Panama is among the unconventional yet highly recommended places to move, find job opportunities, take a vacation, start different sorts of businesses, and even raise kids. Over the past years, many people have had the assumption that Panama is not self-sufficient enough as a country to sustain such lifestyles and ventures, but that has completely changed.
Many people are considering starting a family or moving their family to Panama for so many reasons. First, the cost of living is relatively lower than in the US. The standard of living across the country has also significantly improved and reached first-world modernity in the past years. Security, education, quality of living, medical services, and the general social atmosphere in Panama are no different than reputable places to raise children. It’s possibly even better.
Let’s get to the answers to all the curiosities you have regarding giving birth and raising children in Panama.
What Is It Like to Give Birth in Panama?
Panamanians used to prefer homebirths more due to how expensive hospital births are. However, that has changed a lot over the years, especially in urban areas. If you’re coming from the US or other European countries, you’ll find that hospital birth and private care cost a lot less, possibly even with their rates combined.
The quality of hospital services in Panama is top-notch so you can rely on them to take care of you and your baby, especially in labor. All you have to do is see a local doctor for expert referrals for the most relevant specialists and department in the best hospital closest to your location. Also, rest assured that Panama hospitals have epidurals, gas and air, and other pain relief options available.
The largest hospitals in the country that have maternity wards are the Hospital Santo Tomas and the National Hospital, which are both found in the capital. The former is a public hospital, whereas the latter is private and specializes in maternity and newborn care. There are also specialist maternity hospitals outside Panama City such as in David and Colon.
If you reside in a far more rural area, do not risk staying there as the time for birth approaches. Head out to David, Colon, or Panama City to get absolute care throughout your pregnancy journey. The hospitals in these cities have doctors and staff whose educational and early professional backgrounds were established in the UK or in the US.
So don’t worry, you’ll be dealing with an English-speaking hospital crew including technicians and nurses as well. Nowadays, 94% of the people in Panama are giving birth with professional medical assistance, which is a huge improvement from the past preference for low birth. Medical facilities are slowly reaching the rural areas as well, so the 6% homebirth will go down to zero in no time, too.
After that, all you have to do next is to make sure you register your newborn child who automatically becomes a citizen of Panama.
Is It Hard to Register Births in Panama?
Panama requires all births to be registered at the Civil Registry. For an in-depth reference, Article 9 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Panama states that the following are Panamanian by birth:
1. Those born in the National territory;
2. The offspring of parents who are Panamanian by birth, born outside the territory of the Republic, provided they establish their domicile in the National territory;
3. The offspring of parents who are Panamanian by naturalization, born outside the territory of the Republic, provided they establish their domicile in the Republic of Panama and state their desire to elect Panamanian citizenship, not later than one year after reaching legal age.
Parents need to provide photocopies of their ID cards to acquire a birth certificate. Grandparents can also do the registration or hire a lawyer to do it on behalf of them in case they aren’t able to. However, registrations for new children aren’t a long process. Just do it yourself, it’s more cost-effective.
What Facilities and Activities Are Available for Young Children in Panama?
In cities like Colon, expect no parks, toddler playgroups, and even soft plays around. Panama City, on the other hand, has more activities for children from parks to music classes. Unfortunately, you won’t get to socialize with other parents as you wait for your kid in one of these talent classes as these children are mostly supervised by nannies.
This is when Panama falls short as a place to nurture children’s talents and skills. Sure, there are the outdoors for children to play but there are hardly any other children doing the same so they are left to play alone or with you. It’s hard to facilitate early socialization for your young ones in Panama unless you enroll them in a nursery as early as 18 months old.
Still, there aren’t any stellar reviews about these nurseries. They aren’t bad, but many expat parents have complained about how cramped it is and generally ineffective in honing early skills and socialization for the children. The good thing is that Panama boasts multiple affordable schools for music, dancing, sports, etc. That’s something to take advantage of, for sure.
Is Panama Safe for Children?
Panama has the lowest crime ratings among the Latin American Countries. It’s even considered to be safer than many major cities in the US. The most you have to deal with in Panama is petty theft, and that spares your children unless you let them carry your wallet or embellish them with lavish accessories.
However, there are still no-go zones in Panama like any other country. Avoid remote areas that are closer to the jungle as many sketchy groups of people hide out there to terrorize even the locals. If you want to live outside the capital, you have Coronado, a beach community that’s deemed the safest place to live in Panama.
