As some of you know, Panama is currently at the top of my list for possible expat destinations. (In fact, my husband and I are setting dates right now for a visit in the spring to explore.) In preparation, I’ve been looking over reams of information about the country.
One of the packages I reviewed is called the Panama Bridge Kit. It’s a comprehensive rundown of the kinds of information that future Panama expats need.
The kit includes six modules:
- First and foremost, the Live and Invest in Panama guide. It’s a 220-page behemoth filled with information about the country’s geography, history, culture and things to do.
- Panama 101: 101 Things You’ll Wish Someone had Told You About Panama
- Panama Residency Visas Supplement
- Little Black Book for Panama. This is like a virtual Rolodex file (are you old enough to remember Rolodex? I am. . .) of resources, including places to stay and to eat, emergency services, utility companies, legal and banking professionals, travel, entertainment, health care and much more. The isn’t just a directory, this amounts to a recommendation of these businesses.
- Special Report on El Valle de Anton, the World’s Top Retirement Haven for 2009
- State of the Panama Property Market Teleconference. This is a recording a a live teleconference about real estate in Panama.
I’m very impressed with this kit. It’s published by Kathleen Peddicord and her Live and Invest Overseas group, and it’s a cordon bleu feast of information. In this article I’ll focus just on the Live and Invest in Panama guide.
I have to warn you — this is not information you skim through. This is a massive guide. Think of it as a 14-course meal, and take it in bite-sized pieces so as not to overload yourself with information and create indigestion.
Here’s a quick summary, continuing with our meal analogy:
Appetizer, Soup and Salad
- Welcome. This section acts as a geographic and cultural introduction to the country. It discusses the provinces and the kinds of flora and fauna you find in Panama.
- History, Government and the Economy
- People and Culture. Here you’ll find information about Panama’s ethnically mixed population and indigenous peoples, holidays, fiestas and festivals, culture, art and music, and sports and recreation. This is also the section where you can learn about social etiquette in Panama, quality of life in the country, and food.
- Planning Your Fact Finding Trip includes sample itineraries of what to see depending on the length of your visit – one week, two weeks or a month. This section also includes recommended hotels and restaurants in several of the most popular locations. (If you’re planning on spending time off the beaten tourist track, you won’t find recommendations here, unfortunately.) You’ll find details about visas and currency in this chapter as well.
- Travel and Transportation – planes, trains and automobiles, as well as taxis, busses, boats and bicycles! This section discusses transportation into and out of the country, as well as how to get around while you’re there.
- Daily life
- Housing considerations details information about how to rent or buy, and the relative costs in different parts of the country.
- Prime living locations identifies seven specific communities where you might like to live as an expat, and gives you a big helping of information about each of them.
- Employment (and business)
- Finance and Investment Opportunities
- Language and Education
- Health and Safety
While the first five chapters are informative and interesting, the real meat – if you’re seriously considering moving to Panama – begins on page 84, “Daily Life.” This section of the guide tells us:
“Panama may be the most user-friendly choice for foreign residency in the world. Once you’ve decided you’d like to put down stakes, either full- or part-time, you’ll find Panama has already thought things through for you, thanks to the tens of thousands of foreign residents who’ve come before you.”
Laid out here are the nitty gritty details about immigration and visas, including all the different types of visas available to you. Some very helpful information about moving with kids and/or pets is included. Cost of living, shopping, ways to meet other expats and information about what to bring into the country and how to do it are also covered in detail.
Not sure whether you want to live in the city, the mountains or at the beach? Check out the Housing Considerations and Prime Living Locations chapters to help narrow your choices.
If, like most of us, you’ll need to earn an income after you move, the Employment chapter tells you what you need to know about getting a job in the country or, alternatively, starting a business. Of course, your best option may be to start or continue a portable career that you can work at from anywhere you happen to be.
Although you can get by — in Panama City at least — without speaking Spanish, it’s a good idea to learn some. The Language and Education chapter tells you where to find language schools, and also provides information about private schools and universities.
Part of Panama’s appeal is the affordability and quality of health care. You’ll find lots of information about health insurance, hospitals and other facilities here.
Can you use your cell phone? Find broadband internet? What’s on TV or the radio? The section on Communications addresses all these and tells you what your options are for staying in touch, within the country and internationally.
Are you stuffed yet? I sure am, after a meal like that. If you still have room for dessert, check out the Suggested Reading and Resources. It’s extensive and comprehensive.
You could probably ferret out all the factual information in the Panama Bridge Kit on your own, without spending the money. But if you’re seriously considering Panama, this package pulls together a ton of well organized information. Not to mention the recommendations, implied and explicit.
If Panama’s on your radar, I think the Panama Bridge Kit is an excellent value.
Click here for more information.
Have you spent time in Panama? Do you see yourself living there? Have a city or town picked out? You can add a Comment below (if you’re reading this in an email, you’ll have to go to the web page to comment), or join the discussion on Facebook.