Moving to Panama: Top 5 Things to Consider Before Becoming an Expat in Panama

moving to panama

Moving to Panama is an exciting adventure, but navigating the logistics of such a big transition can also be overwhelming. 

As an expat, it’s important to be well-informed about the process of moving to Panama to ensure a smooth transition and a successful experience. 

That’s why we’ve created this blog to provide you with valuable insights, tips, and advice on everything you need to know about moving to Panama. 

If you are looking to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what I specialize in, you can email me ( or WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

What are the five things to consider before moving to Panama?

If you’re considering moving to Panama, there are several important factors to keep in mind. 

Climate and Weather

Panama is a tropical country, and its climate is hot and humid throughout the year. It is important to consider whether you are comfortable living in such a climate before moving to Panama. The rainy season runs from May to November, and during this time, you can expect heavy rainfalls and occasional flooding.

Culture and Language

Panama has a rich cultural heritage, with influences from Spanish, African, and indigenous cultures. Spanish is the official language of the country, and while English is widely spoken in urban areas, it’s a good idea to learn Spanish to fully immerse yourself in the culture and communicate effectively with locals.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Panama is generally lower than in many Western countries, but it can vary significantly depending on where you live and your lifestyle. You should research and budget for expenses like housing, food, transportation, and healthcare to make sure you can afford to live comfortably in Panama.


While healthcare in Panama is generally good, it may not meet the standards you are accustomed to. It’s important to research the quality of healthcare in the area you plan to live in and consider purchasing health insurance to cover any unexpected medical expenses.

Visa and Immigration Requirement

If you plan to stay in Panama long-term, you will need to obtain the appropriate visa or residency permit. There are several options available, and it’s important to research and understand the requirements before you move to Panama. You may also need to consider factors such as taxes and investments when applying for residency.

moving to panama

Before moving to Panama, make sure you’ll be able to find a job as an expat. Photo by fauxels

How can I find a job in Panama as an expat?

If you’re an expat moving to Panama, finding a job may be one of your top priorities. 

The good news is that Panama has a growing economy with a variety of opportunities for foreign workers. 

One of the best ways to find a job in Panama as an expat is to network with other expats and professionals in your field. 

You can also search for job openings online, as many companies in Panama post job listings on local job boards and social media platforms. 

It’s also a good idea to consider learning Spanish, as this can give you an advantage in the job market and help you communicate more effectively with locals. 

Additionally, some expats find success in starting their own businesses in Panama, especially in the tourism or hospitality industries. 

Whatever path you choose, remember to do your research and be patient. Finding a job in a new country can take time, but it’s definitely possible with the right approach.

What are the best neighborhoods for expats to live in Panama?

Panama has several neighborhoods that are popular among expats due to their safety, amenities, and proximity to the city center. 

One of the most popular neighborhoods for expats is Casco Viejo, a historic district in Panama City that has undergone significant renovation and is now a hub for restaurants, bars, and cultural events. 

Another popular neighborhood is El Cangrejo, which is known for its lively atmosphere and diverse dining options. For those looking for a more suburban feel, Clayton and Albrook are popular choices due to their proximity to the Panama Canal and the US Embassy. 

Other neighborhoods to consider include Punta Pacifica, Costa del Este, and San Francisco. 

It’s important to do your research and visit each neighborhood before making a decision, as each has its own unique character and advantages. Ultimately, the best neighborhood for you will depend on your individual preferences and lifestyle.

moving to panama

Moving in Panama as an expat means you need to determine how to open a bank account. Photo by Ono Kosuki

How can I open a bank account in Panama as an expat?

Opening a bank account in Panama as an expat can be a relatively straightforward process, but there are a few important things to keep in mind. 

First, you will need to provide several documents to the bank, including your passport, proof of residency in Panama (such as a utility bill or lease agreement), and a reference letter from a bank in your home country. 

Some banks may also require proof of income or a minimum deposit amount.

It’s also important to choose a reputable bank that offers the services you need. Some popular options for expats in Panama include Multibank, Banco General, and HSBC. 

It’s a good idea to research each bank’s fees, interest rates, and online banking capabilities before making a decision.

Once you’ve chosen a bank, you can typically open an account in person at a branch location or online. 

If you choose to open an account online, you may need to provide additional documentation and have it notarized.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that Panama has strict banking privacy laws, and banks may require additional documentation or information to comply with these laws. 

Be prepared to provide any necessary information and follow the bank’s procedures to ensure a smooth and successful account opening process.

How can I learn Spanish before moving to Panama, and how important is it to know the language?

Learning Spanish before moving to Panama can be a valuable investment in your new life abroad. 

Not only will it help you navigate everyday life, but it will also allow you to better connect with locals and immerse yourself in the culture.

There are several ways to learn Spanish before moving to Panama. You can take formal classes at a language school or hire a private tutor. 

There are also online courses and language exchange programs that allow you to practice your skills with native speakers. 

Additionally, you can immerse yourself in the language by watching Spanish-language TV shows and movies, listening to Spanish-language music, and reading books and newspapers in Spanish.

