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Are you happy in Panama?

Hello everyone!

According to the 2016 UN World Happiness Survey, Denmark, Switzerland and Iceland are the happiest countries on earth.

How about you? Are you happy in Panama? Do you feel happier today in your host country than before in your home country? What has contributed to the change?

In your opinion, are locals in Panama happy? How can you tell?

Please share your experience!

Thanks for asking. I am much happier in Panama and can no longer imagine living in the US.
Let's look at those other countries you mentioned as being happy: Switzerland and Iceland are renegades which have refused to join the EU. The EU is a de facto dictatorship in which ONLY the EU Commission has the right to propose legislation. Yet the Commission is unelected. So no democracy, just a facade. Who could be happy in a dictatorship?
Switzerland offers its people numerous referendums so that the officials do not decide on everything. This, and the fact that every family owns a gun, makes for more freedom.
Iceland: While the bankers in the rest of the West played tricks -- such as selling semi-worthless derivatives to the tune of many trillions (which is bringing down Deutsche Bank, for ex, and brought down Lehman Bros.), Iceland has jailed its central bankers for the harm they did to their people.
Panama: The people of this country are wary of the tricks of the US deep state and do not as readily buy the propaganda of the US-controlled msm. In the US, people are no longer free to state what they think and believe. For example, those who like Putin are hesitant to say so because it is politically incorrect to like Putin. Those who prefer the traditional definition of marriage are not free to say so.
The Panamanians reject political correctness. They are more robust and refuse to give up their individuality. No one owns my mind here.

Happy are the people who can enjoy the privilinges of the country!
How can you be happy when every day your hous is flooded with rain water and the responsible persons the government live in their luxury apartments 5 kilometers away. Today is floodeding tomorrow is no electricity or water!!
That is the result of this failed policy and corruption!!!!!

I have only good experiences in panama and I am happy!
But only if you have enough money in your pocket ... $$$

I think
30% Happy
70% not Happy

I have lived in other countries for many years. I just started my business in panama and i cannot say that i am really happy.
Work is slow, people work slow. You need permissions for everything which are not only time consuming but expensive.
I am here for 1 year and still do not have my driving license because sertracen refused to give it to me without my cedula and the cedula is not ready. But i need to drive my car for my business.
Since 1 Year i am trying to build my house and still no progress. After a long battle i finally got my documents for the land that I've bought.
Apart from that the traffic is horrible and makes it difficult to provide any sort of customer service. Accidents happens on daily basis and blocking the roads.
Receiving contracts and cheques from companies takes months of waiting.
Local people only following the rules very strictly, its almost impossible to talk or get any good help or advise because of the terrible bureaucracy.
If you ask me, panama is not as good as it shines.

Hint: Most people do not pay by check. You can have payment for anything sent to your local Rey supermarket. Most prefer this service. Other businesses may also offer this service.
As for the driver's license, before I got my cedula, I used an international driver's license. I am not sure but you might try the Asociacion Automobilistica de Touring y Deportes, call 507 6612-5910.

Panama usually is near or at the top of these happiness surveys. I suppose it depends on the questions asked and the criteria used to determine ranking.

Yes, I am very happy here, happier than I was in the US. I think it is because I have a much stronger sense of belonging, connection, and support than I ever had in the US.

I think the Panamanians are generally happier too. Of course they have all the usual problems of any people, but they also have very strong connections with family and friends. There is a more relaxed pace of life here too, which drives some expats nuts when they are trying to get things done in a timely manner. But, if you can adopt the Panamanian mentality and enjoy the ride, life can be much less stressful.

But, I am retired. I am not trying to work or do business here. I am not trying to own or develop property. I live in the interior, not Panama City. I can enjoy the best aspects of the country and avoid many of the things that expats find difficult.

Very good and important points Krsti..........and as long as you dont try to start up a bizniss or build a house or hotel or major project, you can most likely continue to live happily here in the interior.............As long as you have fences, gates, dogs and cameras.......haha.........Theres more mercenary predators around here than you seem to be aware of.........So I advise you to be very careful, especially if you are living here as a single woman...........And yes, there are plenty of nice folks, and good solid families.......gracias a dios...........and I am grateful for them......and I keep goin back to them.......But make no mistake........there are lots of rats, and some of them lethal.....and the cops dont work too well........They show up for the paperwork............But despite all this, I do truly believe thatthe typical Pana is generally fairly happy.........Happier than the typical gringo.........And if you live in a one of the nice sweet little pueblos andget to know the local folks they will look out for you.........the secret here is to keep it simple.........You go beyond simple and youbetter have lots of  $$$$ to throw around...........cuz this is  essentially a pirate, capitalistic, materialistic society here.......

