How to Retire in Panama
Choosing your next retirement home is not something to carry lightly, this will be the place that will determine how your life will end up. Moving to Panama can be the best decision you ever made. Located in Central America, the narrow land is covered by sea on each side.
Living in Panama can bring the joy you longed for. Imagine waking up to nice-looking mountains, white sand beaches, as well as a lively city. Additionally, the beautiful infrastructure and natural beauty of the country attract more people.
Its high-level internet, reliable source of power, and various investment opportunities should motivate you to make the move right this instant. The number of people moving to this beautiful land has increased mainly in the past two decades.
The simple life, security, and low cost of living are bringing more foreigners to the country. The different passports and permits available have made moving to Panama smooth. Relocating to this place should be on your to-do list and here is why.
1.Low cost of living
When choosing a place to spend the rest of your life, the most important thing to consider is the cost of living. Relocating to Panama can make you think your salary has doubled since the expenses are less.
Basic amenities such as groceries, rent, entertainment, eating out, and transport are fair compared to the US. With $1,000 per month, you live a comfortable life. But of course, it depends on the place. Living in the city is a bit expensive compared to rural areas.
When it comes to labor, with 20 dollars, you could hire a gardener and a house-help. This will give you room to do what you love.
Additionally, the US currency is what Panamanians use as their official currency. This implies the country is not likely to be hit by hyperinflation as a result of the stability of the US dollar.
Also, planning your budget becomes easier since your living cost will not vary as much. The only challenge experienced is when importing goods which is far more expensive.
2. Reduced Taxation and a Simple Life
Residents of Panama enjoy various tax benefits as compared to many countries. Here are some of the benefits:
- For a permanent resident or a citizen, the tax is between 5% to 25% being the highest. Additionally, they give tax waivers for the first $11,000.
- Investments in savings accounts are tax-free regardless of your immigration status.
- If you have gone to Panama for a short time and intend on staying, the benefits are enormous. For example, income earned abroad is not subjected to tax.
Amazing, Right? Every freelancer, worker, and digital nomad enjoys a tax-free income earned outside Panama. Other tax benefits offered include:
There is so much you can save from property-tax benefits. Taking an example of the home you mostly spend your time in (principal home) the first $ 120,000 is free. Afterward, the tax will vary. For instance, for a house in Boquete that is $ 200,000 worth, the owner will pay $ 400 per year.
Property tax exemptions will also include new buildings where they are given some kind of exemption for 15 years. With all these tax benefits, residents, and tourists, enjoy the low cost of living.
This is a type of indirect tax imposed on goods and services products. And in this case, we will look at sales and consumption tax. Panama offers a normal VAT of 7% but services like healthcare, education, and goods like medicine, and foodstuffs are given an exemption.
It is a type of indirect tax imposed on goods and services. Here we will look at sales and consumption tax. Panama offers a normal VAT of 7% but services like healthcare, education, and goods such as medicine, and foodstuffs are exempted.
Other goods receive high taxation. Tobacco is subjected to 15%, alcohol 10%, whereas tourist accommodation and hotels are 10%
The tax regulations in Panama are way better than in countries like Europe and North America. They also do not charge for taxes such as death duty, estate taxes, inheritance taxes, and wealth taxes. This proves how living here can be a dream come true.
3. Panama Has the Best Health Care System
Being a small country with a population of 4.315 million, it has come a long way to have the best healthcare facilities. Panama City which is the capital of Panama provides a wide range of top services.
From having professional doctors trained in the US to highly equipped hospitals, no doubt they are at the top of their game when it comes to health care.
Surprisingly, one of its hospitals (Punta Pacifica) is the only Latin American hospital to have joined forces with John Hopkins University.
Here the services you receive in other advanced countries are given but at an exceedingly fair cost. Unlike in the US where dental services and the best medical services are given to people with medical cover, Panamanian hospitals will offer these services but at 25% less.
