Panamainfo’s Blog

What Obama Missed by Skipping Panama in Latin America Tour-Christian Science Monitor Excerpt

“President Martinelli wants Panama to be known as the next Miami as a shopping and airline hub; the next Chile for copper exports; the next Dubai as a business and real estate capital; the next Rotterdam as a shipping hub; and the next Singapore as a global logistics center.

“We are seeking our own path in the world, but we have to copy the good things that other countries have done, for example what Singapore has done and what the Dominican Republic has done in tourism,” Martinelli told the Monitor following the recent investors conference, “Panama: Where the World Meets.”

 Though it sounds like a tall order, Panama, which enjoyed 7.5 percent economic growth last year – more than double the Central American average – seems up to the challenge. According to projections from the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund, Panama will lead the region in economic growth over the next five years, thanks in large part to a five-year, $20 billion public-investment plan highlighted by a $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal, to finish in 2014.

But there are signs that this pro-business government can’t have everything it wants all at once.

On March 3, Martinelli reluctantly announced his government was repealing its controversial Reforms to the Mining Code (Law 8) – an initiative that his administration had hoped would bring in billions of dollars in revenue and convert Panama into one of the largest mining nations in Latin America within 20 to 30 years.

Backpedaling on it and the mining law are indications, he insists, that his government is listening to the people. Analysts, however, claim the reversals are more a symptom of his government’s failure to consult civil society on projects that don’t necessarily jibe with Panama’s culture or traditional development model. And it’s giving some the impression of an erratic government that is shooting out in all directions. “

Panama is one 5 Places to Retire On Social Security Alone: US News and World Report Blog- Not Quite

Below is an excerpt from this article. However, in my opinion in Panama  you need a Social Security check of at least $2000.00 to live “comfortably”.  This does not include rent or  mortgage. To live on this amount you would also to buy a home or condo as well.

US News and World Report Blog Post

One of the most compelling reasons to consider retiring to another country is the opportunity to reduce your cost of living, maybe dramatically.

As one American I know who retired to Boquete, Panama put it recently, “Back in Tucson, Arizona, where I’m from, my monthly Social Security check might cover the cost of my utilities. Here in Boquete, my income from Social Security is enough to buy me a very comfortable new life.

The average Social Security check is about $1,200. You can receive that payment while living anywhere in the world. In some countries, you can even have your Social Security check direct-deposited into your local bank account. Here are five places where you could retire on your Social Security income alone.

Boquete, Panama. Panama offers super user-friendly options for foreign residency. Resident retirees receive a long list of benefits including discounts on everything from prescription medicines and in-country air travel to closing costs on the purchase of real estate.

Business Week on Why Panama is the Next Florida for Retirees

Business Week recently published an article on Panama for Retirement. It recommends Panama for professionals  on a moderate retirement income. Some years ago, Panama was attracting retirees on low budgets, but Panama today is no longer a low budget retirement destination. and one could argue it never was. Panama also works well for professionals as it takes a certain degree of sophistication to navigate and enjoy the waters of a country like Panama.

Panama’s new president has declared his intention to make things easier for retirees who plan to move here, but we don’t know yet what that means practically. One thing that is clear,  Pres.  Martinelli, one of the countries foremost businessmen, is on the ball making many long overdue changes in a myriad of areas. Therefore Panama will soon be on the radar not only for retirees but also for investors and businesses looking for a home office in the region.

It is significant that in this article, Business Week does  not mention neighboring Costa Rica that was the first country to successfully attract foreign retirees.  Panama stands out by itself these days.

Check it out on the article link:

Why I Love Scotia Bank for Foreign Residents

Dealing in banks in Panama is not a favorite activity for foreign residents.  But good news: there is one bank that excels at serving the foreign resident community. Many years ago a board member at the American Chamber of Commerce recommended Scotia Bank to us.  Shortly thereafter we opened a savings account and  got a home mortgage from Scotia.   I did not consider putting my bank accounts because their one Panama City  branch was far from where we lived.  But Scotia recently opened a branch near where we live. I am now switching 3 of our checking accounts  to Scotia. I made this decision after having one too many problems with my current bank and not wanting to stand in long lines anymore.

It has been a pleasure to open up these accounts at Scotia. They were geniunely happy to have my business, the personnel was competent and helpful. I speak Spanish but they were ready and willing to speak to me in English if necessary. I was able to set up my new bank account in less than a week with no hassles whatsoever.

Scotia was recently named “One of the top 10 most stable banks in the world” according to the Toronto Financial Post. It’ growing by leaps and bounds in a number of Latin American countries like Mexico. In Panama, Scotia has several branches in Panama City and also one in Boquete.

Scotia accounts can of course be seen online but it will be another year before you can make utility and other payments from your Scotia Bank online account, so I am keeping one account in my old bank until this service is offered. I am told that Scotia will offer credit cards in a year as well.

Panama’s Top Romantic Beach Getaways

In no special order because they are all so different:


Note: Our idea of a Romantic Getaway: Romance for us is to get totally away from it all  surrounded by pristine, beautiful nature, yet to have fine food and attentive service. Or to revel in the lap of total luxury at an exclusive authentically Panamanian beach  resort.  If the same appeals to you, then read on.

