The 5 Expats Types You’ll Find in Panama

Have you ever wondered exactly what type of person decides to live abroad?

Maybe you already have some assumptions. It must take a young person, you think, wild and adventurous.

Or maybe you assume we’re all rich. Trust-fund babies, you figure. 401k-ers.


The types of expats you’ll find in Panama vary widely. Yes, you’ll find the incredibly wealthy or wacky among us- but that’s the exception, not the norm.

Most of us, in all likelihood, are not very different from yourself.

Here are the most common expat “types” I’ve noticed living in Panama. Keep in mind that most of us fall into more than one of these categories- some of us as many as 3 or 4! (What, you think there’s no such thing as a second-home-owning, adventurous retiree?)

The Retiree

Retirees have a long-term love affair with Panama, one they rarely expect and inevitably embrace.

Panama is a retiree’s playground in its own right. The gorgeous land, the warm weather, the luxury developments and the established expat community. Tack that onto the Pensionado Program- and you understand why retirees laugh at the thought of ever leaving.

The program discounts to retirees on just about every move they make. Food? Check. Hotel rooms? You bet. Medical care, prescriptions, entertainment, and everything in between? It’s all top quality, and a fraction of the cost. It’s a wonder we don’t all retire in Panama.

The Second Homeowner

Purchasing a second home is a major milestone in any life. Being able to purchase that home offshore, in a country as tropically rich and diverse as Panama? Even better.

It may seem like a milestone reserved for the rich or retired- but it’s more affordable than you think. The countless North Americans you’ll find enjoying their part-time homes on the coast can attest to that. Many of these part-timers actually fund their investment by renting it out during the months they’re away- turning a pretty profit over time.

The Professional

What better place to build up your career than in the midst of a red-hot economy unlike any other in the hemisphere? Nowhere, according to the countless young (and not-so-young) professionals that are quickly climbing the rungs in this professionally invigorating atmosphere.

As many suits and stockings you’ll see pounding the pavement of Panama’s business district, you’ll find entrepreneurs and (is that a word yet?) working diligently from their laptops by the poolside. It’s a new, international era of commerce- and the smartest among us are quick to take hold.

The Adventurer

You can see the adventurers when they’re coming. Exuberant, unshaven, and only slightly out of breath- these explorers come in search of a wild landscape to conquer- and in Panama, they find it.

Push aside all the luxury hotels, hi-rises, and VIP theaters- and Panama is quite the adventure. From scuba diving through pirate ships in the Caribbean to zip-lining the tree tops of the rainforest- Panama leaves no full or part-time adventurer wanting for excitement. (That’s right- I said part-time. You didn’t think all sweaty backpackers were jobless on the weekdays, did you?)

The SuperMom

A growing breed in Panama are the SuperMoms. These Moms, often North American by birth, want more for their children than what home offered.

They want to raise their children in a stimulating environment that fosters physical and mental health, cultural awareness, superior education, and familial values. They recognize that a world is an increasingly globalized place, wherein a bilingual and culturally diverse individual will go further than the rest. They recognize the value of growing up in a country where family, friends, education, and playing outside (key word: outside!) are considered more important than the latest sitcom or bizarre news event.

I should know- I’m one of them.

[So, which expat category (or categories!) do you fall under? Please, share by commenting below!


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