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James asks…

How is living in Panama for Americans and Europeans?

I have been to Panama once and fell in love. However, I wanted to know from someone in their 30’s to 40’s how is the quality of life to live there? I am looking to get out of the “rat race” and move to paradise, but want to make sure that I can survive, yet thrive financially and with quality of life. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

Best Answer:

I’m mid forties and living in PC Panama for a year now. Linuxiac is wrong; you can own property in Panama even on a 90 day turista (tourist) visa (see www.panamaexpertos.com), you just need to exit the country every 89 days to renew your visa or pay a fine. There is no reason to have an escort in Panama unless you want to walk around on the street with a presidential Rolex or your 4 carat Tiffany platinum ring, but then there are places in the US you won’t do that either. However, I see these items being worn in the Multi Plaza mall here in PC BTW. There are places where I do no go after dark. Name me one country in the world where this isn’t true. If I shop in an area where a crime of opportunity may occur I usually try to look like a local as much as possible. However, my 28 yr old daughter and her family are her and see is a natural light, light blonde. She will never blend in but dresses in jeans and t shirt for street shopping and we had had no problems. The difference with crimes of opportunity in Panama verses the US would be you probably aren’t going to loose you life, just your possessions. Until 2000 American had a large influence in Panama. We built the roads, water, and most of the intra structure here. You can drink the water from the faucet in the city, you can plug your blow dryer in without a converter, and you don’t have to exchange your money for another currency.

Drew_Tease said to make sure you can secure a job in Panama. Work visas are extremely difficult to get. It’s much better to have a steady income that isn’t dependant on making a living in Panama. One exception may be rental property. We have off shore income that supports US here.

Now, to answer your question:

Quality of life is good for US, but it truly depends on your personal needs and desires. I will tell you what I like first. I like having a maid and a driver to run small errands, we also have a part time chef since we entertain a lot. I love the local culture, the hustle and bustle of the city, the closeness of the mountains and the beaches, taking trips out of the city and exploring the country. We are extremely health conscience, so the cleaner foods of Panama are a great benefit to US. Our budget in the US was $6,000 a month. Here with our staff and monthly living expenses we are at $2000. Our maid is $225, our driver is $400, and our chef is $220 PER MONTH. You can live very frugally or as extravagantly as you desire. There is always something going on in the city, fireworks for some occasion, some parade, some event or concert at the convention center, some expat meeting, etc. There is no reason to be bored and sit at home.

What I don’t like: The traffic in the city when I need to run errands, the constant noise I have from living in the heart of the city, the dirt that blows in from the city even living on the 24th floor. There is no one-stop shopping in Panama (say good bye to the Wal-Mart Super Centers, they don’t exist here). If you don’t know the language you will tire quickly of trying to make yourself understood. Driving in Panama is more about reading the other persons face and trying to figure out what they are going to do rather than know the rules. I smell of sewage from Punta Paitilla. If rain bothers you there will be six months of almost daily rain.

But when I lay every thing in the balance scale the benefits of living here out weight the dislikes substantially. Even paradise and it is paradise here; has its warts.

I would strong suggest putting your things in storage in the US, renting a small place in the city, try it for six months. Explore and travel the country, this will tell you if you like and what part of the country you want to live in.

Posted From Yahoo! Answers (for informational purposes only)

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