Planing to move in Panama in December

Hi everybody,

Me, my wife and my kid are planning to move in Panama in December.

We are 35 years old from Québec. Our spanish is poor but we are willing to learn.

Our setteling plan is fisrt to go there and find a professionnal activity (money is not an issue), in order to improve our spanish, meet people, get to know the country.
We could do some housesitting, caretaking, gardening, work in the tourism or service industry in exchage of a place to stay for the family.

I will first go there alone in mid November, in order to prepare our arrival.

The goal of my pot is to meet people who already made the move to share some informations, and maybe meet in November.

So anyone who is available for a chat, or to meet me there, please contact me.

thank you all

Where in Panama do you plan to go?

Do you speak English? From your post it looks like you do. Your lack of Spanish will limit your options, but there are enough people who speak English in areas where there are expats so you can manage (Panama City, Coronado, Boquete, etc) 

If you want Spanish classes, check out

Have you researched the legalities of working here? House sitting or volunteering in exchange for a place to stay should be OK, but work for pay is more complicated.

I happened across a website once. I wish I could remember what it was, but it connected volunteers with people needing workers, mostly hostels and farms. Has anyone else here heard of something like this?

Thanks for your answer,

My English is not perfect. I'm better in speaking than writing.
I speak very basic spanish.

We don't know in witch area we want to settle, we are open. The only important thing for us is not to be too far from an hospital or clinic where they could take care of our 1 year old son if something happends.
Our preference would be to avoid Panama City. We are more nature and small town people.
Boquete, Volcan, Coronado, Vale de Anton, Chitre peninsula, Chiriqui, Portobelo looks like good choice for us. I will confirm that during my travel in November.
The first place we will settle won't be definitive. If once there, we have opportunities (work or activities) anywere else, we can move if it's safe.

The setteling will be in two steps:
First find a place were I could have an activity that will aloud us to learn the country (langage, people, opportunities an traps...).
If we like it, after one year we plan to invest in tourism industry (Hostel or condos) or real estate.

The legal aspects is not a problem, we already have a lot of informations. The tricky thing will be to choose a good lawyer not to get screwed.

Do you think it is an easy thing to meet people (locals and expats), once there, that could give me the best advices, on places to stay, places to avoid, and work opportunities ?
Where is the best place to go to meet such people ?

Thanks again for your quick answer.

Panama City was too much for us too, so we chose the second biggest city which is David.  There are four hospitals here, two private, one public, and one for mothers and children, and anything else you would need for daily living. Boquete and the mountains are a short drive north, and the beach is a short drive south. I think Chiriqui is stunningly beautiful, and we appreciate that all the produce is grown here so it is available every day.

For you? Coronado on the beach, lots of expats, nice but expensive. I'm not sure what medical care is readily available there.
Chitre area is possible, a growing city with a lot going on, and beautiful beaches to the south but except for Pedasi, more Panamanian feel and less English spoken.
I don't know Valle de Anton but I hear it's beautiful but a small town. Check out how far you would have to travel for medical care.
Boquete might be a very good possibility. There are lots of expats there, lots of opportunities to meet others and get involved in all sorts of activities. It is so beautiful, and there is a very good road that will get you down to David in 40 minutes.
I love the Volcan area too, but it is more Panamanian with less English spoken though with the growing number of tourists that visit this might be changing. It's on the other side of Volcan Baru from Boquete so it also has the gorgeous mountain scenery, and it's big enough to have shopping and basic needs, but it's farther from David if you need hospitals.

You might consider the climate too. Coming from Quebec you might find the lowlands unbearably hot, and you'd be more comfortable in the mountains.

Are you on Facebook? There is a large group there - Expats in Panama. It's a great place to ask questions and connect with some other expats. You can probably find smaller groups also for specific areas that interest you.

Lawyers, yes, be cautious. I have heard stories. We worked with Marcos and were extremely happy with him.

I'll be away for a while, returning about Nov 11th so if you are in my area after that, let me know and we can get together for a chat.

