Some Realistic Feedback About Life in Panama

Moving to Panama is a HUGE life changing experience so you need to get accurate information so you can make an intelligent decision.   No sugar coating!   During our all-inclusive 6-day 7-night Panama Relocation Tours we share the good and the bad so you know what you are getting in to with a move overseas.

I encourage you to rent for at least 6-12 months so there are no sales pitches to buy during the tour.  Maybe it would be better to NOT buy real estate at all.  Buying is easy but selling is not.

You need to know what life in Panama is like TODAY!  Many of the books which were written about life in Panama were written 5, 6, 7 years ago or more.  Life in Panama was very different back then.  So books about Panama don’t always paint an accurate picture of what life is like in Panama now.  Panama is a rapidly growing country and things are changing quickly.   Many of the books are entertaining and have great stories but they do not provide information about what it is like to live in Panama right now.  You need current information before you make a decision to move to Panama.

Some of the offshore publications makes it sound so romantic to move overseas and lead you to believe that everything will be wonderful once you move overseas.    It could be.  But the reality is that life in a different country will be challenge initially.  Not only will you be surrounded by people who speak a different language, but you will also have to start from scratch to figure out where to buy things, find a place to live, how to get a car, how to get a driver’s license.. a visa.. etc.  We give information about all these things and much more during the Panama Relocation Tours to help make your transition as easy as possible.  You’ll learn what to expect before you move to Panama.

For some people living in a foreign country is too big of a challenge.  For many others, it fits like a glove! Only YOU can decide if Panama is right for you.

After a Panama Relocation Tour most people know if Panama would work for them or if they need to keep looking at other countries or if they need to just stay home.

The tour is a whole lot cheaper than moving to Panama then realizing that you made a mistake.

Here are some recent questions and my answers about relocating to Panama:

This was a recent post in an expat forum – see my reply below:

Hi All, I’m a 62 year old single man contemplating a move to Boquete. I haven’t been there yet but have done lots of research but research only goes so far so I am planning a trip there maybe in the next 2-3 months. If I see it in person and it feels right in my gut, I will make the move. I am not selling a home or anything, not shipping anything, just myself and maybe 2 suitcases. I would hope it would all work out and really truly want to make a major life change but I’m realistic, so here is my request for feedback: I will have an income from social security of $1240 per month, period. I will arrive with enough cash to situate myself and buy a few things, but not too much. After I get there( after I have decided to stay) my pension is all there is. I will not have a car, will only use public transportation, will walk alot and will rent something small, furnished, like a studio or efficiency or small 1 bedroom, nothing fancy at all. I have seen things on Craigs List $350-500 including utilities, wifi, cable. I live simply, cook for myself but also would eat out, nothing fancy. I would like to have a few beers with friends etc, go to David now and then, take a hike, just live my life. I would need a phone sometimes to call kids, grandkids,but not alot. I would like some computer use etc. Bottom line, it’s just me and $1240 per month. I am used to watching how I spend but I don’t want to live sparsely, just frugally. Can I live like I’ve described or am I dreaming? Also, I’m aware of the pensionado program and would certainly apply for residency if I decide to stay. I am also thankfully pretty healthy and only take a blood pressure medicine which I can inexpensively get there and would pay for dr visits out of pocket. I would welcome any feedback. Thanks Barry


It is a huge mistake to think Boquete is the ideal place until you have seen other areas in Panama (many of them are much more affordable).

Panama is NOT Boquete.

If you like cooler weather (like Boquete), your budget would go a lot further in Volcan. A good friend in Volcan is renting a nice 2 bedroom house for $395 a month and it includes utilities except for internet. Food is even cheaper in Volcan. Their Romero grocery store is much nicer than the one in Boquete. There is a growing expat community with weekly social event. I recently went to a BBQ lunch in Volcan with great live music.

If you don’t mind warmer weather, David, Dolega, or Las Tablas are much more affordable than Boquete. In David a couple is renting a nice 2 bedroom house for $400 a month – they pay their internet bill but it is less than $30 a month. In Las Tablas you can get a nice rental for $180 to $400. You cannot get these prices for anything decent in Boquete.

You should not decide to move to Panama, and especially not Boquete, until you have seen several other areas and evaluated the pros and cons of each.

Living in the other areas I mentioned, you will have money left over to save for emergencies or an occasional luxury. In Boquete, you will likely use every penny of your Social Security with half of it going to renting a place to live.

You need to get health insurance in Panama. Sure you can pay out of pocket for an occasional $15 doctor visit but you need to have insurance just in case you have a heart attack, stroke, break your hip, need surgery.

A guy who came on a Panama Relocation Tour moved to Cerra Punta. He had a stroke before he got health insurance in Panama. It was $3000 out of pocket which included several days in the hospital, MRIs CatScans, several doctors. Luckily he could easily afford it and his insurance company in the US is even reimbursing him for part of the costs. BUT… that’s a chunk of change for someone on a tight budget. What would you do?

Medicare will not cover you in Panama but if you decide to keep it, it will be an ongoing expense for something you can’t even use unless you fly back to the United States (which you can’t do in an emergency)

Come check out Boquete but take the time to check out other areas too.


Check out where I post almost daily photos and details about my life 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.

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