How to Retire in Panama


Chances are you have never heard anyone say they were about to retire in Panama. That may be because Panama is one of the best-kept retirement secrets around. Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, this sophisticated paradise offers some of the world’s best weather along with a lifestyle that can be both rewarding and varied, not to mention easy on the pocketbook. Here are some hints that will make your move to Panama a joy to behold.

  • Unless you’ve done so already, get a passport. Go to any post office to find the forms. Expect the process to take about four to six weeks so plan this accordingly.

  • Before you arrive in Panama, have a fairly good idea about where you want to live. Panama City is hugely popular among expatriates, and even though it is a large capital city, it has many distinctive neighborhoods that people love, and a lot of history and culture. Then there’s Boquete, a charming, small mountain village that’s tucked away on the eastern slopes of the Volcan Barú. Boquete and Panama City are the two most popular places for U.S. retirees to live.

  • Contact a real estate rental agent in Panama. You’ll find dozens of them on the Internet. One word of caution, though: Never send money, under any circumstances. Make the necessary arrangements, and plan to pay for your rental services once you arrive.

  • Understand that Medicare will cover you only if you become ill while you’re in the United States. If you intend to be in Panama for an extended time, or you plan to move there, arrange for health insurance before you leave. In Panama, health care is among the best in Latin America. Among the reasons is that there is a large contingent of U.S.-trained doctors there. Health care is a lot cheaper, too.

  • Be prepared to provide the Panamanian Government with proof of income. While you’ll find it quite easy to assimilate in Panama, and the government has made it very easy to move there, you will have to demonstrate that you will not be a financial burden. You simply need to file a paper stating that you have at least $500 income per month, and anyone over 18 years of age can qualify. That’s all. They don’t make you jump through a lot of hoops to move there.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before you make Panama your permanent home, investigate it thoroughly and talk with people who have made the move. And above all, before you even think about buying a place, rent for at least six months. That will give you time enough to decide whether Panama is where you want to hang your hat.
  • Don’t wait too long to make the decision to move to Panama, because prices are skyrocketing. Panama is the new Florida, so if you decide to live there, the sooner you do it the better because it is receiving so much attention from the mainstream media.

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