Although often overlooked in favour of other countries in Latin America, Panama is a great destination for digital nomads. With excellent internet infrastructure across the country, a growing number of coworking spaces and a burgeoning digital nomad community, Panama is becoming a top choice for remote workers.
After experiencing Panama’s digital nomad scene firsthand, I’ll reveal all about the pros, cons and practicalities of working remotely in this up-and-coming location-independence hotspot.
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Working as a Digital Nomad in Panama
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Pros and Cons of Working Remotely in Panama
- Amazing internet connectivity
- Panama has the fastest internet speeds in Central America
- Incredible range of destinations
- Same time zone as much of the USA (Eastern Standard Time)
- Availability of coworking spaces
- Digital nomad visa available
- Low living costs (comparative to US and Europe)
- The digital nomad community is not as well established as in other countries
- The climate is not for everybody
- More expensive than neighbouring countries
- Not the safest country
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Best Places in Panama for Digital Nomads
With an average download speed of 94.76Mbps and an upload speed of 14.18Mbps, Panama has the fastest internet in the whole of Central America. This means that a lot of exciting destinations are on the table for digital nomads in Panama! Here are some of my favourites:
1. Panama City
Panama’s capital is likely to be your first stop when you arrive in the country. The city is dynamic, exciting and offers a range of things to do. Famous for its cosmopolitan skyline, the city offers a variety of experiences, from high-end luxury to budget-friendly.
Panama City is becoming a popular destination with digital nomads and there is a range of coworking spaces that cater to remote workers. As well as organised DN spaces, there are also a number of remote-work-friendly cafes, just make sure you pitch up in a safe area of the city!
The capital offers a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from hostels, hotels and Airbnb. The latter is a particularly good option for those staying in Panama more long term. A one-bedroom apartment in Panama City is likely to set you back around $900USD a month.
The mountain town of Boquete is becoming an increasingly popular destination on the Panama travel scene. Best known for its temperate climate, Boquete is a hotspot for those looking to escape the suffocating temperatures of Panama City and Bocas del Toro.
If you’re someone who prefers to spend your time in nature, Boquete is a great option. With incredible hikes just a stone’s throw from the town centre, the area is rich in scenery and wildlife.
Boquete has become a hub for American expats over recent years and it is easy to see the town’s westernisation. As a result, there is a range of restaurants and accommodation options, all catering to a variety of budgets. An important coffee-growing area in Panama, there is a range of cafes and coffee shops where you can work remotely.
3. Bocas del Toro
Panama’s most popular coastal destination is the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Famous for spectacular beaches, hot sunny days and great parties, Bocas is beginning to draw in a lot of digital nomads.
Remote workers looking for a laidback beach lifestyle will love Bocas. The growing DN scene means that there are a few hostels that cater to digital nomads on a couple of the islands and a range of accommodation options available. Longer-term accommodation options are very desirable and tend to be a bit more expensive than elsewhere in Panama.
One Place for Digital Nomads to Avoid…
San Blas – While I encouraged anybody who gets the opportunity to visit the San Blas Islands, it is not a practical choice for those looking to work. Many of the islands are very remote and even using the toilet can be a case of perching over a long drop which empties into the sea! Phone signal and internet connection are next to non-existent on many islands, making this a bad destination for digital nomads. Do yourself a favour and visit San Blas only when you’ve booked yourself some time off!
Where Can I Work Remotely in Panama?
As Panama’s digital nomad community continues to grow, coworking spaces and remote work-friendly cafes continue to spring up. Here are a few options which come highly recommended in popular DN areas across the country:
The digital nomad cum backpacker hostel chain is making lists again! The coworking space at Casco Viejo was my favourite place to work during the time I spent in Panama City. Offering meeting rooms and private call booths, there is coffee available on demand and the internet never faltered. Passes are available on a daily or weekly basis.
Locatedon Calle 50, Spaces is a great place to come if you are looking to meet some of the other digital nomads working in Panama. Offering dedicated desks, meeting rooms and private offices, there is a range of options for different kinds of remote workers. Plans run on a monthly basis, meaning that this is only a feasible option for those staying in the city for some time.
Situated in the district of Obarrio, this coworking centre is a great option for those based in the downtown area of the capital. As well as offering longer-term subscription plans, they also offer a 10-day pass.
The cafés in Panama City are no strangers to digital nomads. A few which are frequented by remote workers include Café Unido, Super Gourmet (don’t miss the food here!) and Nomada Eatery.
One of the best Selina hostels that I have visited, there is just something special about the vibe here. With a range of outside spots to work as well as a dedicated coworking space, digital nomads tapping away on their computers is a common sight here!
With several westernised cafes, there are plenty of places to set up your laptop for an hour or two in Boquete. Popular options include Café Unido and La Casa del Cafe.
Bocas del Toro
Selina Bocas del Toro (Isla Colon and Red Frog)
In my opinion, the better of the two Selina hostels situated in the Bocas del Toro archipelago is Red Frog. Nestled amongst the jungle and will a chilled vibe, it is less party heavy than its counterpart on Isla Colon.
Both hostels offer dedicated coworking spaces but there are also plenty of communal areas where you can take your laptop and knuckle down. Don’t miss the outside area at Red Frog and the waterfront bar located downstairs at the Isla Colon offering.
Founded in 2020, Nowhere Remote Work Escape offers both coworking and coliving for digital nomads. Sitting in the middle of the forest, the setting is idyllic and the WiFi is consistent and reliable. And for all you tech nomads, they also accept Bitcoin as a form of payment!
Other places on the islands that remote workers recommend in Bocas del Toro include Amaranto and Tres Palmas Cafe.
Panama Digital Nomad Visa
In May 2021, Panama introduced their very own digital nomad visa. This short-term visa allows remote workers the ability to stay in the country for nine months and then extend once for an additional nine months after the first is up.
These are the requirements that you must satisfy if you want to apply for Panama’s digital nomad visa.
- You must hold a valid passport
- You must have a clean criminal record and be able to prove it
- You must meet the minimum income requirement ($3000USD monthly income/$36000USD annual income)
- You must be a remote worker with a company or clients located outside of Panama
- You must hold valid health insurance for the duration of your stay in Panama
The cost for Panama’s digital nomad visa is around $300USD. You are required to pay the visa fee ($250USD) when you submit your application. There is a further fee of $50USD when you receive your visa card (assuming your application is approved).
Panama is an up-and-coming destination for digital nomads right now but the scene is sure to grow, especially after the introduction of the country’s remote worker visa.
With incredible internet infrastructure across the country and a range of exciting destinations, Panama should definitely be your next digital nomad destination!
Have you ever considered being a digital nomad in Panama? Where would you visit first?