Medellín vs Panama City: Which is the Better Place to Live? - Medellin Guru
Medellín vs Panama City, Panama. Both are rated as top foreign retirement locations for expats and we compare the two cities in 21 categories.

Medellín vs Panama City: Which is the Better Place to Live?

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32 thoughts on “Medellín vs Panama City: Which is the Better Place to Live?”

    1. Robert Gillies June 13, 2019

      Interesting comparison. I have lived in Panama for twenty years and have become a Panamanian citizen. I have been to Medellin about 6 times. If I would move to Colombia I wonder if I can apply for residency as a Panamanian rather than as an American?

      • We have an entire series of article about Colombia’s visa options, here is an overview – https://medellinguru.com/colombian-visa/ and here is information about the Colombian resident visa – https://medellinguru.com/resident-visa/. Since you hold dual citizenship you may be able to apply for a Colombian visa using your Panama citizenship. That is a question for a visa agency – here is a guide the visa agencies in Medellín and Colombia – https://medellinguru.com/visa-agencies-colombia/

        • Robert Gillies June 13, 2019

          Thanks for the information. The reason I am interested in Colombia is that my wife is from the Dominican Republic and Panama refuses to give her a visa. She spent a month with me in Medellin last year. Colombia doesn’t require a visa for citizens of the Dominican Republic. I have also spent a lot of time in the Dominican Republic. While it would be very easy for me to get residency in the Dominican Republic it is not as nice of a country as Colombia. I always go to Laureles in Medellin to the same apartments near Makro. We have two children one and three years old. I am an old retiree (78) and my wife is of course a lot younger. My wife only speaks Spanish. My native language is English but I am very fluent in Spanish. In fact nobody I know can speak English. I only use English on the internet. I grew up on a farm so I don’t normally like cities especially big cities. Medellin is the only big city I have ever been to in my life that I really like. Here in Panama I live on 7 hectares. Anyway I like your website.

    2. Thank you for making this side by side comparison. I have never even heard of Medellín. Now I can research the heck out of these options. You have beautifully laid the bulk of the groundwork! The work really is such a HUGE and wondrous place. If only we all had more time and money to see it all!

    3. Very well done article, thanks for the tips! Indeed, Panama is one of the most important shipping routes in the world, due to its strategy location between North and South America that links the North Atlantic Ocean with the North Pacific Ocean. A cruise on the Panama Canal is thus, one not to be missed.

      However, there are tourist-targeting scammers and petty crime to be wary of.

      Do be wary of the gold / emerald shop price scam, fake towel charge, airport unofficial taxi robbery, carjacking, drug set-up, fraudulent money changers, unsolicited tours, hostel attacks and many more!

    4. Joe schoeb November 5, 2018

      according to International Living “A recent change to the countries tax laws has resulted in a $120,000-per-person annual exemption for all foreign pension income”

      • Yes, thanks, my Colombian tax accountant told me this earlier this year. The article is updated.

        • So an ex pat living in Colombia will not have to pay taxes to Colombia up to 120,000 dollars, (world wide income)?? Thank you

    5. Norman July 20, 2018

      Great article! My wife, who is Colombian, and I currently live in Panama City but one day want to move to Colombia. My wife’s family are in Bogota but I really don’t think I would want to live there. We visited Medellin for a few days last year and I liked it very much. The transportation system seemed excellent – certainly compared to Bogota which doesn’t seem to have one! We do benefit from the pensionado benefits, particularly the 25% discount on airfares to Bogota etc.

      It now seems our biggest problem in moving to Colombia will be bringing any money with us. I recently obtained a cedula de extranjeria and opened a bank account. When I transferred a not very large sum, I had to go through enormous hoops to prove source of funds. We own a property in Panama and I asked what would be required if we sold the property and wanted to transfer the proceeds to our account in Colombia. I was told that the official requirement now was that it would not be enough for me to show the money was from the sale of the property. I would have to prove where the buyer got the money from to buy it! That, of course, will probably be impossible. If things are going to be that difficult, I am beginning to wonder whether immigration will ever be possible.

      • Hi Norman, you may want and try to set up an account with Alianza de Valores. They required from me my last tax return and three recent account statements from the account from which I wanted to transfer money into Colombia. Upon transferring money, you need to fill out an F4 form (or have somebody fill it out on your behalf). Also: My (Colombian) wife set up a savings account with Banco de Colombia, they allow for a maximum amount of USD 28,000 per year (max. USD6,999.99 per transfer) to be transferred pa. “without questions/proof of funds). We do not reside in Colombia, but needed an account for investment purposes.
        Cheers Harry

      • Joe Schoeb December 7, 2018

        I am keeping my money at Schwab. I can use an ATM and Schwab will refund the transaction fee and the foreign exchange fee.

    6. aric ludwig May 5, 2018

      Well done! I have spent a lot of tim e over the last 5 years in both cities and have to generally agree with all the comparisons. One area where Panama benefits is in the range of different areas to visit close by. In Panama you are on the Pacific and have some beaches and islands as well as jungle and mountain towns easily accessible by car, while in Medellin the distance are long to get to the coast, the jungle, although the cafe districts and lovely villages Arte close by. One aspect of Panama that drove me crazy and which you touched upon is the almost complete absence of any street or road signs!! This goes for the cities as well as the highway system! Makes things very difficult. Again, great job!!

