For a small country, Panama offers many choices of where to live.
To help narrow down your options ask yourself these 6 questions, and more.
6 Questions to Ask
Do you want to live in or close to a city and/or airport or to live more rurally?
Do you want to live in an area with a significant number of expats or only a few or zero expats?
Is living by great surfing or birding important to you?
Do you need to live near superior health services?
Do you like the Caribbean or Atlantic Ocean better? or are you a mountain person?
Do you like the warm weather of the beach? or the cooler but wetter and windier weather of the mountains?
You can check out a map of Panama and start deciding which places to explore.
Cities & Superior Health Care
If you want to live near a city and/or airport, you may want to start by looking at David and Panama City. Both of those cities also have good health care, especially Panama City.
Mountains & Beach areas
Some mountain areas to explore are: Volcan, Boquete, Cerro Punta, hills around Panama City, Santa Fe, and El Valle
Some beach areas to explore include: Bocas del Toro, Boca Chica, San Carlos, Pedesi, Coronado, and Puerto Armuelles.
Climate & Weather
It is not only the terrain that differentiates the beach vs the mountains, but the weather. In Panama, a location’s year round temperatures & rainfall are greatly influenced by its altitude, or lack of altitude.
Mountains of Panama
The higher you go, the cooler it gets.
It never ever gets cold enough for snow. However in places like Cerra Punta, which 6,500 above sea level , it is not unusual for a house to include a fire place.
One thing that usually comes with elevation is more rain.
For instance, in Boquete it rains every afternoon- lightly, but persistently. They even have a name for this persistent rain: bajareque. Boquete is also windy in the dry season (December – April).
Some people like this regular rain. It definitely creates a lush landscape and makes gardening a dream job.
However, it also makes it very difficult to keep things dry and free from mold.
Beaches in Panama
At beach level the weather is warmer and sunnier.
At or near the beach you can enjoy the refreshing breezes off the water.
The rain falls mostly during the rainy season and hardly at all in the dry season.
(see this Panama weather information for more on the dry vs. rainy season.)
TIP: There are alot of microclimates in Panama, and that microclimate can change during the year. You should visit and talk to the people that live there in order to fully understand the weather you are going to live with.
The best way to determine where to live in Panama is to visit.
Do your research first. Then visit each location that interests you. That should help narrow down your list quickly.
Then spend some time in your top choice. Ideally, a few months both in the rainy and in the dry season.
Don’t feel compelled to buy property. Take it slow. Rent. Make sure it is the place you want to live long-term.