Over the past few years, Panama has gained a reputation as being a great place for foreigners to invest or retirees to come and live. For all it’s worth, the reputation is well deserved.
With one of the best retiree programs in the World and International investment grade qualifying the national economy as one of stability and fast growth, Panama has much allure for foreigners.
Panama City Skyline, as viewed from above.
This being said, over the years I have come to observe many foreigners disenchanted with certain aspects of the country, notably the work force and efficiency or perceived lack of efficiency.
Each country possesses a unique culture and unique set of traditions that influences all aspects of said country. The same is true for Panama. The culture that makes enjoying life and “fiestas” a priority has also created an unusual attitude towards customer service, bureaucracy, etc.
Refusing to recognize that each country is different in both its positive and negative aspects will make your stay in Panama quite challenging. The Number 1 Mistake foreigners make when moving to Panama is expecting Panamanians to become “mini north Americans”.
Yes, the rhythm of life and business is different here. Expect a lot of paperwork and infuriatingly long waiting lines to get things done. Know that there will be many things that you may not understand about the local culture. This being said, these are the things that make Panama interesting, different, challenging… worthwhile.
Accept the country with its flaws and virtues. Exert patience when faced with cultural aspects you do not comprehend. Remember that differences are not signs of inferiority… they are simply differences. Consider that each characteristic of a culture is due to some historical, social, geographical reason and that you should not blame citizens for reflecting the society they were born and raised in. Strive to understand the aspects that bother you. Research, ask around and you might be surprised by the answers you obtain.
Remember this and you will soon start noticing beautiful details about Panama that you had previously missed. Don’t be one of those people so stuck on details like garbage and noise, that you fail to perceive the tropical flowers, exotic plants, and overall Panamanian joy of life.
Spectacular Sunrise, near Panama City
Panama is a great country that welcomes you with open arms (both legally and socially). If you are willing, this could be your next home. At the end of the day, whether you integrate into Panamanian society or not, all depends on you… and your perspective on life. Remember:
“A little perspective, like a little humor, goes a long way.” – Allen Klein