Forum Post
12/08/07 08:30
Richard Cartier

moving to Panama

Good day,

I am from England and looking at moving back to the Caribbean. I have heard from friends that Panama has very good incentives for those that wish to retire there.

What I would be very interested in, would be to buy a plot of land and build my own home. Can you please let me know the situation for a British person buying land in your country? Also do you have any plots of land that sits back high up that over looks the Caribbean seas?

Any advice would be great. I heard about Alto del Maria, although its not on the Caribbean side it is only an hour away from Panama city so that may be a compromise... What do you think?

Look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Richard Cartier

Archived Replies

This post has a total of 36 replies. The most recent 25 are shown below, you can view the complete archive here: moving to Panama archive. Your feedback, comments, opinions and questions are welcome and encouraged.

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Comment 12
02/26/10 17:20
DALLAS TEXAS
Thank author of this post/comment"RESPONDING to the LIES of DANIEL HARDWICK"

All that this man named (Comment #12) Daniel Hardwick is saying about Panama is a big Lie , First : You can not expect all those living in Panama speak English because if you did not know before, the language used in Panama is Spanish. The Majority of North Americans speak only one language. Many people in Europe and Latin America we speak 2 Languages. Second: Living in Panama is much cheaper than in the United States for many reasons that are easy to investigate on the internet. Third : Crimes and crazy people are all over the world and in all countries that happens. Because of your words full of hate I can pretty much guess that a woman in Panama Broke your Heart and left you because you are a BIG Liar and Big Clown .

Comment 13
03/27/10 10:39
Marcial

"living in panama"

..whao this guy above hasa issues..to include being a Racist..no wonder Panama isn't for you..I've been comming to this country for a number of years own numerous properties..and plan on making it my home..true it is different here..everything moves slower than in the usa which is not a bad thing..less stress, heart attacks..ulcers, strokes, suicides and drug overdoses.Crime per capita is nothing compare to any big city in the u.s.Yes it is frustrating doing your shopping, banking and getting things done, but since weveryone is in the samo frame of mind whats the difference.If you take in consideration how life is in the states , the loss of freedom, tax, tax, tax, tax, loss of privacy, police state..local and federal..When to get up and when to go home at night..and DUIs..I'll pay the $20.00 over loosing my license because I had a couple or was speeding.or have rights violated by some polital jerk power monger.

I enjoy the freedom this country has to offer..once offered in my beautiful USA.

Comment 14
03/27/10 14:28
New York
Thank author of this post/comment"Discuss the Issues"

Let's discuss the issues vigorously and keep insults of each other to a minimum!
Comment 15
03/30/10 01:35
H. DUGAN

"medical tourist / possible new residentt"

I'm coming down for medical and intend to take a look around after the surgery repairs some injuries that just cost too much in the U.S.A.

Looking for a town that is near but elevated for cooler temperature and hopefully a fewer mosquitos to do my recuperation and physical rehab.

Got any suggestions on that and a security driver, house keeper/cook for the period or should I look at a law firm for the info needed.

Comment 16
04/09/10 12:28
International Citizen :-)
Thank author of this post/comment"Reply regarding Daniels Post a no Hype Perspective"

I just wanted to give a realistic, hopefully no hype response to Daniel's thread.

I am very sorry to hear about his partner, and I can see how something like that would taint his experiences.

I have been in Panama off and on for about 1 year, and coming here for just over 2, so here is another hopefully no hype perspective.

1. 95% of the population only Speaks Spanish and you Need to Know Spanish.

I would say the percentage of strictly Spanish speakers is less than 95%, but many service people do only speak Spanish. You can get by in your day to day activities without speaking Spanish.

Its a pain, but you can do it. One thing I noticed, is if you attempt to speak Spanish, you get a little more respect and suddenly someone who "Only speaks Spanish" starts talking to you in English.

A good knowlege of Spanish is almost required when things aren't day to day" like your car (or something in your apartment breaks), and accident, etc. It gets very difficult without speaking Spanish.

I say "almost" required because my Spanish is not good, and we have struggled through. I know people who have lived here 5 or 6 years who don't speak any Spanish, but I think that is the wrong approach.

