Expat Panama

If you are looking for a great place to retire, a place to spend the summers or an exotic place to live at for a year or two, Panama can be a great choice. Panama located in Central America offers a western style life with a more affordable cost of living. Whether you are looking for a quiet beach front community, suburb or bustling city life, Panama will definitely please many expats.


Although Panama is a relatively small country, it has several different climates. For instance, at sea level, the climate is usually tropical with hot and humid whether year round. If you live in the main cities of Panama, the weather is generally more comfortable with a gentle breeze and more moderate climate. Panama also has higher elevations. In these areas, there is no use for either heat or air conditioning; the climate is comfortable year round.

For the most part there are two distinct seasons, the wet season which lasts from April to December and the dry season that lasts from the end of December to March. If you are the Caribbean side of Panama expect more rain, if you live on the Pacific side, the area tends to be a little dryer.


The government of Panama is a constitutional democracy. The president of Panama is not only the head of state, but the head of government as well. While in the past, Panama has had some governmental problems, today it is stable and comfortable for expats to live. Corruption has been a problem in Panama and although the government has made many inroads, there are still lots of pockets of corruption and influence within the country.

Visa requirements are generally lax, especially for United States citizens and Panama welcomes with open arms retirees and those that choose to live in Panama for business or to invest in. You can find more information on visa requirements at Embassy of Panama in Washington D.C.. You can also find information from the United States Embassy in Panama.

Tax System

Taxes in Panama are moderate for both individual income taxes and corporate taxes. The top income tax rate in Panama for individuals is 27%. The top income tax rate in Panama for corporations is 30%. Besides income tax, there is also a value added tax (VAT) and a transfer tax rate.

Information on tax laws in Panama can be found in the Index of Economic Freedom: Panama.

Prima Panama maintains an interesting blog on Panamanian tax changes at Panama Investor Blog.

Medical Care

Medical care for expats in Panama is fairly sufficient. There are many hospitals that offer modern health care. Medical care for expats is usually much more affordable than in the states. Expect to pay much less for health insurance (usually around $1,000 per person, per year) Co-payments are also much more affordable and pharmacies are available and convenient. Pharmaceutical drugs on average are much less expensive than the states and expect to pay much less for dental care as well. For instance, a qualified dentist in Panama can offer an exam and cleaning for around $15.

Real Estate

Real estate in Panama is very affordable. For instance, for a relatively large home in an attractive location, expect to spend around $200K. This usually includes three bedrooms and western style amenities. Apartments are also very affordable, even in the city centers. You can usually find western style apartments with all the necessary amenities in ideal locations for around $400 to $600. However, for those seeking luxury in high rise apartment buildings, expect prices for purchasing an apartment or condo from $175K to over one million dollars.

If you are interested in buying property, make sure you are cautious; there have been many instances where corruption and long contractual disputes have clouded many real estate dealings.

Real Estate Developments in Panama

Here are some real estate developments in Panama which are focused towards expats:

You can also search for real estate in Panama online at Semusa Realty.


Shopping in Panama is very similar to that of the United States. There are plenty of shops, markets and luxury boutiques as well. If you enjoy dining out, Panama has plenty of fine restaurants and finding ethnic foods is very easy. If you love seafood, Panama offers plenty of different types of seafood specialties. It should be noted that the water and produce is safe to drink and eat, unlike many other countries of south and Central America.

Entertainment such as live music shows and night clubs are very common. There are even several movie theaters that show films in English. Besides these types of entertainment, there are also casinos and cantinas that are available.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Panama is much more affordable than in the United States. While there are certain western items that can cost just as much or more, by and large your cost of living expenses will drop dramatically. The cost of an apartment or a home is usually 30% to 50% of that in the states and utilities are usually much less costlier as well. Restaurants and entertainment are also more affordable and you can save on healthcare as well. For the most part, two people can live comfortably for $1500 per month or less. With an income of 30K per year, you can live very comfortably with lots of luxuries and all the amenities.

Web Sites for Expats in Panama

Panama Guide

The #1 English language Panama website. Thousands of articles in English.

Panama Expertos

Helping you enjoy to good life of Panama!

Extradition from Panama

The Extradition treaty between Panama and the US was entered into force on May 8, 1905

For a detailed explanation of extradition from Panama, read Extradition – A Guide for Expats at Panama Legal.

Map of Panama