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Old 01-07-2011, 01:26 AM
 
5,823 posts, read 10,163,236 times
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@ wsamon : and retire in Panama ? is it feasible for the average pensioner ? (I speak gobbledilook Spanish, but I manage to make me understand).

 
Old 01-07-2011, 05:41 PM
 
Location: Seminole, FL
519 posts, read 815,746 times
Reputation: 402
Quote:
Originally Posted by pigeonhole View Post
@ wsamon : and retire in Panama ? is it feasible for the average pensioner ? (I speak gobbledilook Spanish, but I manage to make me understand).
I would like to point out that

1) I'm not an expert on Panama. Please don't treat me like one. I have been there 3 times for about a week each time, have a couple friends there (including an ex-girlfriend), and have done some preliminary research on moving there.

2) I don't know what an "average pensioner" is / can expect as an income.

Housing
-------
What I can tell you is that it appears you can get a 2 bedroom condo in a newly constructed high rise in Panama City for roughly $200k - $300k. Also, the last I read, Panama had some kind of incentive in place where foreign people moving to Panama didn't have to pay property taxes for 5 years or something like that.

Food
-----
I think that grocery prices are similar to the US, but you can get way better fruit (especially the mangos ). Local restaurants are way cheaper. Alcohol is ridiculously cheap if you buy local products like Balboa beer (similar to a bud or miller, I like it a touch more), and Ron Abuelo Anejo rum (competes with $40 rums and costs about $8 / liter).

Goods
------
Retail prices of goods are a little less than the US but not super cheap.

Healthcare
-----------
I know that they have decent hospitals / medical care but I don't know anything about the costs, including insurance. However, just about everywhere has cheaper health care than the US.

Travel
------
Flights between Tocuman International Airport and the US are plentiful and cheap (at least on American Airlines). There are cheap busses that seem effective and will take you most places. I've only ridden once though and that was with my Panamanian friend. There's no subway or train. Driving is similar to the US but with less traffic and traffic laws that are largely ignored.

Entertainment
-------------
I'd say they're a little hurting here by US standards. They get some US TV programs, including some football and baseball games. Panama City has a couple areas with several clubs, and bars. Baseball and soccer are popular. There are several all-inclusive resorts. Of course, you can always grab a good book, a 12-pack, a little food, and drive up to a beautiful beach to spend the day. Empty or crowded, it's your choice.

Language
---------
The Spanish + gestures will work well enough as long as you don't have a major problem that you have to explain in detail. I got by on that, but it was helpful to have my friend with me when I had to report that my wallet and cell phone got stolen (I didn't take enough care during Carnival). Most people I met spoke English at least passably, and the younger ones seemed enthusiastic about getting to practice their English. Some of the police did not, but they treated me well and even gave me a mini-escort through a major bus terminal in a situation that probably would have gotten me arrested in the US (bad wrong turn). Plus I'm sure you'd pick up Spanish over time as you're there.


Locations
---------
Housing should be cheaper in other places, but keep in mind that Panama City is just about the only real city from an American perspective (maybe along with Colon which I've never been to). It's where the best hospitals, banks, malls, airport, transportation, restaurants, clubs, and the most American items are.

I know that Bocas Del Toro is a relatively popular retirement area for getting away from it all, but I believe that it's expensive due to both that and its isolation. You can Google "Panama real estate" and find several sites that will help you out and give an idea on the prices. Whatever you do, you will want to personally inspect the property and the surrounding area before any kind of a purchase.

Developing Country
-------------------
Please keep in mind that Panama is still very much a developing country. It will not be paradise for the majority of US residents. There are very nice areas of the city, but there is some squalor everywhere. You cannot avoid it. There are sections where you will see beautiful houses or condos right next to a slum. The majority of the population lives in what we would consider to be very substandard housing. Once you get far enough outside the city, even basic things like hot running water and electricity can become iffy. Many houses are 1-story rectangular shacks made out of concrete and corrugated metal. It is also generally dirtier than many places in America. It is similar to what you would see in parts of Mexico, Jamaica, etc.. It's much safer feeling though.

