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Forum Post
10/14/08 20:42
Georgia, USA

Mexico or Panama?

Thank author of this post/commentWe're looking at Panama or the area around Guadalajara Mexico as a place to retire. Both have benefits & drawbacks so we'd like input from people who've lived in either place for a while.

We've done enough research to get past the glossy vacation adds and gringo priced priced real estate deals and want to know what people really think about living every day in a new place.

Thanks for any insight anyone can offer.

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This post has a total of 16 replies. Your feedback, comments, opinions and questions are welcome and encouraged.

This forum post has messages dated from 10/14/08 through 12/27/12, please be sure to read all the messages. If you feel it is old or outdated, please follow up with a question or comment and someone may be able to update it, or reply with newer information if you have it.

Comment 1
11/10/08 21:00

I were you I would choose Panama more than Guadalajara Mexico but the your idea of jumping from one place to another is good though its very very tiring. Maybe a weekly moving would be better so could enjoy a place more. I think you need a lot of money in order to that having hard cold cash in dollars might be the best thing to do if you're really up to be the jumping gringo.
Comment 2
01/08/09 21:22

I suggest you try Panama because unlike Mexico, Panama is more peaceful and has low incidents of Caucasians being treated badly. Plus the fact that there are so many kidnapping and violent rebel activism incidents reported at Mexico. Thus, Panama is the best choice.
Comment 3
05/22/09 23:20

I also recommend the more safer choice, Panama. Though it is unfair to discriminate Mexico, one should also think of himself or his companion's welfare in deciding what plae to spend most of their time with. Mexico is tainted with the image of pointless violence, political killings, unstoppable rebellion, and worst of all their infamous drug industry. I have read better reviews on Panama and will personally recommend it for I have been there many times.
Comment 4
06/23/09 18:47

I have lived in both and Mexico is far superior in two areas than Panama. Ease of residency and civility of the people. Panama is experiencing a dramatic increase in crime. Mexico crime is mostly concentrated in the border states and Mexico City.

Unfortunately the press has been sensationalistic about Mexico and the hype about Panama is done by promoters. Kidnappings are exceeded in Phoenix, Az by only one place in Mexico (Juarez). I have experienced NO unfriendliness in Mexico by being a caucasian, althought I don't know about Northern Mex. Wouldn't live there anyway.

Comment 5
08/03/09 13:14

It is good that you have done all the other research and have just left out the bit of relocating. Even without going to the details, Panama would be what I would recommend because it seems to have a more serene and peaceful environment.

If talk of Caucasians being treated badly is true, then it is better to avoid the location. You would not want to make a good living anywhere but still suffer indecent treatment.

Comment 6
01/23/10 17:50

"Panama v. Mexico"

I am an attorney in Florida with many clients who came from Mexico or who's parents did. Even they don't like going there because it is so UNSAFE! One (of Mexican ancestry) is afraid to speak because of her "American" accented Spanish. Her husband, a Mexico born American labor contractor who regularly hires Mexicans to work in the fields, was kidnapped while working in Mexico. Others who go back to visit relatives will only drive an old, beatup vehicle there because anything nice gets car jacked, and they ARE MEXICAN! I have been to Panama twice and Costa Rica three times, and personally hope to retire to Panama in five or six years. Unless you are well off and don't like to change, expect to make some adjustments, but if you accept Panama and its people on their terms, you will find it to be a beautiful place filled with (mostly) warm, friendly people. Just use common sense and don't anything that you wouldn't do in a big city here.
Comment 7
02/05/10 20:14
Las Vegas, Nevada
Thank author of this post/comment"Yucatan Mexico -vs- Panama's Pacific beach areas"

How is living in the Pacific coastal area of Panama compare with Mexico's Yucatan peninsula? We have a timeshare in Playa del Carmen which is 40 miles south of Cancun. We have been going there for 15 years and have never felt unsafe and the Mayan population is so friendly.

We are three years away from retirement and still considering Playa del Carmen -vs- areas like Coronado, Panama. We want to be close to the ocean. Panama's pensionado program is appealing. We are curious about the cost of living in the Yucatan peninsula -vs- Panama?

Comment 8
02/05/10 21:39


You want an "expert" opinion???

I lived all over Mexico while working for a large American Corporation for 10 years.

I also just moved from Panama back to Florida after living there for over 1 year.

My recommendation is "stay in the USA"!

Mexico would be my 2nd choice, Panama being my 3rd choice!

PANAMA is NOT CHEAP as some people report, especially the retirees with limited/fixed incomes.

NOTHING is cheap about PANAMA. I paid $300, 000.00 for a new high rise condo in Panama City that would have cost $200, 000 in MIAMI!

The traffic and the way Panamanians drive is totally reckless......I've been hit by vehicles/motorcycles several times, mostly while stoped....they usually just drive away after they damage your vehicle.

And a note about PANAMA being "cheap"............

1. Rental apartments are higher than MIAMI

2 Purchase prices are higher than MIAMI (and MIAMI still has some of the highest real estate prices in North America!)

3. Gasoline cost about $1.00/gal more than the USA

4. Insurance cost twice what I was paying in MIAMI

5. Cars cost 30% to 50% more than in the USA

6. Restaurants are a little cheaper, but food quality does not compare, even in the BEST restaurants in PANAMA

7. Roads are absolutely terrible, not maintained, at all.

8. The Pacific beaches are not as nice as the USA.

9. The Caribbean side is very nice water as expected, but no cities, just very poor people and very small villages.

The Panamanian people are very friendly, they like Americans but it is dangerous. As somebody previously stated "promoters" and real estate people are "pumping" Panama's image.

CRIME is not usually reported, if it is, it's not put out to the public.

