“I’ve heard that Panama is great so I’m moving there. Where should I live?” People ask this question in one form or another quite often. There is no answer that will fit everyone. Panama is a small country but very diverse. There is city living, country living, beaches, mountains, pretty much everything except winter climate.
When trying to figure this out, the first thing to ask yourself is what do you need? If you are working remotely, you need a good internet connection. If you have health issues, you need to be close to medical care. If you have children, you need to figure out school for them. If you need shopping and daily needs close by, you don’t want to be in a remote area. What you must have is going to determine what areas are possibilities.
Bob Adams is a very knowledgeable and sensible man who has made many videos. Here is a one on this subject.
A few other things to consider are, what is your budget? Panama City is expensive, especially the housing. Coronado, Boquete, and other areas with many expats also tend to be more expensive. Do you speak Spanish? If not, you may be more comfortable in an area where there are more English speakers. Do you want to be close to other expats, or do you want a Panamanian immersion kind of life? Do you like warm (hot) weather, or would you be more comfortable in the cooler mountains? Once you have taken a careful look at yourself and your needs, you should be able to narrow down your search to some areas that meet these needs.
Another question that comes up is – should I rent or buy? Everyone (at least everyone who isn’t trying to sell you something) will say rent first for at least 6-12 months. You need to spend time here living the daily life to be sure it is a good fit. You may find that one season is great, but another is too windy, wet, hot, cold, or other problems. Maybe you want to be closer to something, or farther away from something. It’s hard to know what your new life is going to be like until you have lived it for a while. I know if we were going to buy, our choices and priorities would be different now after four years than they were even after living here for a year. Once you buy, it may not be that easy to change your mind and sell so proceed carefully.
Then, after location and housing, the question is – what should I bring? Again, this is an individual choice. People ship whole containers, and others come with only a suitcase. It is hard to know what you will need until you have lived your life here for a while. Will your furniture hold up in this humid climate? Will you wear those good clothes when you live in shorts and t-shirts? The general opinion is, if something is hard to impossible to replace here, bring it (like my husband’s guitars and musical equipment). Many find it worth it to bring their good quality tools or kitchen equipment, and other recommend bringing sheets and towels because they can’t find the quality they want here. I’ve known people who have shipped containers, partial containers, come with stuffed suitcases, made multiple trips to bring things here, and even a relocation cruise is a possibility if you can find one.
That’s all the words I have on the subject for today. Many people are happy to offer opinions, but only you can decide what will work for you. Oh, and I highly recommend you never, ever even think about buying anything under development or pre-construction. The reality is likely to be quite different from the glossy sales brochure and the sweet words of the salesman. I’ve heard stories from people who have done that, and you don’t want to be the next story.
I guess I did have a few more words 😉