12 Best Places to Live in Panama for the Highest Quality of Life

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Panama is a tapestry of vibrant cultures and stunning landscapes, more than just a country; it’s a lifestyle. From the bustling streets of Panama City to the tranquil beaches of Bocas del Toro and the serene mountains of Boquete, Panama offers a diverse range of living experiences. But with such variety, finding the perfect place to call home can seem overwhelming. To assist you, I’ve crafted this guide on the best places to live in Panama.

Having journeyed through Panama’s diverse regions, I’ve witnessed firsthand the country’s beauty and variety. From the cosmopolitan flair of Panama City to the laid-back charm of Pedasi, and from the lush highlands of El Valle de Anton to the Caribbean vibes of Bocas del Toro, Panama’s diversity is unparalleled. Whether you’re captivated by the energy of city life, the tranquility of beach towns, or the allure of mountain retreats, there’s a tourist spot in Panama that seems tailor-made for you.

So, where to begin? The perfect location varies for each individual. Some may prioritize coastal living, others seek vibrant communities, and for many, affordability is key.

Join me as I delve into the best places to live in Panama, tailored to what matters most to you. As someone who has explored the country’s many facets, I’m here to guide you through Panama’s finest locales. I’ve combed through research, analyzed data, and engaged with locals to curate a list that suits every preference and budget. Let’s get started!

The top places to live in Panama for all

The Best Places to Live in Panama       

Eager to explore the most enchanting places to live in Panama? Nestled between Costa Rica and Colombia, this Central American gem offers a world of options. Keep reading to uncover the best living spots Panama has to offer.

Searching for your ideal home in Panama? Whether it’s a bustling city center or a tranquil beach town you’re after, Panama has a place that will cater to your every need.

  • Best for urban lifestyle: Panama City
  • Best for island life: Bocas del Toro
  • Best for natural beauty: El Valle de Anton
  • Best for affordability and convenience: David
  • Best for cultural experiences: Chitre
  • Best for historical charm: Casco Viejo
  • Best for beach living: Pedasi
  • Best for mountain views: Volcan
  • Best for retirees: Boquete
  • Best for coastal tranquility: Coronado
  • Best for a relaxed pace of life: Pedasi
  • Best for expat community: Coronado

Let’s dive into the top living destinations in Panama that you need to know about:

1. Panama City

Discover Panama City, a vibrant metropolis where modern skyscrapers meet historic architecture, offering an eclectic mix of cultures and experiences. It’s a place where every corner reveals a new adventure, truly one of the coolest places to live in Panama. The city buzzes with energy, from the bustling streets of Casco Viejo to the lush Metropolitan Park.

Here, expats and locals alike enjoy a lively culinary scene and a thriving arts culture. The cost of living offers a balance between luxury and affordability, appealing to a wide range of preferences. High-quality healthcare services and international schools add to its appeal for families and professionals.

Panama City isn’t just a hub for business; it’s a gateway to Panama’s natural wonders. Close to the city, you can explore rainforests, beaches, and the famous Panama Canal. Living in Central America means embracing a lifestyle that combines urban convenience with tropical serenity, making Panama the best city to live in for those seeking a dynamic yet comfortable life.

Explore Panama City, an exciting city with a diverse range of activities and cultures as new skyscrapers mix with old buildings.
Explore Panama City, an exciting city with a diverse range of activities and cultures as new skyscrapers mix with old buildings.

2. Bocas del Toro

Imagine waking up to the sound of waves and the sight of pristine beaches – this is life in Bocas del Toro, a Caribbean paradise that stands out as one of Panama’s coolest places to live. With its laid-back vibe and vibrant community, Bocas del Toro is not just a tourist destination, but a place where life slows down, and nature takes the front seat.

This archipelago offers a unique blend of Panamanian and Caribbean cultures, evident in its music, food, and festivals. It’s a haven for surfers, divers, and nature lovers, with its crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life. The area is also known for its sustainable living practices, attracting those passionate about eco-friendly lifestyles.

For those seeking a tranquil retreat, Bocas del Toro offers smaller islands and secluded beaches, while the main island buzzes with lively bars and colorful markets. The cost of living here can be surprisingly affordable, considering its tropical allure.

In this corner of Panama, every day is an opportunity for a new adventure, solidifying its reputation as Panama’s best cities to live for those seeking a blend of relaxation and excitement in a tropical setting.

Among the best places to live in Panama is Bocas del Toro, a Caribbean paradise.
Among the best places to live in Panama is Bocas del Toro, a Caribbean paradise.

3. El Valle de Anton

Nestled in the crater of an extinct volcano, El Valle de Anton offers a serene and healthy lifestyle, surrounded by lush forests and rich biodiversity. This unique setting makes it one of Panama’s best places to live, especially for those seeking tranquility and a connection with nature.

El Valle is renowned for its cooler climate, a refreshing change from the tropical heat. It’s a sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and visiting hot springs. The local market, known for its handicrafts and organic produce, adds to the charm of rural living.

The community here is a blend of locals and expats, all drawn to El Valle’s peaceful environment. This small town has an intimate feel, yet it doesn’t lack modern conveniences. Quality healthcare, amenities, and good internet connectivity are readily available.

Living in El Valle de Anton means embracing a slower pace of life. It’s a nice part of Panama highlands, where the air is cleaner, the surroundings greener, and life simpler. This town appeals to those who desire a healthier, laid-back lifestyle in a picturesque setting.

Set by beautiful forests and rich nature, El Valle de Anton offers a tranquil and healthy living.
Set by beautiful forests and rich nature, El Valle de Anton offers a tranquil and healthy living.

4. David

David, the capital of Chiriquí Province, is a gateway to some of Panama’s most stunning landscapes. Its strategic location and growth make it the good place to live in Panama for those who appreciate the conveniences of a city alongside the beauty of nature.

David is a dynamic blend of urban development and cultural richness. The city is growing rapidly, offering modern amenities like shopping centers, hospitals, and restaurants. Yet, it retains a friendly, small-town atmosphere. Here, you can enjoy local festivals, savor Panamanian cuisine, and immerse yourself in a vibrant community life.

What sets David apart is its proximity to diverse attractions. You’re a short drive from the cool highlands of Boquete, the serene beaches of the Pacific, and the lush rainforests. This accessibility makes it an ideal base for explorers and nature lovers.

Affordable living costs, coupled with the warm climate, attract retirees and families alike. In David, you’re not just choosing a place to live; you’re embracing a lifestyle that balances urban convenience with natural wonders, making it where to live in Panama for a fulfilling and diverse experience.

David serves as a starting point for some of Panama's most breathtaking scenery.
David serves as a starting point for some of Panama’s most breathtaking scenery.

5. Chitre

Often overlooked by mainstream travel guides, Chitre is a hidden gem for those seeking an authentic Panamanian lifestyle. This city is a wonderful blend of tradition and modernity, making it one of the good places to live in Panama.

Here, you’ll find a vibrant culture deeply rooted in history and folklore. Chitre hosts some of Panama’s most colorful festivals, where music and dance bring the streets to life. Its museums and historical sites offer a glimpse into Panama’s rich heritage, while local artisans keep traditional crafts alive.

Despite its cultural depth, Chitre doesn’t lag in modern conveniences. It boasts excellent schools, healthcare facilities, and shopping areas. The cost of living is reasonable, attracting both retirees and young professionals. The community is welcoming, and it’s easy to feel at home among the friendly locals.

What makes Chitre truly special is its central location. It’s a gateway to stunning beaches, lush forests, and quaint rural villages. Living in Chitre means experiencing the heart of Panama’s culture daily, solidifying its status as one of Panama’s best cities to live for those who cherish a rich, cultural lifestyle.

Chitre is a hidden gem for travelers looking for a real Panamanian experience, frequently missed by popular travel books.
Chitre is a hidden gem for travelers looking for a real Panamanian experience, frequently missed by popular travel books.

6. Casco Viejo

Step into Casco Viejo and you step back in time. This historic district in Panama City is where charming colonial architecture meets the vibrant pulse of modern-day culture, making it a great place to live in Panama. It’s not just a neighborhood; it’s a living, breathing piece of history.

When you travel across Central America and visit this place, you’ll be surrounded by a mix of restored buildings and ruins, cafes, and art galleries. Each corner tells a story, each plaza a witness to centuries of history. Casco Viejo is not just aesthetically pleasing; it’s culturally rich, offering a plethora of experiences from fine dining to eclectic music scenes.

Living in Casco Viejo means embracing a lifestyle where everything is just a walk away. Despite its popularity with tourists, it maintains a close-knit community vibe. The area is also a hub for creative minds, attracting artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs.

This neighborhood is ideal for those who love the energy of the city but also appreciate the charm of old-world architecture and history. Its unique character and lively atmosphere solidify Casco Viejo’s reputation as where is the best place to live in Panama for urban dwellers with a taste for culture and history.

