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Panama Articles, Research, & Resource Guides

If you’re here to learn about Panama, you’ve found the right place! We’ve written dozens of articles and guides about investing and living in Panama.

Whether you’re interested in learning about the different cities in Panama, residency or investment laws, we’ve got you covered. There isn’t much about Panama that you won’t find here.

Here are a few other categories to get you started:

Panama Real Estate

If you’re looking for property in Panama to buy or rent, head over to our Panama Real Estate page. Better yet, check out our Viva Tropical Adventure Colonies in Boca Chica and Burica.

Today we have a guest post written by Kent Davis, owner of one of the most successful real estate brokerages in Panama City

panama city panama real estate update

The Panama City real estate market may have finally taken a turn in 2018 following more than three years of very little price appreciation.

Sales figures in the resale and pre-construction market in Panama’s capital city are higher than 2017 and 2016 figures, in some cases by double digits. The reason for the pick-up can be attributed to a number of factors, including a weakening dollar, increased government spending, and a resurgence in tourism, which is benefiting from renewed state and private campaigns touting Panama as “the place to visit” in 2018.

For starters, the weakened dollar has been luring Europeans and Canadians back to Panama since the 3rd quarter of last year, bringing fresh eyes and new investors to a still relatively unknown property market (and vacation destination) to the rest of the world.

And, given that the sales cycle is 6-12 months from the first time a potential investor visits Panama to the time they actually make a purchase, a pick-up in the Panama real estate market from foreign buyers makes sense based on more visitors to Panama.

The local market (made up of Panamanian and foreign buyers already based in Panama) has also seen increased purchasing activity due to a slight uptick in consumer confidence and as more government projects are awarded during the last full year of President Varela’s 5 year term.

Following the establishment of formal diplomatic relations last year, the other story that everyone is talking about but where no one can predict the outcome is, of course, Chinese interest in Panama.

Homeowners in markets like Vancouver, San Francisco, and London can attest to the effects of a Chinese run on the market. But that’s not comparing apples to apples — diminutive Panama City (population 1.5 million) pales in size to these major cities, making it even harder to predict what the Chinese interest will do to Panama property prices.

One thing is for sure: state-run and privately owned Chinese companies are already moving to Panama, scooping up entire floors of office space and renting downtown apartments for their expat staff. And while they have not had a major impact on rental prices yet, anytime a large, well capitalized demographic moves in to a country as small as Panama, the real estate market feels it.

Interestingly, the Chinese also seem to be betting on an uptick in demand from Chinese buyers: just follow the launch of DAO, Panama’s most ambitious real estate project to date by far.

DAO is a 61 story “super-lux” project, which aims to bring the “hotel service, ultra premium” concept to Panama — and the market has taken note. Sales in DAO Panama have been bucking what is generally a lackluster pre-construction market in Panama. In fact, the Chinese are reporting that during their pre-launch phase they already have over 20% reserved for early buyers.

But at the end of the day, the Panama skyline is still dotted by cranes building new towers, so it remains to be seen how this first Chinese project will be received by local buyers.

Adding credence to the trend, Panama’s local and foreign bank branches, usually known for ultra-conservative lending policies, are also starting to ease restrictions on foreign buyers — a segment that has seen pent-up demand due to a lack of available credit.

News that Scotiabank Panama has opened up lending to non-resident foreigners is likely to bring a very important segment, sidelined for nearly four years, back to the market.

All in all, while five months is not enough time to pin down a solid trend, we believe enough signs are pointing to a recovery in Panama City’s condo market. It might just be the new (old) game in town — and the bets are starting to come in.


Kent Davis is Managing Director of Panama Equity Real Estate. He is an expat living in Panama since 2007 and his articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, The Financial Times, among others. For more information, please visit

Expats thinking outside the box means finding destinations that can offer a combination of adventure and the challenge of living in a different environment. The Latin Tropics have a number of locations that can offer both an adventurous lifestyle and the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone.

The list below contains locations that range from rustic, provincial places, where you can immerse yourself in a new culture, to regions where high adrenaline activities are the theme of the day. These unique spots are not just for visiting but, for those who dare to try something different, places where even the most adventurous expats can find long-term fulfillment.

Locales for Expats Thinking Outside the Box

The list below is by no means exhaustive. However, these destinations are great examples of places where you can find more than just your run-of-the-mill expat hotspot.

expats thinking outside the box


Boca Chica Island, Panama

For those looking to escape from the 24/2/7/365 rush of modern urban communities, Boca Chica, Panama is the perfect getaway. This 400-acre private island, just a mile off the Panamanian coast and six miles from the town of the same name, combines natural beauty, world-class sport fishing, snorkeling and diving, and tremendous investment potential.

Boca Chica’s close proximity to Enrique Malek International Airport in David makes it easy to access this lush tropical oasis.  Once experienced, it is easy to see that Boca Chica is a desirable place for relocation.

expats thinking outside the box


Crucita, Ecuador

Adrenaline junkies who are looking for a place that combines high energy sports with the ambiance of a small tropical fishing village will find that rare blend in Crucita, Ecuador. This beachside town has become known as a premier destination for paragliding and hang gliding with stretches of open beaches, constant Pacific breezes, and a number of businesses that cater to “gliders.”

Given the small population (12,000) and rustic beach lifestyle, Crucita may be the ideal spot for adventurers who are looking for the magic of that “endless summer” without the tourist-centric atmosphere that many beach towns have. More than just a place to visit and play, Crucita has potential for investment while maintaining the irresistible draw of being a location where high-flyers can spread their wings.

santa teresa costa rica

Zanzabar Photography

Santa Teresa/Mal Pais, Costa Rica

Nestled on the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya peninsula, Santa Teresa (and the surrounding region of Mal Pais) has become a haven for those expats seeking a life less cluttered. The region around Santa Teresa has become a go-to spot for surfers from all over the world seeking to find that perfect wave without the over-development that marks so many beach communities in the region. Surf camps and shops are plentiful; there are even two surf camps – Chica Surf Adventures and Pura Vida Adventures – that are for women only.

The perfect balance to the high-energy world of surfing, the region has also become home to a growing number of yoga retreats and alternative health spas. Close proximity to the first national park in Costa Rica, Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve and Curu Wildlife Refuge, provides special opportunities to experience a wealth of biodiversity.

