The only difference is traditionally in Panama they have maid’s quarters for live-in maids. It is a very small room with its own bathroom. Over time, fewer and fewer homes (including Panamanian homes) have built-in maid’s quarters. That’s declining in practice. Either the homes have maid’s quarters or you are given the option of having it or not having it. That’s a little different from what North Americans are familiar with. Otherwise, you have a dining room and a living room that’s much more open and “outdoorsy” so to speak as there’s more emphasis on the outdoors here for sure. I consider the balcony to be another room in my house.
Panamanian houses have walk in closets and other closets like in the US. In the city, the condominiums have walk in closets. These are pretty common. The traditional homes here have limited closet space because people just didn’t use it so much in the past, but that’s unusual. If you’re going to build your home, you’re going to build closets in it. If you buy a house, you look for one that has the closets you want. We have all kinds.
The old traditional homes when people had less money only had one bathroom. But the new construction and the construction in the last 10 years have more bathrooms. I have two bedrooms with two baths, plus a half bath that used to be connected to a maid’s room. I don’t have a maid so I use that room as my office area.
Panamanian houses don’t have a lot of carpeting because of humidity and other reasons. People use tile a lot. I have wood floors in mine. You can certainly have carpeting and rugs but if you’re going to live somewhere wide open and not have air conditioning, you would definitely have problems with molds or mildew. Panama is a humid country, even in the mountains. You have to keep things clean. That is why people used to have live-in maids. They didn’t have air conditioning and someone had to constantly keep the house clean for that reason.
I would not have rugs or carpeting in a place that I expect to keep open to the weather outside. A lot of people have tile floors that they throw rugs over but deep pile just doesn’t make a lot of sense because it doesn’t fit the tropical environment here. You’ll probably find some fancy homes here and they make it a point to flaunt it because they’re proud of it, but that’s rare.
Again, adaptability is the key to success when you move abroad. If you’re coming down here and you’re from an area with a temperate climate, then you move into a tropical climate and expect everything to be the same, you’ll be disappointed. You have to stop and find out what people do down here. When you stay in Panama for a while and you visit people, you walk into their homes and you see that they have tile and use rugs over them and some may have carpeting. You see there’s a wide variety.
I say to folks who are overly concerned about these things to stop and think for a couple of minutes about whether why they want to move anywhere. This isn’t the sort of thing you have to focus on. You can ask when you come down but it should not be a major concern or even a minor one. The most important is this: Are you adaptable? Are you flexible? Are you looking for a new adventure? Are you looking for a better life in some way, in some form? That’s the ticket. Then you come down, you visit a country and you look at it from the point of view point of what you need. And if what you need happens to be what type of carpeting you have, you can have it.
Generalizations just don’t work. Most of the expats make generalizations, but they are just talking about their own experience and that of the few people around them. I deal with hundreds of expats all over the country and you just can’t make generalizations. I can’t do that because you can just find just about every kind of person down here.