Panama for Beginners: The basics on relocating to Panama

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Relocating to Panama can be a life-changing decision for so many people, for so many different reasons. Whatever your motivation is, relocating to Panama has so much to offer you, especially if you know how to plan, and know what to expect. It’s a big process, with lots of lessons to learn along the way, and a lot of information to take in. If you’re just starting your research into why Panama may be right for you, you’re not alone. One of the biggest parts of relocating to Panama is the initial information gathering stage. You need to know a bit more about the country, what your life will be like there, and what to expect from other expat experiences. Here are some of the basics we think are the most beneficial to know if relocation’s in your plans, and Panama’s at the top of your list.

Relocate to Panama

Go for a visit first!

No matter how much research you do online, you won’t get a truly authentic taste of living in Panama until you’ve seen it for yourself. If possible, take a few weeks to visit Panama, and pick out a few potential locations you want to scout out before you arrive. You can do a lot in a little bit of time, so if two weeks isn’t an option, you will still be able to get a good snapshot of the country with a week or so. During this trip, visit realtors for tours to get price estimates, attend expat events if available, check out a supermarket to gauge what the cost of food/supplies is. Most importantly, see if you feel comfortable being there!

Secure your income before relocating.

If you’re relocating due to a job offer in Panama, this is a non-issue, but many people who choose to move to Panama do so with external sources of income that aren’t connected to Panama. In other words, many retirees live off social security and savings, and many working-age people live off of savings, online work, or a combination of both. This means that when you’re doing your budget, you should really take a look at the finances you’ll have available while living abroad. Jobs for expats are available, as are great investment opportunities, however, there are many regulations that apply to both, so you need to be very diligent in how you plan your finances in the meantime.

Start learning Spanish.

Learning a new language takes time, and that’s OK. We all learn at different speeds and in different ways. That being said, you’ll be doing yourself a great service if you start learning Spanish before relocating to Panama. This way, when you’re on the ground and living here day-to-day, the process of learning as you go will run much smoother. There are many great options for learning Spanish in Panama, including schools, private tutors, language exchange events, and workshops. Knowing the local language will make your whole experience immensely easier, and more enjoyable.

Once you’ve decided to relocate, start the immigration process.

Even if you’ve just decided that Panama is right for you, and there are still months left until you move, it’s best to get the legal immigration process started. Panama has so many efficient, convenient visa options for expats, and with a good lawyer, the process can be quick and painless. You can get all of your pertinent information from your home country while still there, and set a timeline for delivery and process with your lawyer. This way, when you arrive in Panama, you’ll be many steps closer to becoming fully legal, which saves so many headaches over time.

About Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, POLS Attorneys offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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