If you are planning to move to Panama City, it can be difficult to pinpoint which neighborhood to move to. Do you want to be somewhere quiet or in the middle of everything? Or be in a house or an apartment? Or want an oceanview? This bustling metropolis has it all! Rental prices have also drastically dropped in the city making this an attractive place to live for people looking for a tropical city lifestyle. It’s also best to “test drive” a neighborhood before making any long-term decisions. I’ve included Airbnb maps to help you understand where each neighborhood is and you can find a listing for a “test drive”.
Here are some of the best neighborhoods in Panama City, with the pros and cons of each one.
The historical charm of Casco Viejo draws visitors and locals to this one-of-a-kind neighborhood. The Spanish-colonial architecture looks similar to the French Quarter of New Orleans but it’s much quieter here. It’s the type of place where you would easier get to know your neighbors and make friends easily. It’s the epicenter for the local culture, making it the best place for people who are planning to experience the best that Panama has to offer. Living here is extremely walkable and you’ll be steps from trendy restaurants, cafés, and rooftop bars. But with this being a very walkable area, it wouldn’t be recommended to own a car unless you find a property with parking. There are plenty of apartments that you can rent or buy in Casco but they come at an expensive price tag compared to the rest of the city. There is also some development happening in the Santa Ana side of the neighborhood offering more affordable entry options.
Living on Avenida Balboa is having one of the most iconic waterfront views in Panama City. This is pure glitzy high-rise living with gorgeous swimming pools to take in the views. Directly along the avenue is the Cinta Costera park, where you’ll be steps from a running & biking park lining the entire city. The con of living here would be noise from all the traffic below and depending on which part of the avenue you are on, you might not have many dining options within walking distance.
Costa Del Este
Costa del Este is one of the most family-friendly neighborhoods in Panama City. It’s also one of the few locations in the city that has gone through proper urban planning, meaning there are actual sidewalks, street signs, underground powerlines, etc. It has an overall modern aesthetic and may not look so different from a neighborhood in the states. It could be compared to living in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood. The new Town Center shopping mall has plenty of dining, shopping, and a movie theater to keep you entertained. You’ll also find international schools and many multinational company headquarters based here. For housing options, you’ll find plenty of modern highrise buildings but also gated communities full of single-family homes. The downside of living here would be that it’s a bit disconnected from being in the city center as you need to pass a toll booth on the highway to cross over.
El Cangrejo is a very popular area for foreigners because of its central location, with many options to rent and buy. The cost of living is moderate, as there are many older buildings in the neighborhood, which makes it perfect for people with a limited budget. It will be very easy for you to make new friends because there is a large community of foreigners meeting in different coffee shops, restaurants, stores, and local bars. The street you want to be around here is called Via Argentina. It has recently been redone and now has wide sidewalks, trees, lots of cafés, and a beautiful park in the center. In addition, we like very much the fact that there are Spanish schools in “El Cangrejo”. Many people in the area speak English and they offer services in this language. You’ll also find two metro stops in this neighborhood so it’s an ideal location for car-free living.
Clayton & Albrook
If you are one of those who prefers a calm and peaceful neighborhood, living in Clayton & Albrook would be suburbia living. You will definitely love this area of Panama because it is full of nature and very far from the hectic traffic. It’s a nice place apart from the accelerated lifestyle of the city but still, it’s surrounded by essential services, institutions, and other amenities. Clayton, for example, has been a good choice for foreigners for more than 100 years approximately as it’s where the U.S. had many of their army bases in Panama. It has a very attractive infrastructure that offers the suburban tropical life. These neighborhoods are equipped with several international schools, univeristies, and business oficies (the United Nations is based here).
Obarrio is a central location in the city with lots of commercial activity. You can find it very centrally between Vía España and 50 Street, close to many restaurants, offices, and shops. Living here is like being in the middle of the concrete jungle but you can also find peace within coffee shops and fine dining restaurants. You’ll also find the SOHO mall here which houses many high-end designer brands. If we had to mention a disadvantage, it would be the traffic. Something that many residents cannot escape.
This is one of the newest neighborhoods in the country and it’s becoming more popular for foreigners to establish. This is an area with luxury real estate, right on the ocean, with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean in almost every building. It’s expensive, but when it comes to expat comforts, it’s second to none. There is a supermarket open 24 hours a day, several business towers, a marina and easy access to the highway, as well as the airport. Punta Pacifica definitely has the highest prices, so it may not be ideal for people with a limited budget.
San Francisco has become a really hip neighborhood in the last few years as well as one of the most gastronomic. The neighborhood is a mix of high rises, houses, restaurants, food trucks, cafes, and breweries. The apartments in this neighborhood are not cheap but not as expensive as neighborhoods like Punta Pacifica and offer beautiful city and ocean views. It’s also home to Parque Omar, which is kind of like Panama City’s version of Central Park.
Panama Pacifico is a new suburban development catered to families and people who want to be surrounded by nature. The neighborhood has biking trails, hiking paths, a new supermarket, and international schools. It’s also super close to Playa Veracruz which has lots of beachfront restaurants. The only downside is that it’s across the bridge so traffic commuting to the city can be a nightmare. They will eventually have a metro line going here to alleviate traffic.
These are just a few of the favorite neighborhoods in Panama City to choose. Now it’s up to you to decide which will be the right fit!
This article is in collaboration with Alex Garridos, a Real Estate Investment Advisor based in Panama with no BS advice on properties and opportunities to make your income increase. Contact Alex for real estate advice by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.