Panamainfo’s Blog

Why A Single American Woman Lawyer Loves Her New Life in Panama


This comment by an American woman living in Panama was posted on an expat yahoo chat group this morning. “It says it all”
- Nancy

“I’ve just returned from a week in the US–Philadelphia (which was absolutely gorgeous with everything in bloom, Hillary and Obama, and dozens of museums, concerts, operas, gallery, shows, etc.). Altho I had a wonderful time in the States, I am SO happy to be back home in Panama City!

I came here without expectations and with no intention of buying (or selling) real estate. I rent a lovely apartment in a great area. I’m used to the noise and pollution and the lack of customer service. (Having mentioned that, I went to Union Fenosa today to pay a friend’s electric bill. He’s in the US and this month no bill was under his condo door. It took me 5 minutes, even with my sophomore Spanish, to take care of everything. So customer service can be good….) I can’t begin to describe my US “sticker shock” on this last trip– my first dinner, a small chicken Caesar salad and a beer in a nice (but not fancy) restaurant in downtown Philly was $18. All my “real” dinners, with wine, a main course and salad, were at least $35, but usually closer to $50. (I’ve finally learned not to say, “Do you know what this would have cost in Panama?!”, because the inevitable response is, “Get over it. You’re not in Panama now!”) I have spent $50 on dinner here but that’s extremely rare and usually a very special occasion. Usually dinner out is well under $20.

I originally came here JUST to learn Spanish. I’ve come back for the past 3 winters because, after just 2 weeks in town, I had (and still have) an incredible circle of friends, which continues to grow. I have never lived anywhere (and I’ve lived all over the US) where it’s as easy to make friends as here.

I could not justify having a cleaning person come in even monthly when I lived in Seattle. As I recall that cost more than $160. In Panama I have a wonderful maid who often brings me little presents (and gave me a beautiful shirt for my birthday). I pay her $35 every 2 weeks. My dental cleaning in the US was $165; in Panama it was $35…as are most doctors’ office visits. Lab tests that would have cost $200 in the US cost $30 in Panama.

I’m a former attorney and I haven’t had to use a lawyer in Panama. I don’t trust the legal system in the US and I don’t trust it here. It certainly appears that the system here is even more corrupt than in some US states. However, my goal is to avoid both systems as much as possible. Ditto with contractors and bankers. And that may be partly why my life here has been so incredibly good.

I walk all over el Cangrejo, Punta Paitilla, and Punta Pacifica, day and night, and never have had a single problem. I shop (alone) on Ave. Central, ride the diable rojos and take taxis everywhere. My biggest problem is the occasional taxista who thinks I should have a Panamanian boyfriend. In contrast, I was instructed very carefully where it was safe…and unsafe…to walk in Philadelphia. And 3 blocks from my hotel was about as far as I could safely venture out alone at night.

I wanted to present the “other side” of the negative coin that seems to be circulating about Panama lately….I really like it here and wouldn’t even consider moving back to the US!


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