Needless to say, this symbiotic merging of meditation, natural wonders, and adrenaline sports has made the Mal Pais region a popular place to visit and play. While there is an increasing push to develop more contemporary living in Santa Teresa, it is still possible to live there and immerse yourself in the eclectic ambiance of rustic small villages where the spirit of “pura vida” remains alive and well.

expats thinking outside the box

Paul Krawczuk

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Nature lovers could ask for no better place to live than the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador. While the Galapagos archipelago is made up of 19 islands, only five are inhabited: Baltra, Floreana, Isabela, San Cristobal, and Santa Cruz. The largest city, Puerto Ayora, home to about 10,000 people, is located on Santa Cruz.

Long admired as one of the premier destinations for wildlife viewing, this group of islands is home to various types of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. The few villages and towns scattered throughout the archipelago are rustic settlements that are reminiscent of an earlier, less complicated time.

Living in a location that is unsullied by modern construction, surrounded by a unique and biodiverse environment, seeped in historical relevance, is what a move to the Galapagos Islands promises. More than just a place to visit, these islands can be a retreat from the modern world like no other place on Earth.

expats thinking outside the box

Luis Penados

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Labeled by such figures as Aldous Huxley and Alexander Von as being the most beautiful lake in the world, the highlands area of Lake Atitlán, Guatemala has become a favorite for expats looking for a unique destination off the beaten path. Located in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountain range, the Lake Atitlán area has a cooler, less tropical climate that may appeal to expats who find the heat along the coast less inviting.

The nine villages that surround the lake offer both a rustic lifestyle and a chance to become immersed in the local Mayan culture like nowhere else in the region. Being able to see and experience Mayan culture, not just as a tourist presentation, but as a way of daily life, is a profound experience that cannot be had in many places in the world.

Less developed than other parts of Guatemala, this region holds great investment potential for those who are intrepid enough to create their own version of a Latin Tropics escape. Balancing growth while maintaining the special cultural vibe of the region is a focus of the area’s residents, and it shows.

expats thinking outside the box

Bernard Dupont

Sanctuary Belize, Belize

Nestled between Mexico and Guatemala, the tiny country of Belize melds a unique blend of eco-lifestyles, adventures on land and sea, and Mayan ruins. Formally known as British Honduras, Belize is unique in that it is the only Latin Tropic country where English is the official language.

Belize offers a diverse selection of things to see, do and experience. Numerous Mayan ruins await those who wish to see the remnants of this amazing culture up close and personal. For those looking for aquatic adventures, the Belize Barrier Reef is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and second-largest in the world behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Sanctuary Belize has become a unique experiment combining eco-tourism and a “green” lifestyle on its 14,000 acre location. Having the opportunity to live green in the tropics while enjoying the natural beauty of Belize is certainly an exciting option for expats looking for something more than just an oceanfront existence.

Dare to Think Outside the Box

One of the best parts of the expat experience is discovering new vistas and new ways of living that can take you beyond the life you had before. Visiting these locations (or others that peak your interest) can be the first step to leaving your comfort zone to find your own road less traveled.

It’s a scary world we live in. The many recent acts of terrorism are proof enough of that. These days it seems many North Americans can’t even do simple things like attend a concert, go to work, or send their kids to school without worrying that the unthinkable might happen.

The U.S. is increasingly being targeted by extremist groups who place little value on human life, including their own. Many people wonder if their country is as safe as it once was or whether they should jump ship and find another, safer place to call home. And, if so, where would that be?

And what about the hassle of becoming an expat? Of moving to another country, learning a new language, and being far away from family and friends?

If you’re among those contemplating a move to someplace a little less attractive to terrorists, it might surprise you to know that there are some great options within a short distance from the U.S. And not only are these places safe, they also offer an incredible lifestyle at a much lower price point, with virtually no threat of terrorism whatsoever.  

escape terrorism

Central America Is Safer Than You Think

Each of the following three countries is located in Central America, and can be reached via a 3-hour flight from a number of U.S. cities like Atlanta, Houston, or Miami. They offer a lower cost of living (in some cases, much lower) than in North America. Yet, depending on where in the country you go, you’ll find services and amenities that rival a lot of major U.S. cities.

And here’s another important characteristic that each of these countries share. All three scored a zero on the Global Terrorism Index, a ranking of all the countries in the world based on the amount of terrorist activity they’ve experienced over a 10-year period.

For the sake of comparison, here’s how a few other countries fared. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan took the top three slots, with scores at or near 10 (at the time this article was published). Syria ranked 5th with an 8.12. The United States scored a 4.6, bringing it to the 34th slot.

By contrast, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama tied with a few other nations for 124th with a score of 0. Zero. Meaning NO terrorist activity whatsoever. I can’t think of many other ranking systems where I’d be so excited to come in dead last.

If that isn’t enough to convince you to make the move, here’s a little more info about each country and what makes it so incredible.

costa rica

Costa Rica: Unparalleled Beauty Plus Top-Notch Health Care

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that there is nowhere in the world as incredible as Costa Rica. For starters, it’s breathtakingly beautiful. And it offers climates and settings to suit every preference. From the cool, lush, mountainsides with their sweeping vistas to the tropical white sand beaches lined with shady palms.

Once you look beyond the natural beauty of Costa Rica, you’ll also find that it’s just as rich in amenities that you don’t usually find in most tropical destinations. Services like banks, supermarkets, health clubs, museums, and five-star restaurants can be widely found. And the country’s free health care system ranks higher than that of the U.S.


Nicaragua: The Same Perks at a Bigger Bargain

If you’re looking for all the incredible scenery of Costa Rica, but at a slightly lower premium, then your journey ends in Nicaragua. With two long coastlines, two huge lakes, volcanoes, rain forests, and rivers, it offers all the same ecosystems and postcard-worthy views as its neighbor. But since it’s less discovered and less developed, it all comes at a slightly lower price point.

Less development does mean fewer amenities, but there are still plenty of places in Nicaragua where you can find most of the same business and consumer options you’re accustomed to in the U.S. And since prices are lower, you can even enjoy some luxuries you might not be able to afford elsewhere, like the services of a full-time domestic helper.

panama city panama

Panama: First World Infrastructure and the Best Expat Benefits

Panama has benefitted greatly from its long history of U.S. military presence and its long-standing popularity as an expat haven. As a result, its infrastructure and amenities are way ahead of their time.

You’ll rarely have any difficulty finding a Wi-Fi hotspot or getting a good cell phone signal. Many of the same consumer options you buy in the U.S. can be found in Panama. There are tons of businesses and services that cater to expats, often run by expats themselves.

Panama also offers a wealth of visa options, as well as an attractive pensionado program that offers considerable discounts on things like hotels and transportation, for retirees of any age.