Their pharmacies are well equipped to handle both over-the-counter medicines and prescribed. Due to the rise in the number of tourists, the government opted to invest in the healthcare system to attract more tourists and also provide better healthcare services to its locals.
The private health care system is also growing as a result of affordable health insurance and the increasing number of foreigners.
4. Growing Infrastructure
The transformation that this country has experienced over the last decade is overwhelming. Various projects have launched and made Panama a destination everyone wants to visit.
For this reason, services such as high-internet speed, cable television, power, and water, as well as cell coverage are easily accessed.
Telecommunication in Panama
Speaking of cell phone coverage, you can buy a sim card for as little as $5 and purchase data or minutes depending on cost and the one you are best suited for. If you are planning to spend most of your time on the mainland, you do not have to worry about cell reception.
However, deep in the waters and in rural areas, the reception will have some hiccups here and there. Depending on the internet plan, with $30 per month, you can get between 7Mbps to 600Mbps. The Internet has also been installed in cafés and malls. Now you can browse anywhere.
Power and Water Services
The country is suited with enough power to run businesses, hospitals, schools, and even entertaining joints. The water in Panama is clean and can be drunk directly from the tap depending on your standards.
Panamanian entertainment joints are world-class from beach resorts, restaurants, shopping malls, parks, and not to mention golf clubs. All these services are provided at fair rates compared to most developed countries.
Their cultural events and festivals are a tourist attraction that brings together people from different parts of the world.
Panama City has an international airport that operates and receives planes from all parts of the world. Apart from that, it has smaller airports located in David and Rio Hato.
If you are looking to travel on the road, they have taxis that move countrywide. The prices will depend on the location. However, they are cost-effective. Travel within the city will cost $ 3 or below.
You can also request an Uber since they are available. Other public transports that will get you around include busses and metro trains.
One more transport that can get you by is by using boats called Panga. They operate like a taxi where you can hire them to transport you to other islands.
Additionally, when you want to get in touch with nature, especially in rural areas, consider bike riding, walking, or using a horse.
To improve the traffic jams experienced in the city caused by many cars, the Panamanian government has launched three projects that will ensure traffic is eased in the future.
- Another metro line is underway
- Another terminal is being constructed at Tocumen
- They are making way for high-speed train
5. The Safety of Expats in Panama Has Increased
The crime rate has reduced over the years as a result of the government beefing up security in hotspots and also focusing on implementing the law. This move has in turn increased tourism and investment in the country.
Still, it has some challenges especially in controlling trafficking and selling narcotics. The crime rate in specific locations is high.
In 2019, Panama received an award for being the 47th out of 163 peaceful countries. Being on the same level as Italy and the United Kingdom and that’s not all, the US department has ranked it among the safest countries to visit.
Expats in the country also agree living in Panama is safe. One or two measures you are reminded to follow such as always checking the surroundings to be on the safer side can throw you off track but every country has its precautions. That does not mean something bad is going to happen.
Most Caribbean countries are affected by hurricanes. However, its location prevents Panama from a hurricane. No hurricane has been reported since 1969.
6. Travel Hub
Due to its beautiful scenery and exotic locations, Panama has become a travel hub for everyone who is looking for quick shopping, relaxation, and entertainment.
The availability of direct flights to the US has made doing all this easier. Other places that have a direct flight from Panama include Canada, South America, North America, and Europe.
Panama has two international airports that are Tocumen and Enrique Malek. They provide most air travel to and from Panama. Now, your family can visit anytime any day, and considering how amazing living in Panama is, do not be surprised when they extend their visit.
7. Wonderful Climate and Scenic Scenes
Amazing Natural Sites
Living in this beautiful country means enjoying beautiful natural scenes. For example, you can choose to go for hikes with your family on Volcan Baru which is 3,474 meters high.
Interestingly, from the peak and on a clear day, the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans can be seen.
