Family Homestay: Live with a Local Host Family in Panama

Immersion Spanish student having lunch with host family

Learn Spanish with a Family Homestay

A privileged & unique position to learn Spanish naturally...

  • Rates: depends on amount of meals p/day.
  • Typical host family: we have many different types of families to choose from, most of them located near our Spanish schools. Find out about what they're like.
  • What's provided with each home stay?: a private room, adequate study area, weekly change of bed linen and towel, house key, clean shower and bathroom, and selected daily meals. If required, laundry services can be provided at an additional fee.
  • Selecting your host family: fill out an interview to help us choose the best family for you.
  • Start Dates: home stays usually start on the Saturday or Sunday before your Spanish course begins.

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We need a Safe Landing, or even better: to Stay Grounded!

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Most students who decide to do a homestay, join our Group 4 Spanish Course or Private Spanish Lessons. Students preparing for their DELE Test are obviously recommended to do a family home stay as well. Although we do not have an unlimited pool of host families, we do have a significant database of families to choose from. It is very important that you complete our Total Immersion Pre-Program Interview as soon as you decide to study Spanish with us. In this way more families will be available and that will help us select the best family for you. Wondering if a family home stay is for you? Check out our FAQs about host families...

Cost per Week

Rates Depend on Amount of Meals Per Day
Living with a local family during your Spanish course is a very affordable option

The rates below are PER WEEK of accommodation with a local family. Prices are shown in US Dollars. We normally place only one student with each local family (unless it's a couple or family traveling together). We do this to "force" you to speak Spanish.

The "number of students column" refers to arrangements for couples and families or friends traveling together who wish to be placed within the same local family.

Rates per Week - Boquete
# of Students without meals 1 meal per day 2 meals per day 3 meals per day
1 $200 $225 $250 $275
2 $325 $375 $425 $450
3 $450 $500 $550 $600
4 $550 $600 $650 $700
each extra student $140 $150 $160 $175
Rates per Week - Bocas del Toro
# of Students without meals 1 meal per day 2 meals per day 3 meals per day
1 $225 $250 $275 $300
2 $375 $425 $475 $500
3 $525 $575 $625 $675
4 $650 $700 $750 $800
each extra student $165 $175 $185 $200
Rates per Week - Panama City
# of Students without meals 1 meal per day 2 meals per day 3 meals per day
1 $250 $275 $300 $325
2 $425 $475 $525 $550
3 $600 $650 $700 $750
4 $750 $800 $850 $900
each extra student $190 $200 $210 $225

Please note: prices are in US Dollars. Please add 7% Sales Tax. Children receive a special discount when they stay at a home stay with their parents: children 7 years old and under have a 25% discount (children 8 and above pay the full rate).

Each family home stay has a $75 USD setup fee that includes processing your Immersion Pre-Program Interview, selecting and reserving your host family, airport or bus station pickup at home stay location and transfer to home stay. Home stays in Boquete and Bocas del Toro do not include transfer from Panama City nor pickup in Panama City, but pickup in Panama City can be arranged for $45 extra, and transfer by bus or plane from Panama City can be arranged by us at your cost as well. Home stays in Boquete include pickup in David and transfer to Boquete. If students arrive out of office hours (before 8 a.m. or after 5:30 p.m. then the pickup can be arranged for an additional $15). If you're doing home stays in various locations, your second and third home stay setup fee are only $50 each. Students who are also going to volunteer, only need to pay one setup fee (the volunteering setup fee is also $75). Laundry facilities can also be used for a $5 fee per load of clothes.
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The Typical Host Family

Many Different Host Families to Choose From
Each of the local host families that you can live with while studying Spanish is very different from on another

It is somehow difficult to describe a typical host family as there is such a variety. Some are young couples without children, others have babies or teenagers. We also have single parents and couples whose grown-up children no longer live at home but come to visit once in a while and we even have families that have a set of grandparents living with them, which offers a great opportunity to learn even more about Panama's history.

Our host families are middle class by local standards. A typical house will have a living room/dining room, a kitchen and bathroom and 3 or 4 bedrooms. There is often a yard outside which people use as an extension of the house. As there are so many different types of host families we ask our students to fill out an Immersion Pre-Program Interview that will help us select the best family for them. We will do our best to choose the family that you're looking for.

Most families are located within walking distance to our Spanish Schools (5 - 15 minute walk) and only a few of our host families homes are located in the outer parts of the town of Boquete and Bocas del Toro, or further away from our school in Panama City, and require public transportation to get to them (never more than 15 minutes). The families that are a little bit further away have more upscale homes and can host couples or entire families. Several of those families can even give you a ride at certain times of the day.

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Facilities at Host Families' Houses

My Host Family's House
Each Spanish immerison student will have its own private bedroom

Each Spanish language immersion student will be given a private room and study area. Each bedroom is clean, well ventilated and illuminated. Upon request we can arrange a shared room suitable for couples with a private bathroom. Houses that can offer these facilities are usually outside of town within a 10 minute ride by public transportation.

