When looking for a place to live in Panama as a recent expat, there are a lot of factors to consider. For families, many of these factors are centered around the needs of their children. Raising kids is a tough task, and it can be even tougher when moving them out of the country and their comfort zone. Finding the right fit for your kids can lead to a much easier transition living in Panama, and improve the quality of life for the whole family. Before deciding where to live in Panama with kids, let’s take a look at some of the most family-friendly areas, and why they would be good options. Remember, there’s no right or wrong place to live in Panama with kids, but simply different choices for different types of needs. Here’s a breakdown to help you make the best decision for your own families.
The most broad offerings for living in Panama with kids can be found in the country’s capital, Panama City. There are a lot of education, leisure, and domestic resources in Panama City, and most are available within a very reasonable budget. Schools are plentiful, with international schools, religious schools, and public schools all available to choose from. There is not a lot of green space in most of the city, however there are areas that surround parks that are highly popular with expat families. These areas are San Francisco, Albrook, Clayton, and El Dorado. There are smaller parks in other neighborhoods, however they’re less kid-friendly and tend to be less taken care of.
A big plus of living with kids in Panama City is access to other families. Because Panama is largely a rural country, expat families can feel very isolated at times if not near a population center. In Panama City, children have great access to both local and foreign families, and opportunities to participate in events and activities with them to build friendships. Many families in Panama host events indoors due to the heat/humidity, but many also host pool parties, BBQs, and playdates at their homes and common areas of their condo buildings.
When most people think about Boquete they may not think of it as a kid’s type of town, but that couldn’t be further form the truth. Boquete is a very popular destination for North American retirees who live in Panama, and this often overshadows many of its family-friendly benefits. There are few towns that have as much safe, accessible nature around them as Boquete. This is a great advantage for families with active kids, or kids who love the outdoors. Space is plentiful in Boquete, and kids of all ages participate in hiking, sports, outdoor education, and bike riding. The weather in Boquete is cool and less rainy than in many parts of Panama, which allows for year-round outdoor activities amongst kids.
The community of expats in Boquete is very large, and very tight-knit. This allows for families to network with other families in a similar position, which helps a lot with adjusting the kids to a big move. There are also many local families who are active in the community, giving kids a wide range of friends and activities to participate in. The drawbacks for families in Boquete are isolation, and limited education resources. Due to the location of the communtiy, it is relatively isolated from the rest of the country’s population centers. Families that are looking for lots of schools, recreation programs, and other resources may find Boquete to be lacking in those areas.
The beach area of Coronado has a similar demographic to Boquete when it comes to expats, though more and more families have been moving there in recent years. It is a growing community with relatively quick access to Panama City, and plenty of modern shopping and other resources that families want/need. The beaches of Coronado and Gorgona are kid-friendly, and most expats live in condos with direct beach access. Families can safely enjoy the beach together with their kids, typically just a few steps away from home. There are a number of private and public schools in the area, too, which is great for local and expat families alike.
Food options are plentiful in the area, which means parents don’t have to drive for to grocery shop for kids, or buy a pizza for a get together. Coronado and the surrounding areas are generally not walking friendly, which means families will have to do a significant amount of driving back and forth with their kids. That being said, most expats live in condos that have dozens (if not hundreds) of other expats living there, so in-building get togethers and parties are frequent, and very beneficial for busy parents. The proximity to Panama City also means that families can take their kids on frequent museum or mall trips if they want to. It also means that the international airport is not too far away, which allows for easy travel, and a big benefit for kids who travel to see grandparents or separated parents in other countries.
Every family is different, and there’s a good fit for everyone in Panama
It’s important to remember that these three locations are just a simple guide as to what to expect when living in Panama with kids. There are dozens of communities all over the country that offer different experiences than the ones above, too. The most important aspect of planning a move to Panama with kids is to do what’s best for YOUR family. We recommend visiting Panama with the family first, to see for yourself. There is no bad choice, as long as you’re making an informed decision that checks off all the boxes that you need. Make sure you setup a situation where your kids can adjust to a new culture and new way of life at their own pace. Give them as many resources as they need. Create the best life for everyone in your family in Panama!