2. Gasoline may be $1.00 cheaper in Miami, I don't know. But it is more expensive in Washington than in Panama. Not a lot, pretty much on par. Much cheaper than Canada.

3. Auto insurance $1300 in Panama, $650 in Miami

Don't know where you got your auto insurance, but ouch. I don't know anyone who spends anywhere near that much. Depending on coverage $200 and up.

4. Purchase Prices of Condos Higher than Miami

Maimi has crashed big time, so this is believable now. I know you could never get a water front condo anywhere on the west coast for $250, 000 though even with the crash. Any major city on the West coast would still be almost double. Like I said, I know Maimi crashed. As a side note, I checked out Ft. Lauderdale, and Panama is still cheaper for an equivelent condo. The gap is less than it used to be though, because the US nosed dived and Panama prices haven't dropped.

5. Getting things Done.

Ok, getting things done is a pain, especially if you don't speak Spanish. But it doesn't take 2 months for a drivers licence and 3 months for a vehicle license. It takes 1 or 2 days max for each depending on how prepared you are, and how early you start in the morning. And in the case of vehicle registration you can hire someone to do it for you.

6. You can't take Taxi's?

Ok, there is a risk. But there is a risk in the US that is just as high. In fact, I have heard of more US and Canada instances of problems in Taxis than in Panama.

You have to be careful for sure, but I have never had a problem and I used to take taxis all the time.

So, I would say risky yes, but a certain death or "Americans don't take taxis" is totally bogus. And "You cannot take public transit" as total garbage. Everyone takes public transit (at least taxis).

7. Groceries more Expensive than Miami.

Have to agree, at least for packaged goods and anything imported. You will definately pay more for your favorite brands of packaged goods. And good beef (which is I admit hard to come by). Produce and local poultry and seafood etc are much less expensive in Panama.

8. Clothing more Expensive in Panama

Hmm depends. Brand name clothing is similar or maybe more expensive in Panama. If you don't care about brand, you can definately get MUCH cheaper clothing here.

9. "Police will Shake You Down ..."

I don't see this. I know I have heard stories about bribes. But this is definately getting better. I have been stopped at several road checks and never had a problem. I got stopped for an infraction and got off with a warning. I had no idea I even broke a law. I did get the feeling he may have been fishing for a bribe, but I can't even say that for sure because my Spanish is bad. Overall, I am no where near as nervous here when I have a police car following me, than I am in the US.

10. Driving Unsafe

Yep, no argument here. They drive like maniacs. If you are a nervous driver to begin with, you do NOT want to drive in Panama city. But I have heard it is much worse in Costa Rica, Milan and other big cities. I can't argue though, it is crazy.

11. Crime / Murder Rate.

First of all, yes there is crime and it is bad. But I do want to put it in perspective. Crime is getting bad everywhere. Home invasions are off the charts in the US and Canada to.

One of our first trips here we heard a shootout in front of our condo. That gave us pause. It was 3 in the morning, and we were getting ready to go to the airport to fly back to the US.

The day we returned to the US though, there was a shoot out at the mall in Seattle, in the middle of the afternoon. So, shoot out in the middle of the night involving a couple of drug dealers or a shootout in the middle of the day in the middle of a mall where there are innocent people around?

Also, yes, the Murder rate is very high. But, a vast majority of those murders are between drug dealers. So the number in my opinion is sku'd. Murders involving foreigners is actually pretty rare (but happens).

Overall, Panama is not without its problems. But, there are problems everywhere. In my opinion, and that of my friends here, the benefit / problem ratio makes Panama a much better choice than the states.

But you have to make your own decision.

I included a link to an article about Casco Viejo that shows how contrasts in perspective can change your views. And why no one should tell you that you will hate (or even love) Panama.

Comment 17
04/09/10 14:25
International Citizen :-)
Thank author of this post/comment"Bank Issue"

Oh, ya,

Opening a bank account shouldn't take 3 months either, but the reason it is such a pain, is because of the US's heavy handed rules. Not Panama.

