View Full Version : Living in Panama

07-25-16, 06:12
I am sure there are some expats living in Panama but I did not see a blog on Living in Panama. I hope some expats will post their experiences. Panama got voted as the best country to retire in 2016.



In Panama, a retired American couple can live on the beach and eat farmer's market fruits and vegetables all year-round, without sacrificing the conveniences and amenities of home for $1,500 a month -- all in. Utilities are a fraction of what retirees are used to paying back in the US, clocking in at around $100 a month for electricity, water, internet, cellphone cards, and trash pickup and allowing renters to live happily on $1,500 a month.

"We're healthier and living a better lifestyle here than we ever did in the USA," says expat Mitzi Martain, who has lived on her farm near Santa Fe, Panama for nearly nine years now. "And our Social Security income covers all our monthly expenses. ".

The process of acquiring Panamanian residence is both cheap and easy, making it simple for you to become a resident in the country.

"The Pensionado Residence Program is the most popular option for potential expats for many good reasons," says IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch. "It is highly effective in drawing people to Panama because, in addition to providing a permanent residence solution, it also entitles retirees or Pensionados to a host of money-saving discounts. ".

Panama has hands down the best package of retirement benefits in the world. Pick your climate—tropical or temperate. And it's close to home, just a three-hour flight from Miami.

"It is definitely cheaper than the USA," says Maureen LoBue, who enjoys a beach life in San Carlos. "Water is included in my rent, so I just pay electricity, which last month was $16. My satellite internet service is just $15 a month. And when I buy produce at the local market down the street, I can fill a bag with fresh veggies for less than $5. " "A couple can manage on as little as $750 a month here, if they own their home," says expat Carl Conway who (like the Martains) has also found his ideal retirement in the mountain town of Santa Fe.

"The cost for a doctor is very reasonable, says IL Chiriquí correspondent Linda card. "I have a friend who pays just $10 at one clinic, and the most I've ever paid in Chiriquí is $50 to a specialist. Your doctors will often speak English, too, and they are far easier to access than back home. Last year, my husband Al spent two weeks in a private hospital in David. He had a semi-private room with the standard features which was kept spotlessly clean by the housekeeper. The nursing staff was professional and attentive and the hospital was fully staffed, with nursing aides and support personnel busy on the unit. We were billed just $60 a day for this room. ".

But on top of all these tangibles, it's the people that make Panama so endearing to the many expats who call it home. "People here are warm, friendly, helpful, and welcoming," says Kris Cunningham, who found her perfect retirement spot in the city of David. "I have felt so welcomed and accepted, and I feel so much a part of the community. It is surprising, but I have more sense of belonging here in this foreign country than I ever felt in the USA ".

"Utilities are very low, at around $100 a month for electricity, water, trash pickup, internet, and even cellphone cards. Keep in mind you don't need heating or air conditioning up here, and that makes a big difference. So even if you rent, a monthly budget of $1,500 is more than plenty. ".

As well as the Pensionado visa, Panama also offers a Friendly Nations visa (open to USA Citizens) which lets you work or start a business in the country. Although you need a business or investments in Panama to qualify for this, plus at least $5,000 in a Panamanian bank account, you don't need to live in the country full time. And after a few years you can even apply for citizenship and a second passport.

07-25-16, 06:43
I lived there for a while but could not qualify for the pensionado visa, or I might have stayed. Boquete is very nice and you have David for the occasional mongering excursion. They built a new highway and it's now a very nice 40 minute drive. As with most things, there are quite a few strings attached to many of the benefits (travel discounts only on weekdays, etc.), but it is a good package and most Joe Blow US retirees can qualify for it. My investigations showed you were looking at about $1,500-$2,000 to get residency, one of the cheapest I found.

But it's also important to remember that visa or no visa, Panamá is one of the countries that lets US citizens in for six months rather than three (the others I know of are México, Perú, and Barbados). That makes getting residency somewhat less important. Although, you can only drive for three months and they don't really tell you that, so be careful there.

Groceries are only moderately cheap there, but alcohol is very cheap, especially rum. Rents are quite cheap except in the capital, and some parts are overbuilt and thus even cheaper. But the rainy season is a definite drawback to year-round living in Panamá.

Anyway, I am keeping an eye on Panamá because maybe I will qualify at age 70. It's kind of a neat country because it is so skinny you have all these microclimates since the peak of the mountain range is so close to the oceans. For those who are in my same boat, assets but no stream of pension income, both México and Chile have asset equivalents that you can substitute for pension income. México considers $105,523 in assets to be the equivalent of sufficient income, while Chile remains coy and won't give exact amounts, claiming it varies by region, but not giving any regional data either.