Panama is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, with some of its locations rivaling any place on earth for natural beauty. An idyllic tropical climate, lush green rainforests, and beautiful beaches make this the perfect retirement location. What’s more, seniors benefit from affordable healthcare and substantial discounts on retirement visas.
If you’re at the stage where you’re considering retirement locations, Panama might just be the place for you. On this page, we’ll discuss what this country has to offer and why it’s such a wonderful place to retire, how much it costs to live here, and also look at some of the best retirement communities.
Table of Contents:
- Top reasons why retirees choose Panama
- The Pensionado Visa
- Real estate in Panama
- Where to retire in Panama
- A couple of considerations before moving to Panama
- Red Frog Beach can help you explore your retirement options in Panama
Top reasons why retirees choose Panama
Low cost of living
Ideal tropical climate
Breathtaking natural beauty
Affordable, excellent healthcare
An International community
Relocating to Panama is a great choice for people whose home country no longer presents an option for them to enjoy their retirement as they would like. In Panama, the cost of living is likely to be lower, especially if you’re coming from the US. For example, a person in Texas paying $300 per month for electricity will only pay around $25 per month in Panama. The prices for cell phone services, property taxes, insurance for homes and cars, as well as food, are also significantly lower in Panama.
Since Panama is located in the southern region of Central America, it experiences tropical weather all year round. Snow rarely falls in this region, and the temperature rarely rises above 90°F for long periods of time. It is also uncommon to experience extreme weather or natural disasters. Coastal locations such as Panama City, Coronado, and Bocas del Toro enjoy hotter weather, while mountain towns such as Boquete enjoy cooler, spring-like weather.
The landscape of Panama is simply stunning, characterized by miles of coastline, white sandy beaches, rugged mountains, dense jungles, and an almost endless variety of plant and animal life. Whether you’re on the beach or in the mountains, Panama’s natural beauty will take your breath away.
Healthcare in Panama is affordable, and not just in the capital. You can find top medical facilities in small towns and large cities alike, and the quality of healthcare is comparable to that of top hospitals in the US and Europe. Furthermore, many doctors in Panama have trained in the US and Europe and speak English fluently. Expat retirees will find Panama’s low hospital fees, cheap health insurance, and easy access to world-class medical care a major draw.
The Panamanian lifestyle has drawn foreigners from all over the world with its numerous recreation opportunities, and affordability. This has created tremendously vibrant and interesting communities to live in. Like minded people from across the world, many from the US are there looking for the same thing, a great place to retire. This provides a great benefit for English speaking retirees with much of the world being able to speak, to some degree, the most widespread language in the world.
The Pensionado Visa
Pensionado, a foreigner-friendly discount program offers retirees very strong benefits for those looking to retire in Panama. This is one of the most popular retirement programs in the world, with some of the most appealing perks.
This program provides the following incentives:
- One-time duty tax exemption for household goods (up to $10,000)
- Two-year import tax exemption for new cars
- 25% off utility bills
- 25% off on airline tickets and 30% on other transportation
- 15% off loans in your name
- 1% mortgage reductions for residences
- 20% off medical bills
- 15% discount on hospital bills if insurance does not apply
- 15% off dental and eye exams
- 10% off purchase of medicines
- 20% off professional and technical service bills
- 50% off admission to movies, cultural events, and sporting events
- 50% discount on hotels from Monday to Thursday; 30% discount on weekends
Getting a residency visa
To qualify for a Pensionado Visa, a person must have a lifetime income of at least $1,000 per month for themselves and $250 for each dependent. The visa application process also requires the submission of a national criminal report (such as an FBI report).
How to apply for a Pensionado visa:
- Prepare all of your requirements.
- Allow seven business days in Panama for the initial visa application.
- Take a temporary visa card. Your permanent visa will be issued three months later.
- Get your national identification card, also known as a cedula.
The cost of obtaining a residency visa varies depending on the attorney, but it is usually around $1000 per person. Once a visa is granted in Panama, it is not required that the visa holder become a permanent resident of the country. However, keep in mind that in order to keep your visa active, you must return to Panama at least every two years.
The government also offers other visas, but most of them require a substantial investment in the real estate market or some form of business.
Are you moving to the country from the United States? Here’s where you’ll find a list of entry requirements for U.S. Citizens.
Real estate in Panama
There is no restriction on who can own property in Panama. The same rights apply to foreigners as they do to Panamanians when it comes to property. You can even purchase real estate while not being a permanent Panamanian resident.
If you plan to retire in Panama, it is advisable to rent for a minimum of six months to determine if this is a country you enjoy living in. Just make sure that everything included in the home, such as the stove, refrigerator, and other appliances, is listed on the lease agreement. This way there is no set up period and you can just focus on whether the place is right for you.
Retiring to another country is a considerable move, but having the right professionals on your side can make the process much simpler than you’d imagine. Here at Red Frog Beach, we offer short term rentals with hotel amenities! Enjoy properties with resort services and amazing amenities you’ll love, such as a spa, beach club, golf cart service, zipline, and more.
Please feel free to let us know if you are interested in renting a home in Panama. We can provide you with a wide selection of properties for rent in the area. Then if you find that you’d like a more permanent situation, we can help you facilitate property acquisition. Alternatively, if you find that renting is more suitable for you we can also help with that too, presenting you with further options or simply continuing your rent in your current location.
Homes for sale in Panama
The Panama real estate market offers a wide range of options for home buyers and retirees, including single-family residences, beachfront properties, luxury estates, condos, and vacant lots. Foreign and local buyers can also take advantage of new developments.