Comment 18
04/11/10 15:21
karina

"Depressing News"

Well, I really don't know what to believe anymore, I just want out of this cold weather every year and all the problems we are facing in the USA its not looking good. We lost money in the stock market last few years and that was depressing, and I was leaving this month with my family who is from Argentina to look at property in the Panama area. They all know what it is like to live in this kind of life style, but they want the tropical weather and their goverment hasn't changed much over the years. We looked in Costa Rica last year and ran into some problems, and I really did not like the looks of that place. Bars on all the windows, scarey, but I would love to live in the David area or Mountain area, my husband farms and would love to have some new friends and tranquility. We know about not flashing money ect. but we will be on a fixed icome and want the weather and all. Now listened to all this I am scared to go in a way. Are there any Americans or Canadian folks out there that can stir us in the right direction? Thanks
Comment 19
04/12/10 10:59
Dar

"Moving to Panama"

Commett #23

Let me see if I can help. Panama City is very hectic and I do not recommend it to anyone who wants tranquility. Yes most all of the homes in Panama have bars on the windows, except in the newer developments. We just sold our home here in Washington state and are building in Boquete. We have made several trips and fell in love with the Boquete area on our first trip and bought a lot. We will be moving into a development called Montanas de Caldera. (No bars on the windows) Many many years ago, it was not safe to live in a country that supported the drug cartel. Panama with help from the US has done a great job cleaning up the country. I can tell you that I feel safer walking down the streets of Panama City and Boquete than I do in New York City or Chicago or LA. We too have been stopped at check points along the Panamerican Hwy. Never once have we felt we needed to bribe the police. I'm not saying this does not happen, we have just never experienced it.

I have said in this forum many times, "you are a guest in this country, treat them with respect and be kind, don't try and make them see the American way of doing things. Which is often very hurried." When you treat someone with kindness, often you will receive it in return. Like any place in the world you have issues that are hard to deal with, just keep your cool and relax.

The reason we decided on Boquete was they have a huge population of Americans and Canandians and no matter where you go in town, the Pensionado's invite you to sit at their table and chat. We have made some very good friends down there and are very excited about our final move which will be at the end of this year when our home is done.

Go--take the plunge. You will not regret it. This will be a new chapter in our life and we look forward to the challenge. Our kids think we are going through our second childhood. What a great second childhood it will be.

Comment 20
04/13/10 09:59
International Citizen :-)
Thank author of this post/comment"Good reply Dar"

Do not be "scared" of moving to Panama. It is a friendly and beautiful country overall. There are problems, but there are problems everywhere. Like Dar said, walk down the streets of LA at night and see how safe you feel. Here I walk in most areas all the time. Some areas need to be avoided, just like any big city in the world.

There are things that may drive you crazy. You have 2 choices, you can let them get to you, and you will hate Panama.

Or you can embrase them as different. And you will love it.

One thing I have noticed about the people who HATE Panama, is they tend to exaggerate the bad things. Which makes them pretty unbeleivable. And maybe some people who like Panama Hype the good.

If you are worried, come here and spend a few months. Don't buy, rent. That way you can see for yourself.

Panama City - Big, Exciting, Many Americans and Canadians, Very Hectic, Driving intense.

Pacific Beaches - Much quieter, many Americans and Canadians (boring for some). Getting more ammenitities all the time. New malls, hospitals, ect. Close to Panama City, but not in Panama City. Also includes some higher (cooler areas like El Valle and Altos Del Maria)

Boquette - Tranquil, relaxed, beautiful. A little cooler. Many Expats. Very far from Panama City

Atlantic Beaches (Portobello, Isla Grande) - Beautiful, but very isolated. Very few amenities

Bocos Del Toro - Can't comment. Looks very nice, but limited amenities.

Comment 21
04/15/10 17:35
Panama-Central america
Thank author of this post/comment"panama"

Hi

Panama has good and bad thing it all depends on how much are you willing to sacrifice for the good things, comparison with what you dont like in your country

Health care cost is number one here, for most expats, accessible and affordable if compare to USA..

