2 months in Panama - where to stay?


We are looking to relocate from Melbourne, Australia for a few 1-2 month stints next year (3-6 different countries, 1-3 months in each). It's kind of a 'slow travel' project, while I am on maternity leave.

One of the places we are considering is Panama but we just wanted to see if anyone can advise whether it's possible to live simply on $2000-$2500 USD per month including a 2-3 bed furnished apartment near the coast, and also suggestions where a pleasant and safe town might be, near the beach, authentic place (not Cancun-esque tourism), and where we can learn Spanish?

We will be a couple with a 3yo and a young baby, we won't be working, just need a basic furnished place somewhere we can relax and have some family time. We like the beach, small towns and ports, nature, not too much tourism but some expats perhaps, and just want to live like locals but somewhere nice, and learn Spanish. Also, we'd like to find recommendations for help with the kids, like a babysitter/ mother's help.

We have heard Boca Del Toro is nice, any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Bocas is a beautiful Caribbean area but the town is funky and it's full of tourists, English not required. I think if you want a really Panamanian experience look at Las tablas. It's inexpensive, lots of tradition and history there, and close to water. There are other towns in the area also or you might look at places near Coronado (expensive but nearby towns might work well). If you are on Facebook look for the group Expats in Panama. There are many people living all over who can help you more.

Bocas pretty but not what many think of as nice.

chitre is nice i think much nicer than las tablas ,, but i like the resturants and the doen town hotels ,, and of course the casino as i like black jack ,, farter souht is pedasi but it gets old after 4 or 5 days .. why limit your self tom one place ,, boca chica is nice but 3 or 4 days   santa catilina is nice and bocas del toro for 3 or 4 days ,, then the isle grande coastal area some great places there to stay i was a guide for 2 years and have seen it all

Boquete !  Not on the beach but not too far away. Lot's of rivers and streams. (about 3.5 hours from Bocas and 1.5 hours from the  Gulf of Chiriqui National Marine Park). Look into Albe Verde Guest House in Boquete. Lovely place and landlady (Mary Ellen) next door....It will take your breath away !

Sounds like they want immersion, learn Spanish, near beach, small town, not too many tourists, local life and culture.... Boquete is pretty much the opposite in all of those IMO except maybe the small town.

We are limiting ourselves to fewer places as we are travelling with a small baby and a toddler who needs routine :) We'd like to unpack, also we'd like to get to know a place, the local shopkeeper, have a favourite cafe etc, feel at home rather than on holiday or always exploring. Then we won't feel pressure to do/see something every day - if we all had a sleepless night or don't manage to get out of the house, no rush, there's always tomorrow :)

It does look like a lovely guest house Overbergerc but it makes me nervous that the price is so much higher than we can afford ($1300 USD for 10 days!?)... is this another reason to stay in a place for 2 months at a time, so we can get a more reasonable rent? We only have $2600 USD/PAB per month to live on - including accommodation, food, entertainment etc. Perhaps that's an unreasonable expectation?
What do you think?

Where would I look for this kind of accommodation that isn't a 'vacation rental' but is a relatively short contract?

Although not a beach town, Boquete does offer a range of short term accommodations in tiny houses called casitas. You can find some of them on offer at boqueteningdot com . The bonus is that unlike the beach areas, you will actually be able to bring the baby outside.

It is pricey but it's very safe and has a full kitchen, full time hot water, TV, 2 BR's, etc, Lots of fresh fruit growing on the property. Entertainment can consist of hiking trails further up the mountain and watching the sun rise and set on Vulcan Baru (rise via backlight..beautiful ! We cooked at home most of the time and rented a car from the David airport for 260/week. This was a Toyota land cruiser so we could go pretty much anywhere. Groceries were about 1/2 of what we pay in the states and if you use the local markets and roaming fish mongers it can be really inexpensive. You can find less expensive long term lodging in the city proper (Boquete) but we couldn't find anything that was either too rough or too far down into the valley and was pretty hot and desert like.   

Vulcan has less expensive housing and looked pretty nice..a little more "down to earth". We plan to check it out next trip. We are going to investigate Ecuador this winter. Keep the board posted !

