living in panama city

Panama City Area Information

Area Information

Panama City Arts and Culture

Art and Culture in Bay County

The beaches of Bay County are world-famous, but the sophistication of the area surprises some visitors and many new residents. Panama City was recently named " Number 6 " of the "100 Best Small Art Towns in America" (John Villani, Muit Press, 1997). The scenic downtown area borders on St. Andrew Bay and hosts a wide variety of local treasures including the Visual Arts Center, The Martin Theater, McKenzie Park and the Marina Civic Center. Nestled among numerous art galleries, shops, restaurants and historic sites, residents and visitors alike are often challenged to choose between an assortment of cultural venues and events. But the arts in Bay County are not limited to just one area. Cultural resources and activities can be found throughout the county that borders the Emerald Coast.

The residents of Bay County value cultural opportunities and support a variety of arts organizations and annual events. The numerous theater groups, ballet companies, orchestras, festivals and museums that consider Bay County their home make evident the community's commitment to artistic diversity. The excellence of the Arts is also apparent in the variety of concerts, shows and art exhibits that travel to the area annually. The premium quality of these events is considered to be equivalent, if not better, than similar efforts in larger urban areas. The wealth of culture available to the people of Bay County blends with an old-fashioned work ethic to bring an energy and enthusiasm to the workplace that is a key ingredient of business success.

Bay Arts Alliance:
Since 1978, Bay Arts Alliance has served as the local arts agency for Bay County. Located on Harrison Avenue in the downtown Marina Civic Center, its mission is to provide opportunities for cultural enrichment through broad-based educational experiences and quality performances. Bay Arts Alliance has brought national touring performances to the area, including Bill Cosby, Stomp, Sinbad, CATS, and Broadway on Ice, just to name a few. In addition, Bay Arts Alliance has been the primary force behind the annual Concerts in the Park series at McKenzie Park.

The Arts in Education programs provide many cultural opportunities for Bay County schools and non-profit organizations at no charge. Annually, over 10,000 children have the opportunity to enrich their appreciation of the arts by attending a variety of performances given by national touring companies at the Marina Civic Center. Bay Arts Alliance hosts the Very Special Arts Festival for exceptional children. Bay Arts Alliance continually works to develop partnerships with local businesses and other arts organizations. These partnerships allow Bay Arts Alliance to utilize all available resources in creating new Arts-in-Education programs as part of their ongoing commitment to expose the youth of Bay County to the Arts.

Panama City Music Association:
The Panama City Music Association has since 1941 presented an annual series of five concerts which are balanced with classical and popular offerings. The goal of the non-funded, volunteer organization has always been to provide excellent entertainment at affordable prices. The concerts are sold by season subscription only and are presented at the Marina Civic Center to sold-out audiences. A sprinkling of the artists who have performed throughout the years would be Arthur Fieldler conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra, from St. Petersburg, Russia the State Symphony Orchestra and the State Ice Ballet, Marvin Hamlisch, Peter Nero, Burl Ives, The Miami City Ballet, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Smokey Joe's Café, and ethnic groups such as Andes Manta from South Africa. For more information, contact Joyce Harrison at 236-1260 or 234-1197.

Visit their website at

Visual Arts Center:
The Visual Arts Center of Northwest Florida, located in the heart of downtown Panama City, occupies the old City Hall, jail, fire and police station, and is one of the oldest structures in the city (Est.1925). Renovated in 1987, the Center reflects the collective efforts of the artists and citizens of Bay County to bring a quality cultural facility to the area. Its mission is to "foster the excellence, diversity, and vitality of the visual arts through education and exhibitions and to serve as a source of information about the arts, activities and events in Northwest Florida." With museum quality exhibit space and studio classrooms, the Visual Arts Center provides the perfect venue for national, local and traveling art exhibitions, adult and children's art classes, art appreciation lectures, seminars, and workshops. The Impressions Gallery, a hands-on children's gallery, provides a unique art experience for young visitors. The Visual Arts Center collaborates often with other arts organizations and area businesses to create community-wide events that foster the appreciation of the arts. The Center has partnered with the Bay District Schools to bring visual arts education to underprivileged children through the Art=Smart program.

