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Panama Guide

Welcome to Panama Guide
Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 12:40 PM EDT

"...your editor comments after some articles are extremely enlightening."

Feedback By DON WINNER for - Received this morning via email: "I wanted to take a moment to express my thanks for your providing a website like Panama-Guide. I am planning to make the jump to panama for my retirement in about 2 years and I find this website a veritable gold mine of information. You cover the Good and the bad and your editor comments after some articles are extremely enlightening. I think that a lot of people considering a move to Panama look at more Real Estate and investment sites where if they read this one they would have a more balanced view and could make rational decisions without the ‘rose-colored glasses’ view provided by the other sites. Again, thanks, and keep up the good work. It is appreciated. LD, Texas"

Editor's Comment: Well, thank you very much for the kind words. The other day I was eating lunch at Manolo's on Via Veneto and I met a guy at the next table, a newly arriving American expatriate, retired military guy. We started talking and he asked me how long I have been in Panama. I told him I've been here for 25 years, and then he asked me what I did for a living. When I told him I run an English language news website, he asked me my name. Then he said "you're the reason I moved down here." I run into people all the time who read Panama-Guide regularly and who appreciate my work. And the positive comments and feedback are always well received. If you see me on the street, please feel free to come up and just say "hi" or whatever. All of my readers can help build this website and make it more valuable to everyone by writing up and sending in your experiences - lessons learned as you go through the process of moving to Panama, figuring out the ropes, etc. And please feel free to shoot off an email to your friends and acquaintances to let them know about this website. For me, traffic = food. As for the image - "veritable gold mine" - gold bikini. Get it? Anyway, thanks again...

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"...your editor comments after some articles are extremely enlightening." | 2 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
\"...your editor comments after some articles are extremely enlightening.\"
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 13 2012 @ 12:30 PM EDT

Don knows 1000% more than I do about Panama, so I will defer to his knowledge if he corrects anything in this blurb. I can only speak from my personal knowledge, and from my own memory. Anyone can sing the praises of Panama, so I will limit myself mostly to the drawbacks.

I have been here for almost 8 years. Some random thoughts for people thinking about moving to Panama:

When I arrived here, Panama was a fairly inexpensive place to stay. If you ate the local food, your grocery bill was low. Having a live-in maid would cost you $200 a month. Medical insurance and medical treatment (including dentist work) was a bargain. The price of having a decent place in a safe neighborhood was on par with what I was paying in the States. Electricity here at the time was expensive.

I just got back from the Space Coast (in Florida), and did a comparison.

Yearly leases in Melbourne afford better quality at a much lower price. Electricity is super cheap in the USA compared to Panama. Buying your food at Walmart is refreshingly inexpensive. And even my doctor visits now cost less in the USA than in Panama. The price for expertly installed dental implants was a far better deal in the USA (but I admit I did my homework to find a great dentist at an affordable price).

Panama has close to zero unemployment. So everyone—and I DO mean everyone—is charging much more for their services. The last maid I had cost $400 a month (twice that upon my arrival), but now they are so capricious that I discontinued this service altogether.

Having simple things done, like cleaning carpets, is ridiculously expensive compared to the States—where people are yearning for work (here they want $150 to clean two 6X9 carpets, whereas in the states you can have three bedrooms of wall to wall carpeting cleaned for ½ that amount!). Handyman services have gone through the roof in Panama City.

Many restaurants are upscale, and priced accordingly. The drink prices are less here, but the food items can be surprisingly expensive.

Medical insurance remains a bargain, but it is certainly changing. My rates have gone up 250%, and the amount they cover is less, with a bigger deductible. [Still, this is one area where I count my blessings, as my rates in the states would most likely be 6 times what I pay here! And we DO have excellent medical treatment available in the main hospitals in Panama City. Plus that, you can get a private room for peanuts compared to the States.]

My electric bill here is staggering, usually over $400 a month, but at times going over $600 (usually 2 splits running at the same time—at most). And now the government is looking to make it even more expensive, all the while saying in the long run the price will come down. Right… (you can always tell when a politician is lying here—their lips move!).

Gas is always more here, by 25-50 cents. And for some reason, the manuals for cars here usually suggest using 95 octane, which you can’t even buy in Florida. Buying cars can be VERY expensive here (a couple years ago, I was quoted $43,000 for the most economical JEEP Wrangler available).

Crime doesn’t seem to knock at your door in the USA right now. But you have to be careful in Panama. I have high voltage wires around my house, cameras, a radio-signal alarm system, and a dog. And I still worry here because of the gangs spreading out their tentacles into nice neighborhoods. Home invasions are rarely reported in La Prensa (the main newspaper here), but they certainly happen. And you won’t see many convertibles cars here—mainly because of security concerns.

Buying a nice property with a decent sized lawn in Panama City is non-existent—unless you’re in the million-dollar-plus category. You want a quarter acre? You better hock your tiffany jewels.

Sure, you can move to the interior, and cut a LOT of your costs. But I understand that even those places (like Boquete and Chiriqui) are seeing big inflation. And you better be very careful about living in certain areas, because the police just can’t give you protection (like Arraijan).

The government of Martinelli is scrambling to get more dollars to spend, and is squeezing every sector in order to raise the funds. And this is a large driving force behind the inflation in Panama.

Lastly, I live in the city, and when I want to go to the beach, it takes about 1 ½ hours to drive there. And then you have to try to find a beach with decent sand, parking, and safety. This is harder than it sounds because the government allowed the sale of virtually ALL of the accessible beaches in Panama. Which means that there are NO public beaches affording white strips of sands with sufficient safe parking. At least none that I have found. There used to be a decent set up at Santa Clara, which is a beautiful beach, but it’s now being privatized for development. If you go further than 1 ½ hours out of the city, I haven’t a clue—it’s just too far for me to justify snorkeling.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things I like about Panama. And I have no intention to move away any time soon. But I would suggest that anyone thinking of retiring here, to first come here and rent a place for a year or two. Take Panama for a test ride, before you drive it home.

And Good luck!

John S

\"...your editor comments after some articles are extremely enlightening.\"
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 13 2012 @ 10:17 PM EDT

Well said John S.........I have been here for about 11 yrs and been coming here for much longer (from Costa R. ) and I concur with your opinion 100%........................I have seen things spiraling "hasta los nubes" now for the last 5-7 yrs........and altho I concede that Martinelli has done some good and important work, there are aspects of his administration that I am not real comfortable with.......namely, the implementation of a police state....granted Panama has the history of dictatorship and its accompanying police state apparatus, but never have I seen it like this before..........and I got here the first time about 2 months after the U.S. invasion, when American special forces were still walking the streets of David, in civilian clothes, mind u, with their pistols strapped to their sides........I agree with u whole heartedly, take Panama for a test ride first, before u buy....................cuz its very likely that u will get more than u bargained for....................................