Casco Viejo has earned the title of being the best place to live in Panama due to its distinct style and energetic ambiance.
Casco Viejo has earned the title of being the best place to live in Panama due to its distinct style and energetic ambiance.

7. Pedasi

Pedasi, a small town on Panama’s Pacific coast, offers a slice of paradise for those who crave a peaceful, oceanfront lifestyle. Known for its idyllic beaches and laid-back atmosphere, Pedasi is one of Panama’s best places to live for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

This town is renowned for its rich marine life, making it a prime spot for fishing, surfing, and whale watching. The nearby Isla Iguana, a wildlife refuge, is a haven for snorkelers and nature lovers. Despite its small size, Pedasi has a vibrant community, hosting festivals and events that showcase local culture and traditions.

The charm of Pedasi lies in its simplicity. Life here moves at a slower pace, inviting residents to appreciate the beauty of nature and the warmth of community. The town offers essential amenities, including healthcare, while maintaining its rustic appeal.

Pedasi’s appeal isn’t just in its natural beauty; it’s in the sense of belonging it offers. It’s a place where neighbors become friends and the ocean becomes your backyard. This town embodies the essence of a tranquil, coastal lifestyle, making it Panama’s best cities to live for those seeking serenity by the sea.

A slice of heaven for those desiring a tranquil, beachside lifestyle can be found at Pedasi.
A slice of heaven for those desiring a tranquil, beachside lifestyle can be found at Pedasi.

8. Volcan

In the shadow of the towering Barú Volcano, Volcan offers a tranquil retreat unlike any other in Panama. This highland town is a sanctuary for those seeking a cooler climate and a slower pace of life, making it one of Panama’s best areas to live.

Volcan is a nature lover’s dream, with lush forests, coffee plantations, and flower gardens painting a serene landscape. Hiking, bird watching, and exploring hidden waterfalls are just a few of the outdoor activities that residents enjoy. The town itself, with its friendly locals and small-town feel, offers a sense of community that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Despite its rural charm, Volcan doesn’t lack modern amenities. Supermarkets, healthcare facilities, and restaurants are readily available, providing a comfortable lifestyle. The cost of living here is also attractive, especially for those looking to stretch their retirement savings further.

This town is not just a place to live; it’s a lifestyle choice for those who appreciate nature and quietude. Its unique combination of natural beauty, community spirit, and affordability makes Volcan one of the best towns to live in Panama, especially for retirees and expats seeking a peaceful haven.

Volcan is one of the best places to reside in Panama since it provides a peaceful haven unlike any other.
Volcan is one of the best places to reside in Panama since it provides a peaceful haven unlike any other.

9. The Arco Seco

Draped in sunshine and blessed with a breezy, dry climate, The Arco Seco is Panama’s hidden treasure. This unique region, stretching from the Azuero Peninsula’s tip to the Pacific coast, is celebrated for its idyllic weather, earning a spot among Panama’s best cities to live for those who love the sun.

The Arco Seco is characterized by its serene beaches, rustic charm, and friendly communities. It’s a haven for water sports enthusiasts, with surfing, fishing, and sailing being popular pastimes. The region’s small towns, like Pedasi, offer a glimpse into traditional Panamanian life, where festivals and local customs thrive.

Despite its laid-back atmosphere, The Arco Seco doesn’t skimp on amenities. Expats and locals enjoy a comfortable lifestyle with access to good healthcare, schools, and markets. The cost of living is reasonable, making it an attractive option for retirees and families alike.

Living in The Arco Seco means embracing a lifestyle that balances relaxation and adventure. It’s a place where the days are sunny, the beaches are inviting, and the community is welcoming. This region stands out as one of the top cities in Panama to live, especially for those seeking a peaceful, sunny haven away from the hustle and bustle.

Blessed with a dry, windy climate and abundant sunshine, The Arco Seco is a hidden gem in Panama.
Blessed with a dry, windy climate and abundant sunshine, The Arco Seco is a hidden gem in Panama.

10. Coronado

With its pristine beaches and vibrant expat community, Coronado emerges as a top choice for those seeking a coastal paradise in Panama. Known for its luxurious resorts and golf courses, Coronado blends leisure with beauty, marking it as one of the best Panama towns to live.

The town’s appeal lies in its perfect mix of relaxation and activity. Beach enthusiasts revel in the sun-kissed shores and clear waters, ideal for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing. Meanwhile, the town center offers a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options, catering to both locals and expats.

