Top 7 Things I Love About Living in Panama


Experience the vibrant life in the Hub of the Americas firsthand.

Author's Note: This story was first featured on Live and Invest Overseas.

It's been almost five years since I left the tropical paradise of Panama to pursue new adventures. At the time, I was excited to move on and return to Paris, a city I had been longing for.

Back then, saying goodbye to Panama didn't feel too sentimental, as I knew I would always have a connection to the country. However, as the years have gone by, I've realized that I miss Panama more than I initially thought. Whenever possible (considering the challenges of COVID-19), I've made a point to return, often with my infant daughter in tow.

I've introduced her to the wonders of our "Panama life," where beaches and the ocean are central to our experiences. We explore the breathtaking rainforests, marvel at the rich biodiversity, and enjoy the spectacular thunderstorms. The laid-back culture and the warm hospitality of the people make each visit special. Our lifestyle in Panama is a stark contrast to our "Paris lives."

What other delights await when spending time in the Hub of the Americas?

1. The Sunshine

Without a doubt, the first thing you'll cherish upon arriving in the tropics and the first thing you'll yearn for when you leave is the abundant sunshine.

In Panama, it's a rare day when you don't catch a glimpse of the sun, making it ideal for enjoying the beach or a refreshing dip in the pool.

The only drawback is the temptation to stay outdoors, making it challenging to focus on indoor tasks. It's hard to resist lounging around and soaking up the rays.

Beyond the warmth, what I miss most about living near the equator is the extended hours of daylight. I grew so accustomed to waking with the sunrise, having a couple of hours to myself before starting the day's work.

I cherished the predictability of that routine, and it's perhaps the aspect I miss the most here in Paris.

2. Amazing Thunderstorms

In the rainy season, you can almost count on a daily thunderstorm in the afternoon. They typically last around 20 minutes but pack a powerful punch.

Streets can flood in no time, and if you're without an umbrella, you might end up looking like you took a dip in a pool fully clothed.

Lightning storms are a regular occurrence too. If you're by the coast, you get to witness the electrifying display over the ocean — a genuinely remarkable experience.

3. Personal Pool

I resided in a condo that boasted two pools exclusively for residents—one on the rooftop and another on the 10th floor alongside the gym. Whether in apartment buildings or expat-designed houses, having at least one pool is quite common in Panama, offering the likelihood of having your own.

Despite the notion that having a pool means you won't use it often, that certainly wasn't the case for me. I made it a routine to take a refreshing dip every morning post-workout and dedicated a portion of my weekend day to lounging by the pool.

As an additional note, I also miss maintaining a year-round tan...

4. Nature

Whether you're exploring the protected jungle reserves within the city or taking a weekend trip to the beach, the nature in Panama remains pure and untouched.

Despite its small size, Panama boasts incredible diversity in both geography and wildlife. From islands and wetlands to mountains and the Caribbean or Pacific Ocean, there's so much to explore.

Even in Panama City, there's a sense of wildness, as if the city has emerged from the rainforest, with nature constantly striving to reclaim its space. To counter this, numerous landscapers work tirelessly to prevent the overgrowth from taking over sidewalks, roads, and parks.

The presence of birds adds to the wild atmosphere, making it easy to forget you're in a bustling metropolis. Vultures circle the fish market, pelicans gracefully skim the bay's waves, flocks of parrots can darken the sky, and if you're fortunate, you might spot the occasional toucan. These species, in the thousands, pass through on their way south every autumn and return north each spring.

5. Enjoying Panama's Rum

I haven't discovered a drink I love more than a straightforward rum and Coke. I don't require anything fancy—just the basic, no-frills Ron Abuelo from the bottom shelf. It's delicious.

In Panama, a bottle of the budget-friendly rum only sets you back a few bucks. However, the aged version starts at least at $30 and increases with the number of years.

Recently, I came across a 20-year aged bottle of Ron Abuelo here in Paris, and they were asking for a couple of hundred euros for it.

6. Spacious Open Areas

Whether it's the countryside or your living space, Panama offers ample room.

Our apartment in Panama was noticeably more spacious than our place here in Paris. Every room had larger dimensions, and the lofty tall ceilings added to the overall sense of openness.

Compared to our balcony space in Paris, our Panama balcony was a paradise, accommodating a five-person sofa, a sun chair, a six-person table, a grill, and numerous plants—all while leaving plenty of room to move around.

Moreover, we had access to the building's "social areas," including a gym, two pools, a hot tub, a movie-viewing room, a pool room, several party rooms, and a rooftop lounge.

In Paris, our building is one of the few with private gardens, but they're more ornamental than practical.

In Panama's interior, vast space surrounds you. Opting to live outside the city opens up the possibility of settling on expansive land, ranging from a quarter-acre to as much as you could desire.

7. The Americana

Panama and the United States have maintained a strong relationship for over a century, creating connections through food, shopping, business culture, and more.

While I won't claim that Panamanians share the exact punctuality and work ethic for which Americans are renowned, it's much closer than the cultural difference between the French and Americans.

I used to regularly enjoy American food imports in Panama, and I genuinely miss indulging in boxed mac and cheese...

Additionally, there are some food chains in Panama that I miss, and they haven't made their way across the pond yet.

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