Hi Krist

Thank you for all these advices.

Choosing, between all these places will not be an easy task. We will do that step by step. We are lucky to be able to move so there will not be any definitive choice untill we find the opportunity that suits us.
We are conscious that it might take time.

Thanks for your lawyer contact. We surely will contact him.

I will arrive in Panama the 11 th of November.
I'll let you know when I'll be around David. (It might be around the 16).
If you are still available for a cofee and a chat, it will be a pleasure to meet you there.

I'll contact you back closer, to my departure date.

Have a nice Week End

Hi Damien. I'll contact you privately and we will work something out

Hi Damien,

My wife and I moved to Panama almost 4 years ago with (at the time) our 2 young children from the Canadian west coast.
The kids were going into kindergarten and grade 2 so school was a big deciding factor along with work as we are still fairly young and needed to earn an income.
We looked at a lot of areas and found David in the Chiriquí province presented great business opportunities and Boquete (very close by) offered a great international private school and the perfect weather for us.
If work is not an issue for you than your opportunities are really endless as there are lots of good hospitals and clinic throughout the country and good schools as well. that being said there are lots of not so good clinics and schools as well and you are going to need to do your research once you settle on a location.
My best suggestion to you is to meet some people that our in your situation and discuss the challenges with them as you go along. Trust me there will be some interesting challenges, lol. We did not do this and looking back wish we did as it was tough going for a while there.
We started a cabinet design and manufacturing company in David and have found that through the challenges and opportunities we have grown and learned a lot.
If you make it up our way please let us know and we could meet and tell you what we know and still don't know, lol.

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Hi PPI Panama,

Thanks for your answer, it's quite reasuring.

I'll contact you in private.

Have a good day

Hi Damien, since 2005 I have a property on the peninsula near Puerto Armuelles if you like to visit the area you are welcome to come to my place. To situate the peninsula look for Punta Burica on GOOGLE EARTH. I will be back in Panama mid-December.  Si vous parlez français on peut communiquer en français.

What is your opinion of the islands in Bocas del Toro?

Some love it, some do not. It really comes down to personal preference. The best thing to do is to spend time in the locations you think you want to live during the dry season and the rainy season. this will give you the best grasp of whether it is for you or not.

Damian said they need healthcare nearby, so Bocas is probably not the best choice. I believe they have a clinic there now but to go to the hospital, you need a water taxi and then a ride over the mountains. It's a beautiful area to visit though.

CTS1063 :

What is your opinion of the islands in Bocas del Toro?

I understand things are getting more expensive in Panama. Is there a reason other than the fact that US dollar is going back up? Housing and food more expensive?

The cost of housing in the expat-favoured areas seems to me to be roughly equal to that of many major cities in North America.  Cost of food can be kept low by avoiding the supermarket chains.

Panama is becoming more and more an expensive and hostile country for foreigners, local people do not like immigrants. It will be even worst by 2018 when the campaign for president election will start, several candidates plan to use the nationalism flag...

Having now spent 2 weeks in Colombia (almost) I can say this: Colombia does not offer the delightful range of expat-style housing opportunities that places like Boquete do. Most of the favoured expat areas are major urban, with apartment-style living. There will be exceptions, one hopes.

Flip side - even in heavily touristic areas like Salento you can get a delicious full-course meal with beverage under $5 US - easily. Bus from Armenia to Salento in the Zona Cafetero for example is around $2.00. If you can find a place - and that is the hard part - you can live far more frugally in Colombia. The other benefit is that the temperate climate we seek is almost everywhere (aside from the coastal areas) in Colombia. Nor does Colombia offer the ease of retirement visa and benefits that Panama does - but despite that, you will be made to feel most welcome by the Colombians.

You just can't get it all!

Hi Steve,
I've spent quite a bit of time comparing the ease and cost of getting visas to most of the countries in Central America and i thought it would be easier and cheaper to get one for Colombia compared to Panama. Any reason why you think its the other way round?


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