Coronado’s community is one of its biggest draws. It’s known for its friendly atmosphere and active social scene, making it easy for newcomers to integrate and feel at home. The town also boasts top-notch amenities, including healthcare facilities, international schools, and supermarkets, ensuring a comfortable lifestyle.

Opting to live in Coronado means choosing a life where every day feels like a vacation. It’s a haven for those who desire a blend of modern conveniences and natural beauty, solidifying its status as one of the best cities to live in Panama for beach lovers and retirees.

Coronado is one of the best places to live in Panama since it combines elegance and enjoyment.
Coronado is one of the best places to live in Panama since it combines elegance and enjoyment.

11. Boquete

Tucked away in Panama’s highlands, Boquete is a picturesque town that beckons with its natural beauty and temperate climate. This charming location is celebrated as one of the best places in Panama to live, especially for those who love the outdoors and a peaceful lifestyle.

Boquete’s appeal lies in its stunning landscapes, ranging from lush forests to coffee plantations and flower-filled gardens. The town is a hotspot for adventure seekers, with activities like hiking, bird watching, and river rafting. The fresh mountain air and scenic views provide a perfect backdrop for a tranquil life.

The community in Boquete is diverse, consisting of welcoming locals and a significant number of expats. This blend creates a unique cultural experience, with regular festivals, markets, and community events. The town also offers all the necessary amenities, including good healthcare and shopping options, making it practical as well as picturesque.

Choosing Boquete as a home means embracing a lifestyle that is both active and serene. It’s an ideal spot for retirees, nature enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a quieter pace of life, solidifying its reputation as a nice city to live in Panama’s mountainous region.

Boquete is regarded as one of the best places in Panama to live, particularly for those who enjoy calm and natural beauty.
Boquete is regarded as one of the best places in Panama to live, particularly for those who enjoy calm and natural beauty.

12. Penonome

Penonome, the capital of Coclé Province, is a town where tradition and progress blend seamlessly, creating an inviting atmosphere for anyone considering it as a home. This charming town stands out as one of the nicest parts of Panama, offering a unique mix of rural tranquility and urban conveniences.

The town is known for its rich history and cultural significance. Festivals like the famous Carnival bring the streets to life with music, dance, and vibrant parades. Penonome’s commitment to preserving its cultural heritage while embracing modernity makes it a fascinating place to live.

Residents enjoy a variety of amenities in Penonome, including shopping centers, local markets, and healthcare facilities. The community is friendly and close-knit, with a mix of locals and a growing number of expats who appreciate the town’s laid-back lifestyle and affordable living.

Living in Penonome means embracing a lifestyle that’s rich in culture and community spirit, but without the hustle and bustle of larger cities. It’s a perfect blend for those seeking a peaceful yet culturally vibrant life, making it one of the best Panama cities for an authentic Panamanian experience.

Penonome is one of the best places in Panama, providing a special blend of city comforts and rural peace.
Penonome is one of the best places in Panama, providing a special blend of city comforts and rural peace.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Best Places to Live in Panama 

Interested in learning more about what are the best places to live in Panama? Here’s a rundown of frequently asked questions about the top places to settle in Panama.

Where are the most expats live in Panama?

The majority of expats in Panama tend to gravitate towards areas that offer a blend of comfort, convenience, and community. Panama City is a popular choice due to its modern amenities and vibrant lifestyle. The city’s diverse neighborhoods cater to a variety of preferences, from the historic charm of Casco Viejo to the bustling energy of the downtown area.

Another expat favorite is Coronado, known for its beautiful beaches and well-established expat community. It’s ideal for those who prefer a more relaxed, coastal lifestyle. Boquete, in the Chiriquí Highlands, is also a top choice, especially among retirees, for its cooler climate and scenic beauty. Each of these areas offers a unique living experience, but they all share a welcoming atmosphere that attracts expats from around the world.

Is Panama a good place to live in?

Panama is widely regarded as an excellent place to live, offering a variety of lifestyles to suit different preferences. Its appeal lies in its diversity – from bustling cities to tranquil beach towns and serene mountain communities.

Panama City is the epitome of a modern metropolis, boasting world-class healthcare, education, and entertainment options. For those seeking a more relaxed pace, towns like Pedasi and Bocas del Toro provide a serene beachside living, while places like Boquete offer cool climates and lush landscapes in the highlands.

Additionally, Panama is known for its stable economy, political stability, and use of the US dollar, adding to its convenience for expats. The country also offers attractive residency programs, making it easier for foreigners to settle. With its warm climate, friendly locals, and affordable cost of living, Panama stands out as not just a tourist destination, but a great place to call home.

