|“A lot of people like to compare Panama to Costa Rica 15 or 20 years ago… there is a ton of nascent eco-tourism, and an embarrassment of wildlife and natural beauty to see… - just as in Costa Rica. But parts of Panama are undeniably first-world, and priced accordingly”
New York Times
“Known mostly for its Canal, Panama is in fact an undiscovered tourist paradise”
according to the Boston Globe1230
“Panama is the most beautiful retreat in the world and almost undiscovered.”
According to Harper’s Bazaar.
Panama is one of the best places in the world for retirees to retire today, it combines a low cost of living, wonderful tropical weather, and one of the best discount programs for retirees in the world. As well as picture perfect highlands, Panama has a perfect location for every taste, from a cosmopolitan capital city to palm lined beaches, cool mountain climates and tropical resorts. Unique to the region, Panama has been spared from treacherous weather conditions; earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes are not common in Panama.
Not surprisingly, the May/June edition of Modern Maturity Magazine rated Boquete, Panama, the fourth best retirement destination in the world. International Living rates Panama even higher on their list as No.1. Equally important, Pinkerton Intelligence Agency as the safest place for tourism equally ranked with the US. Panama has received praise from major magazines.
Key Advantages of retiring in Panama
"Panama's Pensionado" program (incentive program for retirees), is considered one of the best in the world and is not necessarily age related.
Panama has a stable democratic government
The US Dollar is the legal tender
US style infrastructure with a number of familiar franchises and businesses.
Residents do not pay tax on foreign earned income
Foreigners can buy and own property in Panama with the same rights and protections as Panamanian citizens.
Tourism investments have exemptions from import duties, construction materials and equipment, income, real estate taxes, etc.
Property tax exemptions apply to all new construction on a sliding scale according to value.
English is widely spoken.
Real Estate is comparably cheap; one can expect prime location at prices 50-70% lower than in comparable US locations.
US standard health care facilities and services with many US trained English speaking doctors available
High rate for tourist safety according to Pinkerton Intelligence Agency.
Panama has a reliable and modern communication system with fibre optic telephone lines and ADSL internet in much of the country.
Conveniently, Panama is also ranked among the best countries in Latin America in health care. Panama offers excellent quality medical care and modern hospitals in the metropolitan areas. Many Panamanian doctors are U.S trained, and the standards at the top Panamanian hospitals compare favourably to those in the US. American private health insurance policies are accepted in most Panamanian hospitals, though private health insurance is available and much less expensive than American insurance.
To encourage long term foreign investment, Panama does not require special permits, authorization or registration to qualify investors. The 1998 Investment Stability Law protects investments of more than $ 2,000,000 for 10 years from any changes in tax, customs, municipal and labour laws.
Over 80 banks have full service branches in Panama including international banks such HSBC, Citibank, Scotiabank, Dresdner, BNP/Paribas. Panama's currency is the US Dollar, no need to worry about exchange risks or high interest rates.
Panama's "Pensionado program" is considered to be among the best in the world for the large array of benefits it offers. Some of the key benefits are:
Import tax exemption for household goods
Tax exemption to import a new car every two years
25% discounts on utility bills
25% discount on airline tickets
30% discount on bus, boat and train fares
1% reduction on home mortgages for homes used for personal residence
20% discount on doctor's bills and 15% on hospital services if no insurance applies
15% off on dental and eye exams
10% discount on medicines
20% discount on bills for technical and professional services
25% off restaurant meals
15% off at fast food restaurants
50% discount on entrance to movie theatres, concerts, cultural and sporting events
50% discount at hotels from Monday to Thursday, 30% on weekends
Probably the most attractive aspect of Panama's Pensionado program is that to apply for the program the applicant does not necessarily have to be retired to qualify. Actually, anyone over the age of eighteen may apply; all that is required is a guaranteed pension (from a government agency or a private company) of only $500 per person, $600 for a couple, a clean police record from the country where the applicant resides and a health certificate from a Panamanian doctor. The visa process for the Pensionado program is extremely easy, simple and expedient. It is a one time application with no renewals or additional fees.