Quirks of Appliances and Things in Panama

Learning the Ropes On Life in Panama

What is the saying?  Keeping your mind active by learning new things is the key to long life. Okay. I have known for years that living outside of my native country, things would be different. Learning about these differences has been entertaining and fun.

They say that at least half of the people who move and become expats will return home within the first year. The reason is their expectations were not met and they could not adapt to doing things differently and on a different schedule. Kevin and I fully realized that there were going to be differences anywhere we went. For us, that is part of the fun and experience. Saying that we wanted to let you know a little about some of the differences we have found out about Panama.  Today I will focus on the house.

Propane Tanks for Cooking in Panama

In Panama as well as other Latin American countries, earthquakes do happen. This has had the result being that all homes here use propane tanks for cooking. The explanation is that, if they had underground gas lines they would be very susceptible to breaks during earthquakes. In order to avoid any potential explosions, they simply do not have gas lines here.

Our Propane Tank Used for Cooking

Gas tanks here come in two sizes. Small which is about a 5 gallon size( the same as we use for a barbecue at home) and larger which is about 5 ft high.

The larger tanks obviously last longer but are really heavy to exchange. These are kept outside of the house usually on the side of the home close to he kitchen area.

The small ones are easily exchanged at most larger grocery stores for about $5.50. Not having been here a month we don’t yet know for us how long they will last. However most people use one a month, as it is used just for cooking only. Ours like most smaller tanks are located in the home next to the burners. I know, that doesn’t sound safe, but that is how they do it here. Also a plus is that when the electricity goes out you can still cook. Yeah!!!

Cooking the Panama Way

Most Panama homes do not have ovens. Again this makes sense. They would heat up your house to use and they would cost a lot to run. You can buy and some do, stoves with ovens here. We had the pleasure of going to several stores last week in David and saw all the same appliances there you can get in the states. It is all a matter of what you want to pay for. Kevin misses his oven, but we are doing fine with our stove top 3 burner setup. Here is a picture of it.

Our Three Burner Stove Top


No Carpeting to Vacuum

When you start thinking about budgeting for your home here, you soon realize that there are many savings to moving to Panama or other Latin American countries.

  1. No need to buy a vacuum. All floors here are either tile or linoleum.  I just get my handy dandy broom every morning and sweep up and out the front door. Simple and laborless.
  2. No need for airconditioning. Most well built houses here in Boquete are built facing either east or west to take advantage of the winds here. You just open a door or window on each side of the house and you have a built in fan of sorts.
  3. No real need to buy a dryer. We do have one here where we are staying. However most native people just wash in the washer and line dry the clothes outside on the line. Again the wind will whip them dry in no time, saving your electric bill.
  4. No need for a hot water heater. Most homes here do laundry, dishes and other water needs with cold water. The taps that say hot only have cold water in them. Kevin has gotten used to doing laundry in cold water. For doing dishes, he heats up water in the coffee maker and uses that to add to dish water to get the dishes really clean. The one thing that many people have for hot water is their personal showers. We have one also. They are simply called “suicide showers.”

Suicide Showers

Okay, the first morning we were here we had no idea how to work this thing. We turned the shower on full blast, assuming that like at home it would take awhile to heat up. The shower never got warm. So for a couple of mornings we took cold showers. Then Kevin being the smarter of the two of us figured it out. I believe his words were “Eureka”.”

You must barely turn on the water. The device can not heat massive amounts of water going through it. It can however make a slower stream of water quite hot. So we are saving money by using less water and by using the Suicide Water Heater. Oh, by the way, they call it that because after all it is electricity hooked up to a device in a shower. Get it?  As almost all homes here have these we believe them to be generally safe. Here is a picture of our baby.

Our Suicide Shower







Okay, just one more. Guess what every hotel and home has here including ours? A picture is worth a thousand words.

A Bidet Sprayer


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *