5 Tips for Choosing Where to Live in Panama

Panama is a small country with many options. When you decide to move to Panama, that’s a huge first step. Congratulations! Now it’s time to discover where you’d like to live in this beautiful country.

I’m sure Panama will be the right choice for you, but you’ll want to make absolutely sure before moving! Deciding to live in the city, mountains, or on the beach will greatly determine your lifestyle. Living in a big city, small city, or tiny town will impact your routine. The three most important factors are:

1. Weather (pick your ideal temperature)
2. Budget (don’t push it to the limit)
3. Amenities (is what you need nearby)

With Panama’s large ex-pat community and global recognition as one of the best places to retire, it’s no wonder you’re ready to pack your bags without ever visiting. These tips will help you pick the best place to live in Panama.

So, before diving in and moving to Panama, check out these 5 tips for choosing the best place for you!

Bocas del Toro Panama
Bocas del Toro

Dream big

Ok, obviously you need to think practically when deciding where to live and what kind of home to rent. However, start the process by allowing yourself to dream. Dream Big!

I know, I know. It may feel strange initially, especially if you’ve been budgeting, working, and caring for a family for the better part of your adult life.

But now’s the time to let yourself be a dreamer! Where do you imagine yourself living out the next years?

Do you wake up every morning and have coffee while enjoying your ocean view? Or are you taking a morning stroll with your dog through the dense, lush mountains?

Perhaps you’re ready to tackle a big city or want to go rural with a tropical garden so big it feels like its own fantasy world.

There’s no dream too outlandish. So, take some time to imagine and envision your future in Panama truly.

Panama City Panama
Panama City, Panama

Make a list

Now, we’re going to make those dreams a reality. It’s time to do some internet research to learn more about your options in Panama.

To help you learn, our Online Complete Panama Relocation Guide has information about all the most popular places to live and a few off-the-beaten-path places too.

Look for areas that align with what you envision for your future. There are plenty of “best places to retire in Panama” lists. You could use these lists as a starting point for your research. But remember that the best places for you may differ from the top lists for others.

Check into all the practical details now. Look at the weather, cost of living, ex-pat community, transportation options, entertainment, hospital access, etc.

Your budget may eliminate some places, but there are always other desirable places to live in Panama. For example, if you’d like to live near the beach but Coronado rental prices of $1500+ are out of your budget, you might look at Gorgona, which is only 5 minutes east of Coronado, and you may find a nice rental for about $1000. But if that price is still too high, the beach communities between Chitre and Las Tablas will be ideal because you can find a nice two-bedroom house for about $650 a month.

You have choices in Panama to fit any lifestyle and budget!

Here are some things to consider:

> Does the town have rentals that fit your budget?
> Is there a hospital nearby?
> Any English-speaking doctors in the town?
> Does the grocery store have the items you prefer?
> What’s the internet speed? (do a speed test yourself)
> Are the expats friendly or clique?
> Are the social activities you enjoy available?
> Are your medications available? Is the price reasonable?
> How far to the closest airport?
> If you don’t plan to own a car, are buses and taxis readily available

Remember you’re researching your “forever” home in Panama. So think about what you’d like to have, and then see if that’s realistic in each location.

guarare panama ocean view
Guarare, Panama (Azuero Peninsula)


You’ll definitely want to visit Panama before selling all of your belongings and making a move to Panama. Use the list you just made to plan a visit to the towns you are most interested in.

If you have a short list of places to move to, you should consider a Private Tour of those areas to get more details about living there. It’s the fastest way to learn about the area and see rentals there. Your private Tour Guide can even arrange for you to see rentals that fit your budget.

It’s really important to check out the local grocery stores to see if they have the necessary products.

If you have pre-existing medical conditions, you may want to visit with a Panamanian doctor during your visit so you can determine if you will feel comfortable with their level of care.

If you’d like to view many different areas in Panama before you “pick one” an all-inclusive 6-day 7-night Panama Relocation Tour is ideal! You’ll tour Panama City, the Coronado area, the Azuero Peninsula, see Santiago, David, Boquete, Volcan, and many small towns along the way. You’ll meet experts and expats during the tour! When the bus goes from one destination to the next, it’s like a rolling seminar to teach you all the things you need to know to have a smooth landing when you move to Panama.

