitre. Transportation within Pedasi is easily navigated by bike or on foot, reflecting the area’s cozy scale. Shopping is focused on small local stores for everyday needs, with residents heading to Chitre or Santiago for more extensive purchases, where larger malls and stores, including Pricemart, are available. Housing in Pedasi spans a range from luxurious beachfront villas to custom homes and land for development, accommodating various preferences and budgets. The expat community in Pedasi is notably welcoming and supportive, fostering a laid-back lifestyle that celebrates the region’s natural splendor, beaches, and activities like surfing and fishing. Social events, community groups, and cultural exploration opportunities abound, ensuring smooth integration for newcomers into this vibrant and close-knit community.



Boquete: A Lively Mountain Community with Refreshing Temperatures

Boquete, nestled in the Chiriquí province is renowned for its floral beauty, coffee plantations, and abundance of fruits. This charming mountain town has gained popularity among expatriates worldwide, drawn by its temperate climate, verdant landscapes, and inclusive community. It offers plenty of activities and events, there are several tours available that take you behind the scenes of Boquete’s coffee industry and also ample opportunities for hiking and bird watching in Boquete’s stunning natural setting. Properties in Boquete offer a range of housing options from houses to apartments for rent or purchase, Boquete boasts a vibrant arts scene, diverse dining choices, multiple golf courses, and convenient access to David, Panama’s largest and most accessible city after the bustling capital. Local schools in Boquete are accommodating, with private and bilingual options available to cater to the international community. For specialized education, neighboring David offers institutions like The Oxford School. Healthcare needs are well met in David, with facilities like Hospital Centro Medico Mae Lewis providing comprehensive medical services. Transportation within Boquete is convenient, with buses and taxis readily available for longer journeys and daily needs. Shopping options abound, from local markets for fresh produce to larger supermarkets and specialty stores in David for extensive needs. Boquete offers a relaxed lifestyle bolstered by a strong expat community, ensuring newcomers find familiarity while embracing Panamanian culture. Whether it’s art, outdoor pursuits, or simply soaking in the breathtaking scenery, Boquete caters to a diverse array of interests and preferences.



Coronado: Panama’s Pristine Beachfront Paradise

Coronado, situated in the Arco Seco region, earns its name for receiving minimal rainfall compared to other parts of Panama. This coastal gem has gained popularity among expats relocating to Panama due to its stunning beaches and proximity to Panama City. The primary residential area of Coronado comprises a gated community featuring a variety of housing options, including single-family homes, estates, townhomes, and high-rise condos. Residents have ample opportunities for leisure activities such as golf, tennis, swimming, and pickleball. Additionally, the clear coastal waters provide venues for fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and hiking adventures. For families seeking educational options, Coronado and its environs host several international schools, including the Panama Coast International School located in Gorgona, which follows a North American curriculum and embraces a diverse student body. Healthcare services are commendable in Coronado, with numerous private clinics and hospitals like Clinica Hospital San Fernando available. However, residents are advised to secure health insurance covering Panama. Transportation expenses are reasonable, with taxis being a convenient and affordable mode of local travel. Many residents opt to own vehicles for commuting to Panama City or navigating the area more conveniently. Coronado boasts a plethora of shopping opportunities, ranging from local fruit stands to large North American-style grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and strip malls. Its dining scene offers a diverse array of culinary delights, catering to various tastes with local cafes and upscale restaurants. With its picturesque landscapes, comprehensive amenities, educational institutions, and healthcare facilities, Coronado presents an enticing prospect for expatriates seeking a well-rounded lifestyle suitable for families, retirees, and professionals alike.




In conclusion, Panama stands out for the allure of expatriate living, offering a mosaic of experiences for every type of adventurer. From the vibrant urban landscape of Panama City to the tranquil beaches of Bocas del Toro, each expat community boasts its own charm and opportunities. Whether you’re a retiree seeking relaxation, a digital nomad in pursuit of connectivity, or a family yearning for a new beginning, Panama beckons with open arms. Explore these top five expat havens and discover the warmth, diversity, and endless possibilities that make Panama a truly remarkable destination for expatriates worldwide.

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