If you're in or near retirement, you might consider spending your golden years living abroad. There are many reasons retirees consider relocating: lower costs of living, weather (maybe you are tired of shovelling snow or are looking to spend your retirement on the slopes), and most of all, new adventures. Even with the potential downsides of learning a new language/culture and being away from family & friends, many end up glad they took the plunge.
Where to move is a very personal choice and different places will be right for different people. Are you looking to permanently relocate or just be a snowbird? What type of facilities and services do you need? The list goes on. However, if we weigh the good and the bad, one place stands out: Panama.
A High Quality of Life with Beautiful Beaches
Panama, located in Central America, was ranked the number one retirement destination by International Living for 2019. It is ideal for retirement with pristine beaches, affordable healthcare, and high quality of life.
Panama already supports a network of North American retirees. As Dan Prescher, International Living’s senior editor, told Money Magazine:
“One of the obvious things that people don’t think about, is how easy it is to settle in to,” he says, pointing out that North Americans have been retiring to Panama for years. “You can go to a place that’s never seen a North American before and it may be fascinating, but if you don’t have a built-in support group, it’s not as simple. It’s one of the easiest places on the planet for a North American to go and retire, and have that big support group of people who have already plowed that ground.”
Why Retire to Panama?
Let's run through the top reasons retirees choose Panama:
- Official currency is U.S. dollars, so no currency conversion.
- Many English speakers.
- Tocumen International Airport makes it easy to fly from Panama to nearly anywhere in the world…often with no layovers.
- Well trained medical providers.
- Year round sunshine with no snow or hurricanes.
- Gaining legal residency is relatively easy.
- Can live comfortably on $1,000 a month.
- Healthy living with excellent food choices. Janet Hitchens who lives with her husband, John, in Santa Fe says “People live very well here—most people who come here drop at least 20 pounds. They eat locally grown mangos, papayas, and bananas, as well as locally raised chicken and beef."
- The “pensionado” program is a pension program for foreigners that provides a lot of discounts and tax benefits. If you have $1,000 a month in income (and Social Security counts), you can enroll.
- A stable government and infrastructure, especially in Panama City.
How Do you Decide if Panama is Right for You?
That one is easy - take a vacation or two there. Spend a week or more living there, perhaps in an AirBnB instead of a hotel so you get a feel for life in Panama. Can you imagine this as your new home or is it just a nice vacation spot?
Also, figure out your finances and your Retirement Readiness so you know the economics and timing of your retirement.
Finally, whenever travelling, always take precautions and be smart. No matter where you are, be alert and plan your travel ahead of time.