Panama is one of the countries located in the Caribbean region. During last 5-7 years the Government of the country tries to attract international investments. As a result Panama now can offer many opportunities for doing business, buying properties, spending vocations or retirement.

My family spends in Panama a couple of months per a year. The reason for it is business and vocations. So I have my personal impressions about Republic of Panama. For those of you, who have never been there, this article, could be useful.

Panama City

Climate. First of all, my opinion is that climate Panama is very pleasant for almost all year long. But you need to know that the climate is humid, so if you cannot stand a high humidity combined with a high temperature probably you shouldn`t  even think about staying in the big cities, it makes more sense to move to one of the costs. The good news that Panama has an entrance to the Caribbean see, Pacific ocean and Atlantic ocean, so you`ll have quite a choice where to stay. Another good thing about staying on any coast is a fresh breeze. Even during the hottest month of the year (usually it`s April)  it`s very pleasant in the apartment or a hotel room let`s say on the 15 or 22 floor in one of the skyscrapers with a beautiful ocean view.

How to get Panamanian residency and passport.

A high tourist season here starts approximately in January and continues till the end of March. In most of the countries such as the USA, Europe and Russia there is still a cold season during these months, but here, in Panamanian Republic you can enjoy a warm water, and I mean really warm, even during the nights if you get out from the ocean (or a swimming pool) you still will feel warm and enjoy all the benefits of being in a tropical paradise. The downside of coming to Panama during the high season is that the prices for hotels and apartments for rent are climbing to the roof. Just a short example: you can rent a quite nice apartment on the beach (in Coronado) during spring and summer for $120-150 per a night, exact the same apartment in December-March could cost about $250 and more.

Apartments. Panamanian Republic.

It`s just a slight hint that you can get a  less expensive but still nice vocation time even off the high season time mark. As for me, I like very much a season of rains here, in Panama.  This is also the best time to come here with babies and toddlers. The season of rain starts in April. In June and July the rains become more consistent, last longer and become heavier. And it continues till almost the middle of December. But the air temperature is warm (above 30◦C). You can swim any time of the day and during the nights too, and there is no direct sun.

And it makes this time of the year very comfortable for the parents with little babies or old people or anybody who dislikes to feel being on the frying pan for the whole vocation time.  And at the same time on the cost you still can catch a couple of hours of the sun and get some tan. Just remember that typically the Caribbean coast is rainier than the Pacific one.

Panama.Coronado.

Panama City. First of all Panama City is not the friendliest city for the pedestrians. Especially, for the pedestrians with children.  There are no rampant, so it`s a challenge to roll a stroller on a curb. Sometimes  a pedestrian sidewalk cuts off and you have to walk on the same road where the cars move. And of course there is no point to expect that the cars will stop for you only because you are staying on the pedestrian crosswalk (who knows what you are doing their, may be just enjoying the view). So the only one way to cross any street is to put your foot on the road. When you actually start to walk thru a drive way the cars will stop.

Another interesting sign of Panama City is a lot of noise. All the drivers just love to horn. It reminds me very much of Morocco – the same story. The cacophony of sounds gives you a feeling that the cars constantly talk to each other: “hello, hello, how are you doing”, “let me pass”, “no I am in a rash too…” This kind of car negotiations have no end. So if you are staying in Panama City just be ready that you will hear the car`s horns even after midnight. You just need to get used to it.

Panama City. Panama.

A few words about moving around in Panama City. Yes, it`s possible to get to any point you need in the center of the city by foot. But I wouldn`t recommend to do it. I love to walk. I would say that I am a big walker. But not in Panama. It`s too wet (your nice clothes will get wet too), too hot, too noisy and sometimes even too stressful (to cross a driveway with a stroller, for instance). So the most comfortable way to move around in Panama City is by taxi. A taxi to almost any part of the city costs $5-6. If a taxi driver will ask you a higher price you shouldn`t pay. The exception is a way from the airport and to the airport. The price for a taxi in this case is about $30-35.

There are many hotels in Panama City and they have different prices. Averagely the price for a night starts from $60-70. To compare the prices I use a Hotelscombined service.

 If we come for a long period of time (more then 10-14 days) we prefer to stay in the apartments. The price for renting an apartment depends on the period of time you come. But you may expect to pay for 1 bedroom apartment with a fully equipped kitchen in the apartment building with a common swimming pool  something like $90 per a night and more.

Vacations in Panama.

Be attentive: not all the districts in Panama City are safe. Try don`t stay in the privet houses or far away from the center of the city, even if you`ll find a good price for a rental there, you could get in troubles.

Food. If you rent an apartment and want to cook by yourself, of course it would be cheaper then to go out every day. The prices for the basic food in Panama is higher than in USA, but lower than in Europe. The average bill for our family of three, including meet, dairy, veggies and fruits, also diapers is about $60-70. It lasts for 3-4 days.

