Pros & Cons of Living in Panama
Medical Services: Panama has the best medical services in Latin America. There are excellent hospitals in Panama City including Punta Pacifica (a John Hopkins affiliate). Many of the doctors and dentists are English speaking. Full coverage health insurance policies are very reasonably priced. Some doctors still make house calls and doctors total check ups being only $30.00.
Medical Tourism: Specializing in cosmetic treatments, plastic surgery and dental implants, there are first class medical treatments with the top English speaking doctors and surgeons at the best hospitals for half of the cost in the United States.
Excellent Shopping: Panama is the shoppers delight of Latin America. There are large supermarkets and three large shopping malls–the Multiplaza in Punta Pacifica, Multicentro on Balboa Ave. and Albrook Mall and Metro Mall near Tocumen International Airport.
Dollar as Currency: The actual currency used in Panama is the US Dollar. Their monetary unit is called the Balboa, equivalent to one US dollar but Panama hasn’t printed them in decades. All prices are stated in US dollars and the currency in circulation is the US dollar. This saves the daily frustration and inconvenience calculating the value of something when it’s in a foreign currency. You can have money in a Panamanian bank without worrying about a devaluation of a foreign currency, if you are a US citizen. The US dollar is more stable.
You will not find all your favorite specialized groceries or condiments that you’re accostomed to. This is especially true in the smaller towns. However, there is plenty of healthy, fresh organic food available. One expat’s advice is: ”If you can’t find what you’re used to, then get used to what you find.”
The level of service may not be up to some traveler’s expectations. Their tourist industry has expanded rapidly in the last decade.
One drawback is that the rapid growth has exceeded some of the capital city’s waste water capacity. Expansion plans for the city’s sewage system are in the works, but in the meantime, a few areas have an unpleasant odor at certain times of day.
There is still reported to be some graft in governmental agencies. (Not so different from what some say happens in the US Congress with people seeking influence funding political campaigns in exchange for favorable votes.)
The Panamanians as well as other Latin American peoples concept of organization & time management is somewhat different than that of US citizens.
There can be delays in getting things done and they are not always done in a professional manner which can cause frustration. Oh, also remember, manana’doesn’t mean tomorrow in Panama, it means some other day, not today or tomorrow. So you just have to be OK with that
Positive Note: Panamanians live vivaciously and enjoy the present moment. Money is not necessarily a motivating factor in their lives. Many locals are not in a rush to get anywhere. The overall culture is family and relationship oriented. While there are life’s daily problems and drama, for the most part, the Panamanian people seem to be a very caring, relaxed and content. There is a richness of spirit inherent in the Panamanians.