The short answer to is Panama a good place for preppers to have their bugout location and for survivalists in general is a resounding “Yes” for many different reasons. Panama is a country blessed with abundant natural resources, a year-round, mild climate for a good part of the country’s geography, and a decent infrastructure with reasonable access to good roads, water, and healthcare. However, before I answer the question in full, I would like to establish some concrete definitions for the terms “prepper”, “bugout location”, and “survivalist” as far as the way that I understand them, so that you know where I’m coming from.
Prepper: An individual or a family unit who has made it their lifestyle to live as independently as possible. People identified under this term are happy to take advantage of modern amenities when they are available, such as public water, electricity, and grocery stores. However, preppers are hesitant to put themselves in a situation where they have to rely or be dependent on others for their basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. Preppers hope for the best and prepare for the worst. You will find this group actively engaged in homesteading land, planting crops, raising chickens, goats, and dairy cattle if possible. They will be canning food. They will convert cash assets into tangible resources necessary for eventually living off of the public utility grid, such as water filtration systems, electricity generators that can be powered by bottled gas or even wood, hand tools necessary for butchering livestock and processing meat, textiles for clothes making, necessary toiletry items, soap, emergency long term food storage, medical supplies, etc. They are also interested in basic self defense items such as a few handguns and long guns, and adequate ammunition to maintain their firearm skills and protect them in the event of an emergency situation.
Survivalist: An individual or family unit who is preparing for the end of the world as we know it, commonly referred to by this group as TEOTWAWKI. People identified under this term believe that society as we know it is destabilizing and is on a one way road to completely breaking down. Survivalists believe that a dog-eat-dog world will prevail and will spread out from the inner cities at first into rural communities as famine sets in and food resources become scarce. Survivalists resemble preppers in all respects, with the added belief that they fully expect to have to defend what is theirs for their very survival. As such, they are a bit more militant. They focus more on combat and self-defense skills than do the common preppers, who tend to choose their lifestyle as much for the benefits of fostering good character and work ethic in their children, and eating healthier and tastier food, as they do for preparing for the end of the world.
Bug-out Shelter: The vast majority of people in the United States live fairly close to large population groups. People that pay attention to how dependent Americans are to grocery supply chains and public utilities realize that there is a certain level of security to be found in obscurity. For example, if the electricity is out for an extended period of time, let’s use the timeframe of a month, how long would it take to be noticed if you’re the only house in your neighborhood with its lights on, the only house with steam coming out of the dryer vents, and the only house with the constant hum of a power generator? If people become hungry they will become scared, and they will become more likely to help themselves to things that aren’t their own. In this scenario, the comfortable living situation that you have taken the time to build for yourself has just become a threat to your own survival, in that you have lost your obscurity and have gained notoriety as the only house in your neighborhood with abundant heat and energy. For this reason, people consider purchasing land in remote places and building houses, barns, or other types of shelters on them in which they can escape to in the event of a crisis. Usually, the land is either tillable or even more remote, such as being surrounded by timber. It is common for people to store water filtration systems, long-term food storage items, emergency medical supplies, guns and ammunition, heavy equipment, and large quantities of fuel and water. These places are generally made to be hard to access easily in order to discourage squatters and thieves. They have been affixed with the adoring label bug-out shelter.
Now that we’re all familiar with the context I’m coming from, let’s talk about Panama. I believe that Panama makes not only an excellent location for people to live as independently as they choose, but also a superior choice to many places people choose in the US. Here are my top 3 reasons:
In real estate, you always hear the saying “location, location, location”. Well, when it comes to preparing for a time when things aren’t the way they are now, the saying is “water, water, water”. Without clean, abundant water, all the rest of your preparation is useless. You simply must have a readily available water source, and it must be clean water fit for human consumption or you must have the resources available to make it so. We are blessed with abundant water in Panama. Water is right under your feet most everywhere here. People routinely drill water wells at shallow depths with enough supply to meet your every need. There are many properties available for sale that feature freshwater streams, creeks, rivers, waterfalls, etc. Several companies in both Panama City and David offer a variety of pumps, storage tanks, water filtration equipment, and plumbing supplies.
The climate in Panama is ideal for homesteading a small farm. You can choose your climate literally by elevation here. In the highlands, many people choose not to have heat or air conditioning because the temperature only varies by a few degrees year-round. If you like it hot, choose a lower elevation. If you like it cool, choose a higher elevation. You will find that energy consumption will be a fraction of what it is today if you don’t have to control your temperature. For example, there are a plethora of farms available in western Panama, in the Boquete/Volcan/Cerro Punta region, that require no air conditioning at all and the temperature will stay in the low to mid 70s year round, where your livestock will flourish and your soil will produce year-round.
#3. Local Produce
Local produce can still be purchased at bargain prices throughout Panama. If you want to get a head start on your food preps, the easiest way is by canning the local produce. Most every fruit and vegetable that you can think of is available here at prices that you won’t believe. In fact, the only thing that I can think of that I’ve not seen grown here is large, white onions. I’m not sure why. If you’re buying produce in the supermarkets, you’re missing out on both quality and huge savings. The best pineapples that I’ve ever had are purchased directly from local farmers for $1 each, flavorful bananas are bought for 15 cents a bunch and grow year-round. Tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, corn, all canning staples, are found here in abundance.
There are many other reasons why Panama is an attractive option for preppers, such as an abundance of tillable land, timber, and livestock. The one reservation that I’ll point out for newcomers is the availability of guns and ammunition, or lack thereof. For the first few years you will be limited in the quantity of firearms that you’re allowed to own or bring into the country. The government will take possession of your firearms before you get them and submit them to ballistics testing. You will provide a DNA sample via a cheek swab. I see this as a minor inconvenience, and ultimately a small price to pay for owning firearms in a country in which you’re not a citizen. Other than that, you will be free to live pretty much as you please and prepare for whatever eventuality you see fit, all while enjoying the abundant natural beauty that Panama has to offer.