Advantages of Living and Retiring in Panama
Panama is a fantastic choice to Retire Overseas.
Panama City no longer qualifies as cheap, but other spots in this country certainly do. Panama continues to offer the world's gold standard program of special benefits for retirees. The currency is the U.S. dollar, so there is no exchange rate risk if your retirement savings and income is in dollars. The euro is always a strong currency in Panama. The climate in Panama City and on the coasts is tropical, hot, and humid. However, the climate in the highlands can be temperate and tempting. Panama is the hub of the Americas, meaning it's easily accessible from anywhere in North and South America and Europe.
Why live in Panama?
The Best Retiree Benefit Program in the World
The Panamanian government encourages retirees to retire here with one of the world's most generous programs with many benefits and discounts. To qualify for a retiree visa the only requirements are a proven monthly income of $1000 (plus $250 for each dependent), a health certificate, and a police report.
Some of the benefits for retirees:
50% off entertainment including movies, concerts, theater etc. (a regular movie ticket costs $4 - the retiree price is $2.)
25% off restaurants
50% off hotel accommodations from Monday-Thursday
30% off bus, boat and train fares
25% off domestic and international airline tickets
10% off prescription medicines (much cheaper than US prices to begin with)
15% off dental and eye exams
50% off closing costs for home loans
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Panama: Hurricane and Earthquake Free:
you won't experience any of the hurricanes and earthquakes that other countries in the region suffer from. Dozens of top US and international companies are moving their regional headquaters from other Latin American capitals primarily because Panama is safest country in the region.
A Foreign Investor and Retiree-Friendly Government:
Panama is also has an relatively investor and foreigner friendly government. Panama is about business. Panama "the best place to do business in Latin America", with Singapore as a model. You'll find many in the entrepreneurial class are US-educated and understand and know how to work with foreigners.
Panama: fastest growing economy in the America's:
Panama's economy has been growing as an impressive rate in the wake of the worldss economic turmoil. Panama's GDP has been growing between 7-10% since 2009. It's Law 41, modeled on Singapore's law that gives tax breaks, hiring privileges and other incentives, has convinced many corporations to make their regional headquarters in Panama. Add to that the expansion of the Canal which will double its capacity, a new city subway system and one of the most secure financial systems in the world- this is an economy that's predicted by experts to keep growing for years to come.
Panama is Close:
Located in Central America, Panama is easy to get to. It's just 3-5 hours by plane from the States. There are non-stop flights from: Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Newark, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Orlando, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale and Toronto served by Delta, Continental, American, Copa and Spirit Airlines. From Europe, KLM and Iberia have direct weekly flights.
The Panamanian People are "Globalized", Peaceful, Friendly and Fun-Loving:
Another reason why Panama is a great place to live is because of the Panamanian people -one of the friendliest peoples in the world. Due to Panama's position as a world business and transportation crossroads there's a long history of living and working with foreigners. Panamanians actually enjoy foreigners. There's a saying that Panama was "born globalized". Historically a crossroads, Panama is home to immigrants the world over. Different nationalities and peoples get along. Most common are "mestizos" or persons who are a combination of Spanish and native Indian and blacks. There's also sizable European, American, Chinese, Jewish, Hindu and Arabic communities.
Panamanians are a fun loving people-parties are a national pastime-evident in their carnival celebrations and lively nightlife. They also have a predilection for beauty and elegance, visible in the delicacy of their Indigenous handicrafts, their beautifully groomed women and Panama City's many attractive neighborhoods, most especially the current restoration of the Casco Viejo historic sector.
Inexpensive First Class Health Services and Medical care:
One of the reasons many Americans of retirement age are deciding to live in Panama is because both health insurance and health care are inexpensive and good quality. More than any place in Latin America, you can readily find English speaking trained doctors and dentists. If you have VA Benefits in the United States, this is also applicable in Panama. Several hospitals are equipped with the latest in diagnostic testing and services. Prescriptions and over-the-counter medication are cheap. Full coverage health insurance policies are very reasonably priced for any age, as low as $250 for a couple.
Another big health plus is that you can drink the tap water, a rarity in Latin America. Sanitation is good as well, the "Montezumas revenge" illnesses that tourists are prone to in other countries of Latin America are almost unheard of in Panama.
Panama has the best shopping in Latin America. Starting with the supermarkets- Riba Smith, El Rey and Super 99 stock just about everything you would find in an American supermarket but at lower prices. There are three Price Costcos in Panama City and one in David in Chiriqui (they're called Pricesmart here). Panama City has four major shopping malls: Multiplaza in Punta Pacifica, Albrook Mall, Multicentro on Balboa Ave and Metro Mall near the international airport. There are large electronic, appliance, computer and furniture stores with familiar brands and prices that are either similar or better than in the USA in each mall.
High Speed Internet and Services:
Panama is a so-called developing country but the high-speed internet access is better than in the US. Phone service and other basic services are also cheaper than the USA (a cell phone data plan is in between $12, and is reliable—unusual for Latin America.
Banking Conveniences and a Strong Financial Services Sector:
ATM machines providing access to your USA bank account are located throughout Panama City and in locations outside Panama City. Panama has a sophisticated banking sector with over a hundred banks. We recommend Scotia Bank of Canada, which caters to foreigners. If you are looking for offshore activities there are specialists who can provide personal or corporate services with strong financial privacy laws and no taxes on offshore profits.
Families with children will find a number of excellent private schools to choose from. Most foreign capitals have just one American accredited school, but Panama has three: The International School of Panama, Balboa Academy and the Oxford International School.
Variety of Residential Venues to Choose From:
The three most popular places to live are Panama City, the beach areas near Coronado and mountains near Panama City, in Chiriqui province and the rural town of Pedasi. On the beaches, choose from beachfront lots, homes and condos on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. Panama's mountain areas like Boquete, Volcan, Sora and El Valle offer perfect all-year-round spring weather. Bargain basement deals are a thing of the past, but prices are still pretty good and remember that you are investing and living in a country with one of the best futures anywhere.
Unlike any other country in Latin America, Panama has refreshing variety of architecture styles. In the rest of Latin America Spanish colonial styles dominate, while in Panama there's a refreshing variety of modern, Spanish colonial, American, French and English styles.
Foreigners who purchase property in Panama enjoy all the same rights as Panamanians
Unlike other countries, in Panama foreigners who buy property enjoy all the same rights and protections as Panamanians.
Some Caveats About Living in Panama:
Living in Panama is not for everyone. If you are coming here because your company has set up here- you're lucky- for international families, there's simply no better place to live in Latin America and the Caribbean.
If you are coming here to retire or start a business, you should consider whether you have the temperament to enjoy a foreign culture that is not yet first-world. Panama is still a third world country in some ways i.e. at times things don't go smoothly. You need to be able to enjoy cultural differences and be able to put up with third world bureaucratic hassles and glitches.
Finally, if you are on a very low budget- say less than $2,500.00 a month- Panama may not the place for you. It costs much less to live here in style than in the States, but you still need an income of at least $2,000.00 a month to live comfortably, including rent in a good area and utilities, maid service, groceries and services like cable etc.