Moving from Europe to the Panama Tropics was an amazing experience. It still is. I was based in rainy Scotland for 19 years, and I was craving palm trees and the sun. I got my wish. This is the first of the seven things that make Panama awesome for me.
Panama Goodie: Palm Trees and Perpetual Sun
If you grew up in Germany, lived in California for some years, and then moved to Scotland, you will know what I am talking about.
While the crisp snow-filled winter air of February has its appeal, the sun is THE magnet for someone like me.
I am done with annual seasons and now enjoy the joy of constant pleasant weather – which also makes it very easy on my clothing choices. It’s shorts and a t-shirt for me all year round.
No more suit-days; I love it.
The US influence in Panama is obvious. Panama City, although staying true to its Latin America heritage, does feel a lot like Little Miami, Florida. Panama is somewhat Americanized, but it manages with a lovely charm to retain its indigenous feel, both in architecture and food. Even the electric outlets are US-style, which I am happy about. Voltage for consumers is 110. Great!
People are quite lovely, though also very private. Unless you’re family or a friend of the family, being welcomed into a circle of natives is not as easy as it may be in other parts of the world. Part of the reason is that Panama City is an expat city.
Many people from Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, North America, and Europe have called this place home. Making new friends in the expat community, however, is very easy here. If you are close to a Panamanian family, cherish the honor.
Developed Infrastructure & Healthcare
Fair enough, I spent the last three years in the city where the infrastructure is well developed and the internet is faster and cheaper than it was in the UK.
That’s a big plus in my book. For less than $60 per month, I enjoy 500 Mb fiber up/down. What more does a man need?
Healthcare options in Panama are exceptional in developed cities.
The hospitals are staffed with US-trained doctors and nurses, often bi-lingual – and their medical equipment rivals that of US hospitals.
Beer and Other Goodies
I didn’t expect to see rare German Weiss Beer for sale in Panama – but they have it. In fact, they have many products I am used to in the US and in Europe.
Sure, they’re cheaper at home, but I don’t drink that much that it would burn a hole in my pocket. Most North-American and European products are easily available locally, add the rich products from Central and South America, and you are in for a treat.
For items not available locally, Amazon via Mailbox Etc will deliver it cost-effectively. There is even a German Biergarten in the city.
Nature & Wildlife
This is a biggy. A long stretch of nature’s beauty, with the Caribbean Sea in the North and the Pacific Ocean in the South, and cool mountain ranges in the middle, it’s a nature lover’s paradise.
The abundance of wildlife here in Panmana is amazing. Over in Chiriqui, we even have big cats, such as jaguars, panthers, and ocelots. Hundreds of bird species congregate in the planes and jungles of Panama.
Whales and dolphins are common, and there are nature park tours all year round to observe monkeys and sloths (right up my alley). Horseback riding? Yep – there are ranches all over the place.
The Government Leaves Us Alone & Tax Advantages
This is also a biggy for me. While laws, especially under the health restrictions, can be quite draconian, the government doesn’t interfere much and leaves us alone. Once you have your papers in order, no one will ever bother you. That’s in stark contrast to my experience in Europe, even in the UK. As long as you obey the rules and behave, you’re golden. There is also literally tax-free living here in Panama (as an expat). Any income derived outside Panama is tax-free, period. The sales tax is 7 percent, also three times lower than in Europe. What more could I want?
If you consider Panama as a potential expat home, talk to me or some of our Panama-based Alliance members, and we will give you up-to-date information that will make your decision as informed as possible. Sign up for free, look for the chat icon, and PING me… We’re here to help!
by: LP Wirth