Where Should I Live In Panama?

This question comes up again and again. “Where should I chose to live in Panama?” Some will say that Panama City is too crowded. Some will say that Panama City is perfect because you can do and find anything you want.

Some will say, “No El Valle is the only place to live.” Other’s may say that Coronado offers me the beach and closeness to Panama City. Some would not live anyplace other that Bocas. Still others will promote Boquete or Volcan. Some will say that David offers a lot and is more tranquil than Panama City.

Still others will say, somewhere between Boquete and David, because David is too hot and Boquete or Volcan are too cold.

Some will say, “It has to be a gated community.” Others may tell you that integrating with the Panamanian community with “real people” is better.

How much do you understand about construction in Panama? Are you construction savvy? Do you speak Spanish? How do you know who is a reputable builder and which one’s aren’t? Can you recognize a good one by talking to him? Can you believe what you are being told?

You can get any answer you want, to support what ever decision you subconsciously may have already made.

I have spent a lot of time in Panama City. I have lived in Boquete and I visited Volcan many times. I currently live in David. I firmly believe that the question, “Where should I live in Panama?” can not be answered by someone other than you.

Many people are going to give you answers and spin, because they have some vested interest in the decision you may make. Many people will steer you toward the decision they made. I think a lot of time that is because they are still trying to convince themselves that they did the right thing.

I think a better way is to make a list of the things you require to be happy.

  • Are you wanting a six month a year diversion and plan to spend the other six months somewhere else?
  • Are you interested in going bowling or to current movies?
  • Do you want a view of the ocean?
  • Which ocean?
  • How close to the ocean?
  • Do you have special health considerations?
  • Why Panama in the first place? Was it some article in International Living that was probably paid for to be written?
  • What is too hot?
  • What is too cold.
  • How much is too much rain.
  • Can you survive a day without electricity?
  • How about a day or two or three without water?
  • Is cost a factor?

Only you can make your list. Allowing someone else’s list to influence your decision is crazy. If you move to any place in Panama, without really thinking it through, it may result in an Aw Shit decision in hindsight.

I know people that are happy living in almost all of the areas in Panama. Likewise, I know some people that have decided they made a mistake. Some even decided to move back to where they moved from in less than two years.

If you are very wealthy and this is just going to be a secondary home, in a foreign country, then you have very little at risk. If you are a person who can’t afford to make a mistake, then don’t rush into moving anyplace without trying it out. A good carpenter will measure twice before making a cut. If you were buying a car, you wouldn’t buy it without driving it. You should be even more careful when it comes to moving into a foreign country with a different culture than you are accustomed to.

I love Panama. It is the best move I ever made. I get up each day thinking this day is going to be better than yesterday. I would just like for all people, that move here, to be able to make the same statements after they have been here for as long as I have.

57 thoughts on “Where Should I Live In Panama?

  1. hi, I am an older student who has to do a presentaion on Panama for intro to spanish Since my pronounciation is not good I was wondering if someone could send me some actual photos of Panama so i could wow them that way thanks! chris

  2. I have been reading some things on this blog my husband, our two kids (1 and 3 years) and I have moved to Panama about 6 months ago we bought a couple properties in the city but feel that the city is not the best place for us. We are looking in to David, Volcan or Boquette. I read that there is an American School in David I am not actually sure that it still exists but I was hoping someone can give me and idea of a great place to live in Panama that is affordable and that we could provide a great life for our children… I also need to know a safe place to live for the kids.. any feedback would be very helpful .. Thanks

  3. I want to live in Panama three months or so out of the year. I want to be close to water, love horseback riding, must have good shopping 😉 and since I work remotely (laptop/internet) I can’t be without power for a lengthy time. Also, I’d like to be be not too far from a city area. Other than that, I’ve no druthers. I’ve been research to see the area that might meet these requirements.

  4. Morning Don,
    Wow, this 4 year old comment has as much importance now as it did then. I think you were on your 5th year in Panama by then and summed up all the things that people should be thinking before a decision on a permanent move.
    I got some recent replies to the question, “Why did you leave Panama?” on another site and condensed the comments into a list. The reasons are not in ANY order of importance but if they help people who are considering a move, that is good.
    1. Dealing with government red tape.
    2. Being the victim of a crime.
    3. Weather issues: rain, wind, humidity.
    4. Failing to learn the language/culture.
    5. Partner did not want to stay.
    6. Insufficient activities/entertainment.
    8. Losing money on a house/land/investment.
    9. Having no faith in the healthcare for serious illness.
    10. Getting homesick for the family back home.
    11. Losing electricity/water/internet/phone once too often.
    12. Cost of living was higher than expected.
    13. Getting tired of repeating one or more of the above.

    I doubt these reasons are specific to Panama. If the same question were asked about Costa Rica 10 years ago, the answers would be similar. Or Belize 15 years ago. Or Mexico 20 years ago. “Best” seems to be heading south.

    The new “best place to retire” is now Ecuador according to the same folks that made Panama the best place to retire 10 years ago.

    Thank you for making Panama your home, Panama is lucky to have you.
    jim and nena
    fort worth

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