What its like to live in Panama depends on
what you like. Many people think that living in Boquete, which is more of a rural area, is very pleasant. On the other hand, living in Panama City is a little like living in Manhattan, with higher density of people and cars.
Wherever you go in Panama, the people all over Panama are quite friendly.
From a North American perspective, if you move to Panama, you have to get used to how laid back the people are. People just move slower down here. North Americans have to realize that for many of them, the reason they move to Panama is to retire and relax and to get away from the hubbub of North America and its fast pace, which is what happens when
they come to Panama. When many of them get down here, though, it’s too slow for them for a while, until they get used to it.
As an example, my son ordered new curtains for his home, and on three different days, the installers never showed up for their appointment. So, for North Americans, that gets a little frustrating.
One of the things I like most about it here in Panama is the weather.
If you chose to live in an area of Panama City, as a percentage of the population, you would be one of the few North American expats, so you would become more integrated with the Panamanian culture. However, if you moved to one of the areas where there are, on a percentage basis, more North American expats, you could, if you chose to, live much more like you did in North America, among North
Americans and not feel so much like you live in a foreign country.
If you speak Spanish like some friends of mine, you can buy a farm out in the middle of nowhere and get along quite well.
There are a lot of ways to approach how you will live in Panama, from the city, to the country, to even more in the country, where you basically have to know Spanish. In places like Boquete and to a lesser extent in Coronado, there are so many expats who speak English that most of the people who work in the stores and the restaurants know enough English to be able to communicate with you if you don’t speak any Spanish. Here in Tucan (just outside of Panama City proper), there are lots of expats, some from North America and also from Venezuela. Recently, because of the duty free trade zone in Colon, we’re seeing more Koreans move here.
Panama City is becoming a super-cosmopolitan city now, where there are people living there from all over the world.