Culture
-------
It's a little lacking in a specific Panamanian culture. I can't think of much of anything that truly feels theirs and unique other than the canal. Rum is big, and Reggaeton seems to be one of the most popular music styles, and soccer is the favorite sport (followed closely by baseball). Their food is generic Latin and I'm not aware of any significant high-culture items. However, that means that they've more readily adopted portions of American culture. That should help reduce culture shock. If you consider that to be a potential problem then I would suggest trying to find one of the newly growing retirement areas for Americans to move into.
 
Old 01-07-2011, 06:34 PM
 
Location: Quincy, MA
118 posts, read 94,939 times
Reputation: 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by wsamon View Post
I would like to point out that

1) I'm not an expert on Panama. Please don't treat me like one. I have been there 3 times for about a week each time, have a couple friends there (including an ex-girlfriend), and have done some preliminary research on moving there.

2) I don't know what an "average pensioner" is / can expect as an income.

Housing
-------
What I can tell you is that it appears you can get a 2 bedroom condo in a newly constructed high rise in Panama City for roughly $200k - $300k. Also, the last I read, Panama had some kind of incentive in place where foreign people moving to Panama didn't have to pay property taxes for 5 years or something like that.

Food
-----
I think that grocery prices are similar to the US, but you can get way better fruit (especially the mangos ). Local restaurants are way cheaper. Alcohol is ridiculously cheap if you buy local products like Balboa beer (similar to a bud or miller, I like it a touch more), and Ron Abuelo Anejo rum (competes with $40 rums and costs about $8 / liter).

Goods
------
Retail prices of goods are a little less than the US but not super cheap.

Healthcare
-----------
I know that they have decent hospitals / medical care but I don't know anything about the costs, including insurance. However, just about everywhere has cheaper health care than the US.

Travel
------
Flights between Tocuman International Airport and the US are plentiful and cheap (at least on American Airlines). There are cheap busses that seem effective and will take you most places. I've only ridden once though and that was with my Panamanian friend. There's no subway or train. Driving is similar to the US but with less traffic and traffic laws that are largely ignored.

Entertainment
-------------
I'd say they're a little hurting here by US standards. They get some US TV programs, including some football and baseball games. Panama City has a couple areas with several clubs, and bars. Baseball and soccer are popular. There are several all-inclusive resorts. Of course, you can always grab a good book, a 12-pack, a little food, and drive up to a beautiful beach to spend the day. Empty or crowded, it's your choice.

Language
---------
The Spanish + gestures will work well enough as long as you don't have a major problem that you have to explain in detail. I got by on that, but it was helpful to have my friend with me when I had to report that my wallet and cell phone got stolen (I didn't take enough care during Carnival). Most people I met spoke English at least passably, and the younger ones seemed enthusiastic about getting to practice their English. Some of the police did not, but they treated me well and even gave me a mini-escort through a major bus terminal in a situation that probably would have gotten me arrested in the US (bad wrong turn). Plus I'm sure you'd pick up Spanish over time as you're there.


Locations
---------
Housing should be cheaper in other places, but keep in mind that Panama City is just about the only real city from an American perspective (maybe along with Colon which I've never been to). It's where the best hospitals, banks, malls, airport, transportation, restaurants, clubs, and the most American items are.

I know that Bocas Del Toro is a relatively popular retirement area for getting away from it all, but I believe that it's expensive due to both that and its isolation. You can Google "Panama real estate" and find several sites that will help you out and give an idea on the prices. Whatever you do, you will want to personally inspect the property and the surrounding area before any kind of a purchase.

Developing Country
-------------------
Please keep in mind that Panama is still very much a developing country. It will not be paradise for the majority of US residents. There are very nice areas of the city, but there is some squalor everywhere. You cannot avoid it. There are sections where you will see beautiful houses or condos right next to a slum. The majority of the population lives in what we would consider to be very substandard housing. Once you get far enough outside the city, even basic things like hot running water and electricity can become iffy. Many houses are 1-story rectangular shacks made out of concrete and corrugated metal. It is also generally dirtier than many places in America. It is similar to what you would see in parts of Mexico, Jamaica, etc.. It's much safer feeling though.

