How to Find Your TRIBE

Finding your tribe when you move abroad can be a rewarding and important part of settling into a new country. Here are some tips to help you connect with like-minded people and build a support network.

When moving abroad, a “tribe” typically refers to a group of people with whom you share common interests, experiences, or backgrounds. These individuals become your support network, friends, and social connections in your new country. Your tribe abroad can consist of various types of people:

Having a tribe when moving abroad is essential for several reasons:

Social Support: It can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation that often come with relocating to a new country.

Practical Assistance: Your tribe can offer practical advice on various aspects of daily life, from navigating bureaucracy to finding a doctor or a reliable mechanic.

Cultural Integration: Connecting with locals and experiencing their culture through friendships can enhance your cultural integration and appreciation.

Professional Networking: For those moving for work or study, your tribe can include professional connections who can help with career opportunities and advice.

Shared Experiences: People in your tribe can relate to the unique challenges and triumphs of living abroad, making sharing experiences and providing mutual support easier.

Building your tribe when moving abroad can take time and effort, but it’s essential to creating a fulfilling and successful life in a new country. Be open to meeting new people, seek out opportunities to connect, and actively nurture the relationships that resonate with you. Your tribe can become like a second family, providing a sense of belonging and support while you’re far from home.

The good news is that when you move to Panama, all of the expats have gone through the experience themselves. That heightens the ease with which you can find empathetic friends.

However, just because you find expats doesn’t mean you’ll automatically ‘click’ or want them as part of your tribe.

Finding genuine connections can sometimes be difficult, especially in a foreign country. But there are things you can do to find your people.

Finding your tribe or a community in Panama can be a rewarding experience, whether you’re an expatriate looking for like-minded individuals, a traveler seeking to connect with locals, or someone pursuing a particular interest or lifestyle. Here are some steps to help you find your tribe in Panama.

Make New Friends in Panama

Choose Your Home With Care

There are many ways to decide where you want to live in Panama. Factors such as landscapes, climate, affordability, medical facilities, and size might be at the top of your list. However, you should also consider the town’s culture where you plan to move.

Some towns will have a party vibe, while others may be quieter. You’ll want to identify what lifestyle you’re looking for.

Do you want to go out to see live music and have drinks with friends several nights a week? That’s certainly available in some areas in Panama. If that’s not your scene, you’d probably have a better chance of thriving socially elsewhere.

Or do you prefer to be up early, on the trail with your hiking group, and in bed by 10 pm? Perhaps you like to go fishing or play golf.

Find the areas that have the things you love to do.

Luckily, you can find either vibe in Panama. And, if you choose your home based on your lifestyle, finding like-minded friends will be much easier.

For example, if you’re planning to move to Coronado or Boquete, they both have more of a live music and drinking vibe. Daily happy hours are the norm.

If you’re a foodie, of course, Panama City will have the most variety of excellent restaurants. Some other towns may have a limited selection of restaurants.

If you love being near the water and having access to plenty of social activities, a town like Bocas del Toro may be better than quiet towns like Pedasi or the beach communities in the Azuero, Boca Chica, or Las Lajas.

On the other hand, if you prefer a quiet life with fewer social activities, then Pedasi, Azuero Beach Communities, Boca Chica, or Las Lajas may be a perfect fit.

If you’re not a retiree, select an area with more people in your age group so it’s easier to find your tribe. Digital nomads tend to move to Panama City, Bocas del Toro, or Coronado.

Determining if the town you are interested in has the activities you love and the people you want to be friends with is important. If you like certain activities, others in the town will enjoy those activities too.

chitre panama town square
Chitre Town Square

Be Friendly and Follow-Up

I know, I know. Sometimes, you just want to do your errands and not talk to anyone. But, try to avoid being closed off from interactions. Life in general in Panama tends to be more friendly and hospitable just because that’s the culture. Panamanians stop in the street to talk to their neighbors. Embrace this!

Some towns will have a party vibe, while others may be quieter. You’ll want to identify what you’re looking for. Luckily, you can find either vibe in Panama. And, if you choose your home based on your lifestyle, finding like-minded friends will be much easier.

Be open to conversations while completing your everyday tasks. If you find someone interesting, don’t hesitate to exchange contact information. For the most part, people will be open to it. Whether locals or expats, if you click with someone, put yourself out there.

Once you get someone’s information, don’t just disappear. Follow up and plan a laid-back meet-up for coffee or lunch! If that one goes well, then great! You can plan another hang or follow up again later.

Remember that when you’re new to a place, you probably have more of an open social calendar than those who’ve lived there for one, five, or ten years. Don’t be shy about being the first to reach out and follow up!

Attend Events

Many communities have events like live music, plays, beach clean-ups, and speakers about special topics. Last year, I attended a class about juicing and how to boost immunity and nutrition. I met ten like-minded people at the event, and we still stay in touch.

Look for events, workshops, seminars, and meetups in Panama that align with your interests. These can be found on websites like Facebook, Eventbrite, or local event listings. Attend these events to meet people who share your passions.

Enroll in classes or workshops that interest you. Whether it’s cooking, dance, art, or anything else, classes provide opportunities to meet people with similar interests.

Find if there are English-speaking churches in the area you plan to relocate to. Attend church attend and get involved in their activities.

expats in panama
Expat Get-Together

Hobbies, Hobbies, Hobbies

Continuing to do what you love when you move to your new home in Panama is vital for your all-around well-being, including your social life. Getting involved in the things you love to do will inevitably lead to meeting like-minded people. At the very least, you’ll have one thing in common.

If you love hiking, check out Facebook groups to see if there are local hiking groups. The same can be said for most hobbies: yoga, running, knitting, fishing, biking, sewing, gardening, etc.

Maybe you want to take this opportunity to expand your horizons and try out new hobbies as well. Taking a cooking, dance, photography, or any class is a great way to meet people.

Again, if you hit it off with someone, don’t be afraid to propose exchanging gardening tips over coffee (or whatever your common interest may be). You’ll get to know them even more, which could lead to a deeper friendship or simply a hobby buddy.

If you enjoy a particular sport or hobby, seek out clubs, teams, or classes that cater to your interests. Whether it’s hiking, yoga, dance, or a niche hobby, joining a group related to your passion can help you meet like-minded individuals.

Zumba Class

Expat Groups

After going on a Panama Relocation Tour, or purchasing the Online Panama Relocation Guide, joining the private Facebook community is a great way to get your urgent questions answered. From the best doctors to the cheapest markets, expat groups can provide you with a wealth of knowledge about your new home. And they can also be a great way to meet people who live in your town.

Just because you meet other expats doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be your tribe.

Sure, you all decided to move to Panama; however, that could be the extent of your common interests. Although you may not mesh with everyone, you’re likely to find someone with whom you do. And, especially when in a foreign country, it can be really great to have a close friend who’s been through a similar transition and also understands the culture from which you come.

Oh! And, meeting other expats can be great if you’re still itching to celebrate your favorite US holidays like Thanksgiving or Canada Day, sports events (Super bowl) with others who will get just as excited about them as you.

Many areas have get-togethers for single women or men or other activities where you can meet others with a common interest. In Boquete, a group called the ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) gets together for lunch and then comes up with ideas to help the community.

You’ll find yoga, drum circles, art, cooking, and bread-making classes in many communities.

You can always start a group if one does not exist where you live.

Avoid cliques. Some are political cliques. Some towns have cliques of people who won’t associate with others in town who are not in the clique. These cliques tend to be full of gossip or bad-mouthing other people. Unfortunately, some expats brought this behavior to Panama, but it’s a reality, especially in towns with a high concentration of expats.

expats in panama
Expat Get-Together

Panamanian Cultural Events

Living in a beautiful country with a lower cost of living is great. But to embrace your new life in Panama, you must experience the Panamanian culture.

Don’t limit yourself to expat groups. Go to Panamanian festivals, parades, and events too. There, you will likely meet other expats who want to learn and experience the Panamanian culture plus you’ll meet Panamanians who are glad to help you learn. You just found a new tribe!

A big mistake that many expats make is to only hang out with other expats.

Attend cultural events, festivals, and local celebrations. These events often bring together people from various backgrounds and can be a great way to immerse yourself in Panama’s culture and connect with others.


There are many volunteer opportunities in Panama. Many cities have spay and neuter clinics. Some have a charity that takes care of stray animals. Some towns have a library where you can help Panamanian children learn English (or you can learn Spanish).