For more information about art exhibit schedules, events and classes, visit the new VAC website at

The Martin Theatre:
Built in 1936, the Historic Martin Theatre was originally called "The Ritz". During the "Movie Palace" era, the theatre hosted movies, vaudeville and talent shows and so was equipped with a small stage and two small dressing rooms, as well as a movie screen. In the late 1950's, the "Ritz" became the "Martin Theatre" and was extensively redecorated. In November of 1990, it was returned to its art deco glory, renovated, rejuvenated, and readied to serve the community. The Martin Theatre Ensemble Program was created in 1994 to establish a permanent professional theatre company in Northwest Florida. Recent productions have included The Importance of Being Earnest, The Foreigner, Noises Off, A Raisin in the Sun, Crimes of the Heart, Guys and Dolls, and The Glass Menagerie.

Visit their website at

Kaleidoscope Theatre:
Located in Lynn Haven just minutes from Panama City Beach. This thriving theater company is currently presenting its 28th season of productions. Current productions include: You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, Amadeus, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, The Murder Room and Dearly Departed. Lighting and sound equipment were recently upgraded to enhance the performances and give audiences an exciting theatrical experience. The Educational Outreach program continues to grow and become more successful each season. Thus far, over 400 children from under-served areas have had the opportunity to see shows, meet the actors, and learn more about the theater. Study guides are provided for these special children attending the productions offered during the Kaleidoscope Theater season.

Visit Kaleidoscope Theatre on-line at

The Panama City POPS Orchestra:
Formerly the Orchestra of St. Andrew Bay, The Panama City POPS Orchestra is a non-profit organization and Bay County’s very own POPS orchestra. This season, under the baton of Maestro Eddie Rackley, ‘The POPS’ will present four concerts for their subscription series; three of which will be at Gulf Coast Community College's Amelia G. Tapper Center for the Arts and a fourth at Arnold High School near the Beach. Each concert will offer a wide variety of musical styles, from classical to Broadway and film scores to current hits, all designed to reach the younger audience while still entertaining the adults. Founded in 1996 by Elaine Matson and Michael Reisman, the orchestra was established as a community orchestra in order to provide an opportunity for local musicians to perform orchestral music and bring this music to Bay County. Members of the Orchestra come from all walks of life including education, medicine, and youth services but all have one driving force in common--a love of making music. One of the unique components of The POPS is their mentoring program which encourages emerging artists a chance to hone their abilities by partnering with experienced musicians from the orchestra.

Visit their website at or call 850-785-POPS (7677) for further information.

Gulf Coast Community College Visual and Performing Arts Division:
Visual arts, dance, music and the theater arts are plentiful at GCCC! Theirs is a statewide award-winning program. College-level classes and professional quality art shows, concerts and theatrical productions abound. Scholarships are available. Participation in performing groups and auditions for plays and musicals are open to the general public. Performing groups include: GCCC Concert Choir, Masterworks Chorale, Singing Commodores, and Concert Band. Participation is open to students and the general public. Their productions have included All in the Timing, Forty Years of Musicals at Gulf Coast, Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Into the Woods, Man of La Mancha, and Company. All of the productions were rated Superior with many of the participants being nominated for the Irene Ryan Scholarship National Acting Competition. The Amelia G. Tapper Center for the Arts has undergone a major facility upgrade and now boasts state-of-the-art sound, lighting, and rigging. Contact the division for information at 850-872-3886.

Junior Museum of Bay County:
A short drive from Panama City Beach is an educational and hands-on museum for young visitors. Here, they can see, feel, hear and participate in science, art and nature through exhibits, concerts, puppet shows, festivals, classes and traveling displays. Small visitors can play Indian games and explore a life-sized tepee in the children's room. Chickens and ducks wait to be fed at a pioneer village complete with a homestead and barn. A nature trail twists through three environments common to Northwest Florida, a hardwood swamp, a pine island and a hardwood hammock.

Visit their website at

Gulf Jazz Society:
The Society's primary purpose is to preserve, encourage and advance jazz in all styles. The organization seeks to assure continuity of this music by supporting educational programs for youth and adults; by providing performance opportunities for jazz musicians; by producing festivals, concerts and joint ventures with allied cultural organizations and by developing public relations campaigns.

