Panama Through European Eyes
Relocating from Europe to Panama can come to quite a shock.Living in Panama is very different than living in Europe in many different aspects, primarily because of the lifestyle. Though, with its great infrastructure, relaxed and friendly people, and very low cost of living yet high quality of life, Panama is sure to amaze in numerous ways.
First of all, the most important hurdle to overcome is the visa situation. The Panamanian government regulates visas, especially work visas or work permits quite heavily. Luckily, there are multiple ways of staying permanently in Panama. If you are going to work for an international company in Panama, meaning a non Panamanian company, then you do not need a work permit. On the other hand, if you are going to work for a domestic/Panamanian company, then a work permit will be required. Unfortunately, those are not very easy to acquire. The domestic company you wish to work for needs to prove to the government that a Panamanian citizen cannot do your job. Furthermore, the Panamanian government regulates the amount of foreigners employed by local companies through the 10% law: meaning that only 10% of the work force can be non-Panamanian.
Another solution for relocating to Panama without the whole Job permits red tape troubling you is through getting a tourist visa extension. Since you will be coming from Europe, you luckily do not need to apply for a tourist visa, having a valid passport will suffice. What is important to keep in mind though is that the maximum stay is 180 days, although it is possible to apply for the aforementioned tourist visa extension at the Immigration office in Panama City, David, Chitre, Santiago, and Changuinola.
Even though you are applying for an extension it is not possible to stay indefinitely, per se; you need to prove on the application form that you have the intention of leaving. The next solution is still with the tourist visa; you are allowed to stay there indefinitely if you leave the country for three days every three months. Keep in mind that with these options you are not allowed to work in Panama.
One thing that makes Panama very different from Europe, at least from most of Europe, is the weather. The humidity combined with steady high temperatures can make it very uncomfortable especially for somewhere coming from central/Northern Europe. If you are coming from the South of Europe you might be a little bit more used to it, but still be prepared to expect some differences in temperature.
Furthermore, a very important factor when considering your move to Panama is the health risks. You should definitely see your doctor before relocating there to see whether you need any vaccinations. Nonetheless, there are always things to be careful; since Panama is a tropical country, mosquitoes can cause a threat.
Even though tap water is safe to drink in the capital, Panama City, it should be avoided in the rest of the country.
To be safe you should always have some sort of medication with you (especially anti-diarrheal) as you might have some trouble adjusting to the food for the first few weeks in Panama.