Is Panama Safe?

A couple of questions I often get about Panama –

“Is it Safe to Travel and Live in Panama? Is Panama really a safe country?”

Yes, without a doubt. In fact Panama has been ranked one of the safest tourist destinations in the world right along side Canada. Let me give you some personal examples and then let me give you some additional reasons why I believe Panama is so safe.

For some time we lived near the village of Boquete in the highlands region. It was a daily scene – young children and young women walking many miles to work or school. My wife and I are exercise addicts and you might recall we were in the health club business. At that time there were no health clubs in the area so I purchased a used mountain bike. I just found one so my wife and I had to share. Each morning I would go out around 6am and then about 7am my wife would go. She would cycle through town and out of town on the quiet winding country roads for about 10 km. Not once did she feel unsafe. At the time my boys were just 11 & 9. They would walk out to the road and grab one of the local taxis, pay 25c each and get a lift into town where they would buy 25c ice cream. Honestly, I would not have had that much comfort and trust back in our home town in Ontario Canada. In fact I wouldn’t have done it there.

What makes Living and Investing in Panama safe?

First, we need to look back at the History of Panama. Panama is a peaceful republic and for most of the past century has been under the watchful eye of the United States. Todays Panama was born of a multi-cultural mix of peoples from around the world thanks to the construction of the Panama Canal. Such a huge undertaking meant a lot of labour needed to be hired. With a relatively small population there simply were not enough locals workers to take on the task so immigrants form all over the world came to Panama for work. Many of them feel in love with the country and stayed. To this day the Panamanians debate, “Who is the true Panamanian?” Most agree that the 7 indigenous tribes probably have the best claim. For the rest they are all immigrants of one sort or another. As a result it is difficult to tell the Panamanians from the visitors. You may see someone who looks very much like an American, a Canadian, maybe they appear to be from India or China, the reality is they could all be Spanish speaking 2nd or 3rd generation Panamanians. Because of this multicultural mix in Panama no one really stands out as a foreigner – or looks ‘different’. So, when you or I arrive in Panama we are immediately accepted – we just to blend in.

A U.S. Dollar Based Economy

The US dollar contributes to safety in Panama as well. Often when traveling in foreign countries we are taught to keep our dollars out of sight – “it is just too tempting to the locals“, we are warned. In a country where the local currency may be devalued, the US dollar has a certain allure. But in Panama everyone is using the same money be they a farmer, a banker, a new resident or a Panama tourist.

Panama Weather

Panama Hurricane History

Another Safety issue many investors fail to consider is the weather. In recent years hurricanes throughout the southern U.S. and most of Latin America have brought this issue to the forefront. As you may have read in my last Letter about the Cost of Living in Panama, low insurance rates are a direct result of the stable weather pattern. You see Panama lies in a unique region where violent weather is almost unheard of and it is the only Latin American country which is Hurricane Free – thats right, these hurricane records dating back to 1851 show that Panama is in a safe zone where hurricanes never hit. As investors from Florida to Texas can attest rising insurance rates can take a dramatic bite out of your return. In Panama your vacation and your Panama Home will never get blown away!

How about Panama Realestate?

Is my title safe when I invest in Panama property? It’s very safe to buy Real Estate in Panama. Foreigners, whether residents or non-residents, enjoy the same rights and privileges when purchasing and selling real property as do Panamanian citizens. Foreign investors are given a 10-year stability guarantee – all legal, tax, customs, municipal and labor rules will remain identical to those in force at the time of the investment registration. Law # 54: Foreign Investor Protection Law provides these guarantees. The U.S. Embassy publishes the U.S. Government Report on Buying Panama Real Estate and says, “Titled land, and the process of buying this, is similar in concept to that in the U.S., and land and deeds are duly recorded with the Public Registry“. In reality the U.S. Government does bother telling you the titling system in Panama is far safer than it is in the U.S. Panama uses the Torrens Title System.

Torrens Title” is a system of titling land whereby a register of land holdings is maintained by the state (Panama in this case) which guarantees an indefeasible title to those included in the register. The Torrens system was created to overcome the problems of uncertainty, complexity and cost associated with old system title – like the one used in most U.S. states – which depends on proof of an unbroken chain of title back to the root of the title.

The Torrens title system was first introduced in South Australia in 1858, and was formulated by former colonial Premier of South Australia Sir Robert “Torrens”. Since that time, it became pervasive around the Commonwealth of Nations and is now one of the most common titling practises in the world thanks to the security it offers.

Only a hand full of U.S. States including: Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington have a limited implementation of the system.

Buying real property in Panama is so safe that major U.S. Title Insurance companies provide policies in Panama.

So, what do think safety and living abroad in Panama?  Leave your answers and questions in the comments section below. Join the conversation and watch what happens!

Hasta Luego


P.S. Please tell me what you thought of this letter in the comments area below. What did you like? What could you have done without? What else can I tell you about Panama? Leave your comments, questions, suggestions – join the conversation and watch what happens!

The information expressed here is solely the opinion of the author. Nothing on this web site or in subsequent communications is to be considered personalized investment advice. Although we may answer your general questions, we are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by any associate or representative of Learn About Panama is to be deemed as personalized investment advice.

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