Property ownership in Panama
- Titled property. A titled property bears a deed and a “finca” number. Those with titled properties can obtain mortgage loans by registering liens against their titles.
- Right of possession. Right of possession refers to government-owned property that can be purchased as a “right” to use it. A land parcel that is R.O.P. is able to be subdivided, resold, rented out, farmed, and developed as desired.
COMMON FAQs ABOUT RETIRING IN PANAMA
- Is it safe to retire in Panama?
Some of the most pertinent concerns about living abroad are the ones related to safety and security. The World Economic Forum and International Living have ranked Panama as one of the safest countries to retire abroad. While there are always places in any country where it would not be advisable to live, a good local real estate agent will only present options and areas where their clients can expect to enjoy their retirements, not worry about their security.
Of course, settling into a new country does entail some level of getting to know the local area and customs but this should predominantly be an enjoyable and enriching experience. Note that on the whole, Panamanians are accustomed to foreigners, and visitors are made to feel welcome.
- Is there a citizenship program in Panama?
- Is Panama a tax haven?
There is currently no available citizenship program specifically designed for retirees. But if you have lived in Panama for five years, you and your family can apply for Panamanian citizenship.
Panama is not a tax-free country. The tax benefits of moving to Panama can be significant, but it requires careful planning and professional guidance from a financial advisor.
Panama has a territorial tax system that exempts foreign-sourced income from taxes. It should be noted, however, that both individuals and corporations are subject to capital gains tax and income tax on locally sourced income.
Where to retire in Panama
Here are some of the best places to live in Panama:
Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is special and a place we highly recommend. Take a look at the architecture and get a sense of the ambiance, and Bocas del Toro does have a distinct Caribbean feel. A popular tourist destination that speaks English widely, it’s the perfect balance of a vacation getaway and a place where you can call home.
Here you’ll find Red Frog Beach Island Resort, a paradise where all the comfort and luxury you could want are seamlessly blended with the natural beauty all around.
Panama City is the country’s capital. This metro area has over 1.5 million people, which makes it the country’s most populous area. There are high rises, as well as shopping, dining, and cultural attractions all around.
David, Panama’s second largest city, is home to 165,000 residents. It has an international airport, excellent healthcare facilities, bilingual private schools, car dealerships, malls, and a variety of shopping areas. Quiet, peaceful living, proximity to nature, and first-rate amenities make this an great place to live. David also has much more affordable real estate compared to Panama City.
Boquete rises to an elevation of about 3,900 feet, which makes it literally the highest point in Panama. A 65°F average temperature throughout the year makes the area feel perpetually springlike.
Foreign retirees make Boquete a good overseas retirement option for those who don’t speak fluent Spanish or aren’t ready to completely immerse themselves in another culture. Music and flower festivals in Boquete are internationally renowned.
Small town Chitré is renowned for its heritage and folklore. Expats looking for an immersive cultural experience might consider this city. Chitré is a regional hub that offers a wide range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, as well as elaborate holiday celebrations.
Chitré remains relatively unknown to tourists, which results in low prices. It is even possible to find cheap beachfront property. However, in this region, it’s very useful to have even a basic working knowledge of Spanish.
The laid-back town of Volcán is renowned for its cool climate, beautiful scenery, and natural splendor. Stunning vistas of rolling hills are framed by cloud mist, and dense rainforests are home to a variety of wildlife. In Volcán, there are beautiful hotels, large grocery stores, trendy restaurants, and charming coffee shops.
Simple living is the norm in this small community. Those who enjoy hiking, gardening, and reconnecting with nature may find this town to be a great retirement option.
A beachfront gated community with an international school and plenty of nearby dining and shopping, Coronado has it all. Although it is not as highly urbanized as Panama City, there are still plenty of activities to keep you entertained. A golf course is nearby, and there is a lovely beach where you can walk, swim, or surf.
A couple of considerations before moving to Panama
Retirement poses a unique set of challenges, especially when considering moving to another country or city. While part of the adventure of moving abroad is becoming familiar with your new surroundings, it pays to be prepared.
- Do you need to learn Spanish?
- City traffic
- The tropical climate
Panama is a country with a large expat population, and most locals are familiar with English; however, not all are fluent. The more Spanish you speak, the richer your overall experience. This being said, it is perfectly possible to have very little to no Spanish and get by perfectly well, if you live in an expat community or a resort like Red Frog Beach Island Resort.
Traffic may be a concern in the capital city. As a major economic hub and a leading destination for medical tourism, it attracts visitors from all over the globe. You may want to consider retirement options in other Panamanian locations for a more relaxed retirement.
Although many people enjoy living in a tropical climate, some can find it difficult to adapt. This is another reason why many choose to rent in Panama for a few months before they commit to making an investment on real estate.
Red Frog Beach can help you explore your retirement options in Panama
We at Red Frog Beach can assist you with everything from visa applications to choosing the right community and property for you.
Take the first step toward your retirement in Panama at Red Frog Beach Resort. The Bocas del Toro resort features an array of real estate opportunities, including a secluded and private villa community that overlooks the ocean. Our Panama villas offer upscale island living in a safe, modern community where you can experience the best of island life.
If you’d like to learn more about available villas for sale, the beach resort community, or other retirement communities in Panama, please contact our US office at 507.6951.6518 or our Panama office at 281.892.1344. Alternatively, don’t hesitate to send any inquiries to our email. Let’s begin your journey to your place in the sun.