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Lifestyle in Panama

British Columbia
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Lifestyle in Panama

Can anyone give me some information or connect me to a website that I can look at on the lifestyle in Panama.

If you buy a home, do you have to buy in a gated community to feel safe?

Do you know about immigrating with pets?

What kind of insects can we expect?

All of the websites tell you how nice it is - which I beleive - but no where does it tell you the real day to day living. I just recently found out, not all homes in Panama have hot water coming into them. I just want to know what to expect.

Thank you

Medellin, Colombia
Destination Expert
for Panama City
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3,751 posts
97 reviews
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1. Re: Lifestyle in Panama

Try Americans in Panama Yahoo forum, there is also a Panama Real Estate Forum on yahoo.

Bugs, depends on what part of Panama you are talking about.

I have seen a lot more mosiquitos in my backyard here in Florida than I have seen in Panama.

Gated communities, they are fine if you want to live with other gringos, howvever what is the point if you are going to move all the way to Panama just to have next door neighbors who are from New Jersey.

If you are looking in Panama City, try the San Fransisco area, close to the action but more residental, borders a nice park, housing is reasonable.

Panama City, Panama
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for Panama
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1,967 posts
6 reviews
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2. Re: Lifestyle in Panama

Background: From BC - Prince Rupert/Vancouver... We have been overseas for almost 20 years living and working - 1st world and lots of 3rd world.

Panama: almost 1st world but lots of 3rd world too. We live in a city apartment, I think there's only one other North American in the building who has just moved in... There are some gated communities that have as many Panamanians living in them as expats and others that are nearly 100% Panamanians and others with a higher % of expats.

Safety for the most part is not a major issue for expats as we don't venture into the dodgy areas of town - just like in Vancouver - how many times a year do you go to the East End?... Learn where to go and where not to go - like any big city and you are fine. Petty crime is like anywhere - opportunistic - don't give them the opportunity.

The lifestyle here is much freeer, more laid back, less time concious, at time more formal - especially in business, more family oriented and not a lot of hang ups on day to day "things"... It can seem a lot more materialistic for some people - Latin's like to show their "wealth" but it is a welcoming country to expats.

There are a few Yahoo groups - some will give you a good idea and some will make you think what type of people live there!!!... The Panama Forum was a lot better a while ago - seems to have gone downhill lately - VEP is another group, on both you can get decent advice if your questions are specific enough.

Pets are usually no problem, there are procedures to follow but they are not overly burdensome - the file section on The Panama Forum should have the procedures listed.

Insects: everything - in the city you won't see a whole bunch - ants and maybe a spider or two - the odd cockroach if you don't keep things clean or fumigate every 3 to 6 months - less of a problem in an apartment than in a house. In the country areas you can add scorpions, snakes etc but again -rarely a problem.

None of the homes have hot water coming into them (bet you don't have hot water coming into your house in BC) - but I doubt you could find an apartment or house that would be suitable for any expat that didn't have a hot water heater. Many use inline gas heaters rather than electric hot water tanks due to costs...

Now this is going to sound pretentious... the chances are that the bathroom in your maid's quarters won't have hot water in the shower!!!

As they say, it ain't Kansas but it is a fun place to live... My suggestion, before taking the plunge, come down for a few months, rent an apartment and get a feel for the country before making any major commitment - it appeals to some people and is totally not other people's cup of tea.

Hope this helps,


British Columbia
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3. Re: Lifestyle in Panama

Thank you Andrew. Maple Ridger's here, just oustide of Vancouver. We are looking at Coronado or Gorgona. We have an agent looking out for us but I really do not know hat to expect. Husband going down end of Feb to get an idea. We are transplants to BC from Toronto originally so this is a change to be sure.

Quite concerned about my dogs (3) show dogs and champions but I have not been able to find information on what is required to bring them into a different country.

Hot water- well I did not word that right - I mean a water heater I found not is not in very house. I hate cold showers!!

Thank you for you advise. If you know anything about Coronado or Gorgona I would appreciate it. We are boaters as well and love the ocean.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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622 posts
17 reviews
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4. Re: Lifestyle in Panama

Agree with previous post.

As far as bringing animals, it used to be required to leave the animals at the "quarentine" for weeks, but now it's not required. Some paperwork but shouldn't be a problem.

In Panama it's always house vs apartment. If you have a house, especially if not in a gated community, break ins can occur when you are away, so consider that before you buy. If you're going to be travelling back to BC at times, an apartment is easier to just lock and go. Most apartments have 24hr security.

Pretty much all houses have hot water plumbing (except for the maids, like Andrew said, for whatever reason), but the water heater is not necessarily considered part of the "house" as in the U.S., unless you make it part of the deal when you buy. Gas "tankless" heaters are very inexpensive, effective and available. If you must have a tank heater, they're available too.

Houses are constructed differently. Weather is always warm/hot, so houses are "open" without much insulation, and made of block/cement. There are pros and cons to this. Most people that use A/C in their house only to sleep, as houses do not have central A/C.

Bugs are really not that bad. In the city pretty much minimal to nothing. As you move to the countryside there will be more bugs, but not too bad. Some areas are famous for having more bugs, such as Punta Chame (because of proximity to mangroves), but you can find out from locals before you buy.

Panama City, Panama
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7 posts
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5. Re: Lifestyle in Panama

I have been living here for nearly 7 years and agree with Andrew's perspective.

As for Gorgona and Coronado... Coronado used to be primarily a getway weekend, holiday place for wealthy Panamanians in the day when there was very little to do but socialize. As they are very family oriented; the homes there tend to be large with multiple bedrooms and the entire extended families would holiday there.

Today, much of Coronado has gone ex-pat with folks buying these large, dated homes and re-doing them to live there fulltime. Consequently, my understanding is there is a large ex-pat population out that way that meets regularly.

Gorgona is next to Coronado. There is construction there underway, but it is still largely native Panamanians. We are having a beach townhome built there. I am eagerly looking forward to enjoying getting out of the city, but it wouldn't be a place I could live yet - not enough amenities. Most long time residents of the coastal area have a home there and a flat in the city.

As for bugs...I grew up in So. Fla. where you shared your home with nuclear sized flying cockroaches, lizards/chameleons, ants (different ones for every season), and occasional tiny (seasonal) spiders. In 7 years here and in 4 homes, I have seen a flying cockroach once. Rumours regarding the proliferation of mosquitos is largely exaggerated - but that depends on what area of the country (Panama City, no problem). ...And you do share your home with pale skinned chameleons...and wage war on the seasonal ants.

From my home, on the fringe of the city, I regularly see toucans and monkeys in the trees outside my home. I hear the call of wild parrots and parakeets and see them chattering and flying from place to place. Little brown gnecke run across my lawn, and occasionally I'll see a couple of gato solos (lemurs to gringos) sniffing around. I've seen the most spectacularly colorful birds and watched a big green lizard relax in the upper canopy of the trees out back.

Would I trade a life where I have to struggle to be understood, the newspapers are in Spanish, the locals don't return calls, English speaking TV channels are few, but where the food is supremely excellent tasting, fresh and abundant, where I can see a movie downtown seated in a barcalounger with my meal brought to me, where social engagements are a moment away due to indispensable cellphone communications, where opportunities abound to help and/or work, and where I can run off to the beach or the mountains in a matter of a couple hours and can have a lovely lady wash my clothes, clean my house and cook, for an exterminated air conditioned luxury home in a perfectly manicured gated community, anti-septic smelling plastic packaged food grocery store, preservative and additive filled foods or expensive fresh organic options, and all the fearful and hyped up news I could digest ?

No way, Jose.

6. Re: Lifestyle in Panama

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