Culture
-------
It's a little lacking in a specific Panamanian culture. I can't think of much of anything that truly feels theirs and unique other than the canal. Rum is big, and Reggaeton seems to be one of the most popular music styles, and soccer is the favorite sport (followed closely by baseball). Their food is generic Latin and I'm not aware of any significant high-culture items. However, that means that they've more readily adopted portions of American culture. That should help reduce culture shock. If you consider that to be a potential problem then I would suggest trying to find one of the newly growing retirement areas for Americans to move into.
im sorry but what part of panama do you visit? to say that the traffic is less than the us is completely false.thats probably the thing i hate the most about panama along with the taxi system.theres been times where it would take HOURS just to go a few cities down unless you take the freeway and pay the fees but it seems like the majority of the people in the city would rather take the street.there are plenty of buses that are DIRT cheap(25 cents) but in the summer i wouldnt recommend those at all,they have some for $1.25 with guranteed seats and a/c.also taxi drivers are rude,if you don't know the area and arent from panama they will definitely rip you off,sometimes wont even want to take you where you're going.i'm not an expert myself but i do frequent there often with the majority of my family still there.also there is a lot of culture in panama,im curious on what parts you have visited

enough of that,carry on
 
Old 01-08-2011, 08:56 PM
 
Location: Seminole, FL
519 posts, read 815,746 times
Reputation: 402
sorry, I didn't mean that it's utterly lacking in culture. What I meant is that it doesn't seem to have much in the way of truly unique culture that is specific to Panama or the immediate vicinity and also widespread / in the more developed areas. It seems to me to be a bit of a melting pot and quite Americanized for a central/South American country. I don't know of too many people that would specifically visit Panama to experience its culture the way they would some other Latin American countries. That said, I do enjoy it, and I love the people that I've met there.

As for traffic, when I've been there it did not seem that horrible. Yes, there were some busy spots and it's not as controlled as traffic is in the US, but I was generally able to move pretty freely. My sense of traffic may be warped somewhat living in the DC area for the last 10 years. This region is consistently ranked as one of the worst traffic areas in the US.

I honestly have not visited much in Panama. The majority of my time has been spent in Panama City and the areas immediately surrounding it with my girlfriend (at the time) and another friend from there. I've stayed in a hotel in the city, in my ex-girlfriend's mom's home just outside the city (I think), a friend of a friend's place in the Chitre area, and a resort in Aguadulce. I've driven around the city a reasonable amount - some intentionally, some due to getting myself lost . The furthest I've driven is from Panama City to Aguadulce. I also took a bus with a friend to Chitre where I spent a couple days and went to a Carnival party street. It wasn't the cleanest or fastest thing in the world, but it worked. Would i personally rely on the bus system? No, I don't do that here either. But it's there if you want to use it and the one I was on was not in dangerously poor condition. The riders were fine and friendly too.

Is my information entirely accurate? Probably not. It's accurate from what I've experienced so far. As I stated in the first part of that post I've only been to Panama a few times. Someone like you that's been there more frequently and for longer periods can probably provide much more accurate information. I'm sure the few people watching this thread, including me, would appreciate it if you provide some of your insights.
 
Old 01-10-2011, 05:18 PM
 
Location: Quincy, MA
118 posts, read 94,939 times
Reputation: 170
you were spot on with everything else aside from what i mentioned,i was just wondering where you visited because my opinion on the country is quite different.i apologize if i came off the wrong way.i should be going to citre this year for the carnival.cant wait.here are a few pics from my 2009 trip

















 
Old 01-11-2011, 01:29 PM
 
Location: Seminole, FL
519 posts, read 815,746 times
Reputation: 402
Some of those pictures are really nice. Maybe I'll post some of the ones I've taken too, including some from the Chitre carnival

Don't worry, I wasn't upset or anything. I'd just like to hear your views too, as I'm sure others on the thread would.