So, if you’re a would-be expat searching for a safer place to live that’s reasonably accessible from the U.S., don’t overlook the opportunities available in Central America. Take a trip down and check out what this amazing region has to offer. It could be the best three hours you’ve ever spent.

There are a number of destinations that can be included in a list of the healthiest places in the Latin Tropics. The abundance of fresh foods, a more relaxed pace of daily living, and the tropical climate are just some of the features that have made the region a long-time favorite destination for retirees and other expats looking for a better quality of life.

This compelling combination has dramatically increased the interest of U.S. residents in finding alternative approaches to their current living arrangements. It is not just the locations themselves, but the qualities and opportunities that can be found there, that promise an overall healthier lifestyle – both on the physical and the emotional levels.

What Makes the Healthiest Places in the Latin Tropics Special

There are a number of qualities that the healthiest places in the Latin Tropics all seem to share. Below is a list of these factors that contribute to the wellbeing of locals and expats alike.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Finding fresh produce in the tropics can be as easy as taking a short walk or drive to one of the countless roadside stands or weekly farmers’ markets that are a fixture of life in these countries.  The wide variety of locally grown products is not only less expensive but makes it far more convenient to prepare meals from scratch – leading to another element that makes life in the tropics a healthy alternative: diet.

healthiest places in the latin tropics

Geoff Baker

Healthier Diets

There is certainly a much smaller emphasis on pre-packaged or “fast” food in the Latin Tropics. As a result, more meals are prepared fresh, instead of out of a container or microwavable box.

Additionally, there is not as much emphasis on red meat in the region, the preferred protein sources being poultry or fish. These kinds of diets have been shown to be healthier in terms of reducing fat and cholesterol.

Better Climate

Having more sunlight, warmer temperatures and less extremes in climate (i.e., winter cold to summer heat in a short period) has shown to be more conducive to better health. Aside from the physical benefits of Vitamin D, the abundance of sunlight also helps combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Appropriately abbreviated as SAD, this type of depression brought on during the shorter periods of daylight during the winter months impacts roughly three million adults yearly. Given that daylight hours only vary about fifteen minutes during the seasons, life under the tropical sun is emotionally healthy as well as physically healthy.

Less Stressful Pace of Living

If there is one thing that is the hallmark of the Latin Tropics, it is the slower, more relaxed pace of life.  The stress of facing crowded streets, time clocks, and the omnipresent “noise” of the 24/7/365 connected world is replaced by the far more tranquil natural rhythms of the ocean, tropical rain forests, and small villages.

While the slower pace of getting things done (such as repairs or building projects) can take some getting used to, the physical benefits are worth the extra time spent.  It can truly be said that, in terms of daily living, you do without doing and it all gets done.

More Active Lifestyle

One of the most important features that all these locations share is a more active physical lifestyle. Warm weather is more conducive to outdoor activities that can range from merely walking to more strenuous forms such as swimming, surfing, and other sports.

The Top Five Healthiest Places in the Latin Tropics

Here is a list of the top five healthiest places in the Latin Tropics. While each one has its own unique characteristics, they all share qualities that make them desirable of destinations for those seeking to find their own personal “fountain of youth.”

healthiest places in the latin tropics


5. Volcán/Boquete, Panama

Located in the Chiriquí province of Panama, the Volcán/Boquete area boasts access to an abundance of fresh produce, herbs, and coffee and is known as the “breadbasket of Panama.” The moderate temperatures, low humidity (thanks to being 4000 feet above sea level), and a tranquil sense of wellbeing, all contribute to a more active lifestyle.

The region also can claim longer life spans for its residents than the rest of Panama. Boquete has been singled out by AARP magazine as one of the top places to retire in the entire world.

4. Playa Gigante, Nicaragua

This rustic fishing village on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua is rapidly becoming a mecca for a growing number of alternative health and yoga spas. With a very laid-back lifestyle, ready access to fresh fish and produce, and natural beauty of one of the country’s ecological centers, healthy living in Playa Gigante comes easily.

healthiest places in the latin tropics

Jon Hurd

3. Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Aside from its breathtaking vistas, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala is becoming recognized as a place for retirees seeking a healthier lifestyle. With some of the best weather anywhere, the rich Mayan culture (still very much in existence), abundant fresh produce, and a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy, Lake Atitlán’s popularity as both a tourist destination and a retirement location continues to grow.

healthiest places in the latin tropics

Presidencia de la República del Ecuador

2. Vilcabamba, Ecuador

It may come as a surprise to many that Vilcabamba, Ecuador is included in this list. Located in what is has become known as the “Valley of Longevity,” local residents claim to reach life expectancies well past 100 years.

While there is no hard evidence to support this claim, the mild climate, abundant fresh air (no pollution), low animal fat diets, and active lifestyle certainly are positive factors for healthier living. The natural beauty and relaxed pace of life in the valley also contribute to the growth of Vilcabamba as a top retirement destination.

healthiest places in the latin tropics

Carlos Adampol Galindo

1. Nicoya Peninsula/Nosara, Costa Rica

Featured in the book, The Blue Zones, the Nicoya Peninsula – and Nosara in particular – has become the best known of top healthy places in the Latin Tropics. The ready access to fresh produce and seafood combined with a more relaxed outdoor lifestyle has created an environment where longer life spans are the rule, not the exception.

Healthier diets and more physical activity seem to be only part of Nosara’s secret. The growing number of alternative therapies, such as meditation and yoga, create an atmosphere where life can be embraced as opposed to just being lived.

Finding That Longer, Healthier Life Path in Paradise

Visiting the locations mentioned above (or others in the region) could be the first step to discovering what the healthiest places in the Latin Tropics could offer as a lifestyle choice. Learning where and what resonates with you is a great place to begin your quest for a healthier, happier existence.

As one of the fastest growing expat destinations, Panama City offers a variety of options for a tropical home.  With an ever-expanding infrastructure, favorable residency laws and great discounts for retirees, the resurgence of Panama will continue to make living there an attractive choice.

Aside from the city itself, there are various locations in and around Panama City that can satisfy most every taste. From modern high end developments to more rustic settings, discovering which lifestyle is best suited to your individual desires is the best way to begin the transition to paradise.

panama city where to live

Bernal Saborio


The Panama City, Panama Area Is A Blend of Styles

Panama City is much more than a dynamic Latin Tropic metropolis with a modern infrastructure. While the gorgeous skyline compares with such locations as South Beach, this capital city is actually comprised of three distinct districts-each with their own unique essence.