Learn more about Panama Relocation Tours HERE

See available tour dates HERE

panama relocation tour august 2016
Panama Relocation Tour, August 2016

If you can stay for an extended period of time, that’s ideal. That way, you’ll truly get a feel for what it’s like actually to live there. You’ll learn the mild annoyances that may occur and, most importantly, if you’re up for dealing with them.

: You are not on vacation when you come on your scouting trip. Your focus needs to be investigating Panama as your future home.

You don’t want any huge surprises when you decide to move to Panama. For example, some areas will have less reliable internet than others. You should rule out those options if you run an online business. Some areas don’t have a good grocery store or hospital without driving an hour or more. Keep your “must have” list handy when investigating different areas.

If you take medications, visit a pharmacy to verify your available meds and what they will cost. You may want to visit a Panamanian doctor while you’re in Panama too.

It’s easy to get drawn in by the natural beauty of an area but completely forget about the important things on your list. Don’t let them happen to you.

After your visit, you’ll probably have a good idea of your preference. You may even start exploring the price of rentals and comparing them. You’ll want to have a clear budget when planning where you’ll live.

Keep in mind that many rentals in Panama come completely furnished. If you live in the highlands, the rental may even include utilities.

panama rentals volcan
Near Volcan, Panama

Be flexible but realistic

You don’t have to stay true to your original list of places. Maybe you’ll find that on your visit, you preferred the convenience of Panama City as opposed to the natural beauty of a small rural town.

Your list should be a jumping-off point, but tap into how you feel in the actual place. Then, combine that with practicalities such as budget to determine whether it’s viable.

It may be hard to balance your mind and heart when choosing where to live in Panama. Make it simpler by creating a list of non-negotiables. Non-negotiables should be the bare minimum of what you want and need. 

For example, mine might be reliable internet, green outdoor areas, a walkable town, and good grocery stores with the things I like to buy. These could probably be found in many places in Panama, but not all.

Keep in mind your non-negotiables with each place that wins your heart. You may fall in love with a place that won’t work long-term. That’s ok! Who says you can’t vacation there every chance you get?!

Be mindful of what you want and need when choosing your forever place.

Coronado Panama
Coronado Panama

Create your perfect home

You know that adage: home is where the heart is. Well, it is actually quite true.

Of course, you can be happier based on external factors such as the city, beach, or mountains. But, you can feel at home anywhere you’re living a life that’s authentic to you.

Once you decide where to live, make your home feel like you. It won’t feel exactly like the last place you lived, but that’s part of the fun!

However, maybe you have things that you want to carry over to your new Panamanian life. For example, I work at my computer several hours each day and want my workspace to have natural light and be full of windows with a fantastic view. I can create that space anywhere and feel more at peace.

Remember to bring activities and hobbies you love to Panama, too (your love of gardening, cooking, running, etc. shouldn’t disappear). This will keep you grounded no matter where you are.

Hiking Boquete Panama
Hiking near Boquete, Panama

Home sweet home

Moving to Panama isn’t a new chapter; it’s a whole new book!

So, when writing your story, let yourself do what you never thought possible. Living in Panama will give you much more freedom than before. Allow yourself to enjoy this new lifestyle.

And, every person’s move will look different. We recommend that you just rent for the first year. If you decide that the place you picked is not right for you, moving to another town in Panama is easy. Maybe you even split your year up, spending half the year in the mountains and the other half in the city or the beach. Get creative and do what works for you.

Always start with determining your budget and the kind of weather you want. Then, add your “must-have” list. These three factors will help you pick the perfect place to live in Panama. You’ll have many options in Panama!


Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions


  1. Edward Attallah says

    Hi Jackie,

    Speaking of moving from one place to another within different places in Panama. Are there reliable moving companies that will move your belongings say from Coronado to Las Tables or boquete to pedasi.

    Please elaborate as much as you can before my tour.


    • Kelly Russell says

      I am a marine mechanic , mainly pleasure marine . But still have extensive experience with heavy diesel and trannys . I’m really looking for a small coastal town where I can live with locals , not much on gated communities too much like a prison . Am I being too optimistic or is there such a place ? Where I can help locals and live in peace !

  2. catherine mcfarland says

    Hi Jackie,

    You are brillante, to the point and with no exaggerations. Clearly compelling. I feel as though you are someone we strangers on the outside can trust and depend upon. Your sound judgement for life long changes in our lives will be invaluable.
    Looking forward to an extraordinary adventure.

