Living and Retiring in Panama

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About Retirement in Panama

There is definitely more in Panama than a canal! The amazing benefits of retiring to Panama used to be secret, but not anymore. Panama offers a very comfortable retirement, in part because the nation is much more developed than most visitors expect, and that usually stay shocked after seen the skylines and the infrastructure development in Panama City, its beaches and highlands, plus the many amenities the country has to offer its residents and visitors.

Panama is fast becoming one of the world's top retirement destinations and also a world class tourist location - particularly for adventure and ecotourism. Long overshadowed by its neighbors such as Mexico and Costa Rica where mass tourism is now the norm, Panama has been relatively unknown except for travelers with special interests such as world record deep sea fishing, birding, river rafting and rain forest experiences. All these exciting opportunities together with gorgeous beaches and great surfing, kayaking and diving, ensure Panama has something for everyone. It has an interesting cultural background, from stone age indigenous peoples (still in evidence) to the history of conquistadors and now a modern society with infrastructure that is first world.

One of the reasons why Panama is very attractive to retire and living is for its low cost of living, making luxury articles and comforts of your current life very accessible. Also, if you retire in Panama, you will enjoy the benefits of a developing economy where you can still take a taxi across town for under $4, get your haircut for $5, or enjoy dinner with a bottle of wine at a trendy Panama City restaurant for under $20 a person. There are also lots activities for you to enjoy, from jazz clubs to art openings to English-language Theater performances. You may be wondering what you will do when you retire…but when you retire in Panama, you will never find yourself bored.

Consistent with the generally low cost of living in Panama is the affordability of available real estate in Panama. Whether you are looking to live in a Panama City high-rise apartment, a condo in a gorgeous beachfront community, or a house in the temperate mountain region, you will find very reasonably priced real estate to suit your needs and desires. Most people who retire in Panama find themselves enjoying the property they have always dreamed about but couldn’t afford in the U.S., Europe, or Canada.

Health care in Panama is also both inexpensive and modern. Many Panamanian doctors are U.S.-trained, and hospital standards are on par with what you would find in North America or Europe. In fact, Panama City’s major facilities are all affiliated with prestigious U.S. hospitals. Perhaps the most appealing advantage is the private health insurance and prescription drugs that are readily available and much less expensive than their U.S. equivalents.

Another major attraction that Panama offers its visitors and residents in Panama City is the new Panama Metro (Metro de Panama), a metropolitan subway line that was inaugurated on 5 April 2014. It consists of one 13.7 kilometers line, serving 12 stations (with 2 additional stations that will be ready in August 2014 and a fifteenth stating planned).

Little surprise then in one issue of Modern Maturity magazine (the AARP magazine with the largest circulation of any consumer magazine in the world, upwards of 20 million subscribers) rated Boquete, Panama, the fourth best retirement destination in the world. International Living rates Panama even higher on their list at No.1. As well as the picture perfect highlands of Boquete, Panama has a perfect location for every taste; from a cosmopolitan capital city to palm fringed beaches, cool mountain climates and tropical resorts, however the best fact is that it is affordable! There are many financial incentives for retirement. If you are looking for a second home or a retirement option, then Panama should be at the top of your list. A smart choice indeed!

With an US style infrastructure, Panama offers an easy transition particularly for US retirees. 75-80 million Baby Boomers will reach retirement age in the next 10 years in the US alone. US Government statistics show that most of them will not be able to sustain their current standard of living by relying on savings, assets or pensions. More than ever before, U.S. baby boomers are considering retirement outside the U.S.A. Having traveled far more extensively and being more active and adventurous than previous generations, they are also identifying the need to maximize their diminishing retirement incomes, so the idea of overseas retirement is appealing to many. Discovering a less stressful environment also has a definite allure! The families of the North Americans who lived in Canal Zone during the 90 years of North American presence look back at their “Paradise Lost” and very often return. Living and retiring overseas was once an option available only for the wealthy, it is now an affordable trend.

Copa Airlines, the national airline of Panama, in alliance with Continental Airlines is increasing its direct flights to an additional number of US cities so it is easy to visit with family and friends. Incidentally, in April 2004, Copa was named Best Airline in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean by SkyTrax, an English market-survey company that conducts the World Airline Survey, the largest airline passenger survey in existence. Copa also has an impressive “on time” flight record!