Besides hiking, Panama is covered with a fair amount of forest and magnificent beaches that will provide fishing, scuba diving, cycling, birdwatching, and sailing activities.
To ensure that natural resources and forests are protected, the government has laid out programs that protect them. At least 25% of the country is a controlled environment. The network of National and Marine Park has made certain its parks are safe.
Temperature and Climate
One cool thing about moving to Panama is you can choose a suitable place to live depending on the temperatures. At the coastline, the temperatures will be between 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, as you move further away from the coastline the temperatures drop.
Most foreigners prefer spending their time in Coronado, El Valle, David, and Boquete as well as Panama City where the temperatures are favorable.
It has two seasons which are the most pleasing. December/January and May/ June, this month is dry while the rainy season runs from May/ June to December/ January.
On the other hand, in November, the land is mostly wet. Cooler temperatures are experienced during the rainy season.
Lastly, for most of the year, Panama experiences lovely warm temperatures and some sunshine. But remember the right temperatures will depend on the location you live.
8. Panama Got You Covered
The ever-growing infrastructures and services have brought more tourists to its borders. Now, instead of tourists spending their vacation in Panama City, they are going to the rural areas to have a taste of the residents’ cultures and beliefs. Below are activities you can do while in Panama:
- The Panama Canal- This canal is one of the most exhilarating things to see in Panama. Known as the 10 best man-made wonders of the world, it offers beautiful scenery and is pleasing to watch.
- Tours- Visit the remote regions of Panama and get to know how some of the indigenous families live in the Darien Jungle or the Embera village.
- Dolphin and Whale watching- The month of July and October is crowded with tourist who books hotels to come and see these animals.
- Hiking- Activities such as zip-lining that cut across the forest have become rampant. Hiking is also common and a fun way to stay fit and at the same time enjoy scenic views.
9. Food and Culture
Since tourists brought growth in business and the economy, the residents embraced the idea of having foreigners in their country. This has encouraged more expats to Panama.
Although their official language is Spanish, most residents can speak fluent English, Spanish, and other foreign languages. Thus, communication between foreigners and locals has been simplified. Since not everyone can speak English, ensure you learn the local language for an easy
You will find most restaurants offer food sold in America. But to diversify and try new adventures, try Panamanian food. They are cheap and finger-licking.
Though we have determined moving to Panama is the right move, there are also some downsides. Operations here can run slowly depending on the services you want. Arranging meetings and appointments can be frustrating considering all the bureaucracies which can take a toll on you. Look for a lawyer you trust in case of any trouble, they can help smooth things.
10. Top-Notch Private Schools for Expats
Currently, there are many private schools to choose from that offer American, German, French, and British services. The options range from pre-school to A-level education and later the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
These schools are among the best in the region and Central America. Located in areas populated by Expats such as Coronado and Panama City offers quality education to learners.
The admission fee will vary depending on the school nevertheless, it will lie between $ 500 to $ 4,000. The good thing is, there are discounts awarded. For example, family discount.
Their school calendar will vary from the local schools that follow the normal calendar of February to December, to following American and European calendars.
Methods to Follow When Moving to Panama
Now that you have figured out Panama is the place to be, how do you make the move? Do you need a visa? These questions will answer the final part of your journey to Panama.
Look for a Permit or Visa
The most important thing to acquire is a visa or permit this way, you will not be looking over your shoulder every time you see a law enforcement officer. The good news is, that getting these permits in Panama is not very complicated.
One visa that you can get easily is the Friendly Nations Visa. Apply for it and wait for some time for the feedback. You will be surprised to get the permits without many glitches.
Here are other visas that can get you to Panama:
- Student visa
- Investor visa option
- Panama Retirement Visa
Since moving to a new country legally has some procedures to follow, taking advice from a professional immigration lawyer can come in handy. They can examine your case and tell you the best course of action.
Choose the Place to Live
Now that you have the visa and the necessary working permits, picking the best place to live is the next step.
