Many expats moving with children to Panama often worry about finding the ideal area for living in Panama with children. Selecting the most suitable area will depend on both your family’s needs and budget.
If your family enjoys wildlife, Casa Mariposa might be just what’s needed; your children can interact with two three-toed sloths that were taken directly from the wild! Or explore indigenous tribes on San Blas Islands.
1. Panama City
Panama City is one of Central America’s most vibrant and safe cities, making it an excellent option for living with children. Residents also appreciate being close to beaches while having access to all the culture of a big city. Recent rental prices in Panama City have decreased, making living here more cost-effective for families making a move.
Many neighborhoods within the city provide something different, from high-rise living to charming Spanish colonial townhouses. Avenida Balboa, featuring breathtaking ocean views and an extensive running and biking park that stretches throughout all of San Diego City is one of the most favored living locations. Casco Viejo also provides some great spots where visitors can stroll stately plazas to admire beautifully restored Spanish colonial buildings.
There are a wide variety of modern shopping malls, restaurants and parks spread out throughout the city; public transportation makes navigation simple. Plus you are near beaches for all of the tourist activities!
Glenwood, a new development tailored towards families close to schools and services. Forest Hills boasts a variety of house styles and budgets; while Baker is known for being home to hip bars and restaurants that accommodate students or tourists.
2. Chagres National Park
Your children will delight in discovering Panama’s tropical wildlife while exploring it with you, such as sloths, aguti (endemic rodents), and coatis (racoon-like creatures), enriching the experience of living in Panama with children. But be mindful that their natural environment needs to be respected.
Chagres National Park offers visitors an ideal way to explore Panama’s natural wonders, with rainforest and rivers home to an array of species such as monkeys, anteaters and toucans. Furthermore, Alajuela Lake – draining part of Chagres River and providing vital water supply to Panama City and Colon – lies within this park’s boundaries and should also be explored further as part of your visit.
This park provides hiking, bird-watching, and canopy tower views of the jungle for visitors of all levels of ability. You can visit indigenous Embera tribes living along riverbanks. From Panama City you can take a traditional canoe ride down Chagres River before hiking on mud and water paths towards an idyllic waterfall for swimming and relaxation – an unforgettable day trip experience!
Panama City offers expat families access to an impressive selection of education, leisure and domestic resources within an affordable budget. Real estate agents will likely direct them towards neighborhoods like Punta Paitilla or Punta Pacifica with great schools popular among expats; or mountain communities offering gorgeous mountain views such as Boquete or El Valle may be more suitable.
3. Miraflores Locks
Panama is famous for its namesake canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is an incredible engineering feat that combines gravity with smart design to safely move ships from one side of Panama’s waters to the other – and back again! For families considering living in Panama with children, this engineering marvel offers a fascinating educational opportunity, showcasing the country’s innovation and historical significance.
Admiring ships pass through Panama’s Miraflores Locks is one of the top things to do, and an excellent way to introduce children to global trade. The visitors center offers both English and Spanish versions of a short film as well as exhibition halls that explore its history and current operations.
The Panama Canal is an active working port and you can watch massive vessels pass through from its observation deck outside Miraflores Locks or take an organized tour. On average, ships crossing from Atlantic to Pacific side take 11 hours per leg – providing an incredible transit process!
Panama provides families with many opportunities for living, catering to any interest and budget. From long Pacific and Caribbean beaches that attract surfers and beach lovers, mountain hamlets such as Boquete and El Valle that boast cooler climes for hiking enthusiasts and the Canal area for boating, kayaking, and river rafting activities; plus its pro-business government, vibrant real estate market, and strong economy – it all adds up to make Panama an attractive option.
4. Gatun Lake
Panama’s Gatun Lake covers an area of 164 square miles. Known for its islet-dotted waters (once hilltop villages) and stunning lakeside lodges, Gatun is home to one of the world’s largest tropical rain forests with exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas and reptiles as well as numerous indigenous plant species that thrive there. Furthermore, Gatun serves as drinking water source for nearby cities Panama City and Colon.
This charming beach community is popular among expat families. Spend your days relaxing on the sand, traveling between islands or lounging by the bar on the shoreline. Families will also find all their home comforts here: international schools, top hospitals and plenty of kid-friendly amenities are available here.
Boquete, located high on a mountain range in Panama, has become increasingly popular with North American retirees and their children in recent years. A few thousand residents live here in this picturesque mountain hamlet where mountain trails lead to waterfalls, hot springs and volcanoes; less rain falls here than other parts of the country making this spot perfect for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Panama offers one of the lowest costs of living globally; many expats, especially those living in Panama with children, report being able to live comfortably here for under $1,200 monthly budget. Health care costs, car insurance premiums, and household items are significantly cheaper compared to their American counterparts, and there are no income taxes here!