I'm happy about the weather here. My ideal temperature all year long. That said, I'm not really sure if I'm happier here than where I used to live.

Cost of living pretty much the same, people are just as happy as anywhere else. Perhaps a bit friendlier, but that depends.

No respect for pedestrians and bycicle riders on the road, or for anything else really.

Preditors? rats? Who? doing what? I haven't found anything to be afraid of. I don't see my neighbors as pirate and materialistic either. They are hard working good people taking care of their families and friends.

dumluk :

Very good and important points Krsti..........and as long as you dont try to start up a bizniss or build a house or hotel or major project, you can most likely continue to live happily here in the interior.............As long as you have fences, gates, dogs and cameras.......haha.........Theres more mercenary predators around here than you seem to be aware of.........So I advise you to be very careful, especially if you are living here as a single woman...........And yes, there are plenty of nice folks, and good solid families.......gracias a dios...........and I am grateful for them......and I keep goin back to them.......But make no mistake........there are lots of rats, and some of them lethal.....and the cops dont work too well........They show up for the paperwork............But despite all this, I do truly believe thatthe typical Pana is generally fairly happy.........Happier than the typical gringo.........And if you live in a one of the nice sweet little pueblos andget to know the local folks they will look out for you.........the secret here is to keep it simple.........You go beyond simple and youbetter have lots of  $$$$ to throw around...........cuz this is  essentially a pirate, capitalistic, materialistic society here.......

Hi,
I am back in Europe. I live in David when In Panama and I come for the friendly people and some shopping.
But return to Europe for the food, ingredients, theatres, our culture. Also because I translate online for EU companies and when in Panama I needed to get up and work at 2 am :-)
I love the nature too........during the dry months we would go and climb a mountain.

I will visit again, without a doubt.

You usually do not read stories on the internet of people who failed. Normal or working class people do not go to panama. All websites and blogs are just about travel, tourism, leisure, hotels and other folks rich or retired.
Also the look of the skyscrapers and shopping centers tricks many people to believe there is a good working economy here, which is certainly not true. You need to keep in mind that most of these only wash their money here, like drug lords and corrupt politicians. Businesses belong 90% to the Chinese mafia. The only way to make money in panama is to invest in real estate, hotels, restaurants.
And $100 000 dollar is not considered an investment here. I met many people who lost everything but you wont find their stories on the internet.

Bravooo tecnorado 👏👏
I am exactly your opinion!
The chinese and their companies wash billions of dollars a year and the helpers are high government employees!!

Krsti, go back and reread my post again.........and you will see that I said there are good people like your neighbors........and that when I find them I keep goin back to them.......If you havent met the rats yet, then count your blessings....Lets hope you dont get vaccinated soon...........There is so much corruption here its incredible, but yet Panama doesnt seem to rank as one of the most corrupt in latin america.....on the contrary, one of the lesser corrupt, altho I have to wonder if the authors of that survey ever actually lived here..........Chile and Uruguay of course were the least corrupt.......and Nicaragua, HOnduras and El Salvador and Guatemala the worst.............no surprize there.........personally I dont mind paying a little bribe here and there....Im used to it having driven in Costa Rica and Panama for so long,but as long as they pick up their garbage.......and dont see the whole world as their garbage can like most folks seem to do here in Panama.........Costa Rica is NOW much cleaner than here, and Ecuador also, even better than Costa Rica but depending on where you go.........Antioquia Colombia much cleaner than Panama too and much more service oriented.............Panama is a rich little country with a lot of sophisticated machinery and a few can-do people but the culture leaves much to be desired..........I hope you like reggaeton Krsti..........

No, I haven't met any rats, or corruption, or requests for bribes. They are doing better with the trash but still have a ways to go. I'm not going to make myself unhappy over it though. We have found good to excellent service, and I love the culture. I love how people treat me and how I feel here. Im fine with reggaeton, livens up the neighborhood on weekends when the neighbors are out washing their cars. I'm not sure though why most of them seem obsessed with washing and detailing cars if there is the slightest amount of dirt on them :D

dumluk :

Krsti, go back and reread my post again.........and you will see that I said there are good people like your neighbors........and that when I find them I keep goin back to them.......If you havent met the rats yet, then count your blessings....Lets hope you dont get vaccinated soon...........There is so much corruption here its incredible, but yet Panama doesnt seem to rank as one of the most corrupt in latin america.....on the contrary, one of the lesser corrupt, altho I have to wonder if the authors of that survey ever actually lived here..........Chile and Uruguay of course were the least corrupt.......and Nicaragua, HOnduras and El Salvador and Guatemala the worst.............no surprize there.........personally I dont mind paying a little bribe here and there....Im used to it having driven in Costa Rica and Panama for so long,but as long as they pick up their garbage.......and dont see the whole world as their garbage can like most folks seem to do here in Panama.........Costa Rica is NOW much cleaner than here, and Ecuador also, even better than Costa Rica but depending on where you go.........Antioquia Colombia much cleaner than Panama too and much more service oriented.............Panama is a rich little country with a lot of sophisticated machinery and a few can-do people but the culture leaves much to be desired..........I hope you like reggaeton Krsti..........

