Now to answer your burning question…. Why did we choose to move to Panama?
We did much research before actually taking off, but in reality part of the adventure was not exactly knowing what it’s going to be like.
The 2 most important factors for us were:
We wanted to be in a place where we could get good and proper care for our children if we needed it. Panama is known in Central and Latin America for having excellent Private medical care. Panama City has 4 major hospitals that are affiliated with American hospitals
- Centro Medico Paitilla- Cleveland Clinic
- Clinica Hospital San Fernando- Miami Children’s Hospital, Baptist Health International of Miami, and Tulane University Health Services Center
- Hospital Nacional- Kendall Medical Center in Florida and the University of Nebraska Medical Center
- Hospital Punta Pacifica- John’s Hopkins Medical Center the #1 Ranked hospital in the United States. Punta Pacifica is considered the most technologically advanced hospital in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Many doctors in Panama have also had some manner of medical training in the United States and speak at least some English. Private medical insurance is also very affordable in Panama on top of the already much lower health care costs. However, private medical insurance in Panama as well as many other international countries can exclude pre-existing conditions. Because of this, we were not able to obtain private insurance for the kids that would cover anything having to do with GSD. (Some plans will exclude your pre-existing condition entirely, others will allow you to pay an additional fee to be able to have some coverage.) Paying for healthcare costs out of pocket are still often cheaper than healthcare costs with insurance in the United States.
Panama’s public medical system is VERY affordable and we have found it decent for basic needs. Our fees per visit have been $2 a visit. Lines and wait times can be long depending on what time you go. (We tried to get blood work scheduled for our kids and were told it would be 3 months until they could be seen)
Being that our way to make money and provide for ourselves is teaching English online, we needed to be sure we would be in a place that has reliable internet access. Internet coverage varies depending on location in Panama, but it ranges from Fiber optic, and satellite, to prepaid wireless stick.
Other factors that influenced our decision
The national language in Panama is obviously Spanish and we were interested in going to a place where we could learn it.
4-The US Dollar-
Panama’s national currency is technically the Balboa, but US currency is primarily used throughout the country. One Balboa is equal to one dollar. This makes money exchange easy… for us coming from the United States there is no exchange.
In most locations around Panama you can drink the water. This is very helpful to us especially since a stomach bug from accidentally drinking the water can land our kids in the hospital.
6-Cost of Living-
We were hoping that living in Panama would reduce our cost of living. Many things in Panama can be cheaper than the United States, but surprisingly not all things. Food can be just as much or more expensive. Of course things will be more affordable outside of Panama City and the major ex-pat areas.
Danny and I are beach bums at heart so naturally one of our desires was to go to a tropical place with beaches. Panama does not disappoint. Unlike the United States, most of the beaches in Panama are undeveloped. There are not a ton of high rises or even houses along the beaches (again depending on where you go… Panama has it’s fair share of beach high rise communities). We often find ourselves the only people at the beach.
When you think of Panama you don’t necessarily think of waves, but there are places to surf.
9-It’s Not the Most Well Known Place in Latin America-
Every one dreams of going to the rain forests of Costa Rica, the Mayan ruins of Guatemala or the “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Brazil, (all of which I would also love to see), but we thought it would be exciting to go to a “lesser known” place.
My husband loves to search and learn about different options for residency and citizenship in foreign countries. Panama happens be one of the best and easiest international options for residency. Check out 5 Ways You Can Obtain Panamanian Visas and Residency.
We also considered Thailand for our move, but decided Panama might be an easier and safer transition for our family to get our feet wet. We have not been disappointed!