Building a house may be too much trouble if you dont speak the language but is doesn't mean is impossible..if you have the money I suggest to buy something you like and remodel..rather than start from scratch..and rent as long as you can so when you decided you are sure its the best option for you..

You can spend months in Panama and get extension or leave and be back, while you study options and get a feeling..

If you cant live without the main options a city can offer you should stick to panama city , but if you feel comfortable away from the city then chiriqui could be for you,

I am an attorney in Panama if you need further answers and my mom is a realtor, at www.panamagreen.net for rentals and properties in panama and chiriqui.

Comment 22
04/18/10 23:27
Zan

"Highly overrated!"

I am a well traveled person and I have seen lots of other countries and places. I have been all over Panama and here is what I can say about it:

1- It's highly overrated by most websites mainly coz almost all of them just want to sell you something.

2- Everybody in Panama is a real estate agent, knows one or relates to one for one single reason. Commission!

3- Police does take bribes and they do stop you for a reason or not to do the shaking. However, I usually pay $10 bux and not $80!!!

4- Services are non existent! I even sometimes waited on the owner to finish her personal call and still, didn't ask me for what I wanted!?

5- Panama City is CROWDED, NOISY and POLLUTED!

6- Panama City is way expensive and for no fricken good reason?

7- Weather? What weather? Either rainy or humid!?

8- Mosquitoes galore!

If anybody decides to move to it, he/she should RENT first!

DO NOT, unless you have ton of money and time on hands, try to build anything! They will milk you left and right! Aside from the shabby and untimely work you'd get.

So, to move to Panama you'd have to have a much worse case than it. If yes, move by all means!

Z.

Comment 23
04/19/10 11:25
Australia
Thank author of this post/comment"Honest views and experiences"

Hello Zan,

Thank you for sharing your experiences, its important to get a well rounded view. Can I just ask, you say you have been "all over" Panama, could you share some specific opinions on certain areas?

I am aware that Panama is not perfect, not developing (or developed!) country is, but I would like to go there to rent for a while and decide for myself if it is for me. Of all the places you saw there, were there any that were much better than others?

Comment 24
04/20/10 17:58
New York
Thank author of this post/comment"Sacrifice"

I don't completely disagree with Patricia in #25. However, I can't imagine with all the hype about Panama being a "paradise" that one could possibly use the word "sacrifice" in connection with living there!

Something must be rotten in Denmark... or maybe it's not Denmark!

Comment 25
04/28/10 21:26
Panama-Central america
Thank author of this post/comment"LEGAL OPTIONS"

BECAUSE THIS IS MY SUBJECT I CAN ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS,

THE FIRST THING YOU SHOULD KNOW IS YOU HAVE 3 MONTHS TO EXPLORE THE COUNTRY AS A TOURIST, VISA.

YOU CAN LEAVE PANAMA AND GO TO COSTA RICA AFTER A COUPLE OF DAYS OR JUST VISIT ANY OTHER COUNTRY CLOSE BY AND BE BACK FOR OTHER 3 MONTHS.

IF YOU HAVE A FOR LIFE PENSION ABOVE 1000, YOU CAN APPLY AS A PENSIONADO VISA.

YOU CAN APPLY FOR RESIDENCY AS A TEAK INVESTOR, MINIMUM OD 80.000US AND OBTAIN PERMANENT RESIDENCY.

THOSE ARE THE CHEAPEST OPTIONS, THEN YOU HAVE OTHER OPTIONS WITH HIGHER INVESTMENTS.

AS A FOREIGNER YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE ANY PROBLEMS BUYING LAND, WE USUALLY RECOMMEND TO SET UP A CORPORATION TO PROTECT YOUR ASSETS AND OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT,

BUYING LAND, WE RECOMMEND A DUE DILIGENCE TO BE SURE ITS NOT A RIGHT OF POSES ION, THAT COULD BELONG TO ANOTHER OWNER..OR HAS BEEN TAKEN TO COURT..

