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8 Surprising Perks of Expats Living in Panama You Need to Know


Moving to a new country can be a daunting experience, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Panama has become a top destination for expats seeking a vibrant lifestyle, affordable living, and a welcoming community. Here are ten surprising perks of expat living in Panama that you need to know.


Panama is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for expats around the world. Known for its beautiful landscapes, affordable living, and friendly locals, Panama offers a high quality of life that is hard to match. Whether you’re looking to retire, work remotely, or simply enjoy a new adventure, here are ten surprising perks of expat living in Panama that you need to know.

1.Affordable Cost of Living

One of the biggest draws for expats is the affordable cost of living in Panama. This Central American gem offers a high quality of life at a fraction of the cost compared to North America and Europe. Here’s a closer look at how living expenses in Panama can help you stretch your budget while enjoying a comfortable lifestyle.


Housing costs in Panama are significantly lower than in many Western countries. Whether you choose to live in the bustling capital of Panama City or in the serene countryside, you’ll find a range of affordable options. In Panama City, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost as little as $800 per month, while similar accommodations outside the city center can be even cheaper. For those looking for a more luxurious lifestyle, high-end apartments and houses with stunning views and modern amenities are available at prices much lower than in the U.S. or Europe.

Groceries and Dining

Grocery shopping in Panama is another area where expats can save money. Local markets offer fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood at unbeatable prices. For example, a week’s worth of fresh produce can cost as little as $20. Supermarkets also carry a variety of imported goods, though these can be more expensive. Dining out is affordable too, with a meal at a mid-range restaurant costing around $10-15 per person. Street food and local eateries provide delicious options for even less, making it easy to enjoy the local cuisine without overspending.

a green building in panama city


Utility costs in Panama are generally low. Monthly bills for electricity, water, and gas can range from $50 to $150, depending on your usage and the size of your home. Internet and mobile phone services are reliable and affordable, with basic internet plans starting at around $20 per month. These low utility costs contribute to the overall affordability of living in Panama.


Public transportation in Panama is both efficient and inexpensive. The country has a well-developed bus system, and Panama City boasts a modern metro system. A single bus or metro ride costs around $0.35. Taxis and ride-sharing services are also widely available and affordable, with a typical taxi ride within the city costing between $2 and $5. For those who prefer to drive, gasoline prices are lower than in many Western countries, and car maintenance costs are reasonable.


Healthcare is another area where Panama excels in affordability. The country offers high-quality medical care at a fraction of the cost you might pay in the U.S. For instance, a routine doctor’s visit can cost between $25 and $50, while dental cleanings are often under $50. Health insurance is also affordable, with comprehensive plans available for as little as $100 per month. This combination of quality and affordability makes Panama an attractive destination for those looking to manage their healthcare costs effectively.

medical equipments, white wall

2. High Quality of Healthcare

Panama is renowned for its excellent healthcare system, which consistently draws praise from expats. The country’s medical facilities, well-trained professionals, and affordable care combine to offer a healthcare experience that rivals, and often exceeds, what many are accustomed to in their home countries. Here’s an in-depth look at why Panama’s healthcare system is a significant perk for expats.

Modern Medical Facilities

Panama boasts modern medical facilities equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Major cities like Panama City and David have hospitals and clinics that provide a wide range of services, from routine check-ups to complex surgeries. Some of the top hospitals in Panama include Hospital Punta Pacifica, affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Hospital Nacional, both of which are known for their advanced medical care and comfortable patient accommodations.

Skilled Medical Professionals

The quality of healthcare in Panama is largely attributed to its skilled medical professionals. Many doctors and specialists in Panama have received their training in the United States, Canada, or Europe, ensuring that they are well-versed in the latest medical practices and technologies. Additionally, English-speaking doctors are common, particularly in areas with a high concentration of expats, making communication easy and effective.

