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Living in Panama - The Pros and Cons

Introduction: Panama is a country that has been gaining recognition as an expat destination. With its solid infrastructure, beautiful landscapes, and welcoming locals, it offers a unique and appealing lifestyle for those looking to live abroad. In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of living in Panama, provide insider tips for expats, and explore why Panama is considered the top expat destination in Central America.

Living in Panama: The Pros and Cons

Pros of Living in Panama:

1. Safety for Expats: Panama is considered a safe country for foreigners to live in. The crime rate is relatively low, and expats feel secure in their daily lives. According to Jessica Ramesch, a writer for International Living, the welcoming and hospitable nature of the Panamanian people contributes to the sense of safety in the country.

2. Use of the US Dollar: One of the significant advantages of living in Panama is that it uses the US dollar as its official currency. This offers stability and convenience to expats, especially those from the United States. It eliminates the need for complicated currency exchanges and provides a familiar monetary system.

3. Happy Residents: The Panamanian people are known for their positive and joyful nature. Expats often enjoy the friendly and welcoming atmosphere in Panama, and it contributes to their overall happiness and well-being.

4. Affordable Cost of Living: Panama offers an affordable cost of living compared to many other countries. Expats can live comfortably on a lower budget, especially in smaller towns and rural areas. In places like Azuero Peninsula, it is possible to live on a monthly budget as low as $1,000, including rent, utilities, groceries, and outings.

5. High-Quality Healthcare: Panama has a robust healthcare system with modern facilities and well-trained doctors. Expats can expect to receive high-quality medical care at a fraction of the cost compared to the United States. In Panama City, for example, there is a renowned hospital affiliated with Johns Hopkins International.

6. Modern Infrastructure: Panama boasts a well-developed infrastructure, with reliable services such as high-speed internet, electricity, and drinkable tap water. The roads are well-maintained, and the transportation system is efficient. Expats can enjoy the comforts and conveniences of a developed country while living in Panama.

Cons of Living in Panama:

1. Embracing the Mañana Principle: One of the challenges expats may face in Panama is adjusting to the relaxed and sometimes slow pace of life. The mañana principle, which means that things will happen eventually, can be frustrating for those accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle. Adapting to this mindset requires patience and a willingness to embrace a slower rhythm of life.

2. Bureaucratic Problems: Administrative procedures in Panama can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Expats may encounter challenges when dealing with government offices or completing bureaucratic tasks. Patience and a willingness to navigate through these systems are necessary to overcome these obstacles.

3. Love for Partying and Enjoying Life: Panamanians have a vibrant social scene, and their love for partying and enjoying life can be overwhelming for some expats. The festivities can be frequent and go late into the night. While this can be exciting and fun, it may also disrupt the quieter and more peaceful lifestyle some expats seek.

Insider Tips for Living in Panama:

In this section, we will provide specific tips and insights for expats in various areas, including Panama holidays, tipping etiquette, LGBTQ rights and acceptance, and marijuana laws. These insider tips will help expats navigate cultural nuances and make the most out of their experience in Panama.

Guide to Panama - The Top Expat Destination in Central America:

Overview of Panama: Panama offers a diverse landscape, with beautiful coastlines, mountains, rainforests, and tropical islands. The country's geographical location makes it an international hub, attracting tourists and expats alike. Its strategic position between North and South America, along with its well-connected transportation system, allows easy access to various destinations.

Key Aspects of Panama: Panama's climate is tropical, with variations across different regions. The country has a rich history, from its colonization by the Spanish to gaining independence and eventually controlling the Panama Canal. Getting to Panama is relatively easy, with direct flights from major cities around the world. The economy is growing, and the government is pro-business, making it an attractive option for investors.

Popular Expat Locations in Panama: Panama City, El Valle, Coronado, Pedasi, and Boquete are some of the popular destinations for expats in Panama. Each location offers unique advantages and appeals to different lifestyles. Panama City, for example, is a cosmopolitan capital with a vibrant nightlife, while Boquete is known for its cooler climate and stunning natural landscapes.

Things to Do in Panama: Panama offers a wide range of activities and attractions for expats to enjoy. From outdoor adventures like hiking, surfing, and scuba diving to cultural experiences such as exploring historical sites and attending festivals, there is something for everyone. The country's diverse landscapes provide countless opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Cost of Living in Panama: The affordability of living in Panama is one of its major advantages. Expats can live comfortably on a lower budget, especially in smaller towns and rural areas. The cost of housing, healthcare, and everyday expenses is comparatively lower than in many other countries.


Living in Panama offers a unique and rewarding experience for expats. The country's safety, use of the US dollar, affordable cost of living, high-quality healthcare, and modern infrastructure are significant advantages. However, adjusting to the relaxed pace of life, navigating bureaucratic procedures, and adapting to the vibrant social scene can be challenges. By exploring the diverse landscapes, engaging in local culture, and embracing the welcoming Panamanian people, expats can enjoy a fulfilling life in this Central American gem.