FOR LAND, CHECK WWW.PANAMAGREEN.NET

ANY QUESTIONS,

EMAIL ME TO PATPANAMA@GMAIL.COM I WILL BE HAPPY TO VOLUNTER ANY ANSWERS,

Comment 26
07/22/10 16:26
Dar

"Murder Stats"

Daniel

Your statistics are misleading. The stats you quote are for "Central America, " which encompasses 7 countries. (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, quatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama.) I did not use the term "Central America" when I stated that I felt safer in PC than New York, LA or Chicago. Yes there is crime in any city and in any country in the world. Some more than others. But please if you are going to show us examples or statistics please lets use Panama only as this is the forum we are on. Also I believe that you could walk down the streets in your current town and find many people who have had bad experiences in that town. I live in a small rural town in Washington state about 1 hour from Seattle and I can tell you we have crime here too. We have even had a few murders. But this is not the norm. My husband and I experienced a burglary in our home a few years ago and they stole about 40, 000 worth of stuff. They hit about seven homes in our area. So you see, , , , no matter where you live, this can happen. They never did catch the jerks who broke into our home and we never recovered any of our items.

I think some people are not as accepting of your life style as others. Even though that is no excuse to hinder an investigation. It sounds like you two had a great life together and maybe some day you will have that again with another. But if not, hope you find peace in Florida. As for us, we are going forward. Good luck and I truly am sorry for your loss. Our good friend just lost his partner of 18 years, at the age of 45. He too is having a very tough time of it. No one can imagine your pain unless they have been through something like that. Hope it gets resolved.

Comment 27
10/29/10 14:02
Rod

"Daniel is right ( 15 years living there)"

All the things Daniel said are true . Im from Spain , living now in other country than Panama and I moved from there because of the bad weather ( 90 degrees and high humidity) and mostly because most of the people are ed up . When I go to visit taxis want to charge me 3 or 4$ when its 1.5$ . Mostly everybody wants a piece of your money if you are european or american . It s really sad .

It s really EXPENSIVE , for living a nice life there you have to be earning at least 2.000 a month . Rents are really high, food is expensive, cars are expensive , gas is expensive , insurance is expensive , electric bills are... well , highest in the world and you cant live without the AC turned the whole day on....i was paying about 100$ a month just me .

Many panamenian women are behind men for money , ok that happens everywhere but more in latin countries . City is dirty , NOISY AS HELL / i hate that) , traffic is ANNOYING and crime is skyrocketing . I lived with fear of getting robbed and Im 6`1`` 200 pounds .Never happened anything tough , maybe cause I walked with a tough and disgusting attitude so nobody would attack me .

Most people there a re plenty ignorant , they wont read or have any cultural interest in painting , literature , science ... it s all drinking and partying . I d say 80% of people . I met really interesting persons tough but they are rare ...a lot of SNOB people which I dont like , you know people that judge you based if you are white and have money , which car you drive and that .

i live in Mexico DF and believe me, wont move from here.. people is much nicer , place is way better, more culture, activities, nice parks, not 90 degrees anymore ... Im sorry to say this but Panama is not a paradise .

Only good things I can say it s my old friends are really cool and nice persons , and the green parts are awesome .. Balboa, parts of Colon , Bocas del toro...

oh , the malls and tall buildings sure are cool .. and you ll see a lot of Maserati- Benz - Porsches in the street if you like me like nice cars :).

Comment 28
11/06/10 03:25
lynie

Hi there! Panama is a multicultural place, with large population from different parts of the world. Panamanians are very helpful and and extremely very friendly. They love to give others advices. You can find many ethnic stores in certain parts of the city mostly Chinese and Indian stores. Panama is a great place.
Comment 29
12/16/10 22:03
Alabama-Panama
Thank author of this post/comment"A lot of great points here"

