How is it to live in Panama City, Panama?

As Dr. Murphy said, there the good and the bad things in Panama. We have natural parks, there's a nice theater scene, but you have to be careful, as in bigger cities, of crime (just be careful and stay away from dangerous neighborhoods). Traffic is the other big problem.

I wanted to add that one of the big perks to Panama, in my opinion, is the cuisine. I have travelled and lived around the world, but as a Panamanian I am impressed of the broad selection of world cuisine. We have amazing Cantonese food, including Dim Sum. We have plenty of Italian restaurants. There's a couple of Cordon Bleu chefs in Panama in case you want a confit canard. We have an authentic Japanese restaurant. We have Thai, Indian, Vietnamese joints.. you name them. Last night we were also talking about this great place, Donde Jose, that actually makes gourmet Panamanian traditional dishes. So the food scene is growing exponentially!

And as a Panamanian who studied abroad twice, I can tell you why most Panamanian come back eventually:

  1. There are few natural disasters in Panama.
  2. You can go from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean in 1 hour.
  3. There are lots of opportunities for well educated people to get jobs and business opportunities for the entrepreneurs.
  4. We are still in the middle of an economic boom, who knows when it will end...
  5. It is easy to scale up in society if you are cunning and hardworking. Why? Because we are a handful of people. There is not as much competition as in USA or Europe.

And once we come to Panama, we complain about:

  1. How expensive life is. Real estate prices are over the clouds in the city. You can go out to a fancy restaurant and spend over $100 for 2 people. Supermarket prices have increased quite a bit. Most of these problems can be mitigated (live on city borders, avoid fancy restaurants, go to the market) but it is a hassle.
  2. Education. Good education is expensive and public education is lacking. Panama is below average in all three areas of the PISA ranking in 2010.
  3. Corruption and crime. I would say it affects all aspects of life in Panama. However I have lived over 20 years in Panama and I have had the luck to never witness crime. My dad is a retired cop, so maybe I just know how to move around Panama. Corruption, on the other hand, I have seen, unluckily. And I will never support it.

I hope this helps!

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