My opinion on the culture thing is that you wouldn't go to Panama solely to experience the culture in the same way you would Argentina for the dancing, wine, and Buenos Aires; Brazil for their famous Carnival celebration, the famous/popular beaches, big cities, obsession with looking good, the food / churruscarias, and even the rarer language; Peru for the Incan influence, Machu Pichu, the Nazca Lines, and the food; Chile for its coastal life, seafood, and wines; Mexico for its Mayan influence, food, mariachi, tequila, dances; Caribbean countries for their island lifestyle; etc.. Panama has a little bit of most of this but isn't really renown for any of it except for the canal. Maybe it should be, but nothing seems to really stand out as being the one or two things in that regard.

Traffic to me is when it takes 30 minutes to go 10 miles on a highway. I didn't experience anything close to that in Panama. Considering that the original poster is from my general area she's probably pretty tolerant of traffic as well. My biggest complaint was that their speed limits seemed a little low and things like traffic lights, stop signs, and blinkers seemed to be optional in the city.
 
Old 01-14-2011, 03:10 AM
 
Location: :~)
1,483 posts, read 2,918,743 times
Reputation: 1519
As of now, we are retiring to Panama...many years down the road. Reason being, FAMILIA, cost of living, better life and climate. Panama is a great place but its still a 3rd world country. The day to day stuff that Americans are used to are not always there. Regardless, Americans are coming in my mass quantities. The country is very much Americanized.

My best advice is to learn the language. Bring your own money, don't go there thinking that you will make money. Don't be American (arrogance, rudeness, etc). Blend in to avoid distraction. If you act American expect to receive the highest prices.

Overall, Panamanians are very nice people. I have fun on every visit. Its definitely a retirement community but do your research.
 
Old 02-08-2011, 07:33 PM
 
29 posts, read 52,506 times
Reputation: 18
Cool, great information. It seems like their has been alot of growth in Americans moving to southern central america (Nicaragua, CR and Panama). I always hear about CR but Panama looks like a more interesting option for relocation.
 
Old 02-10-2011, 06:08 PM
 
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
12 posts, read 20,703 times
Reputation: 15
Default Panama City Panama

[SIZE=3]Information on Panama: I am a retired American and I have lived in Panama City Panama since July 2005. I am single and I have been a renter since my arrival. I have both married and single retired friends here. I have to admit that do not know anything about buying property in Panama nor do I have any experience in living outside the city. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]I have also lived and worked in Colombia for three years.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]So, if you could focus your questions I would be delighted to try and answer some if not all of them. It is important to understand that after living here for more than 5.5 years, I am not an expert. Living abroad is a journey and it can be complicated. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]In general, I think it is critical that people especially retirees considering a move abroad take time and think about why they really want to move. Additionally, I would rank affordability of health care, a commitment to learning Spanish, the financial ability to maintain a comfortable life style, the desire and ability to develop new friends across cultural and racial lines, as just a few of the issues that can make or break your move abroad. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]Again, I am happy to try and assist you either on board or you can send me a private e-mail.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3]Harry[/SIZE]
 
Old 02-11-2011, 06:13 PM
 
Location: The South
767 posts, read 2,004,670 times
Reputation: 687
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYXENA View Post
I've given up on my quest to move to Hawaii and became interested in Panama. Is there anyone that can give me any info on Panama City, Panama? I've read and heard that it's cheaper to live in Panama than in the States but the problem is finding a decent paying job. I've read that getting into real estate is a possibility as an American speaker catering to foreigners there. Any other suggestions? I'd appreciate any info you may have. Thanks!
My experience with Panama City consisted of a cruise thru the canal and spending the night anchored off of PC. I sat on my balconey as the sun went down and waited for darkness. I wanted to see the skyline and lights of all the new high rise buildings along the beach. There were no lights. Every highrise was completely dark and I thought this was strange.
We had a Professor on the ship that lectured on the canal and history of the area. I asked him why were all the high rise buildings dark? His reply, they are either vacant or not completed and the majority were built by the Chinese , a couple were built by Donald Trump. Strange.
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