    Catherine McFarland
    PS My brother Patrick Stewart and I are on the waiting (wish) list to go in June

    • Jackie Lange says

      Thank you, Catherine! Moving to Panama is a big decision so we provide the information you need to make an informed decision.

  3. Kelly Russell says

    I am a marine mechanic , mainly pleasure marine . But still have extensive experience with heavy diesel and trannys . I’m really looking for a small coastal town where I can live with locals , not much on gated communities too much like a prison . Am I being too optimistic or is there such a place ? Where I can help locals and live in peace !

  4. Anel Arcadio Perez Castillero says

    Good article, I love Panamá and I can’t wait to be retire and back home.

  5. linda nichols says

    Interested in possibly relocating to Panama after I retire to be with my son and grandchild possibly and 6 to 8 months

  6. SHIRLEY Halstead says

    Where in Panama close to Panama city one hour away can i find apartments rental or home rental for $500 to $700 monthly for rent

    • Jackie Lange says

      Shirley, you might be able to find something for $700 in El Cangrejo in Panama City. To get a rental for $500 in a safe area, you’d need to go to Chitre, Penonome, David or Volcan

  7. Steve says

    Hi we live in the U.K. surrounded by a green landscape. We are very active with CrossFit, swimming, tennis, cycling etc
    However the U.K. winters are too dark and cold, esp January and February
    Where would be suitable for us to continue with our activities and yet be at temperatures around 70degF. We would need to be near an organic market and gluten free foods as my wife has Coeliac disease (but is very healthy)

    • Jackie Lange says

      check out El Valle de Anton Boquete and Volcan Panama

  8. Pio P. says

    Hi Jackie. Thank you for this very informative article. What are your thoughts on Santa Fe, Panama? International Living says it is one of the most affordable places near the highlands.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Santa Fe is VERY isolated. You’ll need to drive 1+ hours to get to a decent grocery store, doctor or hospital.

  9. Liz says

    Hi Jackie,

    Panama is my retirement plan in 4-5 years. How much time say once I do your relocation tour does it typically take to ‘get things done’ there and then move there? Should I look at about 6 months, less, more? Assuming I’m ready to leave the states…

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Liz
      After a tour, you should be able to get everything ready to move to Panama within 1-2 months.

  10. Linda says

    Hi Jackie,
    I’ve been reviewing your site on YouTube for a while now and really enjoy all the testimonials from those who’ve relocated and used your services. With that said, I’m hoping to retire in 5-6 yrs and have thought about relocating to Panama. If I follow the advice you listed in your article about what works with my lifestyle (needs assessment), would you recommend i take your tour now to see the country and get a better sense of what areas might work for me later on, or wait until I’m closer to retirement? I was also wondering if a person can purchase a vacation home there to use later for retirement? Your thoughts on the matter will help with decisions I need to make for my future move. Thanks.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello Linda. Thanks for your interest in Panama Relocation Tours. I think it’s a good idea to start investigating countries to retire to about 5 years before retirement. So, visit Panama and perhaps visit another country you are interested in. Then you can compare the two countries to decide which is the best fit for you (I bet Panama wins). Yes, you can buy real estate before you move to Panama cut I would not advise buying any real estate until you have your permanent visa and until you have lived in the area you are interested in for at least a year. See this Livestream with tips for buying real estate — https://panamarelocationtours.com/tips-for-buying-real-estate-in-panama

  11. andrew j blossy says

    hi I am wondering if there are opportunities for a cyclist i Panama

    • Jackie Lange says

      Andrew, I see cyclist all over Panama.

  12. Eddie Zamora says

    Hi Jackie, Eddie here from North Carolina, how difficult is it to buy a home in Panama. Visited Boquete a few days ago and went to Los Molinos a community in Boquete we loved it there and someone was selling their property in the community. They also have apartments and townhouses there that can be purchased.

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Eddie, It’s easy to buy a home in Panama if you are paying cash. Getting financing can be very difficult because all loans must be paid off by the time you turn 70, you’ll need a life insurance policy naming the back as the beneficiary just in case you die before you pay off the loan, and mortgage rates are HIGH in Panama. Be sure to talk to the HOA there about SERIOUS water problems.

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