Panama, located in Central America, is a vibrant and diverse country that offers a welcoming environment for digital nomads and expats. With its tropical climate, beautiful landscapes, and modern infrastructure, Panama has become a popular destination for those seeking a new place to live and work remotely. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of living in Panama as a digital nomad or expat, including the climate, expat communities, cost of living, visas, transportation, accommodation, and more.
Panama For Digital Nomads
Panama has emerged as an attractive destination for digital nomads due to its favorable business environment, reliable internet connectivity, and affordable cost of living. The country offers a range of co-working spaces and cafes with high-speed internet, making it easy for digital nomads to work remotely. Additionally, Panama’s strategic location and time zone make it convenient for conducting business with clients in North and South America.
- Co-working Spaces: Panama City, the capital of Panama, is home to numerous co-working spaces that cater to the needs of digital nomads. Some popular options include Impact Hub Panama, The Office Panama, and CitySpace Panama.
- Cafes with Wi-Fi: If you prefer working in a more relaxed setting, Panama offers plenty of cafes with Wi-Fi where you can set up your laptop and enjoy a cup of coffee while working. Cafe Unido, Bajareque Coffee House, and Casa Sucre Coffeehouse are just a few examples.
- Digital Nomad Communities: Panama has a growing digital nomad community, with events and meetups organized regularly. Joining these communities can provide networking opportunities and a sense of belonging.
Panama’s climate is tropical and generally characterized by two seasons: the dry season and the wet season. The dry season, which lasts from December to April, is characterized by sunny days and lower humidity. The wet season, from May to November, brings more rain and higher humidity levels.
- Dry Season: The dry season in Panama is a popular time for tourists and expats. With less rainfall and more sunshine, this season offers ideal conditions for outdoor activities such as hiking, beach trips, and exploring the country’s natural beauty.
- Wet Season: The wet season in Panama is characterized by frequent rain showers, especially in the afternoons. While this season may deter some outdoor activities, it also brings lush green landscapes and lower tourist crowds. It’s important to note that some areas, particularly in the mountains, experience cooler temperatures during this season.
- Microclimates: Due to its diverse geography, Panama has microclimates that vary across different regions. For example, the highlands of Boquete and El Valle de Anton enjoy cooler temperatures year-round, while the coastal areas experience warmer and more humid conditions.
Panama Expat Communities
Panama has a thriving expat community that offers a supportive network for newcomers. Expats from all over the world have made Panama their home, creating a diverse and multicultural environment.
- Boquete: Located in the highlands of Panama, Boquete is known for its cool climate, stunning mountain views, and a vibrant expat community. Many retirees and digital nomads choose to settle in Boquete due to its natural beauty and relaxed lifestyle.
- Panama City: As the capital and largest city, Panama City attracts a large number of expats from different countries. The city offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle with modern amenities, international schools, and a wide range of entertainment options.
- Bocas del Toro: Bocas del Toro is an archipelago located on the Caribbean coast of Panama. It is a popular destination for expats seeking a laid-back beach lifestyle. The islands offer beautiful beaches, water sports, and a vibrant expat community.
Living As An Expat In Panama
Living as an expat in Panama offers a comfortable and affordable lifestyle. The country provides modern infrastructure, quality healthcare, and a range of recreational activities.
- Cost of Living: The cost of living in Panama can vary depending on the location and lifestyle. While Panama City tends to be more expensive, other areas such as Boquete and Las Tablas offer a lower cost of living. Overall, expats can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle at a fraction of the cost compared to many Western countries.
- Healthcare: Panama has a well-developed healthcare system with both public and private options. Private healthcare facilities are known for their quality service and affordable prices. Many doctors in Panama are trained internationally and speak English, making healthcare easily accessible for expats.
- Recreational Activities: Panama offers a wide range of recreational activities for expats to enjoy. From hiking in national parks and exploring tropical islands to surfing, diving, and birdwatching, there is something for everyone.
Panama Cost Of Living
Panama is known for its affordable cost of living, making it an attractive destination for digital nomads and expats. The cost of living can vary depending on the location, lifestyle choices, and personal preferences.
