If you’re planning on relocating to or retiring in Panama, chances are you’ll need to do some adjusting. This isn’t to say that it’ll be a bad experience; simply that moving to another country, and another culture, involves a lot of changes in a very short time. Getting personally adjusted to a new life, and new lifestyle, can be extremely rewarding, and a actually a lot of fun. Here are some simple tips to help you adjust to Panama, and make your stay, or new life here, much easier:
1. Start learning Spanish before you arrive.
It’s safe to say that most people who move to Panama, even for short periods of time, actively try to learn Spanish. We think this is very important, and recommend you actually start early, so you can hit the ground running when you get here. Learning a basic foundation before you arrive will make getting by much easier from day one. Plus, your Spanish lessons in Panama will become that much easier.
2. Leave most of your stuff at home.
So many people that relocate to Panama make the mistake of overpacking, and stressing out over bringing all of their things on the long move. The simple solution: leave as much as you can at home. Panama has lots of shopping available in practically every part of the country, at pretty low prices. So, if it’s not an heirloom, or something that’s vital, we say save the stress and just leave without it. You can always replace simple things here, and in the end, it will actually save you money (not to mention time and stress).
3. Get used to a slower pace of life.
Many people who come to Panama complain that things go a bit slower down here. This is true, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. One of the best aspects of living in Panama is the slow, relaxed pace of life, and low stress culture. We recommend that you accept this, and go with the flow. This will make life much easier, and (even if you don’t realize it now) make you much happier!
4. Shop local products.
Panama has a ton of imports when it comes to all types of retail and food products. And while this is a fantastic luxury to have, it can also get expensive. We recommend shopping for mostly local products whenever possible. As far as clothes, groceries, and hardware, this can save you thousands each year. Plus, it helps stimulate the smaller businesses and local domestic economy. That’s a win/win.
5. Don’t underestimate the heat.
Panama is hot, really hot. And while pretty much everyone is aware of this before coming, you still need to prepare for how to handle it in your day-to-day life. Wear loose, summer clothes when you can. Drink water constantly throughout the day. Also, try to avoid direct contact with the sun during the hottest hours of the day (11am-3pm).
6. Open a local bank account immediately.
Even though there are many international banks and ATMs to get cash from if you’re a foreigner, getting a local bank account as soon as you arrive is critical. Nearly all of your transactions can be more financially beneficial through a local bank, and you can build local credit here from the first day you open one. This also saves you on ATM fees, and any local hiring you wish to do. Don’t let this slip through the cracks!