Panama City, Panama Report of what it's like to live there - 05/15/17
Personal Experiences from Panama City, Panama
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
I have been overseas for several years now.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Miami. About 3 hours direct.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Worst housing I've ever been in. Small houses with little or no yard and no curtains or curtain allowance provided so you have to buy your own.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Quite a lot of restaurants and American franchise fast food.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Some housing has lots of roaches and ants, and snakes, and poisonous toads and/or frogs that can kill your pets.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Expensive and legally you must give a lot of benefits.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Not safe everywhere for credit or debit cards and even ATMs will rip you off.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
We use Uber.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Any kind of car is fine, although I think an Asian-made car is cheaper and easier to maintain here.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Cable Ondo is what most people use, but customer service is bad.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Movil or Digicell -- Movistar sucks, in my opinion.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
There are both great and really bad vets. Find one by referrals.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Part-time embassy work but it takes a long time to find a spot and get a clearance.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Suit or business casual, shorts are fine outside of work.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
I find it very safe here.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
People get sick a lot here, and food poisoning is not uncommon.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
HOT and HUMID year around.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Good to great schools.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Large. Morale is bad to OK, but not great.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
BBQ, dining out.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
6. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
How expensive it is.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
No, I would not.