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Pros and Cons of Living in Panama You Should Know

Some notable benefits of moving to Panama include inexpensive healthcare, a wide variety of delicious dishes to choose from, and a friendly community. However, there are some drawbacks such as the hustle and bustle of the country’s nightlife bothering some or the language barrier.

In this blog post by Pacific Prime Latin America, we will be discussing the pros and cons of living in Panama for expats deciding to relocate to the country in order to help with the decision-making process.

Introduction to Panama

Panama is a country in Latin America at the southern end of Central America, bordering South America. The country is bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the Southeast, the Caribbean sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south.

The Pros of Living in Panama

From inexpensive living and healthcare, the food, and so much more, living in Panama has something for every expat looking to relocate or retire there. Below are some notable pros of living in Panama.

Affordable Healthcare

One of the first benefits of living in Panama is the affordable yet excellent healthcare. In comparison to other countries such as Canada or the United States, Panama’s healthcare is much cheaper but quality is not sacrificed.

While the quality of public hospitals in Panama is decent, some expats may find the crowdedness and long waiting times for non-emergency medical cases problematic.

For instance, a local hospital visit can range from USD $25-40 (approximately 25.05-40.08 Panamanian Balboa) while a typical doctor consultation can range from USD $40-60 (approximately 40.08-60.13 Panamanian Balboa).

Thus, private hospitals are generally preferred among expats thanks to decreased waiting times, better amenities, and more despite the higher price.

Affordable Living

The exact cost of living in Panama will depend on the location and property type, and if you’re staying with your spouse and children. The cost of living in Panama is once again considerably cheaper in comparison to many other countries.

Expats wishing to live comfortably in Panama will need a monthly budget of at least USD $1,500-3,000 (approximately 1,503.14-3,006.28 Panamanian Balboa).

Delicious Food

Panama features a wide variety of well-known dishes such as tacos, ceviche, and the country’s national dish, Sancochos.

You also have the option of fresh seafood and tropical fruits particularly in the coast’s beach towns. Thanks to the abundance of regional dishes throughout the country, Panama has something new for every expat looking for the ultimate adventure for their taste buds!

Friendly Community

You will be happy to know that the people in Panama are extremely friendly, making it easy for expats to make friends and get in touch with each other in case you need help. The country has a strong sense of community and the people tend to know their neighbors well.

Additionally, there are also many American expats moving into Central America, so you should be able to meet other people in the same boat as you.

Diverse Landscape

One benefit that is particularly appealing to expats is the country’s diverse and beautiful landscape. Panama features large cities, mountains, as well as beaches. Thanks to the diverse landscape, expats can enjoy swimming, hiking, jungle exploration, and casual walks around town.

Comfortable Weather

And while we’re on the subject of nature and landscape, the other benefit of living in Panama is the weather. Being a tropical country, temperature is fairly consistent throughout the year. For instance, the highs range from 29-32 degrees celsius (or approximately 84-90 degrees fahrenheit).

The Cons of Living in Panama

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of living in Panama, let’s now move onto the contrary with some notable drawbacks of living in this particular country. Some of these drawbacks such as the hustle and bustle from the city’s nightlife may be subjective, while language barrier may be problematic.

Below are some notable drawbacks of living in Panama.

Nightlife Noise Disturbance

While some may enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city, specifically the nightlife, some may find the noise disturbance irritating. Panamanians are known for partying, accompanied by loud music in the streets and people socializing for hours during night and day.

For some, the excessive noise from all the music and bursts of laughter may be too overwhelming if they are trying to sleep. For that reason, living in Panama might not be the best idea.

Language Barrier

The biggest drawback of living in Panama for expats, particularly non-Spanish speakers, is the language barrier. This can be extremely problematic for performing everyday errands such as shopping for groceries or visiting public hospitals in the event the staff aren’t multilingual.

Fortunately, if you build connections with Panama’s friendly community of expats and local citizens, you can either bring one of them along as a translator to help you work around the language barrier or ask them to help teach you how to speak Spanish as well.

Limited Credit Card Acceptance

Because there are some areas in Panama that don’t accept credit card payment, carrying Panamanian Balboa in cash is strongly recommended. While some restaurants and shops accept credit card transactions just fine, it’s advisable to carry cash for others that don’t, such as transportation.

Smaller hotels and restaurants will also prefer cash payment and the farther away you are from the city, the more you will need to carry cash due to the shortage of credit card transaction acceptance.

Discomfort from Bugs

For those who are fearful or annoyed of bugs scurrying around, living in Panama may not be a suitable idea as the country has its fair share of bugs that can cause discomfort.

For instance, small insects such as ants, mosquitos, or spiders are common and can enter your home at any moment. To prevent them from entering, remember to keep your doors and windows closed and seal off any gaps or crevices in your home through caulking.

Be aware, also, of larger, poisonous bugs such as scorpions and centipedes.

If the pest infestation is out of control, call a pest control service. This is where making friends through the friendly expat and local community comes in handy, as they can not only help translate, but can also recommend multilingual pest control services to work around the language barrier.

Conclusion

While there are some drawbacks to living in Panama such as payment limitations, the language barrier, or potential noise disturbances from the hustle and bustle of the city, benefits such as the friendly community, opportunities for traveling, and affordability makes up for it.

Not only is healthcare and living considerably cheaper in comparison to many other countries, but the friendly community is key to navigating the country as they can also help recommend popular tourist attractions, restaurants, and more.

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As an international health insurance broker, Pacific Prime Latin America has helped match numerous expats and local citizens to a health insurance plan that matches both their budget range and unique healthcare needs.

Whether you’re a local Panamanian citizen yourself or an expat looking for a fresh start in Panama, our team of specialists will be more than happy to help you out. And if you have any further questions, please get in touch with us and get a free quote here.

Content Writer at Pacific Prime Latin America
Wish Sutthatothon (Nickname: Guy) is currently a content writer at Pacific Prime Thailand, an insurance broker that connects individuals and businesses with insurance providers worldwide. He creates and edits blog articles, guides, reports, webpages, and other types of digital content.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts, Media & Communication major (concentration: Creative Content) from Mahidol University International College (MUIC). During the compulsory major elective period in the summer of 2021 and voluntarily during the summer of 2022, he also interned as a video and photo editor at Mbrella Films.

He has experience working as an English Content Writer at a real estate buying/renting/selling platform in Thonglor. There, he crafted company blog posts on a multitude of topics. Topics include market trends, legal issues and disputes in property businesses, financial guides, expat guides, home insurance, home decoration and maintenance, and weekly real estate news quick-recaps. Occasionally, as part of the blog-writing process, he would also translate existing Thai blogs to English.

In his free time, Guy enjoys doing scriptwriting and storytelling for comic strips, watching movies, and listening to music (particularly film scores).
Wish Sutthatothon