Clean bed linen and towels are given on a weekly basis. Each house provides students with access to daily bath or shower and such is the hygienic custom in our culture. In Boquete and Panama City you might have your own private bathroom, but in Bocas del Toro you'll most likely share a bathroom with other family members. Each family has basic laundry facilities with detergent included and an iron. Students can use the family's laundry facilities if required at an additional fee of $5 USD per load. There are some families that volunteer to wash their "sons/daughters" clothes. Like in any family: just talk and you'll find out what's the norm in your new house!

With Habla Ya's host families you'll feel at home

In regards to amenities, most houses in Panama City will have internet, as well as some in Boquete. Home Stays in Bocas del Toro won't have an internet connection. Thanks to Boquete's altitude, air conditioning is not necessary. The standard of living in Bocas del Toro is slightly lower than in Boquete so expect houses to be humbler (and with no air conditioning). In Panama City there will be a supplement of $50 USD per week if you want a room with air conditioning.

Regarding meals, you can choose to have 1, 2 or 3 meals per day and we will select a family accordingly to your needs. Please read the sidebar of this page to know more about what type of food to expect in your homestay.

Feel free to specify these and/or any other requests through our Immersion Pre-Program Interview and we'll choose a family just for you!

Spanish language students will be provided with a key to the house and will be allowed to come and go as they please (except for underage students). Our families really know how to look after our students and make them feel at home. Our immersion students are asked to be respectful with the family's customs and although the family will make them feel as comfortably as any other member of the family, we ask our students to remember that they are guests and to always think about how they would like a visitor to behave if they were the hosts. For example, there is no harm in arriving late on weekends, but families always appreciate if you let them know where you plan to be and at what time you plan to arrive because they'll have concern of your well being just as any good family would.

Even if our families are not responsible for our immersion student's safety, they do feel as they are. It is a nice sign of gratitude and a polite gesture to make them feel at ease by letting them know your plans. In the case of our Spanish for Teens Exchange Program, host families do take responsibility for the well being of their new son or daughter and daily curfews do take place.
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Selecting your Host Family

We'll Find the Perfect Host Family for You
We put lots of care when selecting each student's host family

Nowadays our Panama Spanish Schools have plenty of host families (our complete database has more than 120 host families). It all started out by knocking on strangers' doors when our Spanish school had just begun to receive its first students looking to live a Spanish Immersion Program. As time has passed by, the word has spread out and now families refer new families and we even have families come to our Spanish schools telling us that they would also love to have a Habla Ya student at their home.

Although we have many local families participating in our homestays we are always looking for more families. Now and then we do find a new family, enthusiastic about the idea of taking part of this beautiful cultural exchange program.

In order to be able to choose the best host family for you, just fill out our Total Spanish Immersion Pre-Program Interview. After choosing your host family we will get back to you with a complete description about them.

We always visit and interview each family before accepting them and monitor the quality of their hospitality through routine visits, phone calls and students' feedback.
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Start Dates

Be sure to let us know the exact day that you plan to start your family home stay

Students should try (the emphasis is on the word try... it's not mandatory) to start their home stay on the Saturday or Sunday before their Spanish course begins. BUT IF THEY CAN'T, NO WORRIES... WE ARE VERY FLEXIBLE! Once Habla Ya has the student's arrival details, a pickup is arranged. In Panama City we will pick you up at Tocumen Airport, Albrook Airport or at the Bus Station. For Boquete we can pick students up at the airport or at the bus station in David. In Bocas del Toro we can pick students up at the dock or at the airport. After the student is picked up, a short visit to the school takes place (as long it is open) and afterwards, they'll be taken to their host family.

If students plan to arrive between the Monday and Friday before their course begins we ask them to please let us know in order to make sure that their intended host family is available beforehand (another student might still be at it). And if students intend to arrive on the Saturday or Sunday before their course begins, we also need to know their arrival details so that we can arrange their pickup.

If students were to arrive to Panama City, David or Bocas del Toro out of office hours (before 8 a.m. or after 5:30 p.m.), a pickup can also be arranged for an additional $15 on top of the home stay setup fee. If on their first day in Panama City, Boquete or Bocas del Toro, you arrive too late (after 8 p.m.), you might have to spend that night in a hotel or hostel of your choice (again, we can help!). With certain host families it could not be considered polite to start an Immersion Program so late a night.

Once they know, students should inform us about their travel arrangements and estimated time of arrival to Panama City, David or Bocas del Toro as this will avoid the family having to wait at home unnecessarily. Families also like to receive their new family member with a special meal so they highly appreciate knowing when you intend to arrive.

Please remember to specify all these details in our Pre-Program Interview but if you still don't have your exact travel details, don't worry: we will ask you and remind you to give them to us because we need to know them =), but it's better if you fill out the interview as long as you already know the weeks in which your Spanish Immersion Program will start and end because in that way we will be able to reserve the most adequate host family for you.

Home stays usually begin on Saturdays or Sundays in the afternoon. If you plan to arrive before Saturday or if you would like to stay for more days after your course has ended, please let us know about your intentions so that we can plan ahead of time taking into account host family availability or any other arrangements needed to be made.
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