I first would like to thank Daniel for sharing. Not everyone fits in everywhere. Panama City is not for the relaxing type. Driving is like NASCAR without the rules. The language barrier has not been that difficult because I have found many Panamanians eager to help, unlike how Mexicans are treated in the US. Yes, it is a hurry up and wait society. That is why you have to put yourself with people that know how to get things done. With the right paperwork, you can open a bank account within a few days...we did. Hiring a good lawyer, one that has been referred is a must. You also cannot depend on what anyone says...the laws are constantly changing....they don't take months to make rules. If Martinelli wants it...it happens tomorow. As for holidays, yes....the people party and things shut down. The main problem is that you don't have as many national chain stores and businesses unless you are in the malls so, just like 1950's America..they close and respect days like Mothers Day much more and don't work. But, you can still get anything you need at the malls. As for pricing....are you kidding? Penthouses that are 2200 sq. ft., on the ocean for $350, 000! Try finding that in Destin, FL for under $500, 000. New visitors should hire a driver. I have two great people if anyone needs names and numbers...it is worth it to spend $100/day to have a good driver with a nice car. To rent a Prado you will spend $100/day and be scared to death of driving and if you have a wreck, you have to go to court. You can also find these drivers at every hotel. I have a few tips. 1) keep your wine list at the table. If you give it back, they may charge you double what it was priced...especially in some restaurants in Uruguay. 2) If you are planning to move and not retire...technically you cannot work there...just like the US, you would need a work Visa. But, what most Americans do is work as consultants for Panamanians. Especially realtors. With Obamacare, I predict that many doctors will want to move to Panama. The problem is that they cannot practice unless they are Panamanian or go through the ten year process. But, with the new trade agreement with the US, hopefully that will change soon. 3) all taxis have to be painted yellow now and the colorful worn out school buses are being replaced as we speak and they will be bought by the government and turned into school buses which will definitely improve traffic as more will use them now that the new ones have A/C. I only had one instance where a taxi driver carried me through the scary part of Chorillo on the way to Amador at 10pm....very scary, but that is where most of the crime is that create those numbers. Every other taxi ride was great except for some crappy cars. Plan to spend $2 for short rides and $3 for across town. If you get a ride from one of the larger minivans near hotels, plan to spend twice that. 4) You have to throw away your thoughts of spending one day to go and get things...things like furniture mean purchasing and waiting for delivery....3-4 days and that is not guaranteed. The day before delivery, personally go by the store and confirm. Also, check your building admin for delivery times allowed. Offices usually do not allow any work or deliveries of large items during work hours. 5) Items sometimes cost a little more, but if you stay away from North American labels on groceries, etc. you will do fine. Where you save the most money is on services....a live in maid for $300/month. Lawyers for pennies compared to the US....doctors and chiropractors that even make housecalls...that is the huge difference in expenses. I have learned an immense amount and made many great connections in one year. I don't look at Panama as this wonderland that is better than the US. I look as Panama as a place to escape the oppression of US politics and as the dollar continues to crash...I suggest that anyone with some cash, buy something in Panama. Panama has seen growth of over 6% each year for the past 3 years...cannot say that about the US. I look at Panama as 1950's America....a budding infrastructure, but one with hope.
Comment 30
01/06/11 16:47
mike wilson

"las tablas"

Read all the messages on both pages and it seems there are more "ranters" then "ravers". The "ravers" came across as credible while the "ranters" sounded more like whinners that would probably complain after winning a million balboa lotto, because it wasn't two million. In any case, I'm still moving to Panama come hades or high water. I'm hoping someone out there can give me some factual info on Las Tablas. Will listen to both ranters and ravers, Thanks mawilson1@live.com
Comment 31
01/07/11 04:38
New York
Thank author of this post/comment"Ranters and Ravers"

They are both right and they are both wrong. Each person has openly expressed their views on Panama as impacted by their experiences.

Others will have different experiences and others will have similar experiences with the same or different reactions to them.

Like you said, one person wins a million in the lottery and is disappointed they didn't win 2, another is thrilled! One person is mugged and decided a place is really bad and unsafe, another is happy he wasn't killed.

Nothing besides YOUR OWN experience in a place will give you the answer you are looking for. If you read too much here you will be going in with a biased opinion (good or bad) about the place. It's better to go with a sense of adventure and exploration.

Comment 32
04/18/11 06:41
Panama Total
Thank author of this post/comment"Now...."