Whether you are looking for a high rise development in the new city, a restoration project in the old city, or the historical atmosphere of the old colonial area, there are many possibilities to choose from.

Panama Pacifico

Alberto Ruiz

Panama Pacifico

Perhaps no location exemplifies the potential for growth in Panama than Panama Pacifico. Located on the site of the former Howard Air Force Base, this project is, quite literally, building a new city from the ground up sprawling over 4,450 acres.

Conceived by Colombian businessman Jaime Gilinski shortly after the base closed in 1999, it would take until 2010 before construction could actually begin.  Since ground was first broken,  both residential and commercial projects have begun transforming this former military installation into a new and exciting community.

Being only 15 minutes from Panama City, Panama Pacifico is the ideal spot for expats looking for new construction and business opportunities. With only 15% of the property developed, investors can take advantage of abundant space to transform their dreams into a profitable reality.


Where to live in Panama City

Steve Ross

Costa del Este

Costa del Este represents one of the newest areas of Panama. Its location, just five minutes from the heart of Panama City and ten minutes from Tocumen International Airport, have made it one of the most desirable neighborhoods outside of the city itself.

Housing here can range from luxury high rise condominiums to spacious houses. The modern infrastructure has attracted expats and investors who want to live and work in the tropics while enjoying all the amenities of any major U.S. city.

Beyond The Panama City Limits-Three Compelling Options

One of the most significant changes for expats and investors considering the Panama City area was the completion of the Pan American Highway. This highway system has made access to a number of popular destinations a manageable hour or so drive from the city center.

The list below highlights three of the most popular areas outside of Panama City. These locations have attracted the interest of retirees, expats looking for a second home, and investors seeking a higher ROI (return on investment).

where to live in panama city

Roberto Moreno


Coronado is widely considered to be the first planned resort community in Panama.  The dream of visionary developer, Bob Eisenmann, Coronado combines the rustic feel of several small villages with the modern amenities and infrastructure of a resort condominium community.

One of the most attractive features of Coronado, Panama is its climate.  Located in the “dry arch”, or arco secco region, less rainfall occurs here than in the rest of the country. The large number of English-speaking expats who live in the area is another attractive feature for those who may have trepidations about living in a country where English is not the primary language.

farallon panama

Alexandra Oduber


Much like Panama Pacifico, Farallon has risen from the remains of a military base a mere 68 miles from the capital. Once housing Panamanian troops, the facility was destroyed by the U.S. invasion in 1989. Since that time, Farallon and the nearby beaches of Playa Blanca have become one of the most sought after beach destinations in the Latin tropics.

Luxury resort properties, such as Buenaventura, are certain to appeal to those seeking modern amenities and an upscale lifestyle, without the frenetic pace of Panama City.  The new international airport at Rio Hato, a short distance away, makes accessing this white sand oasis easier than ever.

el valle panama

Michael Afar

El Valle de Anton

El Valle de Anton is a delightful seven square mile mountain village located roughly 120 km (75 miles) from Panama City. This rustic location is becoming a popular choice for expats seeking to find a less frenzied pace of life that is infused with the cultural essence of “old Panama.”

Located in the caldera of the El Valle volcano, El Valle de Anton is actually the second largest inhabited volcano in the world.  It has also become a favorite location for Panama City’s more affluent citizens seeking a weekend retreat far from the hurried pace of the city.

Whether looking for a rustic Panamanian village dwelling or a modern construction home, El Valle de Anton will continue to offer both a unique environment and a great potential for investment.

Panama City Has Both Potential And Promise

With such a wide variety of possibilities for a home in the Latin Tropics, as well as great investment potential, exploring the real estate market for yourself is a great place to start. Finding that “place in the sun” may be as easy as a click of a mouse.

For many seniors moving abroad, learning the truth about assisted living in the tropics can be an important first step in the decision process. In fact, it may come as a pleasant surprise that retiring abroad and living in a community that provides care and assistance are not necessarily choices that exclude one another.

Nearly one million Americans of retirement age have moved beyond the borders of the United States. As more and more “baby boomers” reach that life milestone, the demand for facilities and communities that can offer the services required by an aging population will also increase.

the truth about assisted living in the tropics

Kristopher Schultz

Assisted Living in Paradise Is a Viable Option

With rising medical costs, a volatile market, and general uncertainty about the future, it comes as no surprise that more and more Americans of retirement age are choosing the Latin American tropics as their preferred destination. With many countries actively promoting programs that can benefit seniors, the truth about assisted living in the tropics is that it is a viable choice for both retirees and their aging parents.

There are a number of compelling reasons to make such a move. The lower overall cost of living, improved access to high quality medical care, and the more relaxed lifestyle are just some of the features that should make the expat option a strong consideration as a way to spend your senior years.

the truth about assisted living in the tropics

Danny Kim

Latin Locations That Offer Assisted Living

Below are examples of four countries that offer high-quality assisted living in the tropics. Each of these locations provides the opportunity for a full and vibrant retirement combined with the individualized care some seniors need.


Mexico has been a retirement destination for Americans for many years. With the median cost of long-term care in the U.S. averaging over $43,000 per year, it is not surprising that may retirees are exploring the options that the land south of the border can provide for retirees and their aging parents.

One of the most popular regions is the Lake Chapala area. As one of the largest expat communities in the world, there are a number of facilities that cost half (or less) what similar residences in the U.S. cost.

Seniors would find the Lake Chapala locations very similar to high-end retirement settings in the U.S. Offering clean, comfortable residences, amenities like swimming pools, access to medical professionals and even hospice services at a fraction of the cost, it is little wonder that baby boomers are looking to the region as a long-term option for themselves and their aging parents.

With close proximity to the United States, a familiarity with the culture, plus fresh food and quality medical care, the potential that Mexico has for seniors is undeniable.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica was the first Central American country to initiate programs geared towards attracting retirees. Once qualified as a “pensionado,” retirees can sign up for the country’s social security program, which includes full coverage for things like hospitalization and prescriptions.

As the Central and Pacific zones of Costa Rica become more developed, the rising number of expats also will increase the demand for retirement centers that can provide a high quality of life at a more affordable rate. Seniors will be pleasantly surprised to discover that living “la Pura Vida” is more than just an unreachable dream.

