The Best Country to Move to: Panama or Chile?

Panama City skyline with boat before entering canal

Panama City skyline with boats staging to the canal in the background.

Many people are dismayed with the decline of the United States and Europe and are seeking alternatives. I think the best country to move to is Chile, but Panama is a close contender. Both have strong economies, natural beauty, and a large exciting city, but have different attractions and annoyances.

Panama City is interesting to walk around, dense with a spectacular skyline, and rivaled only by Buenos Aires in Latin America. Panama City is better than Chile for retirees/jubilados/pensioners because the cost of living is much lower. For example, a can of cheap local beer in a grocery store costs $0.35, compared to $1.00 in the USA and $1.60 in Chile.

Advertisement for Panama Bay tour from Flamenco Island Marina, Amador Causeway, 30 miles from Panama City.

Panama competes seriously in the banking industry, while Chile won’t allow foreigners to open a bank account for two years. Chile has a European heritage from Spain, Germany, and Britain; Panama is heavily influenced by the USA, uses dollars, and so will suffer high inflation in the coming years. Chile is almost as terrified of foreigners as Japan, while Panama welcomes the world to their doorstep every day.

Chile has a good transportation system with an efficient subway, smooth roads, bike lanes and wide sidewalks, while Panama has no subway and terrible roads and sidewalks. Bike lanes are so rare in Latin America that my Spanish friends don’t know that “ciclovia” refers to a bike lane. Explaining it is like explaining snow to a Panamanian.

There are few or no bike lanes in Panama City, so locals hop a bus 30 miles away to the Amador Causeway to exercise. Mary and I saw buses with 50 bikes strapped to the roof, which I’ve never seen in any other country. Amador is a great recreational area with the Flamenco Island Marina, many restaurants, and views of the city skyline, boats staging for passage through the canal, and the Bridge of the Americas. We added a set of pictures from the area to the galleries menu.

Panama City skyline as seen from Amador Causeway, 30 miles away.

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3 Responses to The Best Country to Move to: Panama or Chile?

  1. Known person says:

    Chile is the best country to live nowadays….stable economy, well educated people(all of them go to University), modern cities, good means of transport.

    Chile is the place og many immigrants nowadays

  2. George says:

    Americans love to think that Chile is white. In fact, only about half are of European descent, while approximately the other half is mestizo. There is a small Indigenous population remaining–about 4%.

    Chile also has a very poor GINI index, meaning that wealth is very concentrated, as is typical for all the Americas, including the US, with the exception of Canada. Chile does a better job of hiding its poverty than most of the Americas, though, and it has better infrastructure than almost all of Latin America. It also has nasty earthquakes and a lot of rain and cold in the south.

    Chile’s achilles heel is that, like other L. American countries, it lives from its exports. Take copper away from Chile (and to a lesser extent certain Agri products) and you would have a very sorry country indeed. To the extent the first world countries are buying commodities like copper, Chile more or less prospers.

    Exporting countries are always rentier economies: the resources are owned by a small upper class and they joint venture with US and Euro corporations which buy the material. I generalize of course, but that is the basic reality. Essentially they are oligarchies with a democratic window dressing. Money rules. This is now becoming very obvious in the US as well–it was always the case, but owing to deregulation and the consequent criminalization of its financial sector, it became only too obvious. However, certain ideologies die hard.

  3. George says:

    Many of us today live under neoliberal structures of governance. Each country may have its own peculiarities, but on broad principles they follow a pattern that invokes laissez faire, balanced government budgets, control over wages, privatisation, an abstention from economic planning beyond that strictly required and deregulation. What is more, Hayek’s delusion has become widespread to the point of all discourse being completely saturated. In polite company and in public you can certainly be left-wing or right-wing, but you will always be, in some shape or form, neoliberal; otherwise you will simply not be allowed entry.

    Any policy or notion that offends the neoliberal mind-set and threatens to shatter Hayek’s delusion is said to only put us on the road to serfdom. It is not difficult to win a rational argument by pushing the point home that this is utter fantasy and nonsense, is completely ignorant of history and is founded on pre-school notions of economics; but that matters little. When you leave the room people will whisper to one another that you are an odd sort with silly ideas and probably should not be trusted.

    Such is characteristic of all systems of crude propaganda. Propaganda, by construction, appeals to a series of images inside peoples’ heads – snapshots of a history either half-forgotten or fabricated entirely. These images, in turn, are design to affect peoples’ emotional centres and control them through manipulating that which causes their anxieties and their fears. That the founder of this propaganda himself believed in it entirely makes no difference, for it is the foolish man who thinks that effective propaganda is based on pure and cynical lies.

    The oddness of the world in which we live today is that neoliberalism as a system of governance has become entirely dysfunctional. Those ambitious souls in the present ruling generation that received the torch from the inventors of the discourse believed it to be a pragmatic doctrine. This is not surprising given that we have seen that this is precisely how it was constructed. But as we have also seen neoliberalism was built on a fundamental fantasy – a sort of primal repression. Any serious student of history in general and economic history in particular knows that such policies are bound to be deflationary in the medium to long-run and that they will likely generate economic meltdowns and result in social and political turmoil.

    And so our leaders, both intellectual and political, try to get a grasp of the situation we face today. But they consistently fumble and fall over; tripped up by their own ideologies. Hayek’s delusion is potent – very potent – and just as he all those years ago preferred to retreat into a fantasy world rather than face what was going on all around him, so too today our leaders do the same. Against all odds and in an act of what can only be considered heroic ignorance Hayek went to the grave with his delusion intact, we can only wonder how long others will uphold it before they buckle under its weight.
    Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/01/philip-pilkington-the-origins-of-neoliberalism-part-iii-europe-and-the-centre-left-fall-under-hayeks-spell.html#5HsYboyDIMpvr7Xq.99