Once I decided to relocate overseas, I spent several years researching and visiting potential countries. I wanted to live in a place with great weather where I would not need an air conditioner or heater. A more affordable cost of living would be a big plus. I’ve been all over Europe, Canada, South America, the Caribbean islands, Mexico, and Panama. I also visited Costa Rica. I’m often asked why Panama versus Costa Rica.
Four things that turned me off to CR right away:
1. Crime is a huge problem. Everyone we talked to said they could not even go to the grocery store or out to eat unless they got someone to stay at their house. Who wants to live like that?! A guy I know in Escazu (who used to live in Grecia) has been broken into 3 times in the last 12 months. I talked to an expat in Guanacasta who lives in a gated community, yet he has been broken into twice in the last year.
2. Even with no air conditioning, the utility costs are extremely high in CR. At least 10 times higher than Panama because of the graduated billing system in Costa Rica.
3. Food costs 50% more in CR for the basic items I compared. Gasoline is more expensive in Costa Rica.
4. Housing costs, including rents, are much higher in CR.
5. The roads are terrible. You can be driving along and come to a 3′ deep hole that is 3′ wide in the middle of the road. No signs. No warnings. I would never drive at night in Costa Rica. Even in the daytime, you need to pay constant attention to the road conditions.
I actually cut my visit to Costa Rica short because I quickly determined it was OFF THE LIST.
Panama is much more affordable. On my first visit to Panama, I ran into three couples from Costa Rica who came to Panama to stock up on PriceSmart because the prices are lower in Panama.
In Panama, everyone is friendly and helpful – both expats and Panamanians. You rarely hear about any crime problems.
Come see how you can live BETTER for LESS in Panama. Join us for a 6-day all-inclusive Panama Relocation Tour or get our Online Panama Relocation Guide to learn all the things you need to know to relocate to Panama the easy way.