Your kids can have a nice childhood there, being closer to nature and free to play around the shores. The mere fact that the region isn’t polluted and well-secured to be a serene beach town is enough assurance that your family will be in a healthy, safe space.
What’s the Education and Schools Like in Panama?
Panama has many international schools and private schools that teach in English up to college preparatory courses. Don’t worry about the prices as these schools are a lot cheaper in Panama compared to the US. If you’re moving to Panama with school-aged kids, these are your best options.
If your kids were born in the country and can speak fluent Spanish, enrolling them in public schools wouldn’t be so bad. The only problem is that private and international schools provide high-quality standards that can compete globally, whereas public schools hardly compare to North American public institution standards.
Take note that if you’re staying outside Panama City, Coronado has Coronado International School of Panama, which is highly recommended by expat parents. The curriculum is challenging but just enough to build your children for a good future. The teachers there are also hands-on and the students come from different backgrounds but are really friendly.
What Are the Best Places in Panama to Raise a Child?
If you want the best surroundings for your kids as they grow, you need to find the appropriate neighborhood. There are many places in Panama where it’s ideal to live but not necessarily with children as they are mostly focused on retirees, backpackers, or couples. In a tourist destination like Panama, it is a bit challenging to determine which area won’t affect your children’s journey through a fun childhood.
As mentioned above, Panama has great private and international schools not just within the capital city. That brings us to other places like Coronado, Boquete, and Gorgona. These places have different special qualities that all resonate with raising a child or a whole family. They are also home to the best private and international schools in the country.
Here’s more information about the best places to raise children in Panama:
Coronado is almost every expat family’s favorite town to raise children. It is a beach community that’s self-sufficient enough to attract people to live there long-term. It doesn’t have so many tourists like the beach community Bocas del Toro so you won’t have to worry about rowdy backpackers or an overwhelming amount of retirees who might make your kid feel like they can’t relate to anybody.
As noted above, Coronado is also the safest place in Panama. It has a residential security gate that makes sure everyone in the area gets to live without the fear of getting caught up in any kind of crime. There’s also local police roaming around the area.
If you prefer to raise kids in a more elevated location, say among the mountains, Boquete is the place for you. It is a classic highland town that’s known for its family-friendly vibe. Here, you have a bunch of activities for everyone in the family–fishing, golfing, music, etc. You’ll never run out of things to introduce to your child.
This mountain town may not be as safeguarded as Coronado but the most crime you’ll ever encounter here is petty theft. This area is also mostly populated by expats, so it might be good if you prefer hanging out with fellow foreigners. There are locals here as well, but the relationship between the two groups isn’t really integrated.
Those things may be deal breakers for you, depending on how you want to raise your child, of course.
If you prefer a more quiet location, Gorgona is the best place for your family. It has a slow-paced family ambiance and is right behind Coronado’s level of security. There’s a police station right at the entrance of the playa, so you won’t have to worry about your kids playing outside. Gorgona is also a beach town, although it’s not as commercialized as Coronado yet.
Some expats may favor such a simpler beach town situation if they’re trying to raise children as simple as possible. There are those who may not feel comfortable with the Gorgona setting due to the lack of things to do for the adult or unavailability of some establishments. What do you think?
What Are the Advantages of Raising a Child in Panama?
Panama is a paradise in all sense of the word. Its city isn’t as chaotic as other large cities, the beaches have developed towns, and the opportunities for children to learn is endless from activities to culture. In countries like the US, problems like bullying, 11-year-old kids going on 18, and other conflicts are common. In Panama, none of that is an issue.
It’s the complete opposite, actually. Panama has a more peaceful approach to instilling discipline among children. The schools have more patient teachers who are encouraging and genuinely caring for each student they’re handling.
Here are what expats have cited as advantages of raising a child in Panama:
- The kids can be kids
- There is no bullying
- There are no parental conflicts
- Great cultural and language opportunities
- You don’t have to worry about your child being inappropriately touched in school
Panama is practically the most ideal place to raise children in the best way possible. The schools are loving rather than intimidating, there are a bunch of activities for different interests, and the hospitals are reliable from childbirth all the way to the child and adult care. The fantastic views among the towns are also a big bonus. Isn’t that what a perfect place for children and family is like?
The notion of tipping is based on rewarding good service. Tipping, which is called “propina” in Panama, similarly works under the same basic principle. If you find a service truly helpful and...
Spending the weekend with your family or loved ones is one of the best ways to take a break and escape the routine that makes life dull and boring. While you can easily do so creatively by simply...