Moving to Panama
Panama serves as the meeting point between two oceans and two continents. With a population of over 3,6 million people, Panama is a small country; however, recent years have seen a massive influx of investors, businesspeople and fortune-seekers are riding the wave of development. Panama has shaken off its third-world image and become a haven for expats, thanks in no small part to the Panama canal: a vital resource for international maritime trade which connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and created the economic foundation for a booming country.
Foreigners are drawn to Panama because of its modern infrastructure teamed with a warm climate, peaceful lifestyle and beautiful tropical surroundings. Large expat communities can be found here, particularly in Panama City, which some are now comparing to Dubai. There's also a growing number of foreigners setting up holiday homes on Panama’s offshore islands.
In years past, many expats living in Panama were of retirement age and were enticed by government incentives such as discounts on goods and low cost medical treatment. However, the Panamanian government has been pushing foreign investement and as a result there is now a vibrant, dynamic and driven community of people looking to grow their business in Panama.
Expats living in Panama will find the cost of living low. The price of property has increased with the country's growing popularity, but this is dependent on the city and location. The cost of transportation is relatively cheap compared to North America and Europe. In addition, shopping in Panama is mostly duty-free. The standard of healthcare in Panama is also good, especially in private hospitals in the major cities. While no-one will be denied medical treatment in Panama, expats should ensure they have a good health insurance policy to gain access to better facilities. There is also a range of good internationals schools from which expats can choose.
Compared to other South and Central American countries, Panama is relatively safe and crime rates are decreasing generally. However, burgalries are still common and theft from vehicles is widespread. However, police have a strong presence on Panama’s city streets and carry out regular checks on cars at roadsides to keep track of criminal movements. Expats should always exercise caution when using ATMs and be vigialnt when walking alone at night.
The Panamanian people are known for being friendly, hospitable and welcoming towards new arrivals. While the official language of Panama is Spanish, English proficiency is extremely common, especially in the cities and when conducting business.