Canadian Families who moved to Panama :)

HI, My family and I are moving to Panama from Canada in 2012.  We are very anxious to meet other Canadian family's who have already made the move.  We live in Okotoks, just outside of Calgary.
We have five children, age 6,10, 12, 16, 18.
We would be so happy to meet other Families. :)

Warm Smiles,

Welcome on ohenry :)

I have moved your presentation to Panama forum for effective networking. You can also contact some Canadians via the: Canadian expatriates in Panama network page.


Hola.  Family of 4 here lookingat moving also in 2012.  We are from Drumheller.  Where are you looking at moving to?  Purchasing a business or ?  We are looking at finding work first and then seeing what's up. 


Hi Neal, we live in Okotoks.  we are a family of 7.  We have not decided exactly where in Panama to live, but are researching it.  We will start a business there.  How about you, do you know where you will live? how old are your children?
I would love to compare notes.
Warm Smiles,
Laurien    ohenry[at]

Our boys are 2 & 4 and are used to travelling and are bilingual English & Spanish.  We too would like to start a business but will explore where, we visited last year and my wife was really impressed with Panama City and me more the mountains.  I deal in import export mostly in Asia so may lookat something simlar but we are not saying no to anything.  Because my Spanish is not where it should be I am taking 3 months of lessons in Costa Rica Jan-March 2012. 

What kind of business are you folks looking at?  Have you explored Panama?



I am from Calgary and have been in Panama on and off for three years. Now mostly here starting a business.

There are quite a few Canadians here that work from here or start businesses. Getting a job with a local company is almost impossible and the pay will be 1/3 of what you get at home.

There are a number of Cdn's that work from here on businesses that are internet based. But unless you are already in a business that you can work remote it takes years to get established.

Starting a business here is possible but prepared for a very long haul with sometjing new. A number of Cdn have B&B's, tourism businesses or restaurants/bars. First consider if you would do this type of business at home, how long it would take to get profitable and such. It will be no faster or less expensive here, probably the opposite. So best to have a very solid business plan, the means to live if it should take twice (or three times) as long to get profitable.... Panama is great, you just need to be realistic if you are bringing your family.


Hay, you Cdns, if you live in the right area, you only need 1/3 of what you need up there.

Do you know where you will be living yet? We are a retired couple who will be living in Pedasi, on the Pacific.

Iris and Chris Lewis

Not for sure yet depends on wether I keep on doing the same business I do now or buy or build a new one, still exploring options.  Any ideas you have may be helpful, don't know the Pedasi area.


Hey Ohenry, Neal, et al
We are looking at moving to Panama as early as November; family of 4 (14 year old girl & 12 year old boy).  Heading down in August for a two week vacation to look around.  Looking at Playa Coronado area; an hour from the city, lots of sun, and there is an international school.   After some time off to get adjusted there will consider starting an engineering services company.


Welcome on Brad :D

Hi,  I am a lone female, originally from the Uk but have been living in Thailand for the past 3 years.  I am seriously considering retiring in Panama but some things are important to me (things I seem unable to find in Thailand)  can I find peace and quiet?? can I move to Panama on a very small pension but with money in the bank??
If anyone can offer sound advice I will be happy to hear what you have to say - especially from people in my situation.

uk trucker

Well books could be written on your question.
There are cheaper places to live than Panama (i.e. Thailand) and you will always find someone who has a better place.
That said Panama does have a good visa program called a pensionado visa. Just google and you will loads of stuff.
Lots of frustrating things as there is anywhere but there are some beautiful and peaceful places to live reasonably and the people are very friendly.
It is essential to come and spend a month traveling around to the different regions as there is such a radical difference in such a small country.


Hi uktrucker,

If you have more questions, i would suggest you to start a new discussion on the Panama forum.

Thank you very much.

uktrucker :

can I move to Panama on a very small pension but with money in the bank??

Hi uktrucker,

I am no immigration expert, but here are my 2 cents: If your pension doesn't meet the requirement of having a minimum of $1000 per month, what about buying a pension from a life insurance company in a high yield currency (to keep the cost low) like e. g. the South African Rand to make up for the missing balance? Obviously this would come with some risk of currency fluctuation (who knows where the Rand will stand to the US$ in 10 years?).