Gulf Jazz Society
P.O. Box 1535
Panama City, FL 32401

For more info, visit their website at

Bay County Public Library:
Bay County Public Library and its branches in Panama City Beach, Parker and Springfield, provide traditional and electronic services to the diverse population of the community. The library is dedicated to improving the quality of life of its users by supporting lifelong learning and recreational library use. Programs which are free and open to the public are presented frequently, including local author book signings, special events in the Youth department, and Local History events. Books Alive, with sessions presented by nationally known writers, is presented annually in January.

Headquarters: Bay County Public Library 25 W. Government Street P.O. Box 59625 Panama City, Fl 32412-0625

Membership Requirements: Membership open to all residents of Bay County
Phone: 850-872-7500
Web address:

Bay District Schools:
The Bay District School System is a nationally acclaimed, award winning school district that encourages students to be the best they can be. With an encouraging and professional faculty and a caring and dedicated administration, the district strives to graduate students with the knowledge and skills needed to lead productive and rewarding lives.
The school district is the 21st largest in Florida, with an enrollment of approximately 26,500 students.

James McAlister - Superintendent
Bay District Schools
1311 Balboa Ave
Panama City, FL 32401

Panama City Artists:
The Panama City Artists (PCA) is a group of artists based in the Panama City/Bay County region who have pooled their talents and resources to enrich themselves and their community. Founded in 2002, this organization boasts a membership of 90+ members, comprised of professionals artists, teachers, hobbyists, enthusiasts and patrons. They offer many benefits to their members including: exhibits, networking, programs, demonstrations and workshops. Their website is and their e-mail address is Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. Please call (850) 747-0363 for location.


Courtesy of
bay arts alliance
8 harrison avenue
panama city, florida 32401


Cost of Living

The cost of living index is based on the composite price of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, clothing and entertainment.

Cost of living indexes will generally be higher in areas that offer access to beaches, culture, arts and recreation. In addition areas, that offer a wider variety of services such as health and education will run higher due to higher wages, and increased quality of living.

Cost of living indexing explanation
A figure of 100 points is used as an average both for the USA and Florida. For example:
Boise Idaho is ranked at a 99
Boston Mass is rated at 240
San Francisco at 217
Statewide, Florida cities come in from a low of 90 and up.
One way to compare Florida areas to salary requirements
For example-If you were relocating from Portland Oregon (whose rate 1s 94.0) to Orlando, and you currently make $50,000 per year, the formula is as follows
Take the destination index, in this case Orlando-94.0 and divide by Portland’s index-120, then multiply by a salary of $50,000. This will give you a figure of $39,166 which would be required to make in Orlando to have the same quality of life.
See comparable Florida statewide
* Re cost of living--in some areas Real Estate has went up dramatically however costs that factor in such as food, transportation, rents etc have not increased at the same rate-so in some areas, even though housing is expensive, the overall rating may still be low

2007 stats per Sperlings best Places

Boca Raton-154.74
Cape Coral-Ft Myers-108.0
Ft Lauderdale-132.0
Fort Walton-Destin-120
Jacksonville metro-94.0
Big Pine Key fl-132.46
Key Largo-146.0
Key West-168.0
Marathon fl-162.06
Miami metro-138.0
Naples Fl-250.59
Orlando metro-94.0
Palm Bay-84.56
Palm Coast-Flagler-125.01
Panama City-86.35
Pensacola metro-82.0
Tampa 94.60
St Pete-Clearwater-91.58
Vero-Beach Indian River-122.87
West Palm Beach metro-112.05
(Population Weighted-State Average=100
See national comparisons
Cost of living (100 = nationwide average)

* New York, NY -164.50
* Long Beach, CA -135.71
* Palo Alto, CA -234.42
* Boston, MA -127.60
* Malibu, CA -492.80
* San Francisco, -187.23
* Greenwich, CT 215
* Chicago, IL -126.45
* Dallas Tx -92,94
* Atlanta Ga -112.21
For more information about cost of living go to either
Sperlings best Places
or Accra's site at

The cost of living index places Panama city at 86.35 .as of the 4th quarter 2006

Consider that it is a major metropolitan area with all the needed services. In that context it comes in extremely favorably, in fact Panama City is among the most affordable major cities in Florida, according to a report released by the American Chambers of Commerce Research Association

For more information about cost of living stats go to


Panama Province counts with 12 hospitals. Around 45% of Panama Province's physicians are located in Panama City.[16]
Panama offers good-quality medical care and modern hospitals in the metropolitan area; however, the more isolated the location, the harder it is to access these services. The hospitals offer first-rate medical care. Many Panamanian doctors are U.S. trained, and the standards at the top hospitals compare favorably to those in the United States. For these reason, Panama City is a common destination of medical tourism.

