I have now lived in Panama for 8 ½ years, and I get asked all the time by friends and family back home, what is it really like living in Panama? So I want to cover most of the basics here in Panama. This article is written to cover the basics. At the end of each section, there will be a link to more information about that section.
The Climate in Panama
Panama has a tropical maritime climate. Although the country is very small, the micro climates are vast. Temperatures range from hot and humid on the costs, to cooler in the mountain communities. Rainfall is lowest in the dry arch area of Pedasí to highest in the mountains of Volcan. One of the best things about the climate in Panama, is that there are no extremes, like hurricanes. If you decide to move to Panama, the climate of your choice awaits you.
Read more about the climate in Panama HERE
The Cost of Living in Panama
The cost of living in Panama varies greatly depending on where you live, your specific needs, and where you are coming from. From people living here, I get answers that it costs them from $1000 a month to $4000 a month to live. So you can see the variance here.
In the rural areas you can rent a nice house starting at $500 a month, and in the city, an apartment will start at $1000 a month. These numbers I am quoting are for residences comparable to North American style in safe communities. If you live in the hotter climates, you will have to consider $100 – $200 a month for electricity for air conditioning, where in the mountains you are looking at $25 a month in electricity costs.
Apart from housing, you can eat for $4 for lunch or pay $15, depending on where you eat. Groceries really also vary. I, as a single person, spend $200 a month on food. I shop in local markets, from local vendors, and buy meat from local producers. If you shop in the big box grocery stores, you can spend a lot more.
As a single person, my entire monthly cost to live, including rent, is $1500 a month, and I live quite well. I bought an older used car when I arrived here, so my transportation costs are quite low. As far as entertainment, I can see a feature movie, in English for $5, pay $1.50 for a beer in a bar during happy hour, and pick up a nice bottle of wine for $6.
Read more about the cost of living in Panama HERE
The Health Care System in Panama
The healthcare system is divided into three divisions. MINSA, is our department of health, and they operate clinics and hospitals throughout the country to offer all health services, at a really affordable price. For example, having a consultation with a doctor can cost as little as 50 cents or getting blood tests for $2.
The next division is the Social Security system. If you are an employee or employer, you contribute monthly into the social security system, and you can use this system, at no cost to see doctors and receive medical treatment. This also covers seniors who have contributed to Social Security before they retired. Although these systems provide affordable healthcare to the residents of Panama, they are not without their problems, of crowding and shortages.
The final system is what most expats use, the private hospital system with private insurance. This system has world class hospitals and healthcare. Even if you are not covered by insurance, you can see a doctor for $12, and a specialist for $25 – $40. X-rays are about $14 as are blood tests.
Read more about Panama’s health care system HERE
The Government of Panama
Panama has a democratic government, and elections for federal, provincial, and civic are held every 5 years. It has the executive branch, legislative branch and judiciary branch. The legislative branch, and one house, the National Assembly with 71 elected members.
Read about the government of Panama HERE
Panama’s Taxation System
Panama is one of about 12 countries in the world with what is called a territorial taxation system. In the referred link below, you will learn of the 4 different taxation systems in the world, but in a territorial taxation system, you pay tax only on Panama sourced income, not your worldwide income. This gives expats in Panama that make Panama their home of residence and clear tax advantage if they are still in their income producing years.
Read more about Panama’s taxation system HERE
Immigration Options in Panama
Panama is likely the easiest and most affordable country to move to and become a permanent resident in the world. It has two famous visa programs, the Pensionado Visa and the Friendly Nations Visa.
The Pensionado Visa is for foreigners that have a lifetime pension of $1000 or more. The procedure to get this permanent residency visa takes less than 6 months, and costs less than $2,500.
The Friendly Nations Visa, is a permanent residency visa offered to the citizens of 50 nations, that is for people, not retired on a pension, instead that intend to do some type of economic activity in Panama. The procedure is also quick, and costs less than $5,000
Read more about Panama’s Visa options HERE
It’s more than a tour . . it’s an experience.