Living in Panama City
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A comprehensive guide about living well in Panama City
Panama City is a modern and tropical city, and living there can be a diverse and enriching experience. Read up some useful information and expat advice in order to enjoy the vibrant and modern atmosphere of this Central American city in our InterNations GO! Guide!
Life in Panama City
Healthcare in Panama City
Panama has a free, public healthcare system, which is overseen by the Ministry of Health and funded through social security. As the capital, Panama City has some of the best state healthcare facilities in all of Panama, but they still might not be of the same standard as European and North American countries.
As such many expatriates living in Panama City choose to take out private healthcare insurance, as the Panamanian private healthcare system has better facilities, equipment and personnel. Panama City has the best private healthcare centers in Panama, including Punta Pacifica, which is also considered one of the best in Central and South America.
Many doctors in the public and private system will speak both Spanish and English, as many are trained in Europe before returning to their home country, so communication should not be an issue. However, should you venture outside of Panama City, you can expect less doctors to speak English.
Education in Panama City
Panama has a free, compulsory education system for children up to the age of 15. However, as the public school system is taught in Spanish, many English speaking expatriates living in Panama City choose to send their children to an international school, where English is the teaching language and their children can take international qualifications.
The large expatriate community in Panama means that there are a number to choose from, both in Panama City and further afield, including the International School of Panama, Panama Coast International School, and King’s College, The British School of Panama.
Panama has over 88 institutes of higher education, the vast majority of which are located in Panama City. The University of Panama and West Coast University, Panama are two of the most notable in the city.
Safety and Security in Panama City
In comparison with large cities in surrounding Central and South American countries, Panama City is very safe. However, you should still be aware in crowded areas and on public transport, as pickpocketing and muggings are not uncommon, especially at night. The number of violent and drug related crimes has been decreasing in Panama City for the last decade, as has corruption and organized crime.
However, you will notice the heavy police presence on the streets, and if driving you may be stopped for an identification check, but this is normal in Central American countries. As long as you take the same amount of care as you would in any other large city, you will be safe and secure whilst living in Panama City. The emergency numbers for Panama City are as follows:
- National Police — 104
- Fire Department — 103
- Ambulance / Medical Emergency — 911
- Tourist Police — 511 9260
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