Expat Adventures and the Intricacies of Panama Living
Getting around in Panama City Panama is an adventure unto itself. Taxis and Uber are inexpensive in comparison to other cities. Buses ($.25) and subways ($.35) are even more economical and can get you to your destination. Driving is simplified using GPS via Google Maps or Waze, not sure how anyone found anything before the advent of these apps!
There are so many Panama sites to see for expats to learn about their new home, local traditions and culture.
Along the waterfront, the Cinta Costera Panama City (Coastal Beltway) boulevard was developed through a land reclamation project and completed in 2009. This site has become a favorite of locals, expats and tourists alike, offering a wealth of leisure opportunities. Bike, run, walk, take a free yoga or Zumba class, visit the state of the art skate park, play on the courts or in the playground surrounded by the lush green landscaping.
Looking for places to eat in Panama City, Panama? For a true taste of Panama, look no further than the Cinta Costera. Fresh seafood and authentic Panamanian cuisine is available along the beltway. Fresh, made in front of you, ceviche can be found at the Mercado de Mariscos.
The Cinta Costera plays host to performers, street vendors, fairs as well as the large festivals and parades. Christmas comes in the second week of December, even closing down to traffic for parade weekend celebrations. During Carnival, this is the place to be. In late June, Pride Week is celebrated on the Casco Viejo side of the beltway.
Balboa Avenue Panama City, Avenida Balboa, was expanded in 2009 to become a major tourist attraction. That line of towering buildings visible from the air runs along this 3.5 km stretch bordering the waterfront. Hotels with spectacular views, a wealth of culinary options from local freshly caught fish to international restaurants, public gyms and tennis courts, bike paths, and a hopping nightlife highlight the activities for expats to enjoy alongside locals, in the heart of the financial district.
Panama uses US currency, ATMs in Panama City are everywhere, in banks, grocery stores, malls, all the standard locations. Visa and Mastercard are also widely accepted though any smaller establishments often only take cash so take a few dollars along on your adventure.
Health insurance in Panama may not necessarily be considered an expat adventure topic but staying healthy in paradise is key to being able to experience and explore the wonders of Panama.
Panama has first class modern medical facilities with doctors trained in US, Canada and Europe. Quality dental care is also readily available and often less costly than expected. Jubilado discounts for retirees can make the costs relatively reasonable for those coming from countries with national health care (Canada and Europe) who were not previously out of pocket for these expenses.
Local and international coverage is available from many health insurance companies in Panama. Online quotes from many companies provide comparison charts for rates across the spectrum of plans and options. The team at Try Panama can assist to ensure you get the best quality coverage for the best value. Request references via local Facebook pages, the communities offer a wealth of advice based on personal experience. Planning for unexpected issues in advance removes financial surprises that can be devastating.
After all, the expat experience is intended to be a slice of life in paradise. The ocean, the tropical rain and breezes, the spectacular wonders of nature surrounds you, adventure awaits in all corners of Panama for you to explore and savor. A healthier outdoor lifestyle, easy access to cultural, natural and historical sites and events, and a spirit of adventure are the foundation of fully experiencing and enjoying expat life in Panama.
Finally, one thing it took a while to understand and appreciate as an expat is the culture of mañana. The high stress environment of big city life, family and career slows down here. The problems might be the same but the way to deal with it is very different. Perhaps it is the heat or the ocean air, everyone moves a little slower, the pressure alleviates somewhat and if you stop and take a deep breath, you may come to the realization that it’s not that important and perhaps it can wait until tomorrow.
That is expat freedom: an entirely new perspective for your new life. Keep breathing and seeking, fellow expats, something new awaits around every corner.