Education, Banking and Health Care
Education: choosing the right school
This is a very important factor when moving with children. While the public school system in Panama is severely lacking in resources, there are a number of private schools that rival any of their contemporaries in North America or Europe. Tuition fees can range anywhere from $600 – $3,000 per year, or $100 $300 per month, depending on the school.
Most schools follow either the North American September June schedule or the Panamanian schedule of March to December. There are many top private schools that teach exclusively in English, but you can also find schools with a bilingual option, with the idea that your children will learn Spanish.
College and higher education
There are many university level education options in Panama, but very few universities offer transferable credits to U.S. universities. The two most popular US-equivalent universities are Quality Leadership University, and Florida State University-Panama. So if you are studying, or have a child studying in a North American university during your move, transferring credits and degrees shouldn’t be an issue.
There are also some other decent local universities, including the University of Panama, and the Technological University of Panama. Tuition fees vary depending on the student, scholarships, and public education aid, but generally you will pay anywhere from $200-$1,000 per month, plus books.
One of the leading countries in Latin America for banking
Panama is one of the leading countries in Latin America for banking. There are approximately 100 different banks operating in Panama. These vary between high street banks, private banks and investment banks. Among the popular banks are Banco General and Global Bank. International banks with a presence in Panama include Scotia Bank and Citibank. There are different types of bank accounts available including savings current and term deposit accounts.
Interest rates will vary from bank to bank and most cover higher rates, depending on deposit balances. Banks in Panama offer high quality, efficient service, and all have modern facilities now. Panama takes its banking secrecy laws seriously. Therefore, you are pretty much assured of the security and safety of your funds.
Panamanian bank, make sure that the bank is reputable. You can always do your research online or better yet, you can ask the locals as to which bank they prefer. When applying for a bank account, the bank representative may ask you for reasons on why you are interested in having a personal bank account. In many cases, since Panama is already considered a haven for foreign retirees, people usually state this as their main reason – relocation. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.
Health Care & medical insurance
Medical insurance in Panama will cost anywhere between $45 and $120 per month for comprehensive cover age from an international provider, which can contribute to huge savings compared to some U.S. health plans. If you decide for no insurance coverage, there is free medical care for Panamanian residents, but, at best you may have to wait a few extra weeks for an appointment and may not get the same specialized attention you receive at private facility.
Private hospitals in Panama can offer excellent care, for example, Punta Pacifica, located in Panama City, is considered the most technologically advanced hospital in Latin America and is affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Hospital, they provide a very high level of service.
Costs for ER or dentists
ER visits can range in price depending duration and the services offered, but it will cost a minimum of $100 to see a doctor in the ER, not including any tests. Dentists are also cheaper than in the U.S. with a typical teeth cleaning running between $30-$50. If you plan to pay out of pocket at any of the high-end private hospital in the city, expect a doctor’s consultation to cost between $40-$100.
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