Affordable Healthcare Costs

One of the most appealing aspects of healthcare in Panama is its affordability. Medical procedures and treatments often cost a fraction of what they do in North America or Europe. For example, a routine doctor’s visit might cost between $25 and $50, while specialized consultations and treatments are also significantly less expensive. Dental care, including cleanings, fillings, and even more complex procedures, is also very affordable, with prices often half or even a third of what you would pay in the U.S.

Comprehensive Health Insurance

Health insurance in Panama is both affordable and comprehensive, providing expats with peace of mind. Various insurance plans are available, catering to different needs and budgets. For instance, a comprehensive health insurance plan might cost around $100 per month, covering a wide range of medical services and treatments. Many insurance plans also cover international medical care, providing additional flexibility for expats who travel frequently.

a medical practitioner wearing green

Accessibility and Convenience

Access to healthcare in Panama is convenient, with a high density of medical facilities in both urban and rural areas. Pharmacies are abundant and well-stocked, often providing both over-the-counter and prescription medications at lower costs compared to North America. Additionally, many doctors offer house calls, a service that can be particularly beneficial for those with mobility issues or for those who prefer receiving medical care in the comfort of their own home.

Specialty Care and Medical Tourism

Panama is becoming increasingly popular for medical tourism, attracting people from around the world seeking high-quality care at reasonable prices. The country offers a wide range of specialty care, including cosmetic surgery, dental procedures, and eye care, often combined with the chance to recuperate in a beautiful, tropical setting. The cost savings, coupled with the expertise of Panamanian medical professionals, make it an attractive option for many.

Preventive Care and Wellness

Preventive care and wellness are emphasized in Panama’s healthcare system. Regular check-ups, screenings, and wellness programs are widely available and encouraged, helping to maintain overall health and catch potential issues early. The focus on preventive care is reflected in the availability of various health programs and initiatives aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles among both locals and expats.

For more information on healthcare in Panama, you can visit resources like International Living’s Guide to Healthcare in Panama or Panama Healthcare Guide. These guides provide comprehensive details on what to expect and how to navigate the healthcare system as an expat in Panama.

In summary, the high quality of healthcare in Panama is a significant advantage for expats. With modern facilities, skilled professionals, and affordable care, Panama provides a healthcare experience that ensures peace of mind and a high standard of living. Whether you’re seeking routine medical care or specialized treatment, Panama’s healthcare system is well-equipped to meet your needs.

3. Beautiful Natural Scenery

Pristine Beaches

Panama boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with crystal-clear waters and powdery white sands. The country is home to both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, each offering unique experiences. On the Pacific side, you can find popular spots like Playa Venao and Santa Catalina, which are renowned for their surfing opportunities and relaxed vibe. The Caribbean side offers gems like Bocas del Toro, an archipelago with turquoise waters, vibrant coral reefs, and an abundance of marine life. These beaches are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and simply soaking up the sun.

Lush Rainforests and Majestic Mountains

Panama’s diverse landscapes offer both lush rainforests and majestic mountains, providing a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The rainforests, found in national parks like Soberania and Darien, are rich in biodiversity, home to exotic flora and fauna such as howler monkeys, sloths, and toucans. These verdant jungles feature spectacular waterfalls and rivers, ideal for hiking, birdwatching, rafting, and canopy tours.

The highlands of Chiriquí province, particularly around Boquete, offer cool climates, stunning vistas, and thriving coffee plantations. The iconic Volcán Barú, Panama’s highest point, presents a challenging hike with rewarding views of both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The cloud forests in the mountainous regions add to the enchanting experience with their unique ecosystems and mist-covered landscapes.

Vibrant Wildlife

With a rich variety of wildlife inhabiting its diverse ecosystems, the country is home to over 900 species of birds, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise. From the colorful resplendent quetzal to the rare harpy eagle, Panama offers bird enthusiasts a chance to see some of the world’s most beautiful avian species. Additionally, Panama’s waters are teeming with marine life, including dolphins, whales, and numerous fish species, making it a great destination for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts.