Volunteering is an excellent way to connect with locals and fellow expats dedicated to a cause you care about. Search for volunteer opportunities in the town you plan to move to so you can determine what volunteer options are available.

El Valle de Anton Spay and Neuter Clinic. Photo by Jacqueline Kerr

Language Classes or Exchanges

If you don’t know Spanish, learning it is a great way to expand your social circle and enhance your living experience in Panama.

When you speak the local language (even a little), you’ll unlock a whole new world, allowing you to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t have. And the good news is that you’re moving to a place where the local people are some of the friendliest and happiest in the world!

Panamanians are very patient with your minimal Spanish. But, imagine if you master the language–you’ll be able to make so many more friends who will introduce you to new cultural experiences!

Additionally, in your actual language classes, you’ll meet other foreigners who are also placing importance on language learning. You’ll be able to laugh at yourselves as you stumble through conversation exercises or butcher rolling your “r’s”. You might even want to go to a market where you’re forced to practice your grocery vocabulary list from Unit 1 in the real world.

Having a language-learning friend can help hold you accountable and make the learning experience more fun.

You can also search for language exchanges or meet-ups. Many cities with large expat groups offer events in restaurants, bars, or even libraries where both locals and foreigners can get together to practice speaking with natives of their target learning language. It’s a great way to meet new people, both local and foreign, and to practice your Spanish skills.

Why Is Finding Your Tribe So Important?

Moving to a new country can be a challenging situation for some. Once the excitement of the move wears off, it’s normal to feel lonely. To avoid depression, you’ll want to start forming a social circle. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy or overwhelming. I’m not saying you need an overflowing social calendar if that’s not what you’re into. But finding at least one friend will change your life and experience in Panama.

When you live abroad, far from family and your culture, you’ll want to find people who are your people. They become your family. And it can really help you make the transition to living in Panama easier. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, get involved in your local community, and start forming your tribe in Panama.

Instant Tribe Waiting for You

A good way to find your tribe in Panama before moving is to come on an all-inclusive Panama Relocation Tour or buy the Online Complete Panama Relocation Guide. This gives you instant access to our private Facebook group for alumni.

Thousands of people in the group have already moved to Panama and they are glad to answer your questions about the area where they live. You can make friends, learn about what it’s like in each area you are considering before you visit, and get the “inside scoop” about the vibe in an area. This can also help you avoid the costly mistake of moving to the wrong town.

Come See How You Can LIVE BETTER for LESS in Panama! You will find your tribe in Panama!
Making friends during a Panama Relocation Tour

Also read, 9 Mistakes New Expats Make When They Move to 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. Kevin Dwight Dobson says

    Very helpful information thank you. I see the Boquete area has yoga and hiking.

  2. Rev. Malcolm Buck says

    Hi Jackie, thanks for the lovely article. Yes it is vitally important to build up friendship with like minded people. If you can provide resources or a list of people who would be interested in coming together to pursue their interest, it would be great service. I know you do try to build network thru your tours. I would be interested in knowing about any group or a person you know who will be interested in spiritual growth, science and spirituality, meditation etc. With my extensive studies and background I can even take classes. I am US citizen but originally come from India. I am retired and hope to move to Panama shortly. If you know a group or anyone especially in Panama City or around, do give them my email address. Unfortunately I don’t speak Spanish. (By the way Bob Adams is a good friend of mine and you can get a reference about me from him)
    Thanks for such a valuable service you provide to expats. Take care and God Bless!

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello Rev, Malcolm. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Having a tribe is important, regardless of where you live. As it says in the article, reach out in facebook groups in the town you plan to relocate to, or other event calendars to ask where events are that match your common interest.

  3. Paul Jaeger says

    Hi Jackie,
    Please comment on the availability of a tribe and activities for those English & Spanish-speaking retirees who are 70 + old in places like Boquete, Coronado, or Gorgona. Thanks!

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Paul. If age and English speaking is your only criteria, then Coronado, Boquete, and Bocas del Toro are a good match

  4. Vicki Lingo says

    Thanks Jackie for such an important article. I will be a single moving there and can see how lonely it would be not to have a tribe or at least one friend. I can also see that loneliness might be a reason for some to go back home after a while.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Vicki, a tribe is really important

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