Cerro Punta, Chiriqui, Panama
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I 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 Panama?  Why did you choose Panama? This is covered in the "About Us" page.

Traveling to Panama

  • Do 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 difficult. 
  • 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 own. 
  • 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 here. 
  • 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. 
Living in Panama
  • Is 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. 
  • How 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. 
  • What 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. 
  • Can 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. 
  • How 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. 
  • My 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 though. 
  • 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.
  • Do 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.
  • What 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. 
Health Care
  • Can 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 wide. 
  • 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.

Getting together
  • If 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.