Islands and Archipelagos

Panama’s numerous islands and archipelagos provide a unique blend of beauty and tranquility. The San Blas Islands, home to the indigenous Guna Yala people, offer an unspoiled paradise with over 300 islands featuring palm-fringed beaches and traditional thatched-roof huts. These islands are perfect for those seeking an authentic, off-the-beaten-path experience. The Pearl Islands, located in the Gulf of Panama, are another stunning archipelago known for their clear waters, abundant marine life, and luxury resorts.

panama tourist spot

National Parks and Protected Areas

Panama takes pride in its natural heritage, with a significant portion of the country designated as national parks and protected areas. These areas ensure the preservation of Panama’s diverse ecosystems and provide ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. Parque Nacional Coiba, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is renowned for its rich marine biodiversity and is a top destination for diving and fishing. The Metropolitan Natural Park in Panama City offers urban dwellers a green escape with hiking trails and panoramic city views.


While Panama’s natural beauty is undeniably captivating, it’s important to consider a few practical aspects. The country’s tropical climate means it can be hot and humid, particularly in the lowlands and coastal areas. It’s essential to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun. Additionally, some remote areas may have limited access to amenities and services, so it’s wise to plan ahead and be prepared for outdoor adventures.

For more information on Panama’s natural attractions, you can visit resources like Lonely Planet’s Guide to Panama and Visit Panama’s Official Tourism Website, which provide comprehensive details and travel tips for exploring the country’s stunning natural scenery.

4. Friendly Expat Community

Moving to a new country can be challenging, but the friendly expat community in Panama makes it easier. There are numerous social groups, clubs, and events where you can meet fellow expats and locals. This sense of community helps newcomers feel welcome and supported as they adjust to their new life.

5. Expat Living in Panama: Cultural Richness

Panama is a melting pot of cultures, offering a unique blend of traditions and modern influences. The country’s rich history is reflected in its architecture, festivals, and cuisine. As an expat, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in this vibrant culture and experience the best of both worlds.

6. Ease of Immigration and Tax Benefits

Panama’s expat-friendly immigration policies and tax advantages make it an attractive destination for retirees and entrepreneurs. The Pensionado Visa offers retirees benefits such as discounts on services, while the Friendly Nations Visa simplifies residency for citizens of certain countries. Additionally, Panama imposes no taxes on foreign income and provides incentives for investments, making it ideal for those seeking to enhance their financial prospects.

8. Vibrant City Life

Panama City is a bustling metropolis with a vibrant nightlife, diverse dining options, and a thriving arts scene. The city’s modern skyline, combined with its historic Casco Viejo district, offers a unique blend of old and new. Whether you enjoy fine dining, live music, or exploring cultural landmarks, Panama City has something for everyone.


While there are many perks to expat living in Panama, it’s important to consider a few factors. Language barriers can be challenging if you don’t speak Spanish, though many locals speak English, especially in tourist areas. Additionally, adjusting to a new culture and way of life takes time and patience. It’s essential to do thorough research and visit Panama before making a permanent move.

Our thoughts?

Panama offers an incredible array of benefits for expats, from its affordable cost of living to its rich cultural experiences. With a welcoming community and stunning natural beauty, it’s no wonder more people are choosing to call Panama home. If you’re considering a move abroad, Panama might just be the perfect destination for your next adventure.

For more information about expat living in Panama, check out International Living’s Panama Guide and Expat Exchange’s Panama Forum.

Looking for other country to visit? Explore our other Blog Top 10 Countries for Expat Americans to Live and Work


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Engage with us!

Our Discord server is a bustling hub where travelers like you share stories, tips, and advice. It’s the perfect place to:

Ask Questions and Share Experiences: Whether you’re seeking travel advice or have tales to tell, our community is here to listen and help.

Meet Fellow Travel Enthusiasts: Find travel buddies, join group trips, or simply enjoy conversations with people who share your passion for exploration.

[Join Our Discord Community]
Visit and subscribe to our YouTube Channel

By joining our Discord community and subscribing to our YouTube channel, you’re not just planning a trip; you’re becoming part of a global network of travelers dedicated to discovering the wonders of the world together. Let’s embark on this journey as a community, sharing our knowledge, stories, and passion for travel.