Panama has for many years and continues to be an is an ideal place for Americans to consider for retirement. According to the AARP’s Modern Maturity Magazine, Panama is rated as the number one place in the Americas for retirement. Fortune Magazine and International Living place Panama in the top five of retirement destinations, and Conde Nast Traveler puts Panama as one of the six best places for a second home in the Americas.
Of course the question is why is Panama such a popular retirement destination.
American Style Infrastructure
Part of the legacy of a historical relationship with the United States, Panama enjoys first-world infrastructure, including the cleanest drinking water in Central America, modern roads, robust business sector, dependable electricity, and medical services. Sanitation is good in Panama and the infamous “Montezumas Revenge” that tourists fear in other Latin America countries is a rarity in Panama.
Never Feel Too Far From Home
When you stay for an extended period of time in Panama you will know that you are never too far from home. Reminders are everywhere with an infrastructure the greatly resembles the United States, especially in Panama City with its urban lifestyle complete with high rise buildings, restaurants and shopping malls. Of course there are many other Americans to socialize with, and it’s less than a three hour flight to Miami when you are ready to go back to the United States.
Panama is Safe
Although every big city has neighborhoods that are best avoided street crime in Panama uncommon, and law enforcement is both responsive and highly visible. Panama enjoys a degree of geographic isolations from it’s neighboring countries so it does not experience many of the social problems that affect other Latin American nations in the region. The relative security of the nation is part of the reason why so U.S. based and international companies are comfortable working in Panama.
World Class Banking Sector with U.S. Dollar as the Currency
Panama has the US dollar as its currency, which eliminates exchange fees and eliminates the hassle of constantly trying to figure out how much things cost. The dollar is perhaps the number one reason why Panama has the most stable economy in Latin America with one of the lowest rates of inflation. There are more than 120 banks from 35 countries in Panama, including Citibank, HSBC, Dresdner, Bank of Tokyo, Bank of Boston, and International Commercial Bank of China.
Friendly to Retirees and Investors
Panama offers some of the best retiree benefits plan in the world and the economic system is investor friendly. The nation has been built around a culture of trade linked to the Panama Canal, and unlike many other Latin American countries the market is open to both completion and friendly to U.S. interests. The tax burden is relatively low, which is again due in part to the economic benefits of the canal.
Panama enjoys some of the lowest prices for manufactured consumer goods in the region, which rival even the United States in terms of price. Panama City has a number of U.S. style shopping malls, and the large appliance, computer and furniture stores are similar to big box type stores in the United States with equivalent or better prices. There are three Costco stores in Panama City and one in David and Chiriquí.
Reliable Highways and Public Transportation
Travel within Panama is both inexpensive and reliable. The highways are above average for Latin America and consistent with what you would expect in the United States. You can drive from the border with Costa Rica to Panama City on the four lane Interamerican highway or travel the same distance by bus for about $15.
Unlike Florida or the Texas Gulf coast Panama offers you a tropical home where you need not worry about a hurricanes as the country is south of the hurricane track. In fact Panama is a popular place to park a boat during hurricane season. Move to Panama and you can say goodbye to both the prospect of riding out a storm and high property insurance rates.
Quality Medical Care is Inexpensive
American of retirement age can expect to receive quality medical care at an affordable price in a country that has an abundance of English speaking doctors and dentists. Panama has modern hospitals with the latest in diagnostic testing and services. Over the counter medication and prescription drugs are available at low prices, and full coverage health insurance policies are reasonably priced.
Perhaps The Best Benefit for Retirees in the World
The government of Panama encourages retirees to come to Panama with a program of benefits and discounts. Generally a retiree may qualify for residency under the program if they have proven monthly income of $1,000 or $750 per month if you invest at least $100,000 in property in Panama.
Retirees who qualify for this program receive the following benefits.
50% off entertainment (movies, theaters, concerts, sporting events)
30% off bus, boat, and train fares
25% off airline tickets
25% off monthly energy bills
30% to 50% off hotel stays
15% off hospital bills
10% off prescription medicines
20% off medical consultations
15% off dental and eye exam*
20% off professional and technical services
50% off closing costs for home loans, and more…
Perhaps the biggest incentive is that a qualified retiree receives a one-time exemption of duties for the importation of household goods up to $10,000, and one tax exemption every two years toward either the importation or local purchase of a car.
Secure Property Title for Foreigners
Foreigners who purchase property in Panama enjoy all the same rights with respect to ownership as citizens. Unlike other countries you will not need to setup a vague lease agreement in order to control title to your home or land.
Incentive to Build New Homes
New construction in Panama qualifies for a 15 year exemption of property taxes. This benefit is transferable if the property is sold before the 15 year period.