Moving to Panama
With an estimated population of 3,661,868, Panama is listed at 134th when it comes to community. Expats moving to Panama will find that this Central American nation has a high ranking when it comes to human development index, making life in this country most favorable. Panama is also known to have the biggest economy in the region, relying mostly on the sectors of banking, commerce, tourism and trading.
In January 2014, International Living’s Global Retirement Index 2014 ranked Panama as the top destination for foreign retirees. “Nearly everything about Panama is convenient, particularly if you’re coming from North America. The currency is the US dollar, English is widely understood, and the international community is large and welcoming, and you can find anything you need, from gourmet ingredients to popular clothing brands,” the US publishing group wrote.
The strength of the Panamanian economy is primarily attributed to its geographical location. It connects North and South America and controls the Panama Canal, which is a key conduit for international maritime trade. The Canal connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Aside from toll revenues, the Panama Canal directly and indirectly provides employment to the nation’s 1.78 million workforce population. Panama’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in Latin America at 2.7%. Jobs are concentrated in a well-developed service sector - construction, banking, commerce, tourism and trading industries.
“Panama has always been known for its above-average infrastructure. But the current administration upped the ante in ways never before seen,” International Living said. In 2006, Panamanians voted for the construction of the third set of locks for the Panama Canal, boosting demand for construction workers, engineers, surveyors, and project managers. The economy is also expected to add 100,560 new logistics jobs from 2014 to 2024. Construction companies are currently hiring project directors, quantity surveyors, monitoring technicians, maintenance and planning engineers, 3D designers, and collection analysis.
Medical services, including ambulatory care, are extended to all individuals in Panama. Foreigners are covered under the state-funded healthcare insurance for their first thirty days in the country. The Foreign visitors who wish to use this insurance service must arrive through Tocumen Airport, as proven by their passport stamp. However, many locals and expats opt for private healthcare for better coverage at low costs. Private insurance plans cost just a fraction compared to the cost of care in the US.
Expats are strongly advised to seek care from private hospitals as public healthcare centres are often crowded. Patients typically wait for several hours to receive medical care even in emergency rooms. Most of the hospitals recommended for expats are located in the capital Panama City. These medical facilities, which maintain connections with foreign institutions, include Hospital Punta Pacifica, Paitilla Hospital (Centro Médico Paitilla), Hospital Chiriqui, Hospital Nacional and Hospital Santa Fe.
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