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Why Panama is the #1 Destination for Retirees

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One of Central America’s most developed countries, Panama is renowned as a supreme destination for retirees. It emerges as the world’s best place to retire time and time again. Most recently, Panama stole the top spot in International Living’s 31st Annual Global Retirement Index—followed shortly by Mexico, Portugal, Spain and other retirement havens.

Its year-round tropical climate, abundant natural beauty, safe living environment and friendly locals are just a few of the attractions of this Central American paradise. Here are five reasons why people are choosing to spend their golden years in Panama.

Pensionado Program

The Pensionado Program is the most attractive retirement visa you will find. It was introduced in 1987 and is one of the world’s most popular retiree residence programs. Not only does it allow qualifying ex-pats to retire in Panama for as long as they like, but it also entitles pensionados (members) to a huge range of money-saving discounts, ranging between 10% to 50% off everything from hospital visits to entertainment, restaurants, hotels, public transport and even air tickets! All you need is a guaranteed income of at least $1,000 per month to qualify.

Great quality of life

Although tiny in size, Panama is incredibly diverse in scenery and culture. Glittering city skyscrapers, luscious rainforests, magnificent mountains and beautiful beaches shape the landscape, and every square meter is more biodiverse than in the Amazon. I think it’s safe to say that you won’t get bored of exploring. In fact, the Economist magazine has even featured Panama City as one of the world’s best cities to live in.

You’ll also discover lots of expat-organised activities in different towns across the country, from live music and English-language movie showings to fun outdoor adventures, so it’s easy to make friends and feel at home.

The tropical climate is ideal, offering consistently warm temperatures year-round. Meanwhile, Panama’s culture is very unique, offering a blend of influences from around the world which are shown throughout the country’s traditional arts and crafts, music, religion and cuisine. The land is incredibly rich in history, home to some of the oldest colonial relics in South America.

In terms of safety, Panama has consistently been rated among the top safest countries in Latin America by the World Bank. The US State Department also ranks it as a Level-1 country, which is the safest to visit. Furthermore, thanks to its location away from Central America’s hurricane belt, it sees relatively low levels of natural disasters, setting it apart from similar countries in the region.

Lower cost of living

You’ll discover that money goes a lot further for retirees in Panama in comparison to Europe, the US or Canada, where luxuries such as living in close proximity to a beach or in a city centre come at much higher prices. The costs of insurance, utilities, entertainment, groceries, transportation and dining out are also much lower; for example, in the capital you can ride the metro for under a dollar, dine out for around $10 and enjoy a beer for just $2.

World-class healthcare

Panama has a number of excellent medical facilities, with hospital standards, equipment and techniques being on par with what you would expect to find in North America or Europe. The country’s major private facilities even have affiliations with prestigious U.S hospitals, but they charge up to 50% less for the same treatments and services. You’ll even find that many smaller clinics offer everything from competitive dental work to free eye exams.

Proximity to the USA

A direct flight from Panama to Miami takes just under three hours. You can also reach other major American cities such as LA and Washington DC in under five; there is even a direct flight to Toronto. Panama maintains close economic ties with the US, with its currency pegged at parity to the dollar and trade running freely between the two countries.

With so much to offer, it comes as no surpise that retirees from all over the world are choosing to lay roots in the unique and vibrant country of Panama.

Love Panama? Discover more in our destination guide,
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