Panama’s popularity for expat retirees has a lot to do with its modern infrastructure, proximity to the U.S. and mild climate. And then there’s the Central American country’s unparalleled Pensionado program offering residence plus money-saving discounts to North American expats.
The mainstream media has singled out Panama, located between Costa Rica and Colombia, as one of the best places to retire. The New York Times and others have also listed Panama as one of the best places to do business, lower your taxes, travel, connect to the Internet, find happy locals and seek out culinary delights.
North American residents, visitors, businesses and culture continue to influence Panamanian life, and thousands of American expats feel very much at home in this small country (population: 3.9 million).
As a qualified pensionado/retiree in Panama, you will be entitled to:
- 50 percent off movies, theaters, concerts and sporting events
- 50 percent off closing costs for home laons
- 30 to 50 percent off airline tickets from Panama
- 30 percent off bus, boat and train fares
- 25 percent off airline tickets flying from Panama
- 20 percent off medical consultations
- 15 to 25 percent off restaurants
- 15 percent off hospital bills
- 15 percent off dental and eye exams
- 10 percent off prescriptions
In addition, foreign pensionados are entitled to a one-time exemption from duties on the importation of household goods (up to $10,000).
To become a member of the pensionado elite:
You must generally draw a pension of at least $1,000 per month. There is one exception —you can apply for residence with a pension of at least $750 if you have invested at least $100,000 in property in Panama.
It takes four to six months for most expats to receive their pensionado permit. Though costs will vary depending on your attorney, expect to spend $2,000 to $3,000 in total, including government fees and a multiple entry permit.