International Living just put out its annual global retirement index and, as usual, Panama was #1 as the best place to retire. Their opinion is not the last word, of course, and there are plenty of factors behind the scene that could influence their judgment, but most of the ranking factors are objective ones such as cost of living, retiree incentives, and economic stability. On those counts, dollar-denominated Panama continues to hold up well.
The couple behind competing publication Live & Invest Overseas are based in Panama and show no signs of scaling back investment there. They bought their office building last year. “This purchase diversifies our Panama portfolio beyond residential and gives us an expanded stake in one of the markets we’re most bullish on both short and long term. Panama’s economy continues strong, and rental demand, especially commercial, is only going to increase.”
What does retirement in Panama look like though? That’s a tough one to answer because for some people it looks like this:
The glitzy high-rises of the capital city haven’t stopped rising and the sound of construction has been non-stop over the years despite any financial crisis going on elsewhere. Some of the geo-political problems have actually helped: there’s a lot of money from Venezuela, Argentina, and now Brazil hitting the real estate market in Panama City, plus there are plenty of investors who look at it as Miami without the anti-immigration undertones or bureaucracy. For those who want a cosmopolitan atmosphere, the best restaurants, good banking options, and the ability to fly worldwide at the closest airport, this is the place to be. If you’ve got an ample budget, you’ll find some great penthouses and luxury condos to choose from.
For others though, retirement looks like that photo to the left: a nice deserted beach with coconut palms and water that’s warm all year long.
That photo is from the Coiba region, south of the Azuero Peninsula, but you can find plenty of spots like this all over the country, including in the islands of Bocas del Toro.
Head into the mountains from there and you get to the Chiriqui Higlands, with the second city of David and the retiree haven of Boquete. This is a lush land full of farms and flowers, coffee and adventure, with hikes where you can spot plenty of wildlife.
Or you can play on that golf course pictured at the top.
Retiree benefits in Panama
Regardless of location, you pull U.S. dollars out of the ATMs in this country and because of that currency choice there’s little fluctuation in prices. Getting residency is straightforward and the list of benefits for those on a pensionada visa is hard to top anywhere. Check for any current updates with your real estate agent, but at the moment here are just a few incentives:
– Import household goods without duty (up to $10,000) and import a car every two years duty-free or get an exemption on a local one.
– Get discounts of 25-50% on domestic transportation, entertainment, restaurant bills, and hotel stays.
– Get a discount of 15% on (already cheaper) doctor or hospital bills.
Panama has one of the best health care systems south of the USA also, with gleaming hospitals and well-trained doctors. You can afford to spend your more creaky years here without having to fly back home when something goes wrong.
We can’t say that this is the #1 country for you to choose for retirement. You’re only going to know that by going there and comparing it to other places you like. But on paper, it’s looking good. If you’re looking for the best of the best in the capital, check with our partners at Punta Pacifica Realty.