Where is the best and cheapest place to live in Panama?

For those seeking affordability without sacrificing quality of life, Panama offers several options. David, the capital of Chiriquí Province, stands out as one of the most livable cities in Panama. It offers a low cost of living while providing essential amenities like healthcare, shopping, and dining.

Las Tablas and Chitre on the Azuero Peninsula are also known for their affordable living costs. These towns offer a glimpse into traditional Panamanian culture, with vibrant festivals and a strong sense of community, all at a lower price point compared to more touristy areas.

Volcan and El Valle de Anton are excellent choices for those who prefer cooler climates and natural surroundings. While slightly more expensive than David or Las Tablas, they still offer a cost-effective lifestyle compared to many other expat destinations in Panama.

Each of these locations balances affordability with a high quality of life, making them ideal for retirees, expats, and locals alike looking for budget-friendly living in Panama.

Panama is a country of options, with a wide range of lifestyles to suit all preferences.
Panama is a country of options, with a wide range of lifestyles to suit all preferences.

Where is the best place in Panama to retire?

For retirees, Panama offers several idyllic locations, each with its unique charm. Boquete is a top choice among retirees, renowned for its cool climate, lush landscapes, and vibrant expat community. It provides a peaceful, scenic setting with a well-established infrastructure catering to retirees’ needs.

Coronado is another favorite, especially for those who love the beach. This coastal town boasts a relaxed lifestyle, modern amenities, and a strong sense of community among its residents, both local and expatriate.

El Valle de Anton, situated in a volcanic crater, is perfect for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty. Its cooler temperatures and lush greenery offer a serene retirement setting.

Retirees also find Pedasi appealing for its laid-back coastal living and rich cultural heritage. Each of these locations offers a unique blend of comfort, community, and natural beauty, making them some of the best places in Panama to live for retirees.

Which side of Panama is better?

Deciding which side of Panama is better depends on personal preferences and lifestyle choices. The Pacific side, home to Panama City and Coronado, is known for its more developed infrastructure, modern amenities, and larger expat communities. It offers a blend of urban and beach lifestyles, making it ideal for those who seek convenience and a vibrant social scene.

The Caribbean side offers lots of things to do. With destinations like Bocas del Toro, is celebrated for its laid-back vibe, stunning beaches, and rich biodiversity. It’s a paradise for nature lovers, divers, and those seeking a more relaxed, tropical lifestyle.

Both coasts boast their unique attractions and lifestyles. The Pacific side is typically more popular among expats for its accessibility and modern conveniences, while the Caribbean side appeals to those looking for a quieter, more natural environment.

Where do the rich live in Panama?

In Panama, the affluent often reside in areas that offer luxury, exclusivity, and high-end amenities. Punta Pacifica in Panama City is a prime example, known for its upscale condominiums, breathtaking ocean views, and proximity to some of the city’s best shopping and dining experiences.

Another popular area among the wealthy is Costa del Este, also in Panama City. It’s a planned community with modern infrastructure, beautiful parks, and a variety of international restaurants and shops.

Outside the capital, affluent individuals are drawn to Coronado, a beachfront community with high-end real estate, golf courses, and private beach clubs. It’s a favorite for both wealthy expats and Panamanians.

Each of these areas offers a blend of luxury living and convenience, with access to the best amenities Panama has to offer. They are Panama’s best places to live for those seeking an upscale, comfortable lifestyle.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in Panama

Panama, much like California, is a land of diverse choices, offering an array of lifestyles to cater to various preferences. From the bustling streets of Panama City to the tranquil beaches of Pedasi and the cool, mountainous regions of Boquete, Panama presents a world of options for every type of resident.

For those seeking affordability without compromising on quality, places like David and Chitre offer a cost-effective lifestyle. They showcase that living in Panama can be both economical and enriching. Alternatively, if urban life and modern amenities are what you seek, Panama City and its surrounding areas offer a dynamic environment rich in culture and convenience.

Happiness and quality of life are paramount here. Communities like Coronado and El Valle de Anton are often praised for their perfect balance of natural beauty and community spirit.

So, what are the places to move in Panama? The answer varies as much as the landscapes of Panama itself. It ultimately depends on what you value most in your living environment. Whether it’s for the vibrant city life, serene beaches, lush highlands, or cultural richness, Panama offers more than just a home—it’s a lifestyle, a community, and a diverse cultural experience rolled into one.

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