Dress-code. Panamanians are very serious about clothes. So if you have to visit business-centers, business meetings, banks, an immigration service, to meet a lawyer or to hold negotiations, don`t forget to put in your suitcase at least one “business outfit”. If you are a man it means a suit and nice shoes. If you are a woman you need to bring a blouse or a dress covering the shoulders and a pair of shoes  with “closed nose”. And don`t think for a minute that it`s a joke. I personally saw that some people were not allowed to come into one of the government offices because they were not dressed up according o the local standards.

Panama

Where to live.  If you come to Panama for business (to establish your residency, for example), you have no choice, you need to live in Panama City. Fortunately the capital is situated very convenient. You can get to the Caribbean cost or a Pacific coast approximately in 40-60 mins by car.

If your aim to come to Panama is just for vocation, the best choice for you is one of the costs. It`s enough to spend 2 or 3 days in Panama City: to visit the Panamanian Channel and to be inspired by the night life here. After it go to a cost. It`s your choice which cost. As for me I prefer to stay on the Pacific side of the cost. There are many expats here, so you will not feel lonely and always can find somebody who speaks English. The Pacific ocean is nice, warm  and beautiful. There are many resorts, golf-clubs and apartment complex along all the Pacific cost in Panama.

Panama. Pacific coast.

Just remember. Panama is a country where it`s comfortable to live, to do business or to spend your vocation. But this country is still being in the growth stage. So when you`ll come to Panama you notice that all ground and first floors of the houses are surrounded by barbed wire and villas are hiding behind the tall fences. This is something to think about and probably the best way to have a nice, peaceful vacation in Panama is to make a decision of renting an apartment in one of the condominiums, where you will have a security guard and video cameras.   Other benefits of staying in one of the organized apartment buildings are a weekly (or even daily) cleaning service, a common area such as a swimming pool, golf and tennis courts, bars and restaurants, a privet beach.  The truth is that life of most people in Panama runs very different that your life. You need to live where you will feel comfortable.

During the low season you can rent an apartment with the ocean view for $150 per a night, $700 per a week and $1500 per a month. If you are planning to stay longer than a month in makes sense to negotiate your rental rate and get it, for example till $ 1200.

One more thing to remember when you are planning your stay in Panama is mosquitos. Yes, there are mosquitos in Panama and midges also. So the best thing you can do to be able to sleep comfortable during the nights and to enjoy a fresh ocean breeze at the same time is to rent an apartment starts the 8th floor. And no one mosquito tent will not block a gorgeous view you are paying for!

Transport. Public transport exists in Panama. But practically my personal advice is to rent a car. Actually you don`t need a car too much inside of Panama City.  As I mentioned it above you can take a taxi anywhere anytime and not for a big money. But if you are planning to have trips outside of the city, it`s just more convenient to rent a car. The cost to rant a car is about $60-100 per a day.

A little advise: it`s better to buy an insurance with a maximum coverage. Panama is not a country where you should try to save money on a car insurance. Not once I saw that people were trying to park and scratched other cars on the street. Do you think the drivers stopped? No they drove away.  Besides bad drivers, there are arrears in Panama where the roads are not the best. On the photo below you see a car we rent for our trip to Coronado. There were reconstructions and on one particular part of the road the workers forgot to close up a hall. Of course there were no sign to warn the drivers, the hall was not colored, nothing else was done to give you a warning sign.  We rescued our car very fast and now when I look at this photo I always laugh. But if we wouldn`t have the full insurance coverage, probably I would not have such fun memories.

image

Medicine. The medical system in Panama is pretty good. And the prices are not high. It lets many hospitals and clinics to offer a medical tourism service. Many doctors improved their qualification in the United States. So if you will need a medical help you will be pleased by the level of medical system in Panama Republic.

Visas. For citizens of Canada, the USA, most countries of Europe and Russia there is no need to get a visa to Panama. You have a right to spend in the country for 180 days in a row. If you need longer time in Panama you`ll need to apply for a residency. It`s easy and it`s a good way to get a second passport in the future. A procedure of getting a temporary and a permanently presidency in Panama I described in a special post, check it out!

There is a basic information about Panama. This post reflects only my personal impressions about Panama Republic. If you have a different opinion or any questions, please live it in the comments below.

P.S. One last thing to say. It`s possible to find people who speak English here: doctors, lawyers, expats and tourists, but be ready that most of the population of Panamanian Republic speaks Spanish. And only Spanish. It means (if your Spanish is not so good as you probably think it is or not good at all) that you will not die from hunger of course and you`ll have a wonderful vocation here. But for doing business, getting a residency or  medical treatment or even opening a bank account you`ll need to hire a translator or to find an English speaking person to have deals with.

How to get Panamanian residency and passport.

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