As long as you are not doing business, have enough money, receiving your money from outside and not try to do anything here then just living, you might get away with it and not see much of the difficulties.

Is Panama perfect? No...and that goes for the rest of the world. Happiness is what you make of it and where you are.
Living in Panama is a life style change, you must have a positive attitude and look on the bright side of life.
We live healthier,stress free,on less money, than we could of in the US. Sure there are things you have to be careful of, just like any other place.
One thing for sure you cannot beat the Panamanian  people for their friendliness and kindness.
Are we happy in Panama? You bet we are!!

I'd say.  I am Panamanian and living in the US over 35 years and about to retire.  Was planning to return to Panama, but after visiting several times, decided no to move back.  People who move there have a lot of patience.  I do not. Am type A personality.  I will visit but I think that despite racism here in the US, I will take my chances here.  I have a good job, decent investments. Not rich, but enough. In Panama there is no customer service, etc.

Panama is very very bad. With all, working here is very difficult. Always traffic, accidents, things are expensive, no quality products. Most times you do not find what you need for your work. It is very slow no matter what you do and Panamanians turn every single thing into a big and expensive problem.

When you see the statistics of corruption, accidents, homicide, robbery  and tax, you can see that panama is worse than many African an Asian countries, despite having only 3.5 million citizens.

My business partner and i regretting every day that we invest our money here and so do many of other investors that i know from my work.

Exactly.   My sister retired here in the US and returned to Panama approximately three years ago and is happy with her US pension/SS and she lets nothing bother her. I have a friend who bought parcels of land and still did not get title to them.  He is very laid back.  I would be fuming by now and raising Cain.  So yes, it is definitely not for everyone.

It also depends on the people  (lawyers) you deal with. I bought a lot 1,5 years ago and got the title within approximately one month.

the number must be rigged
because these countries have high suicide rates

@tecnorado
have know many small foreign businesses who are leaving panama for these reasons
in my opinion you can find quality products

Goodness, we were looking at investing large in Panama but have ended booking a trip to Ajijic, Mexico. Hopefully the business environment there is as promised by the people we know that are doing business there. Seeing this makes us glad we changed our idea of going to Panama. Another thing that attracted us to Mexico is that our Canadian Dollars is worth far more than in Panama. We have not invested anywhere yet but are leaving for at least 1-3 months December 30th to Ajijic.

Anyone on here been to Ajijic?

Do not invest in Panama, i met people that lost 200 000 dollars and more and nothing worked out for them, but it wasn't their fault, the business would have worked in 99% of other countries but Panama is different. Your customer base is very small and limited only to foreigners and tourists. You cannot do any business with Panamanians. The education of most of the people is worse. They lack basic understanding of any kind of business or working professionalism. 
In Panama all is done by foreigners, the work, the development, the money. The locals here need to do nothing then just exist and receiving money and managing foreign investments.

I guess the concept of happiness is indeed relative............pretty much like everything else in life.

Happiness is what you make of it.

When people find themselves unhappy after moving to a new place, it's usually as a result of any one or more of the following:

(a) they did not due their homework and research throughly, and thus, were unprepared for the realities

(b) instead of changing themselves to fit their new environment, they try to change the environment to suit them

(c) they did not give themselves enough time to get used to the new place, before either passing judgment, or making rash decisions which ended up being very costly, and maybe even dangerous.

(d) any combination of all 3 above.


My main reason for moving to Panama was the weather. I hate cold weather (lived in it almost my whole life). There were a few minor reasons, too (like: the more relaxed atmosphere, the cheaper cost of certain things (not everything, of course!), etc). But, the weather was my main motivation.

During the course of my research, I learned quite a lot about Panama...........including a few things which were not exactly favorable. And, having lived here for a year now, there are indeed a LOT of things I don't like.

But............I was prepared for this. And, I have adapted to it. Add to this the fact that the weather here is awesome, I guess my answer would be : YES, I am happy in Panama  :)

So. Tecnorado.....Why not take a hike?