- Housing: The cost of housing in Panama can vary significantly depending on the location and type of accommodation. Renting an apartment in Panama City can be more expensive compared to smaller towns and rural areas. However, overall, housing costs in Panama are relatively affordable.
- Food: Eating out in Panama can be affordable, especially if you stick to local eateries and street food stalls. Cooking at home using local produce can also help reduce food expenses. Supermarkets and local markets offer a wide variety of fresh produce at reasonable prices.
- Transportation: Public transportation in Panama is affordable and efficient. Buses and taxis are readily available in most areas, and their fares are relatively low. Additionally, fuel costs are relatively inexpensive.
Panama Visas For Digital Nomads
Panama offers various visa options for digital nomads and expats who wish to stay in the country for an extended period. It’s important to understand the visa requirements and regulations before planning your stay in Panama.
- Tourist Visa: Citizens of many countries can enter Panama as tourists and stay for up to 180 days without a visa. This option is suitable for digital nomads who plan to stay in Panama for a shorter period.
- Pensionado Visa: The Pensionado Visa is designed for retirees but can also be obtained by digital nomads who can demonstrate a steady income. This visa offers various benefits, including discounts on healthcare, transportation, and entertainment.
- Friendly Nations Visa: The Friendly Nations Visa is available to citizens of specific countries that have friendly relations with Panama. It requires an investment in a Panama business or the creation of a Panama corporation. This visa is suitable for digital nomads who plan to start a business or work for a Panama-based company.
Transportation in Panama is well-developed, offering various options for getting around the country.
- Public Buses: Public buses are the most common mode of transportation in Panama. They are affordable and cover most areas, including cities, towns, and rural areas. The bus network in Panama City is extensive, making it convenient for getting around the capital.
- Taxis: Taxis are readily available in Panama and can be hailed on the street or booked through ride-hailing apps. Taxis in Panama City use meters, while in other areas, it’s advisable to negotiate the fare before the journey.
- Car Rental: Renting a car is a popular option for exploring Panama, especially if you plan to visit remote areas or prefer the convenience of having your own vehicle. Rental prices are reasonable, and international driving licenses are accepted.
Panama has several international airports, providing easy access to and from the country.
- Tocumen International Airport (PTY): Located near Panama City, Tocumen International Airport is the main international gateway to Panama. It offers numerous direct flights to major cities in North and South America, as well as Europe.
- Albrook “Marcos A. Gelabert” International Airport (PAC): Situated in Panama City, Albrook Airport primarily serves domestic flights and regional connections to neighboring countries.
- David Enrique Malek International Airport (DAV): Located in the Chiriqui Province, David Airport serves as the gateway to popular destinations such as Boquete and Volcan. It offers domestic flights and limited international connections.
Facts About Panama
Here are some interesting facts about Panama:
- Panama Canal: The Panama Canal is one of the most significant engineering feats in the world. It connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, allowing ships to avoid the lengthy journey around Cape Horn.
- Currency: The official currency of Panama is the Panamanian Balboa (PAB), which is pegged to the United States dollar (USD). The USD is widely accepted throughout the country.
- Biodiversity: Despite its small size, Panama is home to a remarkable biodiversity. The country’s rainforests, national parks, and marine reserves house an incredible array of flora and fauna.
Fun Things To Do In Panama
Panama offers a wide range of exciting activities and attractions for digital nomads and expats to enjoy during their stay.
- Visit the Panama Canal: A visit to the Panama Canal is a must-do when in Panama. Witnessing the massive ships passing through the locks is an awe-inspiring experience.
- Explore Casco Viejo: Casco Viejo, the historic district of Panama City, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll through its charming streets, admire the colonial architecture, and discover its vibrant culture and nightlife.
- Relax on San Blas Islands: The San Blas Islands, located in the Caribbean Sea, offer pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a glimpse into the indigenous Guna culture. It’s a perfect destination for beach lovers and snorkeling enthusiasts.
Popular Panama Tourist Attractions
Panama boasts several popular tourist attractions that are worth exploring.
