Do not retire in Panama ... before you know all the facts. With the right advice, retiring to Panama can be the best decision you ever made.
As rent or mortgage for your home will be your biggest expense, you need to know which areas in Panama City are safe AND affordable. During the International Living Conference in Panama in August 2009, I learned that the following districts are top locations with reasonable prices:
If you want to retire in Panama, you need to like it hot, humid and cloudy - just as I do! Although I have to admit that at sea level it can get too hot as soon as the sun comes out behind the clouds.
Panama climate is classified as "tropical maritime". There is little seasonal change in temperature, with warm days and cooler nights throughout the year. However, temperatures vary according to location and altitude. The annual average temperature on both coasts is 29° C (84° F), and it ranges from 10° to 19° C (50 to 66° F ) at various mountain elevations.
Compared to other tropical countries, Panama has a loooong rainy season from May to December. This leaves just a few dry months from January to April. The Pacific coast gets less rainfall (average of 178cm or 70 inches in Panama City) than the Caribbean coast (328cm or 129 inches in Colón). The good thing is that it rarely rains the whole day. You get a good downpour for a couple of hours, usually in the afternoon, and then the rain stops for the rest of the day.
I don't know about you, but one of the first things I do when I arrive in a hotel or B&B is to check out their internet access - and I expect it to be complementary. So I was rather disappointed when I found that the otherwise immaculate Intercontinental Hotel in Playa Bonita charged $10 per day for their pretty shaky wireless service.
The good news is: Broadband or high-speed Internet access is readily available in Panama. In Panama City you can choose between dial-up services, broadband, wireless and cable modems. In the countryside, your choices will be fewer. One of the established providers, Cable & Wireless Panama, offers a variety of broadband services, starting with a 1MB connection for 16.95$ per month.Traveling within Panama is best done by bus, taxi, plane or boat. If driving yourself, drive with caution. Poorly maintained streets and vehicles, the lack of traffic lights even at busy intersections and the - uhm - rather undisciplined driving habits of most Panamanians can turn your car trip into a nightmare. Driving into Panama City during rush hour ... not for the faint hearted.
Once you find a reliable taxi driver, get his phone number or business card. I did this during my last trip to Panama, and Oscar, "my driver", was always on time, drove safely and didn't try to rip me off.
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