DO NOT count on the police for any assistance! 90% of the police are either on foot (as traffic signals) and the remaining 10% ride small scooters.

An attorney must be hired for ANY legal document or transaction.

It took 2 months to open a personal checking account trying to satisfy their "due-diligence" at the bank, even though I tried to give them a $100, 000.00 (US) check just to open the account and clear the check....they didn't want it.

And the bottom line???????

My partner was murdered in Panama City 2 months ago in our new high-rise!

Security? SURE, cameras and security guards, but the guards were no help, just as the camera was no help, people coming and going all day long!

Then there's the police...........The Police Investigator could not get to the apartment for 2 days because she could not locate a police car to get her to the crime scene.

"Oh, he's biased" you're saying..........what I've said about PANAMA is true, so true that we had already decided to move BACK to Florida, unfortunately, we waited too long!

And what do the Police say when I call them to ask about the investigation..."oh, we don't discuss investigations!"

So I made a crime report to the FBI in Miami because they do have agents in Panama.......

when I call them they can't even find the report................

Good Luck if you decide to move to Panama..............

but I'm warning all of you, PANAMA IS NOT SAFE.....and I'm basing that fact from living in Panama and seeing what goes on in that country.

Personally, I will NEVER live anyplace other than the USA, SHEIK OBAMA, or not!

Comment 9
03/24/10 08:25
Paradise, Veraguas, Panama!!!!!!
Thank author of this post/comment"Living in Panama"

To all,

Daniel, I am sure that everyone here feels for you and hopes for the best in your future. Please know that family and friends are important right now.

Aside from that, Panama is a safe place with one of the lowest violent crime rates in Central America. While true, Panama City is expensive or at least comparable to places in the US, if one does their research, many useful, helpful and inexpensive alternatives can be found. Panama City is a first world city in a sometimes 3rd world country. For anything not made locally, expenses will apply. If one buys locally, money can be saved.

Outside of Panama City, plenty of places are available to live, work and live a life of luxury (even on a pensioner's budget).

Expat communities are growing in David, Boquete, Volcan, Coronado and others.

Exciting new communities are being developed in other places, especially the western Azuero Peninsula.

Please do your research and feel free to ask plenty of questions of several people to get your information.

Best in your search

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Comment 10
08/22/10 09:57





Comment 11
10/02/10 21:45
Houston, Texas
Thank author of this post/comment"Retirement Panama / Mexico / Costa Rica / Uruguay"

My husband and I have reluctantly eliminated Mexico due to the escalating violence due to the drug cartels. People are being butchered, literally. Masses of body parts are being founds, etc. It is all in our local paper. In the past week, we read about a water skiing couple. Husband shot in the head and wife was followed miles into American waters.

We're researching Costa Rica, Panama, Uruguay. It is really hard to do this as there are bad and good comments are over the iternet. It is hard to know which way to good.

As to the person who wrote about the awful experience of a partner being murdered, no one word can make that better. About the $300, 000 condo unit. Yes, it's outrageous. Even $200, 000 is outrageous to us. We don't know how many people who move to these third word countries have this type of money. We are not one of them. It's hard to relate to that.

We have moderately priced housing in Houston. It is one of the less expensive places to live in the US.

That being said, we feel chased out by the fact we cannot afford the cost of health care and the insurance premiums to go along with that. I for one don't want to have to work through my old age just to maintain insurance. All the costs associated with living here have realy gone up and it's too much. There has to be a lot of people like us...

We see a lot of posts about these great homes for ONLY $185, 000 or $250, 000. Well, gee. That may be inexpensive for some, but not for others. What happened to moving to those countries and living on social security and being within a reasonalble distance close to good health care? Some say it's possible.

Happy to hear from anyone who has succeeding in this venture.

Comment 12
10/04/10 09:52
New York
Thank author of this post/comment"Deals and Internet Deals"

I think the internet "deals" will be upscale... to find a "cheap" place to live you have to go and spend lots of time in these places... to see if the living conditions will agree with you and see how the real estate markets actually operate.

I think in general you'll find prices go like this:

- Highest prices - pushed online

- High prices - English speaking real estate agents

- Normal prices - general real estate agents that don't see English or Gingo/Yankees as "free money"

- Better prices - properties advertised in local pagers

- More better (excuse my English) prices - properties not advertised but have just a sign

- Best prices - no sign, no advertising, someone happens to know its for sale

Of course there are exceptions to those rules... but its a good guideline to go on... and until you actually see a property and spend time in the neighborhood you have no idea where you will be living, not matter how flowery the description may be.

Comment 13
10/05/10 20:33
Thank author of this post/comment"Panama weather"

I'm interested in moving to Panama, but concerned about weather. We're currently in SW Florida so know about humid conditions. Would like to live near the beach, but wonder if it's humid all year. The mountains, (read hills), have a better climate, but 70 degrees is cold to me, and am not interested in lots of rain. Any feedback would be helpful. Thanks, Cal
Comment 14
10/22/10 21:22


GOD...i hope no one listens to danny boy. Talk about "the ugly amurkin" that being would be un welcome where ever he went I hear nothing but good about panama, so go for it

Comment 15
10/23/10 08:28
New York
Thank author of this post/comment"diversity of information"

Something is WRONG when all you hear is "nothing but good". No place is 100% good. The diversity of opinion will help you get a most realistic idea of other people's experiences...

and then you'll be ready to see how your experiences are before you commit to moving sight on seen or simply because "all you hear is good".

Comment 16
12/27/12 17:00
Thank author of this post/comment"Panama or Mexico"

I have friends and family in both countries, and both think where they are is best.

There are many of the same problems, except for no rain in Mexico. The crime is just as bad in both countries, but in some areas its not bad at all, just like the US.

Why not visit both, and enjoy your visit, and then decide.

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