10 Years of Blog Archive

Friday, September 04, 2015

Quito Ecuador vs. Panama City - Which City is Better for You?

Quito Ecuador and Panama City, Panama are two very different types of cities. One is tropical, hot and near the coast, while the other is temperate, mild, and in the Andes Mountains. Recognizing these three differences should give the reader a very good idea of which city they would like to retire to as far as climate and weather are concerned. 
Quito Ecuador

However, for those few folks who still cannot decide which city they prefer, here are some of the positives and negatives of both cities. BTW, these are facts not our opinions.  The only one that would be considered our personal opinion would be we think both cities have natural beauty about them; the mountains of the Andes and the bay of Panama City.  For a few of our personal opinions, please see our notes below the tables. 
Panama City, Panama
We don't think comparing countries based on personal opinions really does any justice for people. Like we learned as children, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. That means you have to behold it; other people cannot behold a country for you.

Quito, Ecuador Positives and Negatives Facts 2015

Quito Positives Negatives
Getting There 1. International Airport
1. Flights can be expensive- about 25% higher than in 2014
Health Care 1. Health care in Quito Ecuador has consistently ranked one of the best in South America.  2. Several modern and clean hospitals with US standard equipment, services and doctors. 3. Less than half the cost of US prices; sometimes 1/4 of US costs.  
Crime & Safety
1. During the day Quito is relatively safe if you don't act rich or flash your valuables.
1.High incidence of petty thievery in certain areas near and in the Mercado's.   2. Some vagrancy, especially in old town.   3. Taxi kidnaps of tourists is a risk  4. High percentage of petty thievery occurs at night to tourists.  5. Violent crime such as armed robbery, home invasions and sexual assualts on the rise in Quito. 
Source: OSAC

1. Numerous US style grocery/ departments stores.  2. Four huge shopping Malls and many strip type malls.  3. Inexpensive produce at the local Mercado's.  4. Several health food stores to buy natural products.  5. Quito has a lot of locally produced brands of foods, so you can shy away from the high-priced imports 1. With the exception of fruits and vegetables you can buy at the local Mercado, food is expensive.  2. electronics, furniture, appliances, tools, and other household items all cost double or more than in the US. 
Public Transportation 1. Trolley - 2. City Buses  3. Ecovia and they all cost $0.25 cents.  4.Taxi - taxi fares range from $1.50 to $5 anywhere within the city limits. To and from airport $25 to $30
1. Both the Ecovia and Trolley are overly crowded.  2. Higher incidence of pick-pockets on public transportation.  3.Need to be careful with taking taxis because of kidnap express robberies.  4. Disabled people will have a problem getting on Ecovia and Trolley without assistance.
Weather and Climate
1. Fairly mild temperatures year round.
1. No seasons.  2. Some winter days can get chilly.  3. More cloudy days than sunny.  4. Homes and apartments stay chilly (no central heating).  5. High altitude can pose problems for COPD patients.
People Pleasant and helpful 1. Gringo gouging and targeting
Environment, Services and Ambiance 1. Beautiful city with majestic mountains surrounding the whole city. 2. Numerous restaurants, live theaters, cinema and shopping.  3. Many different types of indigenous cultural tourist attractions, tour buses, museums and attractions. 4. Quito has been named as one of the top 20 best places to go visit in 2015  5. Quito is home to four HUGE lovely parks that have tennis, basketball, volleyball and other sports courts. 1.Erratic, unorganized drivers. 2. pedestrians need to be careful when crossing the street without traffic lights 3. Noisy  4. Some pollution from the diesel buses
Internet & Infrastructure 1. Internet is fair to good in the city.  2. WIFI spots situated throughout the city. 3. Good to excellent roads
1. Internet may not be in all hotels. If you need Internet, make sure the hotel has it before booking.
2. Internet more expensive than in the US.

Rental & Utility Costs 1. Low to moderate priced rentals - unfurnished $300 to $450      2. Very low utility (electric, water, gas, etc) bills. 1. Tourist rentals and areas are very high priced.

 Panama City, Panama Positives and Negatives Facts 2015

Panama City

Getting There
1. Close to the US
2. Fair to Good Airline Prices

Health Care 1. Good Healthcare at US Standards. 2. Several modern and clean hospitals 3. Half the cost of US prices, according to expats that have used the services.
Source 1: Numbeo

Source 2: Huffington Post 
1. Some of the major hospitals crowded with AIDS patients - Aids and HIV are epidemic in Panama City. Source: Panama newspaper - La Estrella de Panama
Crime & Safety
1. minor crime infractions (petty theft and pick-pockets) are few, comparatively speaking with other Latin countries.  FYI: Violent home invasions high in other areas of Panama like Boquete and Coronado.

