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What Is Life Like In Panama?

Panama is an excellent expat location because of its strategic location, political stability, and personal safety. A gateway to both North and South America, Panama is a central transit hub with easy access to countless incredible travel destinations in the Caribbean, South America, and Central America. The government is stable, as is the banking and financial sector, which makes it an ideal retirement destination for pensioners looking for peace and quiet.



Because of its proximity to the equator, you can expect your life in Panama to be warm day and night, with year-round summer conditions. Nevertheless, temperatures rarely get beyond 86°F (30°C). Large swathes of forests, including tropical rainforests and lush vegetation, cover a substantial portion of the country. You have the Bocas del Toro archipelago on the Caribbean coast, a series of islands with a rich and diverse marine ecosystem.

Panama is outside the hurricane belt and is generally not overly affected by natural disasters, although earthquakes and flooding have been known to happen.

Panama has a tropical climate, with an average of 75°F (24°C) to 86°F (30°C). Most of the country is comprised of coastal lowlands. The Cordillera Central runs from Costa Rica to the Panama Canal. This is where you will find Baru Volcano, Panama's highest mountain peak. To the east lies Serranía de Tabasará and Sierra de Veraguas.


Sunrise at Baru Volcano Summit, Panama

Sunrise at Baru Volcano Summit, Panama


Panama has had one of the fastest-growing economies in the world over the past twenty years. Its stable banking sector, monetary system, pro-business policies, and favourable tax regime have attracted considerable foreign investment. With life in Panama, you can expect Inflation to stay low, and it is easy to start a business in Panama. Panama is also an excellent country for people who want to work remotely because of the high-quality digital infrastructure and the beneficial time zone.

Panama is home to the Panama Canal, a connection between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans that facilitates international trade, and the Colon free trade zone, the largest free port in the Americas. Because of the influx of foreign corporations, high-skilled labour is in demand in Panama, and it is possible to find high-paying jobs in several different sectors living in Panama.


Map of Panama

Map of Panama

Related content: The Basics Of How To Get A Second Passport Or A Second Residency



Castilian Spanish is the dominant language in Panama, with 14% of the population speaking English and rising. Panamanians are overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming people that are very warm to foreigners.


Panamanian meat soup

Panamanian meat soup

Panamanian cuisine is a mix of Spanish, African, and indigenous influences. Tamales, tortillas, and delicious soups and stews are just a few of the foods that make up the typical Panamanian diet. Grilled fish or ceviche are also popular dishes. Because there is a substantial Chinese influence on Panamanian cuisine; the Chinese population is 5%; Arroz China (fried rice) is a popular dish. American food like mac n' cheese and hamburgers are also commonplace.

Panama has a vibrant nightlife. Between the pubs, casinos, dance halls, and nightclubs, the party doesn't stop until the sun comes up. There are plenty of live music venues, rooftop bars, late-night dining options to enjoy, and bars catering to every genre of music.


The cost of living in Panama is low relative to more expensive countries like Canada, the USA, or Europe. Panama is a little more costly than some Latin American countries like Mexico, but that is the price you pay for a greater level of personal safety and more developed infrastructure. Even in Panama, a modest pension, salary from remote work or foreign investments, or income from your retirement savings goes a long way. Pensioners can also benefit from mandatory discounts on a wide range of goods and services offered to individuals of the retirement age.

Rent in Panama is relatively cheap, especially if you live in a modest apartment or house outside of Panama City. You can easily find a decent apartment for $900 or $1,100. Certain grocery items are less expensive, like seafood, fresh fruit, and vegetables which are sourced locally, while imported goods can be a bit pricey.

You can expect your life in Panama to be healthier due to the abundant fresh air and amazing fruits and vegetables that are readily available on most street corners all day long.


Coast Line Panama City, Panama

Coast Line Panama City, Panama

Panama also has some great private hospitals and clinics that offer top-quality medical care at very reasonable prices, even if you don't have insurance. In fact, doctor or emergency room visits are so affordable that many expats choose to self-insure and pay out of pocket for everything. A trip to the dentist is also quite economical compared to what you would pay normally.




Outside of Panama City, you can enjoy experiencing the biodiversity found in Panama's lush tropical rainforest or hop on a water taxi and explore the Bocas del Toro Archipelago. There is no shortage of activities you can do, from relaxing on the beach or swimming to climbing the peak of Volcan Baru. There are many incredible snorkelling spots where you can get a firsthand glimpse at the exotic marine life in the coral reef. Or you can explore some of Panama's historical architecture and heritage sites.

If you have ever dreamed of oceanfront living, that goal has never been more obtainable than in Panama. Panama has 2,000 miles of coastline bordering the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It is still not cheap, you might pay $1500 - $2000 or more to rent a lovely furnished house on the beach, but it is attainable. Or you can find an oceanview apartment in the $1,000 or $1,200 range, furnished with modern amenities. When it comes to accommodations, your money goes a long way in Panama.


Wondering what life is like in Panama? It is an amazing tropical country with incredible biodiversity, beautiful places to visit, and a highly active nightlife for those who enjoy it. Its economy is stable with very liberal market laws, a desirable investment market, and many diverse businesses. Panamanians are extremely friendly people and can cook a great variety of cuisines.

Most Panamanians speak Castilian Spanish, even though there has been growth in the number of English speakers. Healthcare has a high level of excellence while being affordable. Living in Panama is not an expensive country making it an ideal location for pensioners. 


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Mikkel Thorup

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.

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