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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