All answers are based on my personal experiences. This page will be added to regularly.
Q: How much does it cost to live in Panama?
A: That would be a very subjective answer. It depends on your lifestyle and what part of Panama you live in. It also depends on where you are originally from. If you are from California or New York, you are going to find anywhere in Panama to be a big savings. Likely, no matter where you are from (in the US) you will find expenses in Panama to be less than what you are used to. I would say it is safe to estimate you will cut your expenses down by one third without sacrificing much. In Panama City, rent prices for high-rise apartments are commonly between $1000 and $1500 a month and can go much higher. Admittedly, since the answer is so subjective, I am looking at places that I personally would live in and I am a kind of high maintenance chica, so that’s just me. You can live in the city, very well for less. In Boquete, rentals can range between very charming, small spaces for $450 a month and all the way up the scale. The interior of Panama is the lease expensive, as you might guess, but then again, it all depends on if you are comfortable being more rural. I am planning to do cost analysis profiles on this blog in the future to better answer this question.
Q: Can I get by in Panama without learning Spanish?
A: Yes, but it will certainly make your life harder. Once you start learning Spanish you will find a whole new world opens up. It is much better to learn and really immerse yourself.
Q: Do I need to learn Spanish BEFORE moving?
A: It helps but I would not say you need to learn BEFORE moving. I moved to Panama very spontaneously so I did not know any Spanish when I moved there, and I learned quickly because I had to.
Q: Is there a lot of anti-American sentiment in Panama?
A: I think there is anti-American sentiment everywhere. America is not a popular country right now. However, the only anti-American gesture I have ever experienced in Panama was a rude woman in an elevator who told me “Panama is for Panamanians” when she learned I was looking at buying an apartment in her building. I shrugged it off. Everyone else has been more than kind to me. If there is anti-American sentiment beyond a mildly rude comment in an elevator, I have not personally experienced it.
Q: What is the traffic like?
A: A nightmare. Be prepared for absolutely chaotic traffic in the city. Outside the city, be prepared for damaged roads and drivers who consider speed limits “guidelines.”
Q: Is Panama City noisy?
A: Yes. Very. Car horns honk constantly. Traffic is often bumper to bumper. After a while of living in Panama City, you will be desensitized to lesser noise anywhere else. There are some pockets of quiet in residential areas.
Q: Is it realistic to get around the city with no car, just using taxis or bus?
A: Sure, many people do every day. I have epilepsy so I have never driven a car. I get around just fine.
Q: What is the weather like?
A: Hot and wet. There is a short hot and dry season. The rest of it is hot and humid. Some people say the highlands are cooler in temperature but I am fat and it all seems hellishly hot to me.