Calling Panama the Crossroads of the Americas is quite literal. The country does look like a land bridge that connects the North Americas to the South. It is a popular retirement place for Americans because it is so near from home and it is mostly surrounded by water. The country is stable, uses the American dollar as its paper currency, and is a lot cheaper to reside in.
About the Republic of Panama
Panama is seemingly a thin country when you see it on the map but it boasts of a rich culture and a fast developing economy. On both sides lie the North Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Its neighboring country is Colombia in South America and Costa Rica to the North.
What makes this country famous is the Panama Canal – a man made waterway that allowed marine vessels to cut across the country from the Caribbean Sea (North Atlantic Ocean) to the Pacific Ocean and back. It was first made by the French but was taken over by the Americans. It was only fully turned over to the Panama government in 1999. It makes up for a significant percent in the nation’s revenues.
The landscape in this country varies. Going inland, you will notice a lot of rugged mountains that are usually more steep than sloping. There are also upland plains in between these mountains. The country is quite thin in shape that when you climb the peak of its highest point (3,475m), which is on Volcan Barú, you can view both oceans on either side.
The coastal areas of Panama is over 2,800 kilometers long when you combine both sides. Apart from the beaches, they also have rolling hills and plains along the coastline.
Being so close to the equator, the country is quite warm. In the summer, it is hot and humid and the rainy season acts as its winter season. There are places in Panama that can get chilly at night and these include Cerro Punta, El Valle and Boquete. They have occasional storms that can be quite severe and also forest fires due to the heat. However, unlike the other Central American nations, their geographic location keep hurricanes away.
Lifestyle of the Panamenos
Life in Panama is great for a retired individual because it is one of the most modern countries compared to the other Central American nations. They also have more than enough share of eco-related activities with their beaches, forests and mountains.
With a population of more than 3.4 million, it is a relatively small country that tourists can enjoy in as short as 1 week. However, a lot of them decided to stay because of the cheap cost of living – something that will be discussed in detail later on in this article.
The country, overall, is quite laid back. It is one of the reasons why there are a lot of expats living here. They are used to living with Americans – who had been taking charge of the Canal operations until late. You just have to constantly monitor their immigration rules because it is constantly changing.
The Panamenos or Panamenas speak Spanish but being a popular tourist destination, a lot of them speak English as well.
Their native cuisine is mostly beef and seafood – thanks to the abundance of access to the ocean and cattles farms. Most meals are served with rice and native vegetables like squash. In bigger cities, you can expect a more varied selection of International cuisines.
Cost of Living
Compared to the US or Europe, cost of living in Panama is very cheap. Despite the economic development and modernization, they have remained cost friendly to foreigners.
Here are the most basic costs that you will encounter in Panama, as taken from the Numbeo website.
Food: Inexpensive restaurant ($5/meal), Fastfood ($4.74/meal), Beer ($1/0.5 liter), Soda ($1/0.33 liter), Water ($1/0.33 liter), Milk ($1.13/liter), Rice ($2.65/kg), Bread ($1.4/loaf), Chicken ($5.78/kg), Fruits (ave $2/kg), Egg ($1.95/dozen), Vegetables (ave $1.5/kg), Wine ($6/mid range)
Transportation: Local transport ($0.35/one-way, $18/monthly pass), Taxi ($1.25/start, $1/km), Gasoline ($1.04/liter)
Home: Utilities ($75), Internet ($37.50/Unlimited Data, 6Mbps), Rent City Centre ($750/mo/1bd, $1,750/mo/3bd), Rent Outside of Centre ($450/mo/1bd, $700/mo/3bd)
Sports and Leisure: Fitness Club ($41/month), Cinema ($3.75/seat)
Clothing: Jeans (ave $48.5/pair), Dress (ave $25/pc), Shoes (ave $52.5/leather, $60/rubber shoes)
In most cases, you can live on $1,200 a month in Panama. Of course, the metropolitan areas are more expensive than the smaller towns. This country still remains to be a popular destination for retiring Americans for its proximity to the US and its rich natural resources. The fact that it is cheap is only a big bonus in the package.