Let see if we can continue the discussion about Panama and not personal attacks on people's life styles.

For now, I won't delete the previous two messages, but any further along those lines will be zapped.

Comment 33
12/06/11 13:37
California
Thank author of this post/comment"I like Panama"

My experience in Panama has been very good. My first visit was approximately a year ago when I went to check out what I had read on the internet. I fell in love with the people and the place. I found a caring, smart female lawyer and within ten months got my permanent Pensionado visa. I have now visited Panama 4 times and intend to move there in 2012.

I have found the people very friendly and nobody has tried to scam me. I started renting and driving cars there on my second visit and I have had no problems. You do get used to the traffic pretty quickly and it is not any worse than driving in New York City. I got lost in a rainstorm near Gamboa and ended up in Chilebre, asked the locals for directions, found my way back to Corredor Norte. Once I got on that highway it was easy finding my way back home. Advice: Study a map of Panama city before you start driving. Once you get the general layout: Corredor Norte, Corredor Sur, Via Espana, Albrook, Amador, Tocumen, El Cangrejo you are in business. Driving outside Panama city is a piece of cake. It is fun exploring Santa Clara, Coronado etc. in your own rental car. I have also taken the regular bus from Albrook - National Transport Center to Colon. Hired a taxi for $40 dollars to give me a tour of Colon, The Freezone, Gatun Locks etc. The bus fare to Colon was about $2.50 each way, for each person. On my last trip I rented a car from ACE at the airport. I paid $46 per day ($9 per day plus a bunch of taxes, insurance and fees). I reserved the car on the Internet.

Hotels: On all my visits to PTY I stay at the Hotel Milan in El Cangrejo ($72 per night but @56 if you pay cash). I now pay $26 per night during the week with the Pensionado card. It is nice, clean and comfortable and within walking distance of nice restaurants, Veneto Casino, Via Argentina etc. Nice, tasty food in their small cafeteria (Breakfast for two for about $12.

At dinner their creole, steamed or fried Red Snapper (Pargo) is wonderful and cost about 10 bucks. Don Blas restaurant on Via Espana at the Via Argentina intersection- lovely interior decoration, great food, great service and cheap by U.S. standards.Try Their Langostinas (large prawns)!!!! N.B. There is a wide range of restaurant services and prices in Panama. I feel comfortable walking around El Cangrejo at midnight and later. Everbody I meet, greet me with 'Buenas' (they drop the Dias or Noches).

Bank: Got a letter of referral from my lawyer and two reference letters from my U.S. banks. Established a bank account at Banco General in a little over an hour. I have online banking and a debit card.

Knowing some Spanish is very helpful. I studied it in High School and did an intensive two week course in Madrid. There is a Spanish Language school on Via Espana. Buy a DVD online and learn some phrases. You can get by speaking English only but it is a lot more fun trying out your Spanish.

On my next visit in January, I plan to explore Bocas, David and Boquete.

Santa Clara has a very nice beach with clear water but the current is strong. Be careful and stay with others since there are no lifeguards.

I believe one should rent for a year before committing yourself to buying. PTY has a surplus of nice apartments at decent prices. Why not rent there for a year, get used to the place, people and language then you can do whatever you want after.

About me: early sixties, travelled with my wife, U.S citizen, California resident.

Hope, I helped a little. Love Panama!

Comment 34
12/06/11 13:57
California
Thank author of this post/comment"Correction"

Correction: Hotel rate: $36 and not $26 per night with the Pensionado Visa.
Comment 35
12/06/11 17:43
California
Thank author of this post/comment"Correction"

The Spanish language school is on Via Argentina and not Via Espana.
Comment 36
08/07/12 14:07
Pedasi, Panama
Thank author of this post/comment"We love it here!"

Moving anywhere is a big deal and moving to Panama might not be the right choice from one person to the next. But there are beautiful parts of the country just like there are in any place! As long as you give yourself some time to explore the areas and see what it has to offer, you will find if it's the right fit for you. Explore the cities, sit at the beach for a few hours, and scour Panama real estate to see what it has to offer. Hopefully you find what you need because we love it here!
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