Dedicated to providing you with credible information about living overseas
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroad

Questions & Answers

Q & A Menu Q & A BY TOPIC
To navigate, use menu bar to the left
Daryl Ries of Keller Williams Panama, associate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
patio_del_Colegio_José_Guardia_Vega – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf you are already a pensionado,you are allowed one free container to ship, or you may chose to ship your car. That's a great deal
 
I advise that you live a few weeks at least! in Panama,to know how it is to live here. For instance, stuffed  sofas and heavy curtains, etc., that you love so much in colder climes are simply an attraction for bugs in the humid season. Your carpets, pewter, heavy wooden cabinets, etc., will not sustain well in the tropical climate of Panama. It is better to sell these items or give them to the family or friends and plan to start afresh with bamboo, teak and other natural materials here in Panama.
 
Panama is a haven of department stores and furnishings GALORE with inexpensive items often delivered free. You will have fun seeing your new life with great natural fiber furniture, floaty cushions, bamboo shades and hammocks, etc.
 
And that goes for your wardrobe as well. Sell the furs and boots... you will never need 'em here.
( The tropical patio at Jose Guardia Vega College, pictured.)
 
John Gilbert of PanamaKeys – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
John Gilbert's son watching sports in his comfortable chair, Volcan, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI’ve heard many people say that it’s crazy to bring your stuff to Panama. By “stuff” I mean your living room and bedroom suits, and those types of things. I’ve also seen other people who are completely happy that they brought those things. 
 
I personally can’t wait until I bring those things. I think I made a mistake in not bringing those things at first. I still have my stuff stored in the United States, and now years later, it’s going to cost me more than it would have cost me years ago to bring my stuff. But when you look at it, if I had particle wood furniture, then I wouldn’t bring it. But if you had very nice, heirloom-style furniture, you have to consider bringing it, because those things are irreplaceable here. 
 
One of the things to consider about that is security, because if you bring in very expensive things and everyone knows, that might make you a target for thieves. We’re very safe where we live, though, and I don’t feel any of those pressures. I have approximately $80,000 worth of furniture that it would take me $80,000 to replace here, so it’s a cost equation for me- $7,000 to bring it in, and $80,000 to replace it. It makes sense for me to bring it.
 
(John Gilbert's son watching sports in his comfortable chair, Volcan, Panama, pictured.)
David Whittington of Tucan Golf Club and Resort – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Containers waiting at the dock of the Panama Canal, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingHow much of your personal items you should move to Panama depends on how much sentimental value the items have for you, but not everyone does that. We have friends who bring containers down of everything they had in Canada or the US, while my wife and I gave a lot of our items to our kids and sent most of the other stuff to auction and bought brand new down here.  The alternative for us to bring it with me would have cost well over $10,000 to ship a container.
 
Another consideration is if you are living in Panama full time or part time.  The more time you spend here, the more important it may be to you to have your sentimental items with you.
 
(Containers waiting at the dock of the Panama Canal, Panama, pictured.)
Denise Patrick of Panama Roadrunner Secure Transport – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama Beach – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWe have been here in Coronado, Panama for about five years now.   We came down with 15 suitcases / Rubbermaid bins and 3 carry ons.  We brought Neil's key cutting machine and locksmith tools and my sewing machine and quilt supplies.  These were what were important to us.  We also brought new sheets, good towels, our good knives and my pots.  Clothing - we both brought shoes, jackets, jeans and a few long sleeved shirts (just in case) but have never worn any of them!
 
We debated about bringing a car (NO) and our furniture (mostly antiques) but were really concerned about humidity and termites.  Leaving it all behind was the best thing to do. Most of the homes sold here are sold fully furnished and now you can get pretty much everything you need here.  Five years ago there were far fewer choices for quality goods in the stores.
 
Most of the expats we know do once or twice yearly shopping trips when they go home to the US or Canada.   I usually pick up clothes, quilt fabric, and certain groceries and spices that I can't find in Panama.
 
Leave your furniture at home - we have heard stories about "missing" pieces of furniture, containers that go missing etc.  It is not an easy process.
 
(Panama beach and sunset, pictured.)
 
 
Neil Flemming – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Gamboa Rainforest Resort, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingHow much stuff you move to Panama depends on your plans. If you’re moving here to Panama for good, then I don’t see why you leave anything behind you. 
 
You have to think about the weather here in Panama. It’s damp because of the humidity. Obviously, you’re not going to need warm clothes. There’s no point bringing your winter clothes down here. Also, certain types of paintings and that kind of thing can suffer some. There are molds here. You’ve got to dehumidify. You’ve got to buy these special casters that you can put wardrobe in. We’ve got a lot of dampness. Your clothes could get covered in mold, as well as anything that’s leather, if you don’t take these precautions. 
 
You can buy everything in Panama. Anything you probably would need, you can get down here cheaper than in the United States, except furniture. Furniture is expensive here for some reason.
 
(Gamboa Rainforest Resort, Gamboa, Colon, Panama, pictured.)
 
