get many emails from people with a variety of questions. Here are some
of the more common questions. I've done my best to answer them but like
anything, also do your own research. I am not an expert or the final
word on anything.
Why did you choose Panama? This is covered in the "About Us
Traveling to Panama
Living in Panama
I need a passport? Yes, and it is recommended that you always keep it
with you, or at least a copy of the main page and latest date stamp.
This is your identification in Panama.
- How much is an
airline ticket? Prices can vary greatly depending on many factors. It
is best if you do your own research on this.
- Can I buy a
one way ticket to Panama? No, not unless you are a resident here. They
will not let you board the plane without a return ticket. I have heard
about some people boarding without being asked but it is unlikely so be
prepared with your ticket home.
- Are there direct flights to
David? No. There has been talk for a long time but no visible progress,
so I wouldn't count on this happening in the near future.
- Does everyone speak English in Panama? No. You
may find a lot of English speakers in Panama City and areas like
Boquete and Coronado where there are many expats, but in general it is
very helpful if you speak at least some Spanish. Of course people
manage with none at all but in many areas it will be more
- Should I take a relocation tour? That is
entirely up to you but in my opinion, your time and money will be
better spent visiting those places that are of interest to you. And,
you will get a better sense of manging life here if you travel on your
- Should I go to one of those conferences? My opinion
is no. They are very expensive, geared to sell you things, and may not
give you unbiased information or information suitable for you and your
needs. You can do your own research and get the information you need
from a variety of other sources, mainly other expats who are already
- Should we rent a car? That is also entirely up to
you. There is excellent public transportation here, but I understand
the appeal of having the freedom and flexibility of your own wheels.
Keep in mind though that the manditory insurance will about double the
price quoted, and inspect your car carefully so you don't get charged
for damage that you didn't do. Driving in Panama City can be difficult
and confusing, so if you are in the city you might consider taking
buses and taxis.
- When is the best time to visit? Anytime!
Tourist destinations tend to fill up more when it is cold up north
though. There is the rainy season from May - November, and the dry
season from December - April. If you are considering moving here you
should experience both in the area where you plan to live.
it safe in Panama? Generally yes. Of course you need to use common
sense and there are areas that aren't recommended at night or anytime.Ask the locals and they will readily tell you. But in general we feel very safe here, more so than we did in Florida.
do I find a place to live? Ask Eduardo (see the links page). Visit the
area and look for signs. Check bulletin boards in the
supermarkets. Ask people who live in the area. Finding a place on the
internet is also possible but may be more expensive.
should we bring with us? This also is a very individual decision. Many
people find that don't need a lot of what they thought they would, or
their furniture and clothes aren't suitable for this climate. If you
have things that would be impossible or too expensive to replace, you
might consider shipping.
- Should we worry about
earthquakes? No. There are frequent tremors but if I understand
correctly, the plates rub over each other rather than butt into each
other so the chances of damaging earthquakes here is much less (though
not impossible).There are actually few natural disasters to worry about here.
we get good food there? Yes. Of course this depends on where you live.
Panama City has a large variety of excellent restaurants, and other
cities also have good places to eat depending on the population and its
ability to support these restaurants. You will be able to find most of
your familiar food in the city supermarkets also. But, if you try to
eat mostly local food it will be less expensive and I think much
healthier. Chiriqui Province especially has an abundance of inexpensive
and delicious fruits and vegetables because they are grown here, and is
one of many reasons we are glad we live here. The beef though is all
free range, grass fed, and not aged, so many expats have to get beef in
specialty stores to get something acceptable.
- How do you
make phone calls back home? With the internet and skype, Facetime,
Vonage, and other programs it is very easy to stay in touch. Many also
use Magic Jack.
- Is there reliable internet? That depends
on where you live but in most cities, there is good internet. In more
rural areas it may be less reliable and more expensive.
do I get a visa? You automatically get a tourist visa for 180 days when
you enter the country. Your drivers license is only good for 90 days
though. (not everything makes sense in Panama). If you get close to the
end of your time you can leave the country and come back in, and your
time is reset to the beginning again.If you want residency that is a bit more complicated and you will need a lawyer.
family and friends think I'm crazy for wanting to move to Panama. What
should I tell them? I think everyone who moves out of the country gets
these reactions. You have to live the life that is right for you
- Are there schools for my kids? There are
international schools here. We don't have kids though so I am not a
good source of information on this.
you need a bank account in Panama? No. You can pay bills on line and
get cash from one of the many ATM's here. You can get an account here
if you wish and like many things, it is a process involving a list of
documents and requirements.
- Can I live on (insert any
dollar amount here)? I don't know. It all depends on how you live and
what you spend. There are people living on $400 a month, and others
having trouble making ends meet on $4000 a month. We have found our
expenses to be considerably less, but others complain that they haven't
saved as much as they expected.
- Are there work
opportunities? Can I find a job? We are retired and haven't researched
this at all. The people who seem to do the best are hired from home for
a company here, are able to work on line from anywhere, or have enough
entrepreneurial spirit to create their own opportunities.
- Where do you find other expats? Panama City, Boquete, Bocas del Toro, Pedasi, and Coronado are areas known for having a lot of expats.
- How can I learn Spanish? There are some resources listed on the "links and resources" page.
do you do all day now that you are retired? This is a concern
wherever you retire. We have enough interests and activities that
sometimes I wonder how I had time to work! I'll have to write a blog
post on this one of these days.
I get my medicine in Panama? I believe almost all medicines (or
acceptable substitutes) are available here. You need to have a
consultation with a doctor here though who can answer questions about
your particular medicines and health care needs.
- Is the
health care good? In my opinion, yes, it is very good. From my
experience and those of friends, the time and personal attention is a
lot better than we had in the US, and the quality of care is excellent.
Panama City has doctors and hospitals that are respected world
- Is health care expensive. No, I think it is far
cheaper than in the US. People with good insurance or Canadians who
aren't used to paying out of pocket may find it expensive though
compared to what they were used to.
- Will my health
insurance work? Medicare is not accepted here. You health insurance
probably isn't accepted here either. You need to read the fine print on
your policy. There are international health insurance plans that can
cover you, and health plans you can buy within Panama. We have chosen
to pay as we go rather than get insurance so I don't have much
information on this subject.
- How can I have a blog like yours? Choose a platform, arrange it to look how you like it, and start writing! This article may be helpful. Google will also bring up lots of information. I use Wordpress and have been very happy with that.
we visit your area, can we meet for a chat? Yes, absolutely. We are
always happy to meet visitors and other expats. Let me know when you
will be here and if we are around, we'll make plans.