Wow, it’s been just over three years since I arrived in Panama, Panama City; on March 4th, 2019 to be exact. I remember the day as if it was yesterday. I remember the aromatic central American landscape and the heat of the afternoon sun.
Coming in from Scotland, I started the journey at about 4:30 am from Glasgow via Schiphol, Amsterdam going on to an 11-hour flight to Panama. I arrived early evening that day. A pre-booked van navigated me and my seven suitcases safely from the airport to the city, while I configured the new Panama SIM card on my phone to contact my Canadian real estate agent.
An Australian expat friend living in Panama had viewed the apartment in the upscale district of Punta Pacifica on my behalf, and both landlord and agent were waiting for me to take possession of the keys – and to pay for the first 4 months in cash.
The next day, Thursday at 9:30 AM, I booked an Uber to the immigration lawyer’s office and arrived there on time. Over the next few weeks and months, I received my permanent visa, my residency card, my cedula, and had my driver’s license transferred to Panama. I had to get papers from the British embassy for the license transfer, and from the German embassy for a name change certification because I was adopted as a teen. Living in Panama City to sort out all these things was perfect. Both embassies were within walking distance, and the lawyer picked me up and dropped me off for the three immigration appointments I had to attend.
They even helped me get my Panama driver’s license. At one point, they went out of their way and drove me to the emergency room because I had injured my foot and couldn’t walk. They even dropped me off back home after I was better later that day. Way to go!
Over the coming months and years, I had figured the best supermarkets to go to, where to get household items, learned some slang, got accustomed to the (lack of) Panamanian service culture, and got my head around how to sign up for utility, internet, and phone services – all within the safety of the nearby airport should I decide this Panamá wasn’t for me after all.
But I like it here. Things are great. I am confidently jumping in cabs, talking with people, making payments via my Panamanian bank account, and I know where to get the best pet food for DQM and Cookie, whom I brought home a few months ago after deciding to stay in Panama for good. They speak English!
But I don’t want to stay in Panama City. Why?
Well, I am not a youngster anymore, and I don’t need the city life to feel comfortable—in fact, the hustle and bustle of the city bother me now. I want peace and quiet; the countryside, perhaps. I know DQ would appreciate it.
Panama City is also expensive. I am paying $1000 per month plus utilities for a 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment. It has a Pacific sea view and a great balcony, but I can get a 2 or 3-bedroom house with a terrace and garden elsewhere for as little as $550.00; a $750 choice would be high quality. I don’t have to have a car in the city, because I work from home and everything is within walking distance — the vitamin shop, the supermarket, the pet shop, the bank. But I have done the big city life in Berlin, in NYC, in San Francisco, London, and Geneva; it’s time to move on.
Where to From Panama City?
I have three key locations under consideration in Panama: Boquete, David, and Coronado. All three come with their unique benefits, but there are significant differences. I have not decided yet. But if you’re interested to follow my decision process, read my next blog: Title and Link Here.
In the meantime, our Alliance team is on standby to answer any question you may have moving to Panama or elsewhere. Just let us know in the chat or via comments. We’ll be glad to help.
by: LP Wirth