Panama/Moving to Panama


QUESTION: We would like to move to panama.  We currently have a huge house and want to reduce our living space and get rid of most of our "stuff".  We would like to bring one rooms full of items.  Anyway, we would like to rent at first to see if we like the area before we purchase.  We have 4 young children. My husband would be working for an American company remotely.  Can you suggest areas near the coast?  We do not want luxury but safety is important.  We would not need a vehicle if we were able to walk to a market.  I homeschool my children so I am not too concerned about schools.  We would like to be close to a Catholic church.  I have read many posts regarding what items to bring and what items we can buy when we get there...We would only plan to bring one container.  I have seen mixed information though-one site said you could not bring wood furniture and other sites discussed how they pack tables, etc.  So that is a bit confusing.  I am sorry this is so long.  We are not looking for a vacation destination but a place to make a home and live like locals.  Thank you for any information you can provide or point me to.  I would also like to rent a home and have a small garden...may chickens too!

ANSWER: Have you ever visited Panama? Before you consider selling everything and moving, I STRONGLY recommend you and your husband come here, spend several weeks travelling to the different areas. "Living like the locals" varies widely, depending on where you land. Boquete, in the highlands, has the shopping, Catholic Church, is reasonably safe (this is Central America, remember, with great disparity between wealthy and not), 45 minutes from David (city of 150,000) on the Pacific. You could certainly live there without a car. But that is only one option. There are neighborhoods in Panama City that also fit your criteria--minus, perhaps, the chickens. The Azuero Penninsula area, close to beaches, is hot, dry, with pockets of what you are seeking in the area of Chitre and Los Tablas. There are many small hamlets and towns all over Panama where you would certainly be close to beaches and a tiny minority of expats. Las Lajas,Santa Fe, Tole, San Felipe come to mind. You really have to come and travel around and see what appeals to you. And, no matter where you initially land, RENT for a year, minimum. Downsize, certainly, then put it all in storage for a year. Don't move it all down here and then have to haul it around with you like a hermit crab seeking a better nest. Best of luck.

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QUESTION: Yes we have visited Panama and we have friends in Panama City.  However we have not been to Chitre or Los Tablas.  My Aunt who stayed in Boquete highly recommended that area because of the closeness to David and what all David has to offer.  We are planning a trip to check out some areas so thank you for the recommendations.  It will give us several places to check out.  I really appreciate your time.  And the idea to leave our stuff in storage until we figure out where to live is a great idea.  I do not want to be a hermit crab!!! I just want to sell the stuff I have that I don't love...but I am keeping what I do.  :)  Thank you again for your time.

You are most welcome. When you make it down this way and come to Boquete, look me up. My partner and I have Cloud Forest Botanicals, where we grow organic medicinal plants, do educational tours. We are on the internet. Best of luck to you--Panama is a great little country with a lot of diversity in every area of life.



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Elizabeth Worley


I can answer most general questions about: 1. Vacation planning in Chiriqui and Boquete, including references for hotels, restaurants, guides, tour operators, etc. 2. Questions pertaining to alternative and traditional health care. 3. Cost of living and retirement related issues 4. How-to questions about purchasing real estate, getting a driver's license, where to buy things, what to do (and NOT do) in construction.


I have lived in the Chiriqui highlands of Panama, just outside Boquete, for 8 years. I can answer most questions about residency requirements, immigrations, purchasing real estate in an ethical and safe manner, health care availability (traditional and alternative), planning a vacation, tours and sightseeing, references for hotels, restaurants, service providers, etc. I grow organic coffee, so I can definitely answer questions about coffee!

Atlanta Journal/Constitution Sunday supplement Reader's Digest Southern Living Panama Living Noticias Bajareque Times Panama 180

Master's degree in Psychology. In addition to having a private counseling practice and working for many years in the non-profit sector, I am a nationally and internationally published author.

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