I love living in Panama!
We are currently buy a very nice house in a gated community just outside of Panama City.
The people here are very friendly, the infrastucture is excellent, and the scenery is beautiful.
There are a number of excellent restaurants (we've found some very good ones on the
Amador Causeway). We also feel right at home shopping at the local malls: Albrook,
MultiCentro, and... MultiPlaza Pacific, my favorite (and my husband's favorite too
because there's a very large hardware store in the mall).
We have excellent internet access here, and we have an "English speaking channels" cable
TV package (it's actually a bit odd watching CNN or FOX news now
that we don't live in the US anymore -- all the doom, gloom,and hysteria
going on back home seems very strange now, because everything's
so serene and laid-back around here).
The cost of living in Panama is cheaper than it was when we lived in America. And, our
standard of living is higher now, because our money goes much further. We are in the
Panama City area, which I suspect is one of the more expensive areas of the country because
it's a major metropolitan area. Still, it's cheaper to live here than it was when
we lived in Washington D.C. (and much safer too). My Spanish isn't very good; I'm still
learning. But, most of the time it's not a problem, because a lot of people here do speak
some English. We have encountered several people who only speak Spanish,
but we do OK because we can speak enough key phrases to get by (plus we carry a small
English-Spanish dictionary with us at all times, which can come in quite handy).The biggest
problem we ever had was when we called a large company and immediately got an
automated system (press 1 for this, press 2 for that, etc.) and they did not have any
options to get the message in English or a button to push to get an operator
right away. (We solved the problem by going directly to their office and doing business
face-to-face with a Panamanian employee of theirs who spoke English.)
I highly recommend Panama; it's a great place to live. We've been praising it so much that
now a friend of ours wants to move here too.
He's already gotten himself a plane ticket to come visit us for a week so he can see
everything for himself. We did the same thing before we committed to the move; we took a
2 week vacation here and quickly fell in love with the place. That's the smartest way to do it,
IMHO. Do lots of research on the net and all that of course (we did that too), but then come
to Panama and see the place for yourself to make sure it's right for you. At the very least you
will have a wonderful vacation.