Expat Travels In Cartagena & Panama

“Kathleen, ever since I subscribed to your e-letters and became an ORC member, I have become more and more interested in the possibility of living and/or retiring in Latin America. I made it a point that, given the opportunity, I would go on a trip and check things out firsthand, which I have done. I would like to tell you about my recent Latin American experience.

“Earlier this month I met up with a couple of Canadian friends in Cartagena for one week, during which I took in a local three-day wedding celebration that was stationed within the walls of beautiful old town Cartagena. I looked into taking in a few days in Medellin, but that wasn’t in the cards this time around.

“I also wanted to spend some time in Panama so I took a short one-hour flight from Cartagena to PTY. I had a few days to kill before I was to meet up with another Canadian friend of mine in Panama City, so I decided to check out the beach life in Bocas del Toro. As you always say, you never know what to expect until your boots are on the ground. Having lived in Bermuda for a few years and been spoiled with some of the nicest beaches and ocean colors I have ever seen, I was in search of the finest beaches that Bocas has to offer. After spending one night in a hostel in alluring Casco Viejo, I took a flight out to Bocas the next day. I went on to visit three areas known for popular beach locations, Bocas del Drago, Red Frog beach, and the beaches of Carenero Island. Red Frog beach was the breath of fresh air I was looking for. I ended up spending a whopping 10 bucks and changed my flight so I could spend an extra day in Bocas.

“So then on to Punta Pacifica in Panama City. What can I say? It is everything you have described in your letters. High-rises, nightlife, traffic, modern malls, warm weather, etc. Being a single guy and having the luxury of being there with a friend that has spent a lot of time in Panama City, there was never a dull moment in my week-and-a-half stay. Little did I know that I would be back in Casco Viejo visiting many of the great restaurants and bars the area has to offer. You have inspired me to seriously examine Panama as a potential place for living or retirement, and I now will be researching how I can make a living there.

“After all this (sorry for the long note), I do have a question for you. I am looking to transfer some funds that I still have in Bermuda to either Panama or Belize and wanted to get your recommendation on a bank. It will be a personal account, and I am a Canadian citizen. I am wondering, in your opinion, which would be the best option for me?”

–Lucian D., United States

First, congratulations on your open-mindedness and spirit of adventure. I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Cartagena and Panama City.

Second, regarding a bank rec: I’d say Caye Bank in Belize or Unibank in Panama, depending on what you want to do with the funds and how much money you’re talking about. Both Caye Bank and Unibank offer private banking services. However, if you’re talking about a significant amount of money (say US$500,000 or more), you might want to speak with either of the Andorran banks operating here in Panama.

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