Move to Panama FAQ
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Move to Panama: The Right Way

Last Updated on July 6, 2024 by Retire in Panama

For many years, expatriates have been seeking to move to Panama because of its history, lively culture, breathtaking scenery, and affordability. Whether you’re enticed by the climate, locals, or thriving economy, relocating to Panama can be a fulfilling journey. However, for a successful transition, thorough planning and a deep understanding of life in this enchanting nation are key. Below are some steps on how to move to Panama the right way.

move to Panama research 1. Conducting Research and Getting Ready

Before embarking on any move, it’s vital to familiarize yourself with the country in which you’re moving. Positioned in Central America and bordered by Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the southeast, Panama is most renowned for its waterway—the Panama Canal—that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Spanish is the language spoken here. The currency used is the Balboa, which shares equal value with the US dollar and is widely accepted in day-to-day transactions.

The best way to acomplish your research, is to take the time and do a Relocation Tour of Panama. This way relocation experts, can guide you through the entire country, showing you placeins that you may want to live, intorducing you to the right people in the Immigration, renatls, banking, logistics areas to assist in your move.

2. Initial Visit

Whether you are relocating or tackling this on your own, you need to visit Panama. Explore regions within the country to immerse yourself in its essence and determine which area aligns best with your lifestyle. Panama City, Boquete, Coronado, Gorgona, Rio Hato, Chitre, Pedasi, David, Volcan, Bocas del Toro, and Coronado are some favored destinations among expatriates, each providing a lifestyle that can be unique. Others are Valle de Antone, Las Tablas, Santiago, Puerto Armuelles, Palmira, and Potrerillos; your choices are many.

3. Legal Requirements

Panama presents visa options for those seeking to settle down, such as the Pensionado Visa, Friendly Nations Visa, Professional Employment Visa, and many other options. The Pensionado Visa is particularly popular with retirees due to its requirement to demonstrate a monthly pension income of $1,000. The Friendly Nations Visa is a choice for citizens from one of the 50 specified “nations” needing evidence of economic activity or employment in Panama.

4. Documentation documentation for your move to panama

Ensure you have all documents for your visa application, including a valid passport, police clearance, marriage certificate if applying as a couple, and proof of income or investment. It is recommended that the services of an immigration attorney be enlisted to efficiently navigate through the process.

5. Financial Planning Your Move to Panama

Panama offers a cost of living that is lower than many Western countries; however, this can vary by region. Panama City would be the most expensive place to live, while smaller towns and rural regions offer budget-friendly options. Develop a budget that accounts for housing expenses, utilities, groceries, transportation costs, and healthcare.

When you move to Panama, you can really be on a budget if you can accept Panama-style housing and shop at local markets, avoiding the North American-style supermarkets.

6. Banking in Panama

Opening a bank account in Panama once you arrive here is a good idea. Using a local bank account to pay rent and utilities and using your debit card is much more convenient. When opening an account, you will be required to provide your passport and another form of ID, and some banks may require a bank reference letter from your home bank, proof of income, proof of residency, and possibly a rental lease.

for rent in panama 7. Finding Your Home

Consider whether you prefer to rent or buy property. Renting is a great choice initially as you familiarize yourself with the area. By first renting in the area you think may be right for you, you have some choice to move around if you feel there may be someplace better for you. Real estate prices in Panama are fair and purchasing property is not that complicated for foreigners, as long as you use a trustworthy real estate agent and lawyer..

8. Selecting the Right Location

Each region in Panama has its appeal. Panama City offers a lifestyle with modern conveniences. Boquete is renowned for its climate and picturesque landscapes that attract retirees. Bocas del Toro provides a relaxed island vibe, while Coronado is known for its beaches and expat community. One on of our relocation tours you can get a feel for all these different places, and meet local expats already living in these area, to help in your decision when you do move to Panama.

9. Healthcare

Panama offers top-notch healthcare services at a lower cost than the United States and Europe. Although public healthcare is an option, many expats prefer the private health system for its quality service and shorter wait times. If you use the private system, you will want to have health insurance. Many locations boast hospitals and clinics with doctors who speak English.

10. Mastering the Language

While English is often spoken in Panama City and among expat circles, learning Spanish can greatly enrich your experience. Less than 10% of the local Panamanian people speak English; consider enrolling in a language school or taking classes to enhance your communication skills. The locals tend to appreciate the effort. It can assist in your integration into the community.

11. Cultural Adaptation culture shock in panama

Panamanians are recognized for their warmth and hospitality. Familiarizing yourself with customs and etiquette can foster relationships with the locals and prevent you from offending anyone. Greetings are typically warm, often involving handshakes or cheek kisses. Time flexibility is common, so social gatherings or business and service appointments may not start on time as planned.

12. Expat Communities

Engaging with expat communities can offer a network to facilitate a smoother settling-in process when you move to Panama. Various social clubs, online platforms, and local meet-ups provide opportunities to connect with expats, exchange stories, and forge new friendships.

13. Transportationpublic transportation in panama

Panama boasts a budget-friendly public transportation system encompassing buses, taxis, and the Panama Metro in the capital city. Also, ride-sharing services like Uber are readily accessible in Panama City and David. For those inclined towards driving, your foreign driver’s license is valid for 90 days or until you start the immigration process; thereafter, a Panamanian license is required.

14. Vehicle Importation

Should you be considering bringing your vehicle, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with import duties and regulations. Even the same make and model vehicle in Panama will not be the same as one from the North American market. Opting to purchase a car locally might prove economical. In Panama, the roads are generally well-maintained. Rural areas may have gravel roads that require a stronger vehicle, like a 4 x 4 SUV.

15. Other Things to Consider

When it comes to education, families relocating with children have schooling options in Panama. Public schools, private schools, and international schools are available, and expats favor the latter due to their standards and bilingual-based curriculum. It’s advisable to research schools in your desired area. Take into account enrollment criteria and costs.

Regarding employment and business opportunities, it’s essential to understand the job market if you intend to work in Panama. Proficiency in Spanish can significantly boost your job prospects in industries such as finance, shipping, tourism, and construction. If you want to work in Panama, you need to have the job offer in hand before arriving so you can start the immigration process and obtain a work permit.

For those considering starting a business in Panama the country is conducive to entrepreneurship with an economy and supportive government policies. But, the red tape you will face here is very different to that from home, so be prepared for some frustration. You will need to enlist the services of a lawyer and Panama accountant for guidance and compliance with local regulations.

Embracing a move to Panama involves engaging in an array of activities while enjoying a quality of life. From beaches to mountains to rainforests, historical landmarks to diverse culinary experiences – Panama has much to offer. Indulge in delicacies like seafood dishes and tropical fruits galore, as well as traditional favorites such as sancocho soup and ceviche.

In summary, moving to Panama can be a thrilling and enriching journey if done right. By delving into in-depth research, taking a relocation tour, organizing your plans, and familiarizing yourself with the customs and legal guidelines, you can pave the way for a seamless transition and a fulfilling stay in your new home. Whether you are looking forward to a retirement, a city life, or a fresh beginning in a tropical paradise, Panama offers something special for everyone. Embrace the adventure of your move to Panama. Soak in the hospitable atmosphere of this stunning nation.

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