While it’s possible to get by in Panama without speaking Spanish, knowing the language will make your experience much more enjoyable and fulfilling. 

It can also be beneficial in the job market, as many companies in Panama prefer or require employees who are fluent in Spanish. 

Even if you don’t become completely fluent, learning basic Spanish phrases and vocabulary can go a long way in making your transition to Panama smoother and more enjoyable.

How can I meet other expats and locals in Panama?

Meeting new people and building a social network is an important part of moving to a new country, and Panama offers plenty of opportunities to do so. Here are some ways to meet other expats and locals in Panama:

  1. Attend expat events and meetups: Many expat communities in Panama organize regular events and meetups, such as happy hours, cultural events, and sports leagues. These can be a great way to meet other expats and make new friends.
  2. Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to meet locals and get involved in the community. There are many organizations in Panama that are looking for volunteers, including schools, non-profits, and environmental groups.
  3. Join a club or group: There are many clubs and groups in Panama that cater to a variety of interests, such as hiking, book clubs, and language exchanges. Joining one of these groups can be a great way to meet like-minded people.
  4. Take a class or workshop: Taking a class or workshop in Panama can be a great way to learn new skills and meet new people. Consider taking a language class, cooking class, or dance class to get started.
  5. Use social media: There are several Facebook groups and other online communities for expats in Panama. Joining these groups can be a great way to connect with other expats and ask for advice or recommendations.

Overall, the key to meeting new people in Panama is to be open, friendly, and willing to try new things. With a little effort, you’re sure to build a great social network in no time.

moving to panama

Panama is generally is a safe country. Photo by PhotoMIX Company

What are the best ways to stay safe and avoid crime in Panama?

Panama is generally a safe country, but like any big city, it’s important to take precautions to avoid becoming a victim of crime. 

One of the best ways to stay safe in Panama is to be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts. Avoid walking alone at night, especially in areas that are poorly lit or unfamiliar to you. 

When traveling by taxi, make sure to use licensed and reputable companies, and never share a taxi with strangers. 

It’s also a good idea to keep your valuables hidden and secure, especially when in crowded areas or using public transportation.

Also, consider joining a neighborhood watch program or hiring a security guard for your home or apartment. 

Many expat communities in Panama also have their own security measures in place, such as gated communities or private security companies.

It’s important to research the safety measures available in the area you plan to live in and consider them when making housing decisions.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that crime can happen anywhere, and it’s impossible to eliminate all risk. However, by taking these precautions and staying vigilant, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of crime in Panama.

What are the best ways to get around in Panama City?

Panama City is a bustling metropolis with a variety of transportation options to help you get around the city.

The Panama City Metro is a modern and efficient way to travel around the city. It currently has one line that runs from Los Andes to Albrook, with plans for expansion in the future. You can purchase a Metro card at any station, which allows you to add credit for multiple rides.

The country also has an extensive bus system that covers most of the city. The buses are inexpensive but can be crowded and difficult to navigate if you don’t speak Spanish. 

Taxis and Uber are also available in Panama City and are often more affordable. It’s a good option for longer distances or to avoid the hassle of negotiating fares.

Panama City has several pedestrian-friendly areas, and walking or biking can be a great way to explore the city. However, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night or in unfamiliar areas.

What are the most common challenges that expats face when moving to Panama?

Moving to Panama can be an exciting adventure, but it’s also a big transition that comes with its own set of challenges. Some of the most common challenges that expats face when moving to Panama include:

Language barrier

While many Panamanians speak English, Spanish is the official language of the country. It’s important to learn at least basic Spanish before moving to Panama to help navigate everyday life and communicate with locals.

Culture shock

Moving to a new country with a different culture can be overwhelming. It’s important to research and understands Panama’s culture and customs before moving to help make the transition smoother.

Finding housing

Finding suitable housing in Panama can be challenging, especially in popular expat areas. It’s important to research the housing market in advance and be prepared to act quickly when you find a property that meets your needs.


While healthcare in Panama is generally good, navigating the healthcare system as an expat can be challenging. It’s important to research healthcare options in advance and consider purchasing health insurance to cover any unexpected medical expenses.

Visa and residency requirements

Obtaining the appropriate visa or residency permit in Panama can be a complex process. It’s important to research the requirements in advance and seek guidance from a qualified immigration lawyer if necessary.

To prepare for these challenges, it’s important to do your research and plan ahead. 

Learn as much as you can about the culture, language, and customs of Panama before you move, and consider taking language classes or hiring a cultural consultant to help you adjust. 

Finally, make sure to stay organized and keep detailed records of all important documents, such as visas and residency permits, to avoid any legal or bureaucratic issues.


Moving to Panama can be a life-changing experience, full of new adventures, opportunities, and challenges. 

While there are many factors to consider when making such a big transition, you can create a fulfilling and rewarding life in Panama with the right preparation and mindset. 

Whether you’re drawn to the warm climate, stunning natural beauty, or vibrant culture, Panama offers a unique and welcoming environment for expats from around the world. 

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 668.8 million answer views on, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.

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