Another option (if your savings are big enough) might be to buy a reforestation plantation (as I understood a minimum purchase of 60000 will give you residence, 80000 will even give you citizenship).

You might also deposit $ 300000 in a Panamaian bank account and leave it there for a number of years (I think 3 years). If you buy property the purchase price for the property will reduce the deposit required.

As I said, I am not specialised in that area (just wrote what I think I remembered from other forums), so you must check the accuracy of that information. But it might be food for thought.

Good luck

I'm planning on moving to Panama within the next year and would hope that you or someone can answer the following questions|:
What's the crime rate like?
What's the best way to have my pension transferred from Canada to Panama?
Which is the best bank to deal with? Are there any Canadian banks
in Panama or banks with Cdn. affiliations.?
Where are the best opportunities for doing business.
What types of business, that exist in Canada,do not exist in Panama?

So many questions - a good sign if you intend to move. I suggest you subscribe to International Living Magazine and also ask for their online newsletters. Lots of relevant information at that source!
You cannot transfer your pension as there is no agreement for Canadian pensions to be paid in Panama. We intend to make monthly or bi-monthly wire transfers or use Canadian Forex to move monies as required.
As to banking, we are with Scotiabank panama, but there is also HSBC which is probably a better choice. Business opportunities abound and the government is very accommodating regarding those starting a business. Go online and research the many visas available in Panama. We have applied for a "pensionado" which is specifically for retirees with a pension from elsewhere. If you want to open a business, this one is inappropriate.
The crime rate in Panama City matches that of any large city, but into the country, crime is much less.
I think you have lots to research and will; find much useful information of luck!

Iris and Chris

While I agree with Iris and Chris in most of she says I would like to add a couple of more things. All banks in Panama are a different entity from the original bank (name); they have no relation with back home original bank . Mostly are good banks so you can choose any bank you feel confortable in Chiriqui.
The pensionado visa, provide you can apply for, still the cheapest, fastest, and easier visa in Panama. Then if you want to make a business you are allowed no matter which visa you have. Further more should you apply for a investor visa and then change business you should start all the process again with the new business.

I am from Edmonton, and own a home in Potrerillos Abajo in Chiriqui. I, like so many others, cannot explain enough, that due diligence must be done before you decide to move to any of the countries that do not live in the same way we do. The culture shock is massive, depending on where you live. It is not only a language issue, but the total change in life attitude. Some find it great, others(and that is most of the peeps that move here un-prepared) find it 'too much' after a short time.
For those that are moving with kids, remember that this shock will be massive to them, and something that is unlike anything most of them can imagine. Most ex-pats that move to CA are pensioners, or close to it.
My post is to help a bit with banking. The banking system for Canadians is difficult if you are opening an account, or transferring money from Canada. HSBC has probably the least charges to get money from Canada, if you have a Premier account in both countries, but is still expensive.
Ex.   Transfer $1000 US from a US account you have in Canada(more if you use a Cdn acct) Charges at present will be:
$8.50 Cdn (plus the exchange from your US to Cdn)--this will be $15 in April/2012
Because the money has to go through a 3rd party bank in the US, there will be an additional $20 charge(I am not sure if this charge goes up in April or not).
So, be prepared to make as few as possible transfers as possible to your Panama account as you can.
Also, be very wary if taking out money from ATM's.
It is getting popular for thugs to watch for people taking money out of ATM's at banks and robbing them soon after. This is getting more popular in David all the time.
This is not a post to alarm anyone, just to let them know what to expect.

We are  from Calgary and just building a house new Potrerillos Abajo. We found that HSBC was very accomodating at setting up our banking for us here in Panama while we were still in Canada. When we arrived here we were in the computer system already and we had already wired money down prior to our arrival. Quite easy in the end, the biggest challenge was to understand the bank address was ...over the bridge , next to the... actually very refeshing.

Hi there
We live in Canada too, laval qc and we are moving to panama. We will be living in panama city. I have a son of 8 yrs and would love to meet canadian living in panama. My husband is panamain.

Hi there. My husband is a builder and  renovator. We are planning to move close to bocas del toro in a few years. Would he be able to build or get a job with a builder?

No. Most jobs are only open to Panamanians, including construction trades.

Maybe though..   if he had his own business?  You'd have to research how to do that though, what it takes to get legal.

Thanks for your response. I will investigate opening our own business

New topic