Top 10 Reasons to Move or Retire to Panama

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Excellent Quality of Life

Life in Panama is less stressful thanks to a great climate, a healthy lifestyle with easy access to low-cost tropical fruits and vegetables as well as an affinity for walking from place to place, and an easy-going appreciation for friends, family, and having a good time. Panama boasts spectacular natural attractions and an endless array of activities from rafting its rivers, soaring through the canopy on an adrenaline fueled zipline, snorkeling two oceans in a single day, hiking to the peak of a volcano, and the conveniences of modern, vibrant cities with a solid infrastructure, world class restaurants, and exotic night life.

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Low Cost of Living

While you can find apartments, condos, and single-family homes from modest to high-end luxury, the overall cost of living in Panama is significantly lower than in North America. One of the most obvious examples is healthcare which is surprisingly reasonable compared to what we are accustomed to in the U.S. Another example is the monthly expense for groceries, which depending on lifestyle, can easily be less than half of the cost we are accustomed to. And the low monthly cost of utilities is one of the most pleasant surprises to new expats starting their new lives in Panama.

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World-Class Healthcare

Overall Panama’s healthcare system is excellent and many world-class healthcare facilities provide the same high-quality level of care that is found and expected anywhere in the world. Punta Pacifica Hospital in Panama City is the only hospital in Latin American affiliated with and managed by Johns Hopkins International Medicine. There are also numerous other excellent hospitals and medical centers in David, Boquete, and Chitre in the Azuero Peninsula. And particularly important for those without health insurance, medical care is cheap compared to U.S. standards as it is possible to pay only around $50 for a visit to the Doctor in Panama City, and less throughout the country.

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Top-Rated Pension Program

Panama’s pensionado program is known as the best in the world and offers special discounts and benefits to foreign retirees. Actually, any adult over the age of 18 is eligible if they meet the requirements of a fixed monthly pension of at least $1,000 and $250 for each dependent, or a retirement visa. Savings or discounts are offered on anything from restaurants to domestic airline tickets to hotels to medical care to prescription medications. There is even an import tax exemption on household goods and a new car can be imported every two years free of import taxes. Utility bills are discounted by 25% and there is a 15% discount on loans.

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Solid Infrastructure

It’s super easy to live comfortably and travel around Panama easily due to a solid infrastructure that affords modern conveniences. High speed internet is widely available throughout the country; highways and roads are in good condition (at least for the most part and compared to Costa Rica!); the public transportation system is excellent boasting Central America’s first metro system, comfortable long-distance double decker buses, regular domestic flights throughout the country, and Tocumen is the most modern and efficient airport throughout Latin America. Panama is also ideal for starting and managing an online business.

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Generous Tax Incentives

One of so many benefits to retiring in Panama is that Panama does not tax foreign-sourced income. This means there is no tax on your social security, 401K or other income earned from sources outside of Panama. The significance of this is the convenience of not having to try and claim it back as a foreign tax credit when filing your U.S. taxes. Other significant tax incentives are that there are no import taxes levied on household goods brought to Panama. It is also possible to import a car every two years without paying import taxes. But be sure to consult a Panamanian tax professional as other taxes may be due.

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Easy to Own Property

Panama welcomes foreign buyers of real estate property, and the process is fairly straight forward and similar to buying real estate in North America. But to ensure a smooth process and that the property truly is titled as promised, it’s critical that a potential buyer use a licensed real estate agent and potentially use an attorney specializing in real estate. The hardest part of the entire process may be in choosing where in Panama you want to live given so many fantastic options! So the best way to figure that out is to plan your trip to Panama to actually experience all that Panama has to offer and amazing places to live.

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Safe and Politically Stable

Panama is a stable democracy that has achieved unprecedented economic success over the past few decades. Like much of Latin America, there are occasional protests over select sensitive issues such as indigenous rights or those related to mining. But it is very rare for protests turn violent and the Panamanian Government is typically sensible in quelling the issues so as not to snowball. Panama City is arguably the safest capital city in Latin America. Panama understands the importance of foreign investment and tourism as an integral component of its economy therefore protects the rights and safety of its foreign residents.

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Perfect Weather

At only 7-10 degrees north of the equator, Panama gets a significant amount of Panama is the epitome of a tropical destination. The Dry Season (Summer) which lasts from mid-December to the end of April, boasts cloudless skies with temperatures typically in the high 80s to low 90s. A constant breeze keeps it from feeling overwhelming hot and this is the perfect time to get out and enjoy all of the fantastic outdoor adventures that Panama has to offer. But don’t discount the Wet Season (Winter) from the end of April to mid-December as the downpours can sometimes cool things down and don’t typically last two long.

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Fun-Loving People

One of the most memorable experiences you may ever have is traveling to Panama as a stranger and not knowing anyone and returning after a short time feeling that you have developed some genuine friendships that will last a lifetime. Panamanians are fun-loving extremely social people who are very proud of their country. Whether in Panama for a week or forever as a retiree, Panamanians are very outgoing and easy to talk with. They are proud and value respect so with this understanding, it’s easy to break away from the Expat crowd and enjoy Panama with those who know and love her best!