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Panama is Not Like the USA or Canada – But Better in Many Ways

bocas viewWhen I do a Panama Relocation Tours™, I can usually tell by the end of the tour who will relocate to Panama, and who will not. Some people need all the creature comforts of home. Others see the change in lifestyle as a new adventure.  If you want to make it in Panama, that is the kind of attitude you need to have.  There will be trade-offs when you live in Panama

Some people expect to see all the same brands of food at the grocery stores, a Walmart or shopping center just down the street, the same TV shows (in English) and the same kind of services you have in the USA.  In Panama, that will probably not happen.

Farmer's Market in PanamaThere are many varieties of food at the grocery store, some you will be familiar with,some will be new. And you may need to go to several stores to find all the things on your list.  You can buy the Del Monte brand of can tomatoes for $1.69 a can or you can buy the Panama brand for $0.69 a can.  There will be some things that you just cannot find if you live outside of Panama City (like Temptation cat treats or Friskies shredded cat food). You’ll learn that buying produce from the farmers market is fresher and more affordable than buying at the grocery store. Shopping is a whole new experience in Panama.

You won’t find a Walmart anywhere in Panama but there are other stores with even better prices. Conway is the Latin version of Target. You’ll be amazed at the variety of items at Conway. They even have furniture and household items.

Albrook Mall Panama City Panama
Albrook Mall Panama City

Panama City has huge malls with anything you can imagine available but the malls in the interior are small. Think about all the times you went to the huge malls in the USA or Canada and still could not find anything you liked. Do you really need 100 stores in a mall? The good thing about a smaller mall is that you can get in and out faster with fewer distractions. Of course, you can always fly or drive to Panama City for a weekend shopping fix if that’s your thing.

The reliability of utility services will depend on where you live. When I first moved to Boquete we’d have electricity and internet outages a couple times a week. Now it might happen a couple times a month and usually only lasts for 10 minutes or less. So, for me, it’s not a big deal. Some people will be irritated by this slight inconvenience.

In some areas, because you won’t need air conditioning or a heater, you will save a bundle on your electric bill.  Plus, if you have a Pensionado visa you can get a 25% discount off your bill. Try getting that back in the USA or Canada!

When you’re looking for a house to buy or rent, you should not ask, “do you have high speed internet?” The answer will always be yes if they have any internet service at all. The better question to ask is who is your internet service provider? how much does it cost? and what speed can you get? If the property is in an area serviced by Cable Onda you can get the highest speeds (25-6–mbps) for less than $50 per month.

Internet Access in PanamaBut if you’re in an area which is not serviced by Cable Onda you will probably spend $100 per month for 10mbps max.

Luckily, WIFI is readily available throughout Panama.  If you need faster internet speeds, you need to find a place to live which is serviced by Cable Onda.

I have Sky Cable TV which has hundreds of channels plus I added the HBO movie channels. Some of the shows are in English, some are not. Just because you watch one show in English on a certain channel, it does not mean that the next show will be in English on the same channel. You’ll do a lot of channel surfing to find shows in English.

None of the network channels like ABC, NBC, or CBS are available through the Cable Onda or Sky TV but you can get them if you have an Amazon Firestick or by using USTVNow.com. Honestly, after you’ve been in Panama for awhile, you get to where you will care less about what is happening in the news”back home”.

NetFlixNetflix is readily available in Panama with both movies and TV series.

There are also movie theaters with English language movies I have heard.  I have not been to a movie theater yet because the closest one is 45 minutes away from my house in Boquete.

Water service could be interrupted a couple of times a month during the dry season in certain areas. That’s why it’s important to have a reserve water tanks.  Water is only $100 per year for unlimited service where I live. I paid more than that per MONTH in the USA.

There will be trade-offs when living in Panama. Only you can decide if it’s worth it and if you can make the adjustment.

You will give up the convenience of some things but gain a better way of living for less money if you can deal with the trade-offs. Some can. Some can’t.

Come see if Panama is right for you during a Panama Relocation Tour™.  You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.

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.

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  1. Cleotha Black says

    How can I find out more about a relocation tour, when is the next one available and price ?

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