Many visitors to the country ultimately decide to relocate there upon retirement. Whether your choice is an independent living center or a community where 24-hour onsite assistance is available, the cost is still far less than equivalent operations in the States.

the truth about assisted living in the tropics



Interest in Guatemala as a retirement option has grown dramatically recently. The area around Lake Atitlan has seen the development of modern assisted living communities where the lower price tag is not reflected in the high quality of the residences there.

The term “assisted living” has a somewhat different meaning in Guatemala. Instead of a dedicated community, assisted living means, literally, hiring someone, or a number of people, to clean, cook, and care for a person.

This cost for one full-time care provider may run as little as $150 to $300 per month. Even on a fixed income of $1200 per month, for example, this can allow a senior who needs assisted care to still enjoy life in a tropical paradise.


Panama is rapidly overtaking Costa Rica as the premier retirement destination in Central America. First world amenities, greatly improved infrastructure, and many discounts available for seniors have proven to be a magnet for older Americans looking to find a tropical retirement location.

While there are a number of options for retirees who are independent and looking for communities that cater to that population, the number of assisted living facilities is still quite small. However, with the continued influx of foreign investment, the potential for growth in this area is promising.

Is Tropical Assisted Living for You?

Discovering the truth about assisted living in the tropics opens the doors to infinite possibilities. Moving to paradise may just be the best way to make those golden years truly golden.

As many expats and investors have already discovered, living in your own tropical paradise is not an unreachable dream. In particular, Panama real estate has become the best choice for a 2nd home in the tropics for a wide variety of reasons.

Finding a destination that is affordable, provides stability, and offers a good return on initial investment can be a challenge. More and more people are finding that Panama real estate checks all those boxes.

Panama Real Estate

F. Ermert

Top Reasons Why Panama Real Estate Is the Best Choice

There are many reasons why Panama real estate has become the preferred choice for a 2nd home or retirement destination. Below is a list, in no particular order, of some of the top reasons to pick Panama.

Location, Location, Location

Panama is readily accessible from many U.S. airports. As such, it is ideal for those wanting to stay connected back home even while they enjoy their time in the tropics. Daily, regularly scheduled flights, from at least 15 U.S. cities, make traveling to and from your second home affordable and easy to arrange.


Panama has developed many expat-friendly programs that make living there an easy transition. A streamlined residency process, ease of obtaining work permits (for those so inclined), discounts for retirees, and a growing expat presence, are just a few of the features that draw investors, retirees, and those seeking a tropical escape.

Some of the many programs geared toward retirees can result in significant savings. Discounts of 30% on all forms of public transportation, medical services (including prescriptions) that can range from 15% to 20%, even savings of up to 50% on personal and commercial loan closing costs make choosing Panama as a second home an economically attractive option.

One of the most important features of Panama life is the growing number of English-speaking expats. While having some knowledge of Spanish is important, finding someone who can help translate is easier than one might imagine – especially in the larger areas like Panama City.

Climates and Contrasts

Panama has many comfortable climate options that range from cool and comfortable in mountain locales – such as Boquete – to hotter, humid, beachfront areas like Rio Hato. For those desiring the island lifestyle, the Las Perlas Island group on the Pacific side and the San Blas Islands on the Caribbean coast have some of the best beaches in the country.

Fast-Paced or Laid-Back

Having the choice of city living or rustic country life is yet another reason why Panama is a great choice. The selection ranges from Panama City, a vibrant, modern city with a skyline resembling Miami’s South Beach, to more rustic towns, like David and Chitre, which provide a more authentic village experience.

The U.S. Dollar

Perhaps one of the most important pluses for choosing Panama is the fact that the U.S. dollar is considered legal tender for daily transactions. Not having to go through the inconvenience and expense of converting money can make transactions, such as purchasing Panama real estate, much easier.

Being able to use U.S. currency for real estate transactions is especially attractive given the global fluctuation and uncertainty that impacts the value of many foreign currencies. This convenience also makes it much easier to budget for both the near term and longer time frames.


The stability of the Panamanian government greatly reduces the risk of investing in a foreign location. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace 2016 Global Peace Index, Panama is only one of 10 countries, worldwide, that is free from conflict.

A major advantage of this political stability is a sound legal system. Article 44 of the Panamanian Constitution guarantees protection of private ownership of real property.

These legal protections apply to both foreign investors as well as Panamanian citizens. Having this kind of security makes the investment decision much less complex.

Favorable Taxes

Although the 20-year exemption on property taxes ended in 2009, Panama’s revised tax structure still compares favorably with that of the U.S. With a 10-year exemption for property valued under $250,000, and a 15-year exemption for property under $100,000, buying Panama real estate certainly is a favorable investment long-term.


Prices for property in Panama still compare favorably with neighboring Latin American countries. It can be anticipated, however, that as the market expands, the value of international real estate will also increase.

Panama Real Estate

F. Ermert

The Bottom Line

Panama’s popularity and features have made it the best choice for your home in paradise. But just because Panama is growing, that doesn’t make it the ideal choice for everyone.

Like all important life choices, doing your homework is a major step in the decision-making process. Even more import is actually visiting to see if Panama is the perfect place for you and your 2nd home.

As more and more retirees and young expats make their way to the Latin tropics, many cities are stepping up their game to meet the demands of this new demographic. And, as infrastructure and amenities continue to improve in many tropical cities, the cost of living is increasing at rapid rates in many locations.

Since a major consideration of making the move abroad is budget and lifestyle, it’s important that you know some of the most expensive cities in the Latin tropics and what they offer. Only then can you decide if they’re truly worth the sometimes high cost of living in paradise.

It’s important, though, to keep in mind that the cost of living in a particular area is often indicative of the level of services and amenities it offers. So, when evaluating tropical destinations and their associated costs, make sure you take the whole picture into consideration…not just the dollars and cents.

4 most expensive cities in the tropics

Rita Willaert

The Rising Cost of Paradise

Just as is the case with any other financial market, the increased demand for expat-friendly locations in the tropics has resulted in higher costs. Rising property values, infrastructure improvements, and the desire for more amenities “just like back home” have all combined to create larger price tags for life abroad.

Below are the four most expensive cities for expat living in all the countries we cover.  The continued popularity of each of these destinations demonstrates the correlation between desirability and willingness to pay for the value-added features that each location contains.

4 most expensive cities in the tropics

Arron and Carol

San Jose, Costa Rica

Topping our list of the four most expensive cities in the Latin tropics is San Jose, Costa Rica. As the third most expensive city in the entire region (surpassed only by San Juan, Puerto Rico and Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands), the continued popularity of this Central American destination has resulted in higher prices, including the cost of Costa Rica real estate.