Eddie Montes of Panama Property Rentals – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
modern living room furniture – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are many international movers located here in Panama because Panama is one of the shipping capitals of the world on account of the Panama Canal. It is fairly easy to contact anyone of these moving companies and they pre-arrange everything to be packed up in your country of origin into a container and basically take the whole process from there, from shipping the container, to receiving the container, clearing customs for you, up to the actual delivery of the container into your home. It is basically a door-to-door service that is provided by many of these international movers.
 
They have that service here in Panama because of the number of expats who move here and the many expats that work for multinational companies. They did a very nice job, especially when I experienced it firsthand when we moved here. I moved from the Fort Lauderdale area in South Florida. We packed up our things in August 11th and our container arrived here in Panama and cleared customs after a roughly a month. 
 
The shipping itself took about 3 weeks. Clearing customs and releasing the container took about an additional week here on the Panama side. Moving all your stuff to Panama is not a hard thing to do. If you have nice furniture, or if you have a lot of things that you cherish, it’s definitely not a bad idea to pack up your things and bring them in to Panama. Other people choose to sell their things and start fresh. It's just a matter or preference.  
 
(Modern living room furniture that can be moved to Panama, pictured.)
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Hammock on the beach – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingBased on moving between Panamá and the USA several times through the years, with our entire family, I can assure you this:
  • Pack just the memories you treasure the most.
  • Everything else, stays, specially all electronics, kitchen stuff, or furniture.
  • Bring favorite movies, if you wish, and books in English.
The reason for this is that you can get everything and anything in Panamá, at very low, ridiculous prices, from a pack of needles, to the most modern car.  And, you will save a lot of money.  There are several malls that will surprise you with what you can get, and at the prices you have never experienced.
 
For example, the Albrook, El Dorado and Metro, in the city of Panamá and the Westland in Arraiján, three malls in Coronado (Pacific beach areas, about an hour from the city of Panamá) are very well known for selling everything, have great food courts and restaurants at envious prices.
 
There is the Multi Plaza Mall in the city, which carries every single upscale brand of the very best fashion from Europe, US and around the world, so, if you are in a budget, or not, you will find here everything you are looking for.
 
And if your location is Boquete, or some other town in the "interior" (countryside), there are shopping centers, and small malls in all of them, like in Chitré, Chorrera, Penonomé, David, among others
 
Remember that items are imported from all over the world to Panamá, which is the reason why merchandise can be offered at very low prices.  You just need time to look everything, and you will have a very difficult time choosing because you will want to buy everything.
 
And if you go to Chitré or El Valle, you can buy beautiful art and crafts, "molas" and hammocks at an enviable prices.
 
Coincidentally, I just received an ad from Wal-Mart in the US offering a hammock with metal legs at $128.00 on clearance.  Well, in Panamá, you can buy a way better one for between $50.00 and $85.00. There is a store by the Interamericana Highway that, while you drive to the "interior", you can stop and buy one, or in El Valle.
 
I know people who brought by a full 40-foot container, and have been ruined because they either couldn’t fit all their items into their new house, or didn´t get the house they were looking for on time.

So, here’s some good advice:  Bring no more than 10 boxes with all your belongings.   It’s easy to manage, inexpensive, and practical.  No winter clothes, no heavy things.
Michael A. Martinez of B & B Real Estate Nicaragua / Panama Real Estate Information – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
container ship going through the Panama Canal – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf you are applying for residency, you can get the Pensionado Visa, among others. There are several different residencies you can apply for and you’re allowed to bring a container worth a certain value of with you that are tax-free.

When I first moved to Central America, I bought a container. I even bought a vehicle. I wouldn’t do that again. I would bring what I needed, like personal items and family heirlooms or family antiques that I could not live without. You can get everything you need here. As of now, I’m selling used household goods.
 
It is an economic and a sentimental decision. Based on my experience, I can have any furniture I want made here in Panama. I can go and pick out the tree and have it made for probably half the cost of actually what it would cost me to something like it to Panama.
 
(A dock worker along a container ship going through the Panama Canal, pictured.)
Karen Walter of Local Travel Excursions – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Overwhelmed by boxes moving – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingDetermining what to take with you to a new country is a very personal decision.  Many will say bring very little.  Others will advise you to bring everything.  The key is to investigate both options as best as you can.  "What are the costs" usually refers to the shipping costs & fees.  But, what will it cost for you to purchase everything new?  What types of items will you find?  Will they fit your needs?  Will you be comfortable?  Can you bear to part with your treasured items?  Everyone is different and their decisions must be right for them.  I encourage folks to analyze their reason for relocating.  If it is to get away to experience something new, you may want to store your things until you make a definite decision or have a good opportunity to fully investigate.  (And storing your items can be costly as well.)  You may be turning your familiar vacation home to a permanent one and you know exactly what is available and what will work for you. 
 
As we moved for a short term period, we opted to get rid of all big pieces of furniture and stored for 6-12 months what we knew would make us comfortable in our home.  That gave us a period to adjust and be more comfortable with either decision.  Taking pics of everything that went into storage would make selling it easier if we decided to sell and it was very useful for inventory purposes.  We also knew that most, if not all, of our items to be shipped would not return with us if or when that time came.  We were downsizing but did not want to start from scratch. 
 
