Tropical beaches, lots of sunshine, welcoming locals and cheap cold beers; in a nutshell, that’s what Panama offers retirees looking to spend their sunset years in a paradisal setting. Couple this with an array of modern comfort amenities, a business-oriented and friendly government and bustling stable economy and you can begin to get a clear picture of why many foreigners are searching the depth on the internet for information on how to retire in Panama.
Well, if you are one them, I hope that this article will go a long way in helping you plan for this possibility in your life.
The reasons of why people are retiring in a foreign country are many. From simple things, like tropical weather 365 days a year, to the more complicated ones like leaving a country with a government that is just not what they like anymore. For me, it was a combination, of nice weather, less taxes, more laid-back life, and less government control in my life.
Let’s look at these below points to figure out how to retire in Panama, from why Panama, to the how to stuff.
Average Retirement Cost in Panama
Panama’s pleasant weather and picturesque landscape have over the years made it an attractive travel destination and retirement nest. While this could imply that you are very likely to bump into fellow North Americans and European retirees to interact with, it also means that this kind of unprecedented influx foreigners has created many expat communities, which makes the transition to a new country and culture, a little easier.
Most people retire on less income than when they were working. So, if you retire in a country that costs less to live, you retirement dollars can allow you to continue living a lifestyle that you were when you were working. And remember, when you are retired you will have more time, so you will need more spendable money to fill that time.
The expat communities will be more expensive than living in a Panamanian neighborhood. In an expat community, like new Coronado or in Boquete, expect to spend around $1500 to $3000 a month for a couple although this figure could vary depending on your personal lifestyle choices and how you like to live. You could also choose a more rural, away from the communities, and live for $1000 – $1500 a month, for a couple. Click here for an extensive look at the cost of living in Panama.
Panama Permanent Visa Options
The three most popular Visa that people can attain their permanent residency status here in Panama. There are actually over 25 visas available, but I will touch on the 3 most popular here.
Pensionado Visa – This is very unique visa which give you permanent residency in a little as four months. To qualify you must be receiving a permanent pension, from your country government, or your former work, and it must be over $1000 USD per month, $1250 USD for a couple. This is basically the requirement. There is no excessive charge for this visa besides the Lawyer fees, and government fees, which can be lass than $2,000 for a couple. With this visa, you will receive an array of discounts for 5 – 50% on services like restaurant meals, prescription drugs, medical treatment, hotel stays, airline tickets, movie tickets, and more.
You will receive these discounts, regardless of your age, beneficial for those of you that were able to retire early or are considering retiring early. With this visa you can never qualify for a work visa.
Friendly Nations Visa – Also a unique visa, in that any one from a list of 50 countries, which are looking for permanent residency in Panama, can apply for this visa, open a corporation, and deposit $5,000 into that corporations bank account, can get this visa which can lead to a work visa. The visa was created to promote business in Panama, and many foreigners have moved here on that visa, and started business in Panama. The total costs for this visa will be around $3000 for a couple, in legal and government fees. The $5000 that you deposited in the bank, once you have the visa can be used for anything you want.
Economic Solvency Visa – Have some cash? Then this is simple, deposit $300,000 into a Panama Bank in a term deposit, and get permanent residency. There are options for using some of that money to buy real estate in Panama also.
Some of you see the first visa, and think that those discounts look attractive, well they are actually for all citizens and permanent residency, when women reach the age of 58, and men, 62, the discounts come into play, so whatever visa you decide to get in Panama, you will still get the discounts when you reach that age.
To learn more details about these three visa, click here.
Some Little-known Benefits of Retiring in Panama
Well, the big benefit is of course the discounts Pensionado receive in Panama available to all permanent residents that reach the specific age. Panama treats their pensioners very well; they even have special lines for them at places like the bank.
There are other tax exemptions, like on new property, receive a 25-year property tax exemption, which the time left is passed onto a new owner. Example, if you buy a house that was built 10 years ago, the exemption passes on to the new owner, who will not pay property taxes for the next 15 years.
Utilities can be a lot cheaper here also, except electricity if you use a lot of air conditioning. If you retire up in the mountains, where there is no heat or air conditioning required, like for example in Boquete where I live, my monthly bills are:
Electric bill is $25
Water and garbage pickup $5
Unlimited cell and data $30 (plans start at $15 if you are a light user)
Gas (stove and hot water) $4,
160 meg high speed internet $50 (you can choose high speed plans from $20)
Where you will reside for your retirement plays a huge role in determining whether your stay in Panama will be what you were looking for. For starters, remember that housing costs vary widely depending on the city/neighborhood that you live in. In Panama City, for example, a luxury condo or fully furnished apartment will easily set you back more than $2000 per month, although you can rent a basic 2-bedroom apartment in a nice city area starting at $800/month. Renting a decent 2-bedroom Panamanian style house in a smaller town won’t cost much more than $400 per month.
The community you choose is also important. Consider your lifestyle back home. Are you looking to change that? If not look for a community that resembles what you already have. Maybe you are they type that goes out every day for coffee with a group of people. Well, there are communities like that here in panama, you will have a new group of people, but the activities can still be similar.
Maybe you’re more like me, don’t really care if you see another person for a few days, well there are more remote locations in Panama that you can get that too.
Do you like the sunshine and hot weather? The beach? The cool mountain air, and nature trails? As you see, panama has it all that is why you need to take one of our Retire in Panama Tours, where in 7 days, we check out every possible area in Panama that you could retire in, meet with the locals and other expats, meet the professionals you will need when making the move, Lawyers, Insurance agents, Real Estate people to explain the laws of leasing a home, and possibly buying on in the near future. We show you everything you need to know to learn how to retire in Panama. Check out our Itinerary Here.
After reading this article, you still may have more questions, so sign up for our 12 – part mini newsletter on Panama, as we will also email you weekly updates and news on what is going on in Panama as you are making your decisions if you will move to Panama, retire in Panama, or come on a tour to check it out.
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