1. Statistics show over 650 murders in 2013  2. 201 street gangs. 3. Violent crime high because of organized crime. Panama city sees a lot of sexual assaults
Source: Insight Crime
Shopping 1.Good prices for electronics, appliances, furniture, hardware, clothing, shoes, stuff.  2. Prices for everything (except food) is the same price or better than in the US. 3. Several big shopping Malls. 4. Good discount department/clothing stores. 5. Mercado produce prices are good to inexpensive.

1. Everything in the grocery stores is imported. No locally produced brands. 2. No natural health food stores
Public Transportation
1. Excellent modern city buses $0.25  2. Excellent modern Metro subway $0.35  3. Taxi prices are fair to good - $3 to $7 in the city. Airport transfer $30


Weather and Climate
1. Mostly sunny days with tropical weather. 2. Little pollution because few diesel buses. 3. Panama City opens to the bay so smog escapes. 1. Too hot for some people.
2. Humid

Gregarious and helpful 1. Gringo gouging & targeting


 Services and 

1. Numerous restaurants, theaters and shopping malls.  2. 3-mile long walking, biking, jogging path along the bay (BalboaAve.) This area also has exercise equipment, tennis courts, volley ball, basketball courts and children’s playground, all in a very well manicured tropical setting with beautiful views of the bay and city. 3.  Several large parks; many tourist attractions, tour buses, museums and attractions.
1. No Beach nearby
(closest beach is an hour by car and 2-hours by bus)   2. No public restrooms!  3. Erratic drivers  and lots of traffic.   4. noisy.  5. Some pollution from the diesel buses called “Red Devils”.   6. No organized garbage service, therefore garbage all over and it smells.  7. Many areas with exposed manholes; dangerous for walking.  8. Broken up sidewalks through out the city.  9. Many areas are not wheelchair friendly.  10.  Heavy prostitution in the tourist areas.  Source. Wiki - Prostitution in Panama City
Internet & Infrastructure
1. Internet in Panama is fair to good. WIFI is virtually everywhere.  Cost of Internet is about the same as in the states  2. Panama City has fair to good roads.
1. Internet can be spotty in hotel rooms at certain times of the day.
Cost of Rentals & Utilities None
1. High rental prices in the city of Panama City - $900 to $5000 2. AC needs to run all day and all night; you will have high utility bill.

Other notes about crime & safety comparing Panama City and Quito: According to 28 expats living in Quito and 22 expats living in Panama City, the expats that live in Panama City felt relatively safer than expats living in Quito.  See this comparison at Numbeo here.

Our personal observations about crime & safety in Panama: we felt a safer vibe in Panama and we also observed the locals using their expensive electronics on the streets, counting wads of cash out in the open, and leaving their luggage and back packs on travel buses while they went to eat lunch. The only time we felt uneasy was when we were inside or near the Mercados.  Panama City definitely has its share of crime and in bad neighborhoods which we'll talk about in another article.  

Our notes about Internet: Internet (WIFI) for both Quito and Panama can be spotty in some hotel rooms. If you need Internet, before booking a hotel room, check to make sure you can actually get on the Internet in your room. Most lodgings have WIFI in the room with the modem router in the halls for good connections, but it doesn’t mean your room will have a good connection. 

Our personal notes about tourism: Comparing Quito and Panama City for expats with children... Quito wins hands down without a doubt. In our personal opinion Panama City does not cater to families with children, of any age. Panama city would not be considered a very family-friendly city.

If you liked this article, we think you might like this one too!

We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!


  1. So, I do not know which one would I prefer. I think for weather I would Panama because I am from Florida and I am a sunshine lover. But for rents, I would prefer Cuenca or Quito. So I can not afford Panama. I also like Health food stores, they do not have them in Panama.

    1. Going outside of the city about an hour or so, you can fine $500 to $600 rents and going even further out you can find $300 to $400 rents. Yes, what Panama has is GNC Vitamin Stores.


HMFamilyLife and Discover Cuenca Ecuador Comment Policy
We welcome applicable and respectful comments. Off-topic comments may be removed.