Portugal is a country known for its delicious gastronomy, sunny weather and cheap cost of living. This superb quality of life has attracted many...
Panama, also known as the Switzerland of the Americas, is an increasingly popular destination for expats seeking a fulfilling and vibrant life abroad. And this goes beyond favourable tax and business regulations.
With its glorious natural landscapes and friendly locals, Panama is the perfect mix of adventure, affordability, and convenience. Its geographical position grants it a privileged status as the bridge between North and South America and the gateway connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
Panama, with its diverse cities, offers expats the flexibility to choose an area that aligns with their preferences, be it a bustling urban center, a tranquil mountain retreat, or a beachside paradise. The country's welcoming atmosphere, coupled with its favorable weather and cost advantages, makes it an attractive destination for individuals and families.
The diverse topography contributes to varied temperatures across the country. Coastal areas experience warmth year-round, while mountainous regions offer a cooler escape. This diversity allows residents to tailor their living experience based on temperature preferences.
This Latin American country captivates expats with its various attractions and rich cultural heritage. From spectacular coastlines to lush rainforests, Panama caters to a diverse array of preferences and lifestyles, providing a broad spectrum of experiences to choose from.
Additionally, Panama has fertile soil and a favourable climate allowing for abundant organic produce. While the West is often inundated with processed and preservative-laden foods, expats in Panama can experience an abundance of fresh, wholesome fruits, vegetables, and organic products, promoting a healthier lifestyle.
Panama’s tax regime and business regulations allow for companies in multiple sectors to thrive. Panamanians are famous for their hospitality. As a diverse country, its locals embrace cultural diversity and are very welcoming towards expats. Integrating into the community and building connections is exceptionally easy.
Access to modern healthcare facilities is paramount, and Panama delivers. Major cities boast well-equipped hospitals with skilled medical professionals, ensuring residents have peace of mind when it comes to healthcare services.
In today’s article, we’ll explore the eight best cities for expats in Panama, uncovering their unique features and the opportunities that make each one of them enticing for expats. So, without further ado, let’s check these expat hubs in Panama.
David is an emerging expat hub where locals and expats alike are warmly welcomed. An accessible and rewarding place to live
#8 DAVID: AFFORDABLE LIVING IN PANAMA’S SECOND LARGEST CITY
Located in the beautiful region of Chiriquí, David is a vibrant city offering various features that make it an enticing choice for expats. If you seek an affordable yet fulfilling lifestyle and multiple conveniences, this could be the perfect place for you.
As an expat, you’ll be able to stretch your budget further while enjoying a comfortable lifestyle. Property prices are reasonable, and dining and entertainment are affordable, making this city a haven of financial stability for those who want to make the most of their resources. On top of that, skilled health professionals and the modern healthcare system as a whole ensure high-quality medical services.
David also stands out with its thriving agribusiness sector, making it a noteworthy feature of the region. The region’s fertile, solid, and favourable climate fosters an ideal environment for agricultural activities. You can get a taste of organic coffee, fruits and vegetables and buy them in produce markets. Not only will you taste top-tier organic healthy food, but you will also support local businesses.
David is an emerging expat hub where locals and newcomers are greeted with open arms. The social fabric is rich and diverse, making this a suitable option for expats. Interacting with the locals and immersing in the local traditions can lead to profound connections and a sense of belonging in this expat destination.
In short, David offers a magnificent blend of affordability, top-tier healthcare, hospitality and agribusiness potential. As an emerging expat hub, it presents a good chance for those interested in Panama.
Boquete is perfect for hiking enthusiasts, while Bocas Del Toro is for lovers of pristine, lush beaches
#7 BOCAS DEL TORO: UNKNOWN CARIBBEAN PARADISE
Just like Colombia has Santa Marta, Panama has Bocas del Toro. The region is part mainland and part archipelago, located adjacent to Costa Rica. If you're seeking greenery and stunning beaches, this could be the perfect destination for you, just an hour away from Panama City by plane.
Bocas del Toro offers a captivating escape to a different world. With its lush islands, pristine beaches, and vibrant rainforest, it's a Caribbean paradise. Visitors can explore uninhabited islands and experience the ancestral lands of the Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous tribe.