- Bocas del Toro: Bocas del Toro is a tropical paradise known for its turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and vibrant coral reefs. It’s a haven for water sports enthusiasts, nature lovers, and beach bums.
- Boquete: Nestled in the highlands, Boquete offers breathtaking mountain views, coffee plantations, and a cooler climate. It’s a popular destination for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring the cloud forests.
- Pearl Islands: The Pearl Islands archipelago is renowned for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and luxurious resorts. It’s an ideal spot for relaxation, snorkeling, and island hopping.
Panama is home to several vibrant cities that offer unique experiences and opportunities for digital nomads and expats.
- Panama City: As the capital and largest city, Panama City is a bustling metropolis with a modern skyline, shopping malls, and a vibrant nightlife. It’s the economic and cultural hub of the country.
- David: Located in the Chiriqui Province, David is the second-largest city in Panama. It serves as a commercial and transportation hub, with easy access to popular destinations such as Boquete and Volcan.
- Colon: Situated on the Caribbean coast, Colon is a historic city known for its free trade zone and the Panama Canal. It offers a mix of colonial architecture, bustling markets, and cultural attractions.
Panama Internet Speed and Accessibility
Panama has a reliable internet infrastructure, making it convenient for digital nomads and expats to stay connected.
- Internet Speed: Panama offers high-speed internet connections, especially in urban areas. The average internet speed in Panama is around 35 Mbps, ensuring a smooth remote working experience.
- Internet Providers: Several internet service providers operate in Panama, including Cable Onda, Claro, and Movistar. These providers offer various packages to cater to different needs and budgets.
- Wi-Fi Availability: Wi-Fi is readily available in most cafes, restaurants, co-working spaces, and hotels. Additionally, many residential buildings and rental accommodations offer Wi-Fi connectivity.
Panama offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets.
- Popular Panama Hotels: Panama City boasts a selection of luxury hotels, such as The Bristol Panama and The Santa Maria, offering top-notch amenities and services. For budget travelers, options like Hotel El Panama and Hotel Centroamericano provide affordable yet comfortable stays.
- Popular Panama Vacation Rentals: Vacation rentals are a popular choice for digital nomads and expats looking for more space and privacy. Platforms like Airbnb offer a variety of options, from apartments in Panama City to beachfront villas in Bocas del Toro.
- Popular Panama Apartment Rentals: Renting an apartment is a common choice for long-term stays in Panama. Websites like Encuentra24 and CompreOAlquile offer listings for apartments in different areas, allowing you to find a place that suits your needs.
Panama Food & Drink
Panama’s culinary scene offers a mix of traditional dishes and international flavors.
- Panamanian Cuisine: Traditional Panamanian cuisine is influenced by African, Spanish, and Indigenous cultures. Some popular dishes include Sancocho (a hearty chicken soup), Ceviche (marinated seafood), and Ropa Vieja (shredded beef in tomato sauce).
- International Cuisine: Panama City, in particular, offers a wide range of international cuisines, including Italian, Japanese, Indian, and Middle Eastern. You can find restaurants and cafes catering to various dietary preferences and tastes.
- Local Drinks: Don’t miss trying the local drinks in Panama, such as Ron Abuelo (Panamanian rum), Seco Herrerano (a traditional liquor), and Panama’s famous Geisha coffee, known for its unique flavor profile.
Panama Grocery Stores
Panama has a variety of grocery stores where you can find a wide range of products and ingredients.
- Riba Smith: Riba Smith is a popular supermarket chain in Panama known for its quality products and a wide selection of international and local brands.
- Super 99: Super 99 is a budget-friendly supermarket chain that offers affordable groceries, household items, and fresh produce.
- El Rey: El Rey is another well-known supermarket chain in Panama that provides a range of products, including imported goods and local ingredients.
Panama is a welcoming and vibrant destination for digital nomads and expats. With its favorable climate, affordable cost of living, and modern infrastructure, Panama offers a comfortable and convenient lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for a bustling city experience or a tranquil beach getaway, Panama has something to offer. From the stunning natural beauty to the diverse expat communities, Panama provides a unique and enriching experience for those seeking a new home away from home.