As we have seen earlier, Panama has amazing places to settle in. the only task remaining is figuring out where you want to live. Is it a warm place or a chilly place? the city or rural area?
These are some of the places expats enjoy moving to:
- Coronado – It consists of a gated community that has entertainment joints such as golf clubs, surfing, and swimming. The exotic beaches attract more foreigners to the area.
- Boquete – If you are looking for a place to retire to that is quiet, Boquete is the place to be. This area is somewhat hilly and is close to David’s town. This means getting access to hospitals, schools, and malls is easier. Making it one of the reasons the town accommodates the largest expat community.
- Panama City – Being the capital city of Panama, it holds colorful events, outlets, and amenities. It also houses foreigners who want more of city life. For entertainment, clubs such as Casco Viejo and El Congrejo got you covered.
- David – Here, you will have access to the best of everything. From schools, hospitals to restaurants. It is the largest city in Panama. So, if you are looking for city life, David town will not disappoint.
- El Valle – This place houses foreigners who prefer a calm environment and nature. It is located on higher ground and the climate is what you might just be looking for. The downside is it has few private schools since most of the area is surrounded by resorts.
- Bocas del Toro – Located in a town that is mostly covered by water, this area is the most remarkable city in Panama. For lovers of boats, the town has a lot more to offer.
Look for Ways to Earn a Living
Plan in advance how you are going to sustain your lifestyle. Panama is home to different kinds of people. Some come with a hefty retirement to relax and not work, while others, not so much. So, if this is the case, you will need to look for a job before moving.
Luckily, there are a lot of job opportunities in Panama and businesses you can open. The only challenge is finding the right one. Here is what you need to know:
- For an Expat, working in Panama might be a little bit difficult due to work permits. The best option is to employ the residents to sell the products for you.
- Not all visas given restrict working in Panama. Other visas grant foreigners working permits. However, getting a job as a foreigner in Panama is not as easy as you think.
- The job market is competitive and also the minimum wage is low for these reasons finding skilled labor might be difficult.
- A foreigner can get a job with no trouble at multinational companies. But getting it into local companies can be hard since the Panamanian government imposed a rule that foreigners can only occupy 10% of the job in the local company.
- Since the national language is Spanish, most job advertisements require someone with Spanish qualities. So, check out for jobs that need English speakers.
- Being self-employed is another way to go. Look for businesses to venture into or start online jobs.
Real Estate Ownership in Panama
Moving to Panama and living a stable life will require sacrifice plus hard work and purchasing real estate can get you there. The good news is that the Panamanian government allows even foreigners to own property. The most important thing to consider before owning any property is its value. And by the value I mean is it prime? or can it generate income? How do you ensure your property is all the above?
- Hire Realtors – Sadly, Panama does not have reliable real estate services. Thus, you might not get much help from them. Getting the right prices for estates might be difficult. Look for realtors to assist in the process.
- Consider Word of Mouth Information – Another method you can use to get real estate information is by searching by walking around the city and asking the residents for the details.
Types of Property Ownership
Panama has two main categories of property ownership:
- Right of Possession –Here, the government is the legal owner of the property but, you can buy the right to make use of the business.
- Titled Property – This is the most reliable since you are given a deed and a Finca number.
To be on the safer side, always hire a lawyer to assist in the process. They have a better chance of getting things done quickly and smoothly.
The locals always assume foreigners are rich. Not knowing some foreigners have come to look for a simple and cheap life. Ensure thorough research is done before purchasing any property to avoid being exploited.
In addition, areas that have a high foreign population quote higher property prices. That is why choosing a property in an area that has not been explored might be in your best interest.
As we have seen, settling in Panama can be a dream come true, imagine waking up to the sound of the sea or the sound of birds singing. This is what you are missing out on. What other reason do you need to agree Panama is the place to be? Now, start planning the move and be among the people who take advantage of what this magical place offers.