Despite its higher rainfall, Bocas remains popular and safe, attracting numerous tourists, from backpackers and surfers to affluent travellers seeking exclusive island resorts.
In Bocas del Toro, water activities like snorkelling and paddleboarding are at the heart of the local lifestyle. Expats are actively involved in the local community, volunteering for various organizations and initiating charitable projects.
The cost of living here is lower compared to other well-known Caribbean destinations. For a couple, it’s absolutely possible to live off $1,500 USD per month. The rental prices are affordable, too, with prices from $550 USD per month.
Bocas del Toro is a destination that combines the allure of stunning beaches, rich marine biodiversity, and a friendly expat community. It invites you to embrace a unique island lifestyle that promises a harmonious blend of natural beauty, relaxation, and a sense of belonging in this tropical, lesser-known paradise.
Related article: The Top Four Visas For Moving To Panama
Beyond the urban landscapes, Panama's jungles are a haven for biodiversity.
#6 PEDASI: EMBRACING COASTAL CHARM AND OFF-GRID, AFFORDABLE LIVING
Contrary to Coronado, which offers a hustle-and-bustle lifestyle filled with luxury, Pedasi is a relatively laid-back town. If you’re looking for a tranquil, authentic coastal lifestyle, this could be the right place for you. Known for its pristine beaches, friendly locals and vibrant culture, Pedasi has become a magnet for expats seeking a cohesive, exclusive community and a sense of belonging.
Pedasi’s impressive coastline is accompanied by beaches that stretch for miles. This town of natural beauty attracts surfers worldwide thanks to its surfing conditions. But that’s not everything. Like other cities in this list, Pedasi takes pride in its commitment to organic farming and agriculture, showcasing once again the country’s food independence. The vast agricultural produce allows expats to enjoy farm-to-table experiences and support local businesses.
Despite being a remote place, you can use shuttle buses to get to Panama City and even have the option of a 30-minute flight. Also, despite not having massive malls or grocery stores, a few small stores sell all the necessities, including fresh chicken, meat and fish, from local producers.
The expat community in Pedasi is emerging, with people from diverse backgrounds. Since it’s a tiny town, Pedasi’s expat community is still quite modest, but you can be sure that you’ll find a supportive community of like-minded people that will help you get used to the town’s laid-back lifestyle.
Related article: Why Getting Your Panama Permanent Residence Is So Important
Santa Fe is a city for those looking to live a slow-paced life away from the hustle and bustle of big cities
#5 SANTA FE: A HIDDEN GEM FOR EXPATS SEEKING PEACEFUL MOUNTAIN LIVING
The perfect blend of tradition, modernity and greenery makes Santa Fe ideal for expats. Just like Boquete, this is a place many retirees consider due to its laid-back lifestyle and overall affordable cost of living, including housing. You can find fantastic houses from $500 USD per month, if not below. Although not that popular compared to other expat hubs in Latin America, Santa Fe has the potential to become one.
Santa Fe is a mountainous town offering breathtaking landscapes filled with greenery, countryside and pristine rainforests. As you can tell, this is a perfect place for hiking enthusiasts. Living here, you’ll encounter natural wonders, including waterfalls, rivers and diverse wildlife.
Given how peaceful Santa Fe is, this city is for those seeking a slow-paced mode of living away from the hustle and bustle of major cities. There are under 3,500 residents. The temperate climate and fertile land foster a spectacular coffee culture. The city generally offers high-quality organic food for those seeking an almost off-grid lifestyle.
Despite its location and tranquil lifestyle, you can take advantage of dependable connectivity and infrastructure, ensuring good internet service and convenient rides to other cities. Therefore, if you’re a digital nomad or have an online business, for that matter, or you just want to retire in a relaxed ambiance, Santa Fe may be a good option for you.
This hidden gem can serve as a retreat from the fast-paced urban lifestyle, allowing expats of all kinds to take advantage of Santa Fe’s simplicity, quietness and quality of life.
Related article: Panama Is One Of Best Places To Retire In - And Here's Why
With stunning trails through lush forests, you'll find breathtaking scenery in Boquete
#4 BOQUETE: WHERE NATURE, COFFEE, AND COMMUNITY THRIVE
Located in the mountainous province of Chiriquí, close to Costa Rica’s border, Boquete captivates visitors with its enchanting beauty and vibrant community. This city has surprisingly lots to offer to multiple people ranging from nature lovers to coffee enthusiasts to those looking for a laid-back retirement.