It seems like you are living in the wrong place. Do you think Panamanians should change their culture to please you?

Sure. I was a bit frustrated when I first arrived trying to get things done as I expected in Canada. But guess what? I got over it. I do not live in a big city where it is hot and expensive and stressful. I do not live in an expat community. All my neighbors are Panamanians. They play loud music at night. They seem to have hundreds of roosters and dogs. They like big firecrackers. That's what they like doing. It took a while but I'm starting to get used to it. It is worth the wait because they are wonderful friends and neighbors when you get to know them.

To answer the original question: I am happy here!

Yes if you have enough money and living far from reality it might seem to be great. But i can tell you, when you have a problem here, nobody can and will help you.

I assume reality is where you live.

I have no money. Just a small monthly pension.

And I can tell you I have had a problem here and I was helped by local people.

@Donzoila
having weapons in switzerland is part of the militia system
it's about defense not freedom

I have been here for 6 years and it is a mixed bag, like everywhere else.
My wife has moments when she hates it because her teaching job pays so little for all she does.
I love it, however, because the people are so nice and easy to get along with. They don't ask or care about your politics or opinions. You can tell them you regularly visit with aliens and that will be fine with them.
This situation is like the 4 blind men and the elephants. Some anecdotes should serve to illustrate:
Re: efficiency of employees
we were in Niko's cafe in El Dorado a few years ago and after lunch, went back to the cafe section. We decided to buy a few pastries and I told the waitress behind the pastry counter I wanted a certain kind of pastry. She went to the other side of the work area about 15 feet away, brought it back on a tray and asked: anything else? We proceeded to order one pastry after the other, maybe 5 or so, and each time she went away with the tray and then came back and asked if we wanted something else. I was amazed that she didn't just take our entire order or at least call across after picking up each pastry to find out what else we wanted so that she could put it all on the tray before bringing it back to us. The procedure could have been completed in 3 minutes but took maybe 10.
I'd have either fired her or trained the entire group on efficiency. But this is, unfortunately, the Panama way. They think of efficiency and scientific methods as being too cold and inhuman.
Re: caliber of the people
The people here are generally happy, kind and optimistic, although there is a general deficiency in the education process. Many of the men are taught, esp by fathers, that it is sissy to do a desk job, and that real men work with their hands, often in unskilled labor. In the times of the red devils, it was very popular and macho to be a bus driver. Some Panamanians may strike you as a bit dishonest. We call these people "juegavivos." As for workmanship, our home was brand new when we bought it. Some of the faucets are keyed to turn counterclockwise for "off" and clockwise for "on." With others, it is the opposite. Having been away from the home country for years, I can no longer remember which is correct.
A ray of sunshine: My wife the teacher complains about the bad attitude of the students, many of whom do not care about education. But today is Teachers' Day and she came home beaming and showed me a nice little gift and card from one of her prized students. It was a lovely message, very sincerely thanking her for being an exceptional teacher. And the girl added! I LOVE  history! She also had good reports about several others and said almost all of her 9th graders came up to hug her when she entered the classroom.
Making a living
There is a girl at my wife's school who is making a career of photography. Around graduation time, she  offered her services for the yearbook, at a discounted price relative to the usual photogs. She offered not only the photos but photo enhancement via PhotoShop. She turned out to be quite talented. It was a huge hit and now she is getting individual orders from parents and acquaintances of these kids.
In other words, you can do business in Panama but it will take a little imagination and creativity.
If you have not yet been to Casco Antiguo, you need to go and take a look at all the little shops up there. People, many of them foreigners, are making money there and having fun.
But of course, it helps a lot to know Spanish.

I know lots of people who lost lots of money in business in Canada. So don't go there.

In Canada or in Panama? I know some people who lost way too much and if you ask me, their business would have even succeeded in Africa or Bangladesh or some poor country but in Panama it did not work out. Well some people will tell you they are making it here, i think i am also one of them. You need to know the extreme slowness and problematics of this country. Its important that especially in the beginning never invest too much money into your business so you stay flexible. Its easy to say with $200 000 dollar or more to have a good living in panama. Well it can be true. But what is with individuals that have only $20 000 or $50 000 dollars? Let me tell you, your money is worth nothing in panama and if you do not take care you will run out of money withing one year or less. Unfortunately many people do not tell the truth and make it look very simple. Even if the economy seems strong, the market is shared between few big companies only. Do not try to compete with any of them. And for the happiness, the less you have contact with the locals, the more happy you are. Unless you never worked hard in your life and you think everything is funny and the world is perfect.

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