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Living Or Retiring

Panama has long been considered one of the world's top retirement destinations and now a booming tourist and offshore banking location. More than just a Canal, Panama has long flown below the radar, overshadowed by it's neighbors Mexico, Costa Rica and the Caribbean Islands where tourism drives the economy.

For tourists in the know Panama has long held appeal for it's deep sea fishing, bird watching, adventure tourism and mountain rain forest retreats.  Combine these activities with a plethora of fantastic beaches which offer thrill seekers the opportunity to; surf, kayak, scuba dive, swim or enjoy boat tours and it is easy to see that Panama can provide something for just about everyone.

The culture of Panama is rich with history and highly diverse. You can find the latest technology that is available in the US and Europe while also finding hand made art from the indigenous peoples of Panama who still live according to their old customs and traditions.  The city and many other locations along it's coast show evidence of the Spanish conquistadors who were the first westerners to come to Panama. Known for their friendliness and hospitality the people of Panama are always happy and smiling. Add these factors up and Panama rates as one of the best places to live, retire or purchase a second home.

With a constantly improving infrastructure rivaling anything in Latin America, Panama offers citizens of North America and Europe an easy transition when they decide to move here. With an increasing number of baby boomers reaching the retirement age US government statistics show that many of them will not be able to maintain their standard of living by relying on their savings, pensions and assets alone. Since the cost of living in Panama are lower than in the US and Europe it has become very attractive to people who want to make their hard earned money go further. Also, given it's close proximity to the United States and relatively inexpensive air travel the possibility of living or having a second home in Panama is increasingly available to more than just the wealthy as in years past.

Direct flights from almost every major US city are available through Copa Airlines, Panama's national carrier, in partnership with Continental Airlines.  A recent agreement with the Government of Canada ensures in the future there will also be direct flights from major carriers in this country in addition to the charters that are already available. The increasing cost of living in Florida is making many Canadians consider moving a little further south for their retirement with Panama and Costa Rica leading the way. Europe and Russia are already serviced by a number of international carriers as well as more and more people learn about the beauty of Panama.

The international press has been on the Panama band wagon for quite some time with features in popular publications such as; National Geographic, International Living, Travel & Leisure, NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Boston Globe, Harper's and CNN on television and online.

So why is Panama so popular with retirees, investors and part time ex pats? The short answer is: you get more for your money. More amenities, lower cost of living, tax relief, low crime rates, low cost to start a business, financial privacy and access to a wide variety of lifestyles and climates within the same small geographic area.

Advantages of Living in Panama:

    • Panama has a stable, democratically elected government and a booming economy
    • Panama uses the US dollar as legal tender
    • No taxes on foreign derived income
    • Foreigners who purchase property are protected by the same laws as locals
    • Pensionado visa program allows for permanent residency and up to 50% off many services such as hotel rentals and plane tickets
    • Investment in tourism related projects are tax exempt
    • English is commonly spoken
    • Excellent and improving infrastructure: phones, cell phones, cable tv, high speed internet
    • US Standard health care
    • Top offshore banking and privacy destination

Panama's economy has been growing by an almost unbelievable 10% per year for the past few years.  The incumbent administration under President Martin Torrijos has done an excellent job of stimulating investment in the country.  With the Panama Canal expansion underway as well as major infrastructure projects approved and in the works in the downtown core of Panama City, the country has a vibrant and positive character.  In addition, Panama boasts the largest Free Trade Zone in the western hemisphere in Colon which was established in 1953.

Many fortune 500 companies as well as worldwide banking institutions have already set up shop in Panama. The Investment Stability Law of 1998 was created to protect foreign investors for 10 years following the registration of their investment. This law shields them from changes in tax laws, customs duties and labor laws. A typical walk down the street in Panama City should allow you to see big companies such as; Federal Express, Holiday Inn, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts and more. With over 80 banks offering full services retirees or Ex Pats can use such familiar institutions as; HSBC, BNP Paribas, Citibank, Scotiabank or BBVA.

For those people interested in fashion shopping Panama has you covered as well. With three major malls; Multicentro, Multiplaza and the Albrook mall residents can access virtually any name from the world of fashion they desire such as; Louis Vuitton, Armani, Boss, Bulgari and Rolex to name a few.

The cost of living is still much lower than the US and Western Europe but recently costs of living in Panama have been rising as the "secret" of Panama has spread and competition has sprung up for the most desirable investment and retirement locations. You can have a live in maid in Panama for under $300 US per month.   Hiring a typical employee who speaks english and can operate a computer can be found for less than $1000 US per month.