The rich volcanic soil and optimal climate create favourable conditions for cultivating one of the world’s finest beans. You can enjoy flavorful brews and immerse yourself in the fascinating process of organic coffee production.
The town’s mountainous terrain makes Boquete a paradise for hiking enthusiasts. Picture stunning trails winding through lush forests, leading to breathtaking vistas and hidden waterfalls. You’ll find picturesque landscapes embracing the serenity of the mountains. On top of that, thanks to its location in the highlands, Boquete enjoys abundant rainfall, which fosters awe-inspiring greenery. Hiking enthusiasts will find their paradise in Boquete.
The hills come alive not only with beautiful shades of green but also with multiple colourful houses. Walking around Boquete’s streets makes you feel like you are inside a vibrant painting.
Beyond its natural allure, Boquete’s fertile land produces many fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products, ensuring a self-sufficient food supply for the city and the country.
These reasons are enough for expats of diverse backgrounds to move here. In particular, retirees can benefit from Panama’s Pensionado Program (Pensionist Program, in English).
Under this program, retirees (“pensionados”, in Spanish) are entitled to discounts ranging from 15% to 20% on hospital visits, consultations, and medication. They can enjoy a 25% discount on domestic airline fares and meals at local restaurants. Additionally, they receive a 30% discount on bus, boat, and train fares and a generous 50% discount on entertainment such as movies, plays, sporting events, and concerts.
All in all, Boquete is an almost idyllic place for expats, but in the case of choosing this town, expats should have a reliable vehicle to move around. With as little as $1,000 USD per month, you’ll be able to live like a king.
Related article: Best Things To Do And See In Panama
From high-end resorts to golf courses, Coronado offers incredible natural beauty and an array of luxury amenities
#3 CORONADO: A COASTAL HAVEN FOR EXPATS WITH LUXURY, COMMUNITY, AND BEACHES
Coronado is an hour’s drive from Panama City, and it has rightfully earned its reputation as an expat hub. It’s the perfect place for expats seeking a vibrant and fulfilling lifestyle. This city is an excellent mix of natural beauty, modern amenities and a welcoming community that instills a sense of belonging in residents and visitors alike.
Coronado, renowned for its stunning beaches, provides an exquisite setting for leisure and water activities. Whether you prefer sunbathing, swimming, or engaging in water sports, Coronado's picturesque shores offer a serene escape.
Alongside its natural beauty, Coronado offers a wealth of luxury amenities. This expat paradise caters to those searching for sophistication and indulgence, from high-end resorts and golf courses to rejuvenating spas. With a diverse range of dining options, upscale shopping, and vibrant nightlife, Coronado offers a complete and refined lifestyle experience.
As a top-tier place, it counts with top-tier healthcare facilities staffed with skilled professionals, providing high-quality medical services. In terms of education, Coronado does not disappoint either, given its wide range of international schools. On top of that, the city’s cultural tapestry, with expats from various backgrounds and nationalities, makes Coronado a convenient community and a cohesive social fabric.
Coronado offers expats an appealing coastal lifestyle, combining pristine beaches, modern amenities, international education and healthcare, and a supportive expat community. It is an excellent place to turn expat dreams into a fulfilling reality.
Related article: Top Notch Health Care In Panama For Pennies On The Dollar
El Valle de Antón is a beautiful mountain town located in the crater of an extinct volcano
#2 EL VALLE: NATURE'S HAVEN AND LAID-BACK LIFESTYLE
El Valle de Anton is a beautiful small town located in the mountains of Panama. This is an excellent place for those seeking peace, quiet and affordability. The City is surrounded by lush rainforests and mountains, providing plenty of opportunities such as hiking, horseback riding and bird watching. If spending time in nature is your cup of tea, El Valle is a great option.
Another factor that adds to the city’s charm is its 7,000-people population. Contrary to the hustle and bustle of major cities, El Valle is a retreat to disconnect and enjoy a slower pace of life.
Panama is a pretty affordable country, but El Valle is way more affordable than other cities, such as Boquete and the capital itself. Depending on the size and location, you may find rentals under $500 USD.
