A to Z guide.

Rainbow over the Shangri-La valley and Baru Volcano.

April 2010.

By David Dell

This guide and the series of side articles will give you everything you need to know about moving to Panama. From a Taxi pick up at the airport, hotels and rental accommodations, restaurants, places to see and visit. Where to find a good lawyer and how to buy a home or apartment to medical care and home insurance.

We are not in anybody’s pocket and we do not receive any finder’s fees, commissions or paybacks. We plan to make it an A to Z of relocating. We will strive to give you the straight goods, warts and all. This information is free and you can pass it on to whomever you choose.

There is going to be quite a bit to read and digest. I have broken it up into several sections and using the RED and BLUE link buttons you can move about at your will.


When you return to this page, buttons below will take you to diferent pages and give you the opportunity to see pictures of Panama, find maps of the areas you wish to visit. Give you links to various realtors. Give you some info and the chance to buy medical and general insurance. Finally we have a recomended lawyer should you decide either to apply for a pensionado visa or to buy a home.
But first read to the bottom of the page and follow the link from there. There is much to learn . . . This could change your life . . .Hey! It's free.

HITS AND MYTHS. First off let’s clear away some myths and misconceptions. Panama, regardless of what you may read in some glossy magazines or on the Internet, is not Paradise. It’s a third world country, there is some poverty and in the major cities of Panama City and Colon there is crime. There is corruption and the Latino inefficiency and manana mentality can drive people into fits of frustration.

Driving is always hazardous as my dear Panamanian friends handle their vehicles with total disregard of other road users. If they can afford only one vehicle repair and their brakes, steering and horn aren’t functioning – they would repair the horn first. But if you meet them walking on the street in the morning, they will always, always greet you, regardless of the fact that you are a foreigner.

They are, by and large a fairly simple people. They are not plagued by North American consumerism. They will have a colored T.V. and they will always have a large boom box sound system in their house, which they will happily play at high volumes until 4:00 in the morning. Every man woman and child, it seems, has a cell phone. Even Panama’s sizeable native minority, who frequently live in run down tin shacks, miles from anywhere with no running water and electricity – have cell phones.

One amazing fact is that they are a very hygenic nation. You will almost never detect body odor if you stand next to them in a supermarket line up. If you do smell malodouros arm pits chances are its coming from a nearby gringo. I have seen a young woman emerge from one of these tin shacks wearing an immaculate white skirt and dressed ready for downtown New York. How they do this is still a great mystery. The only people you see in grubby “T” shirts and shorts will be your fellow expats.

An old friend, Emory King of Belize had a saying: “If you come here with patience – you will lose it. If you come here without patience – you WILL learn to acquire it.” If you are the person who gets angry easily – don’t come here. First lesson to learn is: You will never change these people. YOU must adapt. YOU must learn to relax, chill out and enjoy the beauty and tranquility that life in the tropics can offer. Far too many expats come here and their whole life seems to come down to this: They sit all day in some bar or coffee shop – and complain.

My wife and I have lived in the tropics for over ten years. We have done our fair share of screaming, shouting, foot stamping and complaining. Finally, in that great moment of Zen, the great light of wisdom and enlightenment came to us – shouting and complaining got us nowhere. Words to live by my friends, “Go with the flow.”

Expats at a Volcan restaurant

I have lost count of the times that I have made this recommendation to people. My suggestion is to read all the articles and start to pair down the list of places you might want to live in. Are you big city, beach or cool mountain people? That should narrow the choices somewhat. If you don’t know what you want – and don’t be surprised - most people don’t know what they want, some unfortunately discover this after spending their life savings on a dream that turns into a nightmare. The only problem with trying to see everything you can is that your discovery trip turns into “a holiday” and the rose coloured glasses can distort anyone’s view of reality. Keep asking yourself this, “What if I had to spend the rest of my life living here?” Now you are ready to start with:
The Seven Pillars of relocating
After you have read this section click the RED button to return to the A to Z guide and then go through the BLUE buttons one by one.

Please CLICK on this BUTTON
and this will take you to: