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Metropolitan Park, Panama City
Metropolitan Park, Panama City | © Panama Rovers
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10 Tips You Need to Know if You’re Moving to Panama

Picture of Brittney Schering
Updated: 29 November 2017
Moving to Panama is a move toward peace and tranquility in the tropics. Here are a few tips and pointers to make your move as smooth sailing as possible.

Mail as we know it doesn’t exactly exist

One of the first things you’ll notice upon moving to Panama is homes do not have mailboxes. This is because Panama does not operate on a traditional mailing system and never has. Instead, they have alternative services, such as the popular favorite, Mailboxes, Etc., which offers a forwarding service that provides clients with a mailing address in Miami, Florida, from where mail then gets forwarded to you in Panama.

Stock up on candles

Power outages happen somewhat frequently in Panama. If you are moving here, it’s highly recommended that you invest in a collection of candles and matches for lighting them, in the event of the occasional overnight blackout. It may sound scary or inconvenient, but the random power outages provide opportunity for impromptu romance, such as dining by candlelight.

Lighting candles │© Pexels / Pixabay
Lighting candles │ | © Pexels / Pixabay

Bottled water too

Along with semi-frequent power outages, Panama experiences somewhat-regular water issues, too. While it may not be a big deal to skip a shower on a day that the water decides to cut out, you will likely want to drink a bit, especially considering the extreme heat that is ever present in Panama! These outages never last for too long, but they can go on for a day or two, so it’s best to be prepared rather than parched.

And sunscreen!

Speaking of that extreme heat, along with it comes the blazing sun. Protect your skin with sunscreen when spending days out and about in Panama. Even if you wish to tan, or you are spending a day in and out of the sun, those rays are powerful and hazardously so. Rather than fight a wicked sun burn or worse, prevent it all with a layer of sunscreen before you go out. Add it to your regular morning routine; your healthy skin will thank you for years.

Stock up on light, loose clothing

If you are moving to Panama, then you already know: Panama is hot. It is tropically hot. You will not need heavy, winter sweaters and fuzzy socks unless you fancy extreme use of air conditioning, which results in extremely high electricity bills. The only exception here is if you work in an office that blasts the AC. In that case, it makes sense to have a light sweater or that pair of fuzzy socks handy, just in case. Otherwise, light, loose clothing lets your body breathe through the heat and humidity.

El Otro Lado Private Retreat, Panama
El Otro Lado Private Retreat, Panama | Courtesy of El Otro Lado

And closed-toe shoes and rain wear too

You’ll want to add closed-toe shoes to your footwear collection, as well as a decent umbrella and maybe even a raincoat. Panama has two seasons – the dry season and the wet one. The wet one is longer, and it is called “wet” for a reason – there is serious rain to be had. Protect yourself and your belongings with proper rain wear and shoes that can handle stomping through sometimes lake-sized puddles.

Pedestrians don’t exactly have the right-of-way

If you are an avid walker, Panama City is great for you. Lots of neighborhoods are super walkable. One note to keep in mind though, is that traffic is somewhat monstrous, and pedestrians don’t exactly have the right-of-way as they do in other places. Proceed with caution when crossing the street, and don’t count on cars to stop at red lights; they often will fly right on through. Walk on, but walk carefully and cautiously, and you will be just fine.

Guna Yala women
Guna Yala women | © Yves Picq / WikiCommons

Drivers don’t always use their signal

If you decide to have a car while in Panama, driving is a wild experience as this melting pot of folks bring their various driving styles into one metropolis of serious city traffic. Lots of drivers don’t use their signal before they turn or change lanes. The best advice is to drive defensively always. Never take your eyes off the road, nor your foot off the brake pedal, just in case. Prepare for the most absurd driving you’ve yet to witness, and you’ll do great.

Panamanians love to love Panama, and you will, too

While Panama may still have some woes and kinks to be work out, Panamanians absolutely love to love Panama. The patriotism is real, and it is so refreshing to be in a place where the people who call it home love to do so. The genuine love for Panama is contagious, as many who move to Panama fall hard and fast in love, loud and proud to call Panama home.

Patience and peace are yours if you let them be

Panama is a place of peace and tranquility. Panamanians are not in a hurry to get much of anything accomplished other than fulfillment of everyday life. The harmony of day-to-day peace in Panama requires the regular exercise of patience, but if you can manage to accept that, then the bliss of this Latin American paradise is yours to revel in as long as you like.