Despite all these benefits, this rural town is not an isolated enclave. It’s a two-hour drive from Panama City, which boasts plenty of amenities and an international airport. When needed, expats can easily access medical or other services in the capital fast.
Overall, El Valle is the perfect place for expats looking for a tranquil and affordable place to live surrounded by natural beauty.
Related article: Panama’s New Digital Nomad Visa
Panama City is exceptional for expats of all types, from digital nomads, adventurers, retirees and even coffee enthusiasts
#1 PANAMA CITY: A HAVEN FOR EXPATS AND MODERN LIVING
As you might know, I currently live in Panama City. I used to live in the UAE but decided to move out with my family and relocate here. I don't pay income taxes in Panama, so I don't regret my decision at all. Let me explain why.
It’s been almost five years since we arrived in Panama City. Our social life is vibrant, and we have formed a large circle of friends. We enjoy frequenting remarkable restaurants, opportunities abound, and we are fortunate to have stunning nature and breathtaking beaches just a short drive from our residence.
If you’ve read so far, you already know much about what Panama offers. It’s an exceptional place for all kinds of expats, including digital nomads, adventurers, coffee enthusiasts and even retirees. Panama is doing a great job attracting foreign investment and human capital.
Its modern infrastructure and the Panama Canal promote economic growth, acting as a gateway between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. With that being said, what can Panama City offer to expats?
Panama's capital city offers various advantages for those seeking a dynamic lifestyle. First off, Panama’s vibrant expat community allows for making contacts with ease, potentially starting business ventures and simply forging lasting friendships. In conjunction with the city’s human capital, expats benefit from top-tier infrastructure and world-class amenities. You can find many shopping malls, beautiful skyscrapers adorning the skyline and luxurious residences.
On top of that, residents enjoy access to dependable utilities and high-speed internet. Also, Panama City’s efficient transportation systems can take you to natural spaces of astonishing beauty in no time.
Thanks to its strategic location, Panama City serves as a significant business hub in Latin America and the Caribbean thanks to its strategic location. Multiple entrepreneurs and professionals move here to prosper and build a good life for themselves while taking advantage of excellent tax and business regulations.
Panama’s City culinary scene is a one-of-a-kind fusion of international flavours and local delicacies. In short, this is a paradise for food enthusiasts, allowing them to enjoy diverse culinary experiences and locally sourced ingredients. Panama is committed to food independence, promoting organic agriculture and farming and giving easy access to fresh produce. The warmth and friendliness of Panamanians help expats integrate with ease. The locals love their culture and are more than happy to share it with foreigners.
Panama City offers both modernity and a thriving social scene. The allure of business opportunities, a favourable tax regime and top-notch amenities are good reasons why Panama City has emerged as one of the leading expat hubs in the world.
Panama offers a range of attractive cities for expats to choose from, each with its own particularities and opportunities
This article has explored the eight best cities for expats in Panama, highlighting their unique features and the opportunities that make each one of them fantastic for expats.
Panama offers a variety of attractive cities for expats to choose from, each with its own unique features and opportunities. At the end of the day, the choice of the best city in Panama for expats depends on individual preferences and lifestyle goals. By considering factors such as natural landscapes, affordability, convenience, and community, expats can find the perfect place to call home in Panama.
As a current resident of Panama, I know firsthand the ins and outs of moving to this corner of the globe. If you want to make this your new home and are willing to secure your new life abroad, fill out this form, and I’ll see if you’re a good fit.
WORK WITH ME
I help my clients to move offshore for freedom, privacy and autonomy by focusing on the immigration, legal, and tax issues that you will face when becoming an expat. If you would like to work one-on-one with me on getting out of your home country (or setting up a Plan-B location), then read this important letter and fill in an application form to become a Private Client. My fees are not cheap; however, I can assure you that when you work with a professional firm like ours, the results will be worth it.
BEST OF THE EXPAT WORLD
If you want the best intel from the expat world, including profitable offshore opportunities, little-known tax-saving strategies, and hard-won insights on immigration, passports, and Plan-B residencies, all delivered to your inbox every single week, then join our daily correspondence, EMS Pulse™. Currently enjoyed by over 37,000 expats and expat-hopefuls worldwide. Fill in the form below to join our newsletter free:
Written by Mikkel Thorup
Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.