(850) 769-1511

(850) 763-0017

449 WEST 23RD ST
(850) 769-8341

(850) 914-8600

(850) 767-3180

For specific information and addresses go to


Bay County has 36 public and 9 private elementary and middle schools, 14 high schools, and 42 schools in an other classification
Some of the Listings:For Full listings go to:

Private Schools



This is an exciting time for The World's Most Beautiful Beaches. Forecasted by's Money Magazine as the top city for the fastest growth in the nation, Panama City Beach is undergoing unprecedented growth and development.
Panama City Beach is a vacation destination unlike any other. With more than 27 miles of sugary, white sand and emerald waters, it's no wonder we are known worldwide as "The World's Most Beautiful Beaches." Voted the #1 drive destination in Florida, 60% of air travel to Bay County are tourists coming to vacation in Panama City Beach. Panama City Beach is fast becoming a world-class resort community with fabulous attractions, entertainment, and dining.

For More info go to
min F max F avg F avg prcp
Jan 41.4 59.7 50.6 4.65
Feb 44.3 63.1 53.7 5.36
Mar 51.4 69.4 60.4 5.66
Apr 58.1 76.4 67.3 3.41
May 65.7 83.2 74.5 4.20
Jun 71.9 88.7 80.3 6.40
Jul 74.2 89.9 82.0 7.42
Aug 73.8 89.2 81.5 7.33
Sep 70.3 86.4 78.3 5.42
Oct 59.6 79.2 69.4 4.14
Nov 51.0 70.1 60.5 3.54
Dec 44.4 62.9 53.7 4.29
Average 58.8 76.5 67.7 61.81

To see average January temperatures across the United States go to

Compare these to Panama City
Remember we spend the majority of our life indoors…sleeping and working. So when we are off, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to spend it outside in nice weather!

More about Hurricanes:

More Info and observations:

Despite four devastating hurricanes in 2004, the number of Florida visitors rose 7% to an all-time high of 79.8 million last year and is on target to hit 80 million this year. Florida tourism generates about $57 billion annually and employs 912,700.
If you live on the coast you stand the greatest chance of having one affect you. Some areas of Florida have gone fifty years plus without one but you never know.
As a resident having lived in the Keys and now in central Florida I’ve been through them.
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is buy a home that was built after Andrew-August 92 that was built to stricter building codes. Have window protection and a backup generator and make sure your insurance is up to date. If they ask you to leave, do it!
Realize-If you live in an older home that was not built up to the stricter building codes (After Hurricane Andrew-August 1992) or you live in a mobile home you stand the best chance of having major structural damage.
Living on the beach in a mobile home is asking for it. Although, you may never have a problem, you’re still definitely taking your chances. Barrier islands and open-water beaches are the most prone to damage.
Having lived in California, I prefer the threat of a hurricane however as opposed to an earthquake. At least you have a warning.
For current information about hurricanes go to
For 2005 climate info by areas go to
For current weather forecasts by cities go to
*Living in a waterfront home typically means that you will pay a higher Insurance premium. The insurance is higher due to flood and wind concerns.
Part of this is also because the pricing on these homes is higher so there is more value to insure against.
Having said all this, I can’t imagine living elsewhere. It is really great to wake up and it’s sunny out.

We spend over half our lives indoors…so when you do go outside, wouldn’t it be nice if it was warm and sunny?



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About the areas
The site has the state divided up into 19 major areas and 80 plus sub-areas. We chose these areas as they are the ones most referred to in guides about Florida and also because most people are familiar with them as the names evoke something. Additionally on each area dropdown there is information relevant to florida real estate and relocating to florida. We have provided lists of Florida Real Estate agents-Mortgage brokers and more.