A dynamic, modern, and stable infrastructure, readily accessible “western style” amenities, such as shopping malls, internet access, cable TV, and a close proximity to major North American cities all translate into value-added features for this highly coveted expat destination. However, these desirable features do come with a higher price tag that should be taken into consideration as part of your plan for relocation.

4 most expensive cities in the tropics

Bernal Saborio

Panama City, Panama

Close behind San Jose, on the list of the four most expensive cities in the tropics, is Panama City, Panama. According to an annual survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, from 2014 to 2015 Panama City’s cost of living has climbed 41 positions among all international locations surveyed and four spots in Latin America alone.

The continued expansion of new commercial investment and the accompanying improvements in infrastructure have resulted in increased housing prices and a growing demand for American style homes. Since that demand is outpacing the inventory, it’s far from being a buyer’s market.

4 most expensive cities in the tropics

Nan Palmero

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

It may come as a surprise to many that Tegucigalpa, Honduras has become one of the most expensive cities in Latin America in which to live. The upswing in foreign investment since the early 2000s has brought with it the cost of improving the infrastructure of the city to meet the demands of the 21st century.

While not as popular as…say, the island of Roatan, Tegucigalpa still offers high level of amenities at a price point that is less than some of the more popular tropical destinations. It can be anticipated that as growth continues, prices will stay on the rise as well.

4 most expensive cities in the tropics

Roman Korzh

Quito, Ecuador

Last but not least on this list is Quito, Ecuador. This capital city’s popularity with expats and retirees has led to a steady increase in the cost of living. With this price hike comes a wide variety of housing options and many other big city amenities expats have come to expect.

Not everything costs more in Quito, though. Although it’s ranked as the 13th most expensive of Latin American cities, its prices for gas and public transportation are still far less than any of its neighbors.

The Bottom Line: Is It Worth It?

For potential expats, the cost to live in a particular city should certainly play a role in the decision-making process. However, it shouldn’t be the starring one. Other factors to consider include location, amenities, climate, and whether it offers the kind of lifestyle you’re seeking.

In the end, only you can decide whether these and other tropical destinations offer sufficient bang for your buck. If you have cities you’re considering, spend some time there to see if the expat experience they offer lives up to the price point they demand. Only then can you make the move knowing you’ll never regret the decision you made.

When people think about U.S. citizens living abroad what comes to mind is probably retirees, or the super wealthy, or maybe even a bunch of backpacking college students. People who don’t have to worry about things like maintaining a job or finding a good orthodontist.

What seems like a bit more of a stretch, to many, is the idea of moving overseas with children, particularly young ones, and having the need to educate, protect, and support them. But the reality is that living abroad, even in a developing country, has never been easier for young families.

The Latin tropics, for example, offer a ton of locales where parents can earn a living for their families, send their kids to a bilingual international school, sign them up for afterschool art and sports programs, and never have to give a second thought about their safety.

Improved technology and infrastructure make things like telecommuting, homeschooling, and communicating with friends and family a virtual breeze. Cities with established expat communities can help to make the transition easier.

On the flip side, there are also more remote destinations that offer the opportunity to cut out all the distractions and focus on what really matters to your family. Where your children can learn to become students of the world, rather than spending their days cooped up in a classroom.

In fact, it’s been observed that living abroad helps children develop a certain skillset and adaptability that their homebound counterparts lack, making them particularly qualified for leadership positions.

Every tropical destination has its own set of pros and cons. Not every young family will share the same opinion about a certain city. But there’s no denying that each of these places has a unique appeal that families with children will likely find intriguing.

Jose Juaquin

Jose Juaquin

Best City for Culture – Cuenca, Ecuador

A longtime favorite of expats of all demographics, Cuenca, Ecuador, is still a fantastic option for families with children. It offers an established expat community with lots of English-speakers, as well as expats of many other nationalities.

Cuenca has a high level of amenities, with easy access to all the necessary goods and services. Yet it’s also surrounding by an incredible natural environment that offers plenty of options for outdoor enthusiasts.

For all it delivers, Cuenca is also quite affordable. It’s big city convenience with a small town feel, right down to the cobblestone streets and charming historic architecture.

Because it’s home to a number of universities, residents of Cuenca also place a high value on education. The high concentration of students also makes Cuenca a cultural and artistic hub. It’s a great place to get a true taste of what makes the local culture so incredible.

TR Rounts

TR Rounts

Best Expat Community – Boquete, Panama

Another destination that’s popular with young expat families is Boquete, Panama. Tucked into the highlands of the Chiriqui province, Boquete is smaller than Cuenca (and quite a bit more expensive). Yet it too offers an incredible level of services and amenities.

A longstanding expat presence has led to the establishment of everything from “Gringo Night” at local restaurants all the way up to an expat theatre group. In fact, Boquete is so expat-friendly that some complain it’s almost just like being in North America.

But understand that, even though Boquete might be full of people who look and talk like you, there’s still plenty of authentic culture to experience. Not to mention the incredible natural surroundings like cloud forests, whitewater rapids, and an abundance of flora and fauna.

Between its near-perfect climate and its welcoming residents, Boquete is a great option for newcomers with children.



Best Beach Town – Nosara, Costa Rica

Those who think all tropical beach towns are way too heavy on the party scene for young families need to think again. Introducing…Nosara, Costa Rica.

Rather than loud dance clubs and dreadlocked drug peddlers, what you’ll find in Nosara is more like yoga studios and organic smoothie stands. It has great surfing, some of the best in Costa Rica, but it also has great schools. It’s a win-win for young families.

The abundance of health food stores, fitness centers, and sports teams make Nosara the perfect place for those looking to lead a healthy lifestyle. However, all the excellent consumer options and extra-curricular activities do tend to tip Nosara a bit towards the expensive end of the spectrum.

Nosara is clean. It’s safe. Its residents are a closely knit community, and they flock to the beach in droves each evening, just to see the sunset. Its four miles of white sand beaches are protected from any kind of encroaching development, and the many conservation efforts help keep it pristine.

Young families looking for the beach lifestyle without the stereotypical beach culture should definitely give this place a closer look.

boca chica panama

Viva Tropical

Best Island – Boca Chica, Panama

If island living is the scenario you had in mind for your family, then forget the overcrowded, touristy places like Roatan or the Belize Cayes. There’s nothing authentic about seeing a cruise ship dump its hordes of travelers onto your shores for a quick romp.

Instead, may I suggest the tranquil forests of Boca Chica Island, where the only other residents you’ll likely see and hear are the howler monkeys and toucans perched just outside your window?

Boca Chica and its surrounding islands offer the same natural wonders as their busier counterparts (e.g. pristine beaches, ancient forests, excellent fishing, and mangroves packed with marine life). But in Boca Chica those can be explored on your own, not on a chartered tour with a dozen other strangers.

Although it feels remote, Boca Chica Island is only a 10 minute boat ride from the mainland where you can also access attractions such as Volcan Baru (the nation’s highest peak), the aforementioned town of Boquete, and the bustling city of David (the country’s second largest) where you can find any and all of the amenities you could possibly need.

photo by P. Schenll

photo by P. Schenll

Best on a Budget – Granada, Nicaragua

While affordability shouldn’t be your biggest factor when choosing an expat destination, for some young families it’s a necessary concern. Enter Granada, Nicaragua.

This charming colonial town boasts many of the same features as Cuenca. Yet with a noticeably lower price tag.

The tradeoff is that some of the amenities aren’t quite as good. Consumer options are a bit more limited. The infrastructure isn’t as top-notch. In fact, some may even see Granada as a little gritty.

But that authentic vibe is exactly what a lot of parents want their children to experience. The ability to take in your surroundings and feel almost as if you’ve stepped back in time 100 years. Except for the internet cafes and ATM machines.

All in all, Granada is a great compromise for those who want to experience Latin America for what it is, not a North American version of it. And not for the same amount you’d pay to live in the States.

So, if you’re looking for a place to relocate your family, or even if you just want to try a gap year to see if this whole expat thing is right for you, these top destinations are a great place to start!

If you know anything at all about Panama, you’re likely aware that it’s tropical, has amazing beaches and cool mountain locations, and is a great place to take up a second residence.

Here are 20 lesser known facts that show why this popular expat destination is worth a second look, whether merely for a visit or as a potential place to start the next chapter of your life.

Panama Facts

Marc Veraart

  1. Panama contains the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic…from the same spot! At the country’s narrowest point, only 80 kilometers separates the Atlantic from the Pacific Ocean.
  2. Panama City, the nation’s capital and largest city, is the only capital city in the world that has a rain forest within its city limits.
  3. The total population of Panama is around 3.6 million with 1.5 million of those living in Panama city.
  4. The official language of Panama is Spanish, but English is widely spoken. More so in the urban vs. the rural areas.
  5. Panama celebrates two independence days, the first from Spain in 1821 and the second from Colombia 82 years later in 1903.
  6. Panama was the very first Latin American country to adopt the U.S. dollar as its official currency.
  7. Major driver’s of Panama’s economy include cargo ships, the exportation of refined petroleum, and tourism.
  8. The Panama Canal was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. It’s considered one of the seven modern World Wonders.
  9. More than 12,000 people died in the construction of the Panama Railroad.
  10. Panama is located south of the hurricane alley, so it is rarely affected by tropical storms or hurricanes.
  11. Panama is home to 10,000 different plants species, including 1,400 varieties of orchids, 678 ferns, and more than 1,500 varieties of trees.
  12. There are two basic seasons in Panama: the dry season from December to April and the rainy season from May to November.
  13. Panama has more than 976 bird species, which is more than the United States and Canada combined.
  14. All vessels going through Panama Canal have to pay a toll. The toll is based on the type of vessel, its size, and its cargo. The highest toll ever paid was $376,000 by the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship in 2010.
  15. Panama grows some of the world’s finest coffee, which can be tasted at Starbucks and other coffee houses worldwide.
  16. At 11,397 feet, the highest elevation in Panama is Volcán Barú, which is located near Boquete.
  17. Panama has the second-largest duty-free zone in the world, the Colon Free Zone, second in size only to Hong Kong.
  18. For a relatively small country, Panama boasts many miles of pristine beaches, with more than 1,500 miles (2,490 kilometers) of shoreline.
  19. The Panamanian constitution gives foreigners and citizens the same right to own property.
  20. The Panama Hat actually originated in Ecuador.
  21. Senator John McCain was born in Panama, in the Canal Zone which was at that time considered U.S. Territory.
  22. Panama has a 100% tropical climate with temperatures ranging between 80-90 degrees.

Want to learn more about Panama? You should check this incredible destination out for yourself!

Panama is a beach and island lover’s paradise, with its two long coastlines and more than a thousand islands. Where else on earth can you surf in the Pacific Ocean in the morning and take an evening dip in the Caribbean Sea, all in the same day?

We’ve scoured the best beaches Panama has to offer. Here are our top 12, in no particular order. Since each beach has its own charm and unique characteristics, it would be almost impossible not to be able to find the tropical beach atmosphere you seek somewhere along the coast of Panama.

Panama best beaches

Ceclia Beth

1. Santa Clara & Farallón, Pacific Coast: These two are the most appealing beaches along the Pacific Coast, and the best for swimming. Best of all, they lie within a 2-hour drive of Panama City. Here the water is bluer and the sand is whiter than what you’ll find in many neighboring beaches closer to the city.

panama best beaches


2. Isla Bastimentos National Park, Bocas del Toro: Cayos Zapatillas, or the “Slippers Islands” (so-called because they resemble footprints), not only fulfill the beach lover’s fantasy with their soft sand backed by a tangle of jungle. They are also surrounded by a rich display of coral that attracts hordes of fish, which makes for some excellent snorkeling.

Panama best beaches


3. Boca Chica, Chiriquí: We are a bit partial to Boca Chica, which offers pristine ocean views of tropical blue seas, lush vegetation, and remote islands with white sand beaches and swaying palms. Not to mention, this area also offers world-class fishing, diving, and snorkeling.

panama best beaches

Michael McKenzie

4. Santa Catalina, Veraguas: Originally a highly coveted secret surf spot, Santa Catalina probably has the most consistently great waves in Panama. It is the closest access point to Isla Coiba with its world class diving, pristine beaches, and nature reserve.

panama best beaches

César Duarte

5. Contadora Isand, Panama:  The beaches here are sandy brown, with warm waters suited for snorkeling and swimming. Contadora Island is one of Panama’s more affordable beach destinations.


Haakon S.Krohn

6. San Blas Islands, Guna Yala: This is by far Panama’s premier beach destination with with powdery white sand, extensive coral reefs, piercing turquoise water, and clusters of enticing palm trees. The indigenous and colorful Kuna population administers this province, and their unique culture is one of the best reasons to visit the region.

panama best beaches

Gaspar Serrano

7. Las Perlas Archipelago, Panama: The Pearl Islands are a relatively unsung beach destination, despite the fact that this Pacific archipelago is close to Panama City, has some of the country’s best snorkeling, and boasts white sand beaches and calm waters. Outside of holidays and the hard-core summer, you won’t find crowds here, even during weekends. It’s well worth a short boat ride to enjoy solitude at one of Panama’s best beaches.

