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Retire In Panama
Retire in PanamaAre you looking to retire overseas and enjoy a quality of life much better than you currently have? Maybe even retire much earlier than you were expecting to? If so, then there is a good chance that retiring in Panama is the way to go. As you know, Panama is the absolute number one destination in the world in which to retire. In fact, Panama has remarkably topped our annual Global Retirement Index for six years straight.

The amazing benefit of retiring to Panama used to be a secret, but not anymore. IL is no longer the only voice encouraging people to retire to Panama – respected publications including Harper's Bazaar , the Boston Globe , USA Today , and the New York Times have all recently published articles about Panama 's many attributes.

Retire to comfort & Luxury

Panama offers a very comfortable retirement solution in part because the nation is much more developed than most visitors expect. Many who attend International Living's conferences and real estate tours are shocked by the modernity of Panama and the clusters of skyscrapers that define Panama City 's skyline. All of the amenities one could wish for are all readily available in Panama . 

Retire in PanamaNot only will you have access to all of the luxuries and comforts of your current life when you retire in Panama – you will have access to more of them because of Panama 's lower cost of living. By retiring in Panama you will enjoy the benefits of a developing economy where you can still take a taxi across town for a buck or two, get your haircut for a couple of dollars, or enjoy dinner with a bottle of wine at one of the finest restaurants in Panama City for a mere $30. There are also lots activities for you to enjoy – from jazz clubs to art openings to English-language theater performances. You may be wondering what you will do when you retire – but when you retire in Panama , you will never find yourself bored.

Inexpensive Real Estate & Healthcare

Consistent with the generally low cost of living in Panama is the affordability of available real estate. Whether you are looking to live in a Panama City high-rise apartment, a condo in a gorgeous beachfront community, or a house in the temperate mountain regions, you will find very reasonably priced real estate to suit your needs and desires. Most people who come to retire in Panama find themselves enjoying the property that they have always dreamed about but have never been able to afford.

Retire in PanamaHealth care in Panama is also both inexpensive and modern. Many people considering retiring to Panama often fear moving to a location with a substandard health care system, but such worries are unfounded here. Good quality health care and modern hospitals are available throughout the country. Many Panamanian doctors are U.S.-trained and hospital standards are on par with what you would find in North America or Europe . Particularly appealing to those looking to retire in Panama is an important additional advantage: both private health insurance and prescription drugs are readily available – and much less expensive than their U.S. equivalents.

Panama´s unmatched pensionado program for retired

A final benefit of retiring to Panama that must not be overlooked is Panama 's incredible pensionado (retiree) program. Panama 's pensionado program, in its current form, was created with the passing of Laws N°6 and N°9 in June of 1987, which provide those who retire to Panama with the most appealing program of special benefits available in the world. To be eligible, the only requirements are that you are at least 18 years of age and receive a pension income of $500 or more from a government agency or a company. Under the pensionado program you will be entitled to this:

• 50% off entertainment––such as movies, theater, concerts, and sporting events
• 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
• 25% off airline tickets
• 50% off hotel stays from Monday through Thursday
• 30% off hotel stays from Friday through Sunday
• 25% off at restaurants
• 15% off at fast-food restaurants
• 15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
• 10% off prescription medicines
• 20% off medical consultations
• 15% off dental and eye exams
• 20% off professional and technical services
• 50% off closing costs for home loans
• And more…

As if that is not enough, pensionados also receive a one-time exemption on the importation of household goods of up to $10,000 and will additionally enjoy an exemption every two years from duties for the importation of a car. 

It is quite obvious that the government is vigorously trying to attract people to retire in Panama . You cannot ask for better circumstances, or hope to find them anywhere else in the world. Retiring to Panama is truly an unparalleled opportunity. 

Panama VISA Information

Retire in PanamaPanama is now positioning itself as the "New Costa Rica." It has put together the most appealing program of special benefits for foreign residents and retirees you'll find anywhere in the world today.

In fact, anyone over the age of 18 may apply and can qualify as a pensionado in Panama . All you need is a guaranteed pension income of only $500 per month ($600 per month for a couple). It must be a pension from a government agency (social security, disability, or armed forces) or from a company.

In addition you are entitled to a one-time exemption of duties on the importation of household goods (up to $10,000) and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation or local purchase of a car. All this, and you can "retire" in Panama starting at age 18.

Plus Panama 's pensionado law stipulates that anyone entering the country as a qualified pensioner today is guaranteed that status as long as he chooses to stay in the country.

The general rules

All visa applications must be made through a Panamanian lawyer.

There is no age limit required for applying for any of these visas, save for the minimum legal age of 18 years. Youngsters under 18 will qualify for a visa as dependents of their parents. 

All overseas documents to be presented to the authorities in Panama must be authenticated by a Notary and by the Panamanian consulate nearest you, or by a notary and the Apostille. The Apostille