Why Panama?

By Juan Carlos Martinez

Panama is a lovely country with wonderful people who mostly understand some English but on occasion will not speak it. Welcome to Panama.


One thing to keep in mind when traveling to Panama is that it is a progressive country with a little third world mentality. One will encounter this even though its impressive skyline may suggest otherwise. It is sometimes compared to Miami and called “little Miami” however there is not much similarity to the US save for the fast food franchises and the use of the US dollar as legal tender. Volcan is a sleepy mountain town in the province of Chiriqui. It is similar to Boquete though much less developed and slightly cooler.

Most recently within the last five years, Panama as a destination for retirement has taken off. Many publications and organizations are ranking Panama as one of the top retirement destinations to be discovered. Several publications are ranking Panama in the top six. The area of Coronado and Volcan are extremely popular.


For much more information on Coronado and the surrounding West Beaches area see the tab on this site: Coronado and The West Beaches

From talking to realtors and retirees it could be deduced that the Panama boom started in 2004 when many magazines and newspapers such as Travel and Leisure, New York Times, Frommers Guide, among many others, discovered Panama.

Baby boomers looking for a place to retire where they could get more for their dollar found Panama. On talking to people who have relocated some of the reasons for choosing Panama over other countries were:

· the use of the dollar as legal tender

· the ease of transferring money in and out of the country

· easy access to communications such as internet, phones, internet cafes, etc.

· availability of flights in and out of the country

· availability of healthcare that is considered first rate

· a Western culture versus places like Thailand with Eastern cultures which may be difficult to understand and relate to.

Other advantages to living in Panama are the wide variety of banks available, an international community, a vibrant nightlife, diverse landscapes in a tiny geography, are just but a few Panama has to offer.

While Panama is a Western culture it differs greatly from the culture of the US, Canada and most of Europe. The first thing you will notice is no sense of urgency. Upon disembarking at the airport you will notice that Panamanians are standing around chatting with each other and not rushing to do anything. This may be a bit of a shock to business oriented driven cultures. In Panama if it is not done today then it will be tomorrow or the next day. It is a “mañana” culture and this goes from the handyman to the phone and cable companies. They say forewarned is forearmed so just be prepared and have a healthy dose of patience.

Another shock foreigners face is the Panamanian sense of time. There is none. Time is very flexible in Panama and most people arrive late, even to business appointments and most specially to social engagements. If you are waiting for someone it is likely that you will wait several minutes to possibly a half hour most specially with doctor's appointments.

This informality and flexibility with time is one of the things that most stresses out visitors when they visit or move to Panama and it is hard to understand. This is where the third world mentality most shows up. However if you know this before hand and are prepared, then you will enjoy the beautiful country and its people in their own time not yours.


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Copyright© 2011, Pan Am Publishing S.A., Republic of Panama