For those who choose to ship their belongings to their new home, research, research, research.  There are so many horror stories that you should keep note of.  There are also may successful stories that folks will share.  Get references and start with a company that you know is reputable in your new country.  (That is where you will need your assistance during or after the process.)  And always expect that the actual costs will be higher than quoted.  (I learned this when I shipped across country in the USA!)  One thing is for sure, moving, even with the best of companies, usually involves some amount of stress. 
Bonnie Williams of Fundacion Bid 4 Bouquete – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
How much stuff you should move to Panama depends on how attached you are to your personal stuff and how particular you are about your household furnishings. While it is true that virtually everything you need can be found in Panama, you may not be able to find everything you want, as choices will be limited--particularly outside Panama City. Furnishing anything other than a very small house also will be very time-consuming and expensive, likely much more expensive than shipping if you buy, build, or rent a large house and/or if you demand quality products. Ask yourself if this is how you want to spend your time and money and whether you will be satisfied with what Panama has to offer. If your application for visa status is in the works at the time of your move, up to $10,000 worth of household furnishings shipped will be tax free.
John Wauson – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
When you bring stuff with you, someone has to deal with it eventually and that can be a difficult process, so just bring clothes, a few small mementos from home, and leave the rest of it with relatives, sell it in a garage sale, or donate it.  It will have a much better use than if you bring it with you and you will have the exciting opportunity to reinvent yourself in your new home and spend a lot less money doing it than paying the cost of bringing it with you.
Albert Obbens – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
When moving to Panama, only move your personal items, no furniture. It's rather cheap to buy or have furniture made in Panama. The costs of transport, container, custom warehousing and more is mostly not worth it. And as long as you have no legal status in Panama, you can bring what you want but you will pay taxes. As soon as you have a visa, you can bring in a container load free of taxes.
 
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Moving to a different place could be a challenge, especially if it´s another country, even more so if you do not have any relatives or close friends to guide you locally.  In Panamá there is a group called "Who´s new in Panamá" that guides newcomer women into the country.
 
Even though Panamá has several very modern malls and hundreds of shopping centers at a very inexpensive prices, there are certain things that are important to bring from your home country.  For example: if you have a family, or a very high quality piece of furniture, special occasion or business attire clothing or shoes (Panama offers all famous brands in malls, but prices can be easily higher in the stores), favorite books, CDs and movies (you can also find many locally), maybe your family china or silverware, and probably some unique house decorations that you want to keep, or save for children.  For the rest, all home decor is extremely cheap locally, as well as casual clothing and fantasy jewelry, pet or beauty supplies, all kinds of electro-domestics (white line) articles, unless it is a tremendously high quality and expensive article.
 
Get rid of all your all stuff, start with new little things which are easy to manage and clean.  Just remember to bring a small amount of good clothes, as Panama has a dress code for certain things.
Lourdes Miranda Beiro of Miranda&Contreras Law Offices – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
You should move to Panama the stuff that has a special value for you. Many foreigners choose to bring their personal effects which in most cases will be tax exempted.  Nevertheless, in Panama you can find everything you need.
 
As for cars it is better to buy a car in Panama since many times the process and costs to bring a car to the country are not worth it when compared to what is available in the country without as many inconveniences.
Judith Tovar of Easy Travel Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Before you move all your stuff to Panama I would recommend you go "window shopping".  I believe you will be pleasantly surprised of all the wonderful things you can find here and do not have to ship  to Panama.
 
We have all kinds of stores here where you can find almost anything you need.
 
 

Go Here Next

Go Here Next

 
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadUse the menu on this page to go to categories of Stories.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadUse the menu on this page to go to other categories of questions.
The Best Places In The World To Retire Location Advisor makes personalized recommendations for where to live and retire overseasGet matched to your ideal location to live abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadAnswers about living, working or visiting abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadStories by expats & others about their life aborad.
Best Places In The World To Retire - MarketplaceFind for profit, non-profit and religious organizations.
 

Go Here Next

 
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadUse the menu on this page to go to categories of Stories.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadUse the menu on this page to go to other categories of questions.
The Best Places In The World To Retire Location Advisor makes personalized recommendations for where to live and retire overseasGet matched to your ideal location to live abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadAnswers about living, working or visiting abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadStories by expats & others about their life aborad.
Best Places In The World To Retire - MarketplaceFind for profit, non-profit and religious organizations.
 

Our Pledge To You

Best Places will present information from the Community in a transparent way, unedited, except to conform with our Conditions of Use.

You can trust that Best Places does not manipulate content to sell you anything. All opinions in the Community Q & A and Expat Stories are those of its authors, not Best Places.

Get Known To The Community

Those who contribute to the Best Places Community are our heroes! And being a Best Places hero is fast, fun, and easy. Just go to Questions & Answers, find your first question to answer, click on it, and then click the Contribute Your Answer To This Question Button. If you’d rather enter a Story, go to Expat Stories and click the Contribute Your Story Button".

Contact/Support

Please contact us. We would love to hear from you! Customer Service
Technical Support
Business Development
Suggestions
Press
Phone: (US) 520-940-0481