Coral Lodge

Coral Lodge on the Atlantic coast near the San Blas Islands-  in the middle of nowhere, yet the facilities are fine and  well appointed. We love the “water villas”- over- the-water villas- each with  a Jacuzzi in the bedroom and a private deck with a chaise lounge and chairs. You hear the waves lapping all day and you can jump in the ocean from the deck of your villa for a swim or just stay there all day feeling close to and embraced by nature. You don’t have to leave your villa and  be very happy. The dining room is beautifully done and  you can breakfast on an outside terrace with 365 ocean views. The food is another attraction-mostly famous Peruvian cuisine and excellent.

Start out with a picnic on an island to yourselves: We highly recommend you choose their “San Blas Island  picnic arrival”- after flying in to San Blas , you are taken by  boat to a beautiful tropical island you have to yourselves for a gourmet picnic lunch for two and snorkeling gear to explore. What a way to begin your vacation- It doesn’t get better than this!

Buenaventura Bristol Hotel- 1.5 hours from Panama City on the Pacific Coast

This is Panama´s most luxurious beach resort and the only one on our list you can drive to from Panama City. A Leading Hotel of the World, The Buenaventura Bristol has elegant rooms, 8 large villas with views of lakes, ocean and lush vegetation, pools and outdoor amenities. There are three fabulous restaurants with cuisine created by Cuquita Arias, Panama’s  most renowned chef.  This is a perfect romantic setting for honeymoons, weddings and anniversaries.

Punta Caracol- Bocas del Toro

Punta Caracol is on Boca’s main island situated in a place where you see no other sign of man. The view of their over-the-water cabins  set in the sea are so beautiful they were featured on the cover of  Travel and Leisure. The cabins look simple on the outside, but inside they are as luxurious as an eco-friendly lodging can be, with delightful design details and two stories.  From the deck, all you can see is ocean, mangroves and  mountains in the far distance. The snorkeling is good right from the cabins. The food is good and the dining is also in a outside terrace over the sea with 100% natural views.

Being in Bocas, you there are plenty of activities- you can boat over to take various excursions like diving and dolphin watching or for some  night life  and shopping in the fun, laid back  town of Bocas.


Hacienda del Mar- The Pearl Islands

Many regard the Pearl Islands as the most beautiful islands in Panama and Hacienda Del Mar is a private island resort perched on a bluff on one of these spectacular islands. The sands are white, the sea is a deep indescribable blue and area home to world class fishing and some great diving destinations.

We love their Club House on the bluff with its large common areas including the dining terrace with wide open ocean and jungle views. Each meal a tucan comes down from a tree and perches nearby or even jump on our table for some crumbs- to see and experience these gorgeous exotic birds close up is priceless. The pool below is picture perfect. The cabins are tastefully appointed, each with its own view deck  and made of bamboo so you feel comfortable yet close to nature


Calamia Boutique Hotel- Boca Chica, Chiriqui

Conveniently located in Chiriqui province, Calamia is a great beach escape for those who are also exploring the Chiriqui Highlands. In Boca Chica on the Chiriqui coast, 40 minutes from the airport and another 20 minutesby water taxi,  Calamia is a pristine paradise island with privatetwo beaches and nature all around. We loved the large bungalows – all of them have ocean views  and a good size  private terrace for private relaxing.  You can hear the ocean and also from time to time howler monkeys in the jungle nearby. The décor is rustic chique. The dining pavillion has almost 365 views and the food is good with fresh and natural ingredients. The owners live nearby on the island- some greens come from their organic garden. Spa and massage services are also part of the Calamia experience.


Las Nubes is An Attractive Mountain Residential Project in El Valle

One of the best things about looking for a retirement home or vacation home in Panama is that there are several projects where you can live in the mountains but be just half an hour away from beaches and golf courses of the Pacific Coast area.  Las Nubes is one such project- a really beautiful mountain residential project just outside the little town of El Valle. It has several unique attractions- to start its set in the beautiful rolling hills withfresh mountain surroundings. The model homes are attractively designed in an architecture that blends perfectly into the natural surroundings. The area has a year round Spring-like climate. Las Nubes is just minutes from El Valle, a picturesque, established town with gourmet restaurants, spas, a very friendly populace, plenty of stores and services, and a growing community of very interesting foreigners. The location in El Valle also means residents are close to just about everything one could need: 2 hours from Panama City, half an hour from a beautiful beaches, 40 minutes from a beautiful golf course and the new San Fernando Clinic. ( I know one American resident in El Valle ,a retiree who goes surfing 2-3 times a week on the nearby beaches.) A number of developments are being planned for the El Valle area. but Las Nubes is the most advanced and arguably in the most beautiful and convenient location- Worth exploring! To start check it out at:

Contrast to Florida…Panama is a Not Hurricane Country/Panama’s Pleasant Climate

Reading these days about the misery and worry of the havoc caused by Hurricane Fay in Florida…- I can’t help being grateful that Panama has no hurricanes. In fact Panama is the only country in Central American and the Caribbean that has neither hurricanes nor major earthquakes. Pretty nice.

Panama’s weather is not perfect- the tropical heat and humidity of Panama City and most of the rest of the country is hard to bear- air conditioning is a must. With air conditioning I hardly notice the heat and humidity and heat..going from my air conditioned home to an air conditioned office, or store or mall… But Panama City evenings and early mornings are near to perfect- fresh, cool and the same 80 degrees or so the whole year….perfect for walking and jogging outside.

The climate in the highlands and mountains of Panama in places like El Valle and Boquete- spring-like weather all year around.

Another Panama weather convenience is that throughout the country temperatures hardly vary year round- which means you can wear the same kind of clothes year round- this means less clothes cost and clothes hassle.

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!