      • Hi Aric, thanks! And yes, I agree with you that Panama has a problem with the absence of street or road signs that is frustrating.

    7. Nice comparison, I went to Panama City last year during the rainy season and it was miserable. It was so hot and humid. I could never live there. I hate Live and Invest Overseas that continues to push Panama since they are based there.

    8. I have never visited Panama, but have been told the food is better than in Colombia.

      • How well the food is liked is a pretty subjective measure that depends on people’s tastes and which restaurants they go to. A more objective measure would be how many restaurants are listed on TripAdvisor.

      • Ernie Towers October 17, 2020

        Hello Will absolutely the food in Panama is much better. It’s amazing how a small country could have so much diversity in cuisine and especially in Panamanian cuisine. Both countries actually have very similar dishes too. Because of Panama’s coastline Panama has more seafood variations.

    9. Climate is a matter of personal preference. If you wanted to retire to sun and sand, like the (large?) majority of American ex-pats, you would never even consider Medellín. If the idea of sweating it out at the beach turns you off (like me), you would never consider Panama City. As a side note, many Americans think of Latin America as one big beach. My brother will never come to visit Medellín, but every time we talk, he consistently says, “And there’s no beach???”

    10. Brock Canner January 13, 2018

      Thanks Jeff I read IL’s post also. Sometime I wonder about them. Either one would be great. I love the comparison posts as well. Mexico or Brazil is fine by me.

    11. Jeff,
      as usually, a well researched comparison. One question from my side not necessarily tied to this specific article, but I am curious nevertheless: Would you have a similar comparison between Medellin and places in Brasil (Paraty, Porto Seguro, Buzios e.g.)?

      • Hi Harry,

        Thanks. We don’t have any comparison for places for Brazil yet. But a few other readers have asked about Brazil. I am planning to have some more comparisons this year as they are popular with readers. But I believe Mexico will come before Brazil as more readers have asked about Mexico.

    12. Ease of Getting a Visa:

      We got our Panamain Visa in 4 months. By law, you are required to have an attorney to get a Visa here in Panama. It cost my wife and I almost $2400. You get a temporary Visa and must travel to Panama City to get the permanent Visa. Wait 45 days and apply to get your E Cedula. Another cost of around $300 and another trip to Panama City. Report here on our Blog: http://latitudeadjustmentblog.com/2017/06/05/the-panama-visa-process-our-experience/

      We have several friends that have just recently moved from Panama to Medellin. They all say the Visa process is a piece of cake compared to Panama and 1/3 the cost and done in a matter of a few weeks.

      We would say that Medellin wins hands down! No comparison.

      • Yes the visas are so much easier to get in Colombia and you can do it yourself with no need for a lawyer or agency. And those clowns at International Living rank Panama higher in terms of visas in the table in their 2018 best places to retire post – see: https://internationalliving.com/the-best-places-to-retire/ Also they rank Panama higher for renting even though the rental costs are so much higher in Panama. What a joke.

      • Yes, the visas in Colombia are much easier to get. But many of Panama’s visas are good for an indefinite time period and in Colombia you have to renew visas. So, I ranked them as a tie.

        • True. We got the least expensive Visa. From there, depending on the Visa you get, the prices double and triple what we paid. Hands down cost comparison versus time on your Visa, Medellin wins. Rather re-new my Visa as needed than paying all the money for attorneys expense.

    13. Hey Jeff I would add that Panama is not as clean as Medellin. I found Panama to be dirty.

    14. Brock Canner January 7, 2018

      Thanks Jeff, Great comparison. You really astound me with your knowledge. I Sailed through Panama many years back. Back then Colon was a very dangerous place, and Panama City, not much better. I know things have changed greatly since then. Still I don’t much like rainy seasons, and I do like nightlife. So you know where I intend on going. Hope to see you soon, and thanks again.

      • Hi Brock, thanks. I also don’t like the rainy seasons, which IMHO is just too long in Panama. I have traveled many places and I’m a former research analyst so easy for me to find out detailed information.

        • Brock Canner January 7, 2018

          Well you certainly did a great job on this one. Thanks again Jeff, greatly appreciated.

    15. In my opinion, Colombian people are much nicer and friendlier and happier than what I experienced in Panama. Also the 8 month rainy season in Panama sucks so that´s why so many seem to be unhappy 🙂

      • Hi Gloria, thanks, I agree with you the rainy season in Panama is much worse and longer than in Colombia.

    16. Nice comparison. I was in Panama City last year and found the prices were similar to in the US. And the noise and traffic was unbearable. Also I was there during the rainy season and it rained almost every day and was so hot. I visited a few small towns in Panama with somewhat lower costs but so boring! I´m not a small town person. Medellin is such a better place to live. I can understand why some expats are moving from Panama to Medellin.

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