Some of the new destinations where Copa Airlines flies are: Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Boston, Tampa and Chicago in the United States; Toronto and Montreal in Canada; Georgetown in Guyana: Porto Alegre, Recife and Brasilia in Brazil; Nassau in The Bahamas; Montego Bay in Jamaica, Monterrey in Mexico; Asuncion in Paraguay; and Cucuta in Colombia; Willemstad in Curacao; Liberia in Costa Rica, Iquitos in Peru.

Additionally, Tocumen International Airport has decided to bet big. Expecting to double its capacity to service 18 million passengers for 2016, the administration of the airport decided to implement an aggressive investment plan that includes the expansion of the North and South terminals, at an investment of USD 769 million. The proposed expansion, which will be built at an estimated area of ​​150 hectares of land area, was conceived with the objective of maximizing the potential of the main international gateway.

Interest in Panama does not only come from the United States; many Canadians are heading further south than Florida for their “snowbird” sojourns - and staying for retirement. The increasing cost of living, overcrowding and higher crime rates in Florida, encourages them to take a slightly longer flight south! There are no direct flights, but it is easily accessible through various U.S. cities with comfortable transfers.

Despite the distance, Europeans are not unaware of the affordable opportunities that Panama has to offer. The Expatriate Telegraph (offshoot of a venerable British newspaper) suggests an alternative retirement destination to the usual venues of Spain, France and Portugal that retirees should consider, a “ warm, adventurous and inexpensive place to retire, Panama also offers an attractive incentive program for retirees ”. Again Panama compares most favorably with the more usual European choice of retirement destinations with its lower cost of living and great climate, not to mention the financial incentives.

The international mainstream press is also waxing lyrical about Panama, articles in National Geographic, Travel and Leisure, New York Times, LA Times Boston Globe and Harper’s Bazaar are stimulating interest with descriptions such as “the most beautiful retreat in the world and almost undiscovered” (Harpers). “Known mostly for its canal, Panama is in fact an undiscovered tourist paradise” (Boston Globe). Articles like these ensure that tourists and retirees are discovering Panama very quickly.

Below is a summary of the different Visa & Residency programs available in Panama. If you wish to view any specific program, just click in the Link.

Visa Program Basic Requirement Benefits
Self Economic Solvency 'Person of Means'

One of these options:

  • $300K CD for 3 years; or
  • Buy $300K property; or
  • Any combination which amount to $ 300,000
Permanent Residency, plus Right to opt for Panamanian Nationality & Passport after 8 years
Retiree (Pensionado) Retiree (Pensionado) Applicant must receive a Pension (private or public) of $1,000/ month Permanent Residency, duty free auto/ household and senior citizen discounts.
Large Investor Large Investor Applicant must invest 160K in Ca business & hire 5 Panamanian employees Permanent Residency, plus Right to opt for Panamanian Nationality & Passport after 8 years
Reforestation Investor Reforestation Investor Applicant must invest 80K in a reforestation plantation field Permanent Residency, plus Right to opt for Panamanian Nationality & Passport after 8 years
Second Passport 5 year CD deposit at the National Bank of Panama. The CD deposit must produce US$ 850.00 in interests per month. Passport for travel, renewable every 5 years
Friendly countries Friendly countries Applicant must support an economical (business) or professional (labor contract) link to Panama. Applicant must come from one of the countries listed as "friendly country" (29). Immediate permanent residency with the option of permanent work permit.
Labor residency Applicant must be employee by a company within the 10% of 15% (technicians) Panamanian payroll After the preliminary 2 years residency and work permit the applicant is entitle to obtain a permanent residency.
Free trade zone investor Applicant that invest in free trade zone areas or call center. The investment amount vary upon the free trade area Permanent Residency, plus Right to opt for Panamanian Nationality & Passport after 8 years
Professional activities Professional activities Applicant must hold a university degree for a professional activity not limited by the Panamanian constitution After the preliminary 2 years residency and work permit the applicant is entitle to obtain a permanent residency

In BusinessPanama Group, we have licensed real estate agents, lawyers, insurance specialists, mortgage brokers, investment advisors and other professionals to assist you on all your retirement needs.

We can help you with:

  • Locating properties in Panama City, Beaches, Islands or Mountains
  • Forming a company to own your property
  • Legal services to purchase the property
  • Applying for your residence program
  • Title insurance
  • Home owners insurance
  • Others

For more information, please contact us.


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