Chuck Holton

Chuck Holton

8. Isla Coiba National Park, Veraguas: This island is Panama’s number one diving site. It’s rather remote, but its incredible beaches and the Isla Coiba National Park make it worth the excursion. If the main island is too crowded, try venturing to Granito de Oro where the beaches are so idyllic that midsize cruise ships make stops here.

panama best beaches

Andy B.

9. Las Lajas, Chiriquí: One of the lesser known beaches in Panama, Las Lajas is worth a visit, with its swaying palm trees and perfect water temperature. This beach is known for having just the right amount of waves for bodysurfing. Given that the beach stretches for more than 8 miles, it is also the perfect walking beach as well.

best panama beaches

Manuele Zunelli

10. La Barqueta, Chiriquí: Strong currents at this black sand beach mean the water is not ideal for swimming. However, like Las Lajas, it is lengthy and good for walking. It’s also home to an impressive nature reserve.

panama best beaches

Roman Königshofer

11. Playa Los Destiladores & Playa Venao, Azuero Peninsula: There are a multitude of beaches lining the coast of this peninsula, but these two are the best. Located within a 20-minute drive from one another, you can surf both in one day. Not into surfing? Try the protected cove at Playa Venao, where it is calm enough for a swim, or travel a bit farther east for the best beach surfing hotspot.

Burica Panama

Emerging Terrains

12. Burica, Chiriquí: Looking for an underpopulated stretch of some of Panama’s best beaches? Burica, apart from a few small towns and one accommodation, is absolutely desolate. So what is its attraction? Lots and lots of isolated beaches, rows of palm trees, and at times surfable waves. The beach is formed with gray sand and striated rocks that stretch all the way out into the sea.

Which of these Panama beaches is your favorite? Are there any others you think we should have included? Comment and let us know!

Finding good medical care in a new country is an area of concern for many potential expats. Fortunately, thanks to the quality Panama health care system, those considering this tropical destination won’t need to lose any sleep over that issue.

With state-of-the-art facilities–including one partnered with the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital–and English-speaking, U.S.-trained doctors, it’s no wonder many expats claim the health care in Panama is one of the biggest perks of living here.

However, like anything else, the Panama health care system is only as good as you make it. So, here are a few tips from seasoned expats on how to really get the most from the health care in Panama.

Panama Health Care

World Bank Photo Collection

1. Evaluate your need for health insurance.

There are a number of options for those seeking health insurance in Panama. They’re also pleasantly more affordable than the plans available to most North Americans, Obamacare notwithstanding.

Within Panama, there are HMO plans that reimburse services from in-network providers. There are also international plans that will cover you outside the country’s borders.

A few U.S. plans are even accepted in Panama, but that’s something you need to carefully look into BEFORE you find yourself needing treatment. Also know that Medicare does NOT cover medical costs outside the U.S. (including repatriation of remains), although Hospital Nacional in Panama City does provide services for active and retired members of the U.S. military (through TRICARE).

Many private hospitals have membership programs that offer sizeable discounts on medical procedures performed at that facility. Since Panama health care is already affordable (often ¼ to ½ the cost for the same services in the U.S.) some expats choose this option and then self-insure their medical expenses.

2. Understand the Panama health care system.

You may have heard that Panama health care is affordable or even “free,” and that’s true to an extent. However, that doesn’t mean that all facilities and providers are created equal. Here’s an explanation of the three types of clinics you’ll find in Panama and what you can expect from each.

National Health Care Clinics – These clinics, run by the Ministry of Health, are easily recognizable by the signs bearing the word “salud” and a green and yellow Staff of Asclepius (the rod entwined with a serpent, an icon of the field of medicine).

While they’re designed to treat Panama’s poorest citizens, often in remote areas, they provide care to anyone. Charges are as low as 50 cents for a doctor visit, but the quality of care is often equally low and inefficient.

Social Security Clinics – Most of Panama’s working class pays into the country’s social security system, or Caja de Seguro Social (CSS). As such, they have access to health services, emergency care, and maternity care at public clinics.

While these facilities are often plagued by understaffing, and overcrowding, there are also many that provide excellent care and specialized attention. Your best bet is to learn what’s available in your area so you’ll be prepared with the knowledge of where to go when the need for medical treatment arises.

Private Hospitals and Clinics – While Panama’s private hospitals are very modern and well-equipped, they’re also few and far between, with most being concentrated in the nation’s capital. However, new private clinics are popping up often, particularly in areas popular among foreigners. 

Private facilities are also considerably more expensive than the public clinics (although still significantly less than a U.S. hospital). As a result, they’re generally only used by wealthy Panamanians and expats.

It’s also important to note that doctors generally expect payment up front, even for emergencies, and insurance plans usually only work on a reimbursement basis.

Panama Health Care


3. Look past the paint job.

Even the nicest Panama health care facilities don’t necessarily have the sleek, modern appearance you normally see in North American clinics. Paint may be peeling. Fabrics may be faded. The bathroom may not even have hot water, much like some Panamanian homes.

Don’t let those aesthetic differences affect how you feel about the quality of a clinic’s care. The fact that Panamanian hospitals aren’t competing to have the cushiest doctors’ offices or flat screen TVs in every room is one of the reasons they’re able to keep the cost of Panama health care low.

Instead of judging a book by its cover, ask for recommendations from other expats. Factors such as whether a facility treats your particular condition or whether the presiding doctor gives out her cell phone number easily are much more important than some tired-looking upholstery in the waiting room.

4. Take advantage of the low cost of Panama health care.

Because Panama health care is so affordable, yet also first-world quality, it’s becoming a hotspot for medical tourism. People from all over the globe come to Panama for procedures that are prohibitively expensive, including elective procedures like plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry.

The increased interest in medical tourism has only helped improve the affordability and quality of Panama health care. As a result, many expats are also taking advantage of the low cost care.

Because so many people are traveling to the tropics to enjoy the affordable, quality Panama health care, there are even spas and resorts that cater to those recovering from medical procedures. So, while Panama has long been a great place to go for medical care, it’s becoming an increasingly fantastic place to recuperate.

Take a cue from the pros, and make sure you’re getting the most out of your Panama health care!