Retire in Panama

Panama offers an attractive incentive program for retirees, and because of the lower cost of living, great climate, lower crime rate and tax advantages, Panama compares with many European choice of retirement destinations.

Panama Actively Promotes Residency For Foreigners

Panama offers a broad residency program as part of its campaign to attract and keep foreign investment. Two popular options for foreigners are the Retired Annuitant Visa and the Immigrant Investor Visa. Briefly, both visas require at least:

  • Proof of solvency (retirees must prove a monthly income of $750, investors a minimum investment of $100,000 or $40,000 for reforestation status).
  • Power of Attorney through a Panamanian legal entity.
  • A Medical Certificate of Good Health.
  • A Certificate of Good Standing from the police authorities in the applicant’s last place of residence.
  • Various other applications and documentation.

Visas are valid for one year initially and must be renewed over a two- to five-year period depending on the visa category. After this, permanent residency can be awarded. This serves as a second residency and does not require the applicant to renounce citizenship in their own country. Visa holders may apply for naturalization if they desire it, however.

Both Retiree and Investment Visa holders are offered an extensive incentive package, which includes (among others):

  • Property tax exemptions for periods on 10-25 years.
  • Tax exemptions on income and repatriated capital.
  • Exemption from customs duties and the ability to import a vehicle every two years.

Cost of Living

The U.S. dollar has been Panama's currency for decades. Panama is known for its banking center, which boasts branch banks from nearly all of the international players.

On another note, the cost of living is reasonable and is much less than in the States and Europe. Inflation rates are some of the lowest known, normally hovering between 1% and 2%. Plus, retirees receive generous price discounts such as 50% on movies and cultural events, 30% on transportation, 25% on utilities, 15% on personal loans and 1% on personal mortgages.

Those settling in Panama can expect the tab for day-to-day living to be significantly less than in “first-world” countries. Nice apartments and homes can be rented for $1,000 or less. Grocery prices are 25%-30% lower. A meal at a good restaurant can be enjoyed for $15-$40. First-run movie tickets are $3.75. Concert tickets range from $20-$100. Maid service is around $150 per month. Gardeners cost under $10 a day.

Healthy Living

Panama is among the top countries in Latin America in regard to life expectancy (around 75 years). A large percentage of Panamanian doctors are bilingual and have been trained in Europe and the United States.

Private medical facilities are among the best in Latin America and the Caribbean (many are affiliated with major hospitals in the U.S.). Water is potable in most of the country and in the cities you can drink straight from the tap.

Home Ownership

Once you decide where to settle, you have the security of knowing that, as a foreigner, you can own property easily and are granted exactly the same rights and protections as a Panamanian property owner. Due to various factors, prices for Panamanian real estate have remained basically unchanged from the early 1990s (except for "hot" areas like Boquete in Chiriqui and the islands of the Bocas del Toro archipelago).