Top 10 Reasons People Leave Panama

I love living in Panama.  But, it’s not right for everyone.  Some people move to Panama then realize it’s not right for them, so they move away.  It’s not always a “bad” reason that people want to leave Panama.  This information is based on talking to people I know who have moved away from Panama.

We strongly recommend that you just rent for at least the first year when you move to Panama. This gives you time to make sure you like living in Panama.  It gives you time to make sure you like the microclimate you have moved to. Living in Panama a year gives you time to experience the dry season and the rainy season which can be dramatically different.    Living in Panama for a year gives you time to understand the “right” price to pay if you follow the real estate market.

The Top 10 Reasons People Leave Panama are:

1.  Newly Retired – a couple spent most of their time working before moving to Panama. They were together a few hours in the evenings and on weekends.  But when they move to Panama, they are suddenly together 24/7.  Some people realize they don’t like living together 24/7 so one might leave Panama or they both leave Panama then go their separate ways. To avoid this problem, it’s good to get involved in separate activities when you move to Panama.  There are plenty of volunteer opportunities, hiking groups, cooking classes, and other things to get you out of the house.   Volunteering is a good way to meet people too.

2. Health Problems – They may develop serious health problems then want to go back home to be close to family.  Or they leave Panama so they can use Medicare or other health insurance that does not cover them in Panama.   Sometimes, a close family member may become very ill so they leave Panama to help take care of them.

3.  Prescription drugs – It’s important to find out if your medications are available in Panama and what they cost before you move to Panama. Some have left Panama because they could not get their medications or because they were too expensive.  Panama insurance may not cover the cost of medications so you have to pay out of pocket.  You may be able to get drugs shipped to Panama from your country.  During a Panama Relocation Tour, we take you to several pharmacies so you can check the availability and price of your prescriptions.

4. Unscrupulous real estate agent – Most agents in Panama are honest and ethical. But some do what’s called a net listing where they charge more for a house than it is worth either for houses for sale or a house for rent.  Just this week a couple was shown the same house with three different prices by three different real estate agents.  Another lady was quoted a sales price of $100,000 more than the seller was really asking.  When things like this happen, people feel like they have been taken advantage of (which they have) then leave Panama in disgust.    Some people have had a bad experience with a builder.  Or they bought land then discovered later that they could not build on it even though the agent told them they could.  Unlike North America, Panama does not have a widely used MLS (multiple listing service) in Panama so it’s impossible to get a good comparative market analysis on a property to know the “right” price to pay.   I have a file full of testimonials of people who have run into all kinds of problems with real estate agents in Panama. Keep in mind these unscrupulous things can happen anywhere in the world, they are not exclusive to Panama.

5. Next Adventure – many expats are adventurous people.  They like to live in one place for a few years then move to another country for a few years so they can experience their next adventure.

6. Language barrier – Even though English is spoken a lot in some areas in Panama, English is not spoken everywhere in Panama.  The official language in Panama is Spanish.   Some people leave Panama because they get frustrated with not being able to communicate with everyone or not being able to hear English everywhere they go.

7. Cultural differences -almost everything you do in Panama will be done in a different way.  Something as simple as opening a bank account can take days if you don’t know the right way to open an account in Panama.  Repair people might not show up on time.  The frustrations are enough to cause some people to leave Panama.  If you move to the wrong rental, you could get stuck next to people who have barking dogs, who love to party until the wee hours of the morning, or who own roosters who make noise all day.

8.  Politics – some people move to Panama because their candidate did not win the election.  Once their party gets back in power, they leave Panama. (note, it’s better to move to Panama because you want to experience Panama, not because you are running away from something)

9.  Money problems – it’s very hard for a foreigner to get a job in Panama. If people can’t find a job and their money runs out, they leave Panama.  Even retirees leave Panama because of money problems because an unexpected expense comes up that they cannot afford because they have not saved some of their income every month.

10. Move to Different area in Panama – some people move to the beach area then discover that it’s way too hot and humid for them so they move to the mountains.  Some people move to the highlands of Panama but feel it’s too cold for them so they move to the beach.  It’s not just weather…some people discover that the area where they live in not a good fit because the expats are too cliquey or the values/lifestyle are not a good match.

One more…

11.  Rainy Season Blues.  A couple move to Boquete. But every rainy season she had horrible congestion and a cough. For 3-4 months out of the year, she felt miserable and depressed.  So they moved to an area in Mexico that has less rain and drier weather.

Some people made some very costly mistakes when they moved to Panama.   It created such bad feelings about Panama that they moved away.   Don’t let that happen to you!!

Before you sell everything you own then move to Panama, it’s a good idea to come to visit first.  To avoid costly mistakes, before you move to Panama, you need to get a thorough education about what life is like in Panama, how to get things done, and who you can trust.  Do your research.  You may want to join us for a 6-day all-inclusive Panama Relocation Tour or for a Private Tour of the areas you are most interested in.  Then, after visiting Panama, you may want to give Panama a 3-6 month test drive before you make the final decision to relocate to Panama. When you move to Panama, rent a furnished house/condo for at least a year before you make a buying decision.  Many people decide to just rent the whole time they live in Panama so they have the flexibility to leave whenever they want to.

Our Online Panama Relocation Guide has all the information you need to know to have a smooth, easy relocation to Panama.  If you follow the advice in the Online Panama Relocation Guide, you will be able to avoid mistakes that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars.   The Online Guide has recommendations for reliable immigration lawyers, honest real estate agents, buying health insurance for 40% less, buying a car, getting pets in to Panama, and much more.

CLICK HERE to Learn More About the Online Panama Relocation Guide

Watch this video to learn what Queen Victoria Kavanaugh has to say about the Online Panama Relocation Guide.

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. Bill & InJa says

    Do you have a Boquete pharmacy English speaking we can call from US to speak with on our medical med we need, or possibly an e-mail contact address? Thank you.

  2. Jackie Lange says

    sorry I do not. I talked to several of the pharmacies and they said they do not want to get calls and emails from 20 people every day inquiring about medications. You might check the hospital pharmacies in David.

  3. Abby says

    That happen to people who moves to another countries too. I know people who moved to USA and there they developed Allergies and Asthma. The cold weather is another problem for some people. Panamà has a good discounts on medicines for Residents and Foreings. Wherever you move you will find advantages and disadvantages.

  4. Fernando Edwards says

    I am Panamanian living in the USA and I go back regularly to Panamá. The most troubling thing in Panamá is traffic congestion in the City.

  5. Helen says

    Hello Jackie,
    We have made the decision to return to the US, and when We think about selling the house, we wonder what Real Estate agent to list with. Heard about two. Is there such a thing as the BBB in Panamá where we can go in and check credentials and career trajectory?
    Thank you for your response

    • Jackie Lange says

      There is no BBB for real estate in Panama. And in the US, people can buy a good BBB listing so it is not 100% trustworthy. Where is your house located? Once I know that, I can make a recommendation of who to list it with

  6. Ed Wilson says

    What are the problems with buying a house in Panama instead of renting?
    Thank you!

    • Jackie Lange says

      no problem with buying after you have been in Panama for at least a year. That gives you time to get your permanent visa (sometimes people are denied), time to learn the right market price and time to experience both seasons which can be dramatically different

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