Chuck and Rhonda

Just a thought. If you like jungle, look at Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica. It's right on the Caribbean and in the rain forest, There's a place called Loco Natural owned by Pamela and Carter. They have 3 nice cabins and a small studio and you might be able to get something for 60-70 a night long term. They have a pool and it's located on an old cocoa farm. Really nice but it is warm !! The Finca is outside of the town and is quiet. PV can be a fun party town in the city proper but is really quiet on the outskirts.

Chuck and Rhonda

3 days in boquete and 3  to 4 hours a day was socked in with fog our clouds ?/
was hazy if you stood on a hill in one place you could see a glint of the ocean

Depends on the time of year. Need to pick "dry season" if you don't like the  “Bajareque” which is a light afternoon mist that cools the area down. We were up in the 4k (miles) mountains in March-April 2018 and it was pretty dry..we were hoping for the Bajareque but really missed it and the rivers and the "pipeline trail" was easily walkable...but low flow...many Quetzals. This is truly a paradise type of area. If you don't fall in love with this volcanic mountainous area of the Central American archipelago, you will only be happy in the Hawaiian version of this type of volcanic topography. (not  sure if that geographic terminology fits but it reminds me of the Karst topographic landscape in central eastern US..only the cones are inverted !)       

This is from a post by another poster, Penny Barrett...not wanting to plagiarize.

The dry season is usually around mid-December to the first week of May and the wet season is from May up until mid-December. The rain usually starts at about 3 PM. They say October is the height of the rainy season but starting November, we start to get lesser amounts of rain. Come mid-December, generally, there is not much rain anymore. We like the rain because when it rains, it is greener and it is cleaner. There is no dust. Boquete is fifty shades of green.

During the dry season, we do not get any rain. If you have a garden, you have to water the plants yourself. When your gardener comes, the first thing he will do is to get the hose and water every plant. It is windy around January and February. There are areas around Boquete that get more winds for longer periods during the year. It is extremely windy in some places such as the canyons and Alto Boquete, which means "High Boquete". It tends to be windier in higher places to the point that you have to put your shoulder against the door of your car to open it.

We have a lot of micro-climates in Boquete. You can go a hundred yards down the road and you will be in a different micro-climate. Each micro-climate can have more rain, or more wind, or it can be more humid. That is why people usually try to rent first to see if they like the place and the climate before they invest in buying a property.

End of quote:

Chuck O

we have house on the hill overlooking lake gatun in cerro cama ,, full time grounds keeper three "fondas " in town real cheap ,, grow own veggies hundreds of trees there already and moringa , bus stop right in front of house an hour into the city of chorrerra for major shopping .. 5 minutes to the lake gatun fish off the bank catch peacock bass and two restaurants there

check out belize before you make any decision


Which months are you planning to stay in Panama next year? We are building a house in the mountains of Chicá (20 minutes from the coast of Coronado) at the moment and will stay there till April. There are some cheaper options in that area and we might also consider renting our house. It's quiet, has nature, not touristy and close enough to Panama City, beach, shops and expat life.

best regards,

I have corresponded with you in the past.  just thot I would touch base to
See where or what you were at, at the moment.  I am returning to Panama
Early next month.  Looking forward to it, Calgary is getting cold.😨

Hi, we have a place in a very safe area, however, it would only be
Good for a couple I think, and can’t remember if you have kids
Or not??. Lol.

Good luck,

Ok, just read your post, you have kids, and want a babysitter as well!! Lol, You might not
Get everything on your wish list, lol.  however, I am a 62 yr. Canadian, grannie, who,
Loves kids, and babies, etc.  was working as a nanny for a lawyer family in Calgary on
A part time basis a few yrs. ago, if that helps??..

oh, and which 2 months are you planning to be in Panama?


Sounds like Las Tablas area to me.  There are many smaller towns nearby.  Pedasi, Pocri, Mariabe, Lajamina, La Laguna, and many more.  Look on a map for all the small towns between Las Tablas and Pedasi.

I was also thinking on a place like Las Tablas or Santiago, located in the countryside but still with a lot of development around.


What has been your experience with contractors in Panama? Are they reliable, hardworking, etc, or does it vary?

It can vary. I’ve noticed it’s customary for Panamanians to keep a close eye on anyone working for them to be sure the work is actually getting done. A Panamanian lawyer neighbor was so disgusted with his house that was completed a year later than scheduled that he walked away from the deal. So things don’t always go as planned for either gringos or Panamanians. But, things do get done, sooner or later

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