Testimonial: My Families Experience, Investigating our Options to move to Panama

By: Mada Coetzee family in Panama

We considered Panama as a Plan B Retirement option for the past year, but had our doubts. When we discovered Panama for South Africans we joined the group and made contact with Gary. We had a lot of questions and uncertainties, which he answered in detail for us. Gary introduced us to the lawyers and we started communicating with them with regard to all the documentation and requirements. This group helped us to clear the uncertainties and to take the step to pursue the friendly nation’s residency option. In August 2018 we visited Panama to find out if it’s the right place for us.

Meeting with the lawyers / Immigration process

We met with Ricardo from the DENFAB lawyer firm, to submit all the required documents and to start the process. The following day they took us to Immigration to submit our applications. All that we can say is, they are EXCEPTIONAL! The staff were so friendly and very well organized and the whole process took us 10 minutes at Immigration. We would definitely recommend any South African to make use of their service.

Our trip to Boquete

We decided to drive down to Boquete rather than to fly, as this was an opportunity to explore all the towns on the way to Boquete and get to know more of the Country. As you drive out of the city limits there is a huge improvement of the cleanliness in the small towns. There are still old buildings but it gives a certain character to the towns, which reminds me of the small little towns in SA during the 1970’s. The panoramic views during our trip to Boquete was absolutely breath taking.

Inside Panama Real Estate

Upon our arrival in Boquete, Gary introduced us to Mike from Inside Panama Real Estate. Mike and Joanne spend a day with us to show us some of the properties for sale in Boquete, which was great as we now have an indication of what type of properties is available and in which areas and have a better idea of the property values. However, we did not make an offer on any of the viewed properties as we were a little bit wary of making such a big decision on the first visit, but we will continue to search for our retirement home in Boquete.

A warm welcome note from the Founder of Inside Panama Real Estate!

The South African braai

Gary and his family invited us for a braai, and their hospitality is of true South African spirit. We had a very enjoyable evening and had the opportunity to meet other expats and hear about their views of Panama.

Golf at Lucero

The following day we met Gary and Mike for a round of golf at Lucero Golf Club, what an experience to play on a course with such amazing views.

Read more about Lucero clicking here!

Opening of the dreaded bank accounts

Gary’s daughter, Nadine arranged everything for the opening of our bank accounts and set up a meeting with the Bank Manager to finalize the opening of our accounts. This was a little bit time consuming, but we were able to finalize and obtain the letters and statements that same day. As per our understanding this process can take up to 2 weeks but with Nadine’s help this was done in one morning. This small little town hidden in the mountains gives a feel of relaxation and living stress free. The people in Boquete are very friendly folks and we were greeted by strangers in the passing by, which made us feel if we were already part of the town. The rest of our time we spend exploring Boquete and surrounding towns on our own. After which we returned to the City to finalize the immigration process.

Panama Canal Tour

A must for everyone visiting Panama
During our stay in the City we arranged a tour to the Canal Museum and viewed two Ships being transferred through the Canal. We recommend visiting the Canal with a personal tour guide as they share a lot of the history regarding Panama and the Canal, which give you a better understanding of the history of Panama.

Book a tour and experience the Panama Canal lifetime adventure here!

Getting our Panama ID’s

We visited the Immigration department a second time to receive our temporary ID’s and to apply for the Multiple Exit/Entry permits, this process took about 40 minutes. Three days later we picked up our passports with the multiple permits from the DENFAB Office’s. Now we have to wait patiently for 6 months until we can get our Permanent Residency Cards.

General Impression

When we first arrived in Panama City we were shocked initially, and felt that this might be a mistake. The city is really dirty, some roads are in bad condition and there is a lot of dilapidated buildings which creates a bad first impression. But as time passed we started to look beyond this and saw the natural beauty of Panama and the potential of the country. With regard to crime and safety, our observation is that woman and children was walking the streets at night and we never felt any sense of danger. Police are very active throughout Panama as we encountered several road blocks (permanent and random) and speed traps on our way to Boquete. In all of the towns Police are patrolling on foot and on motorcycles and are visible throughout the day and night. The language barrier is definitely a problem, as most of the people only speak Spanish, and there is hardly anybody in the hotels, shops and restaurants who speaks English. In our opinion to start a successful business and to settle in Panama, one should be able to communicate in Spanish.
We would like to thank Gary and his family, Nadine, Mike and Joanne for their assistance and hospitality and welcoming us to Panama. To Ricardo and the DENFAB staff a special thanks for their exceptional service and constant communication with regard to the progress of our application.
Without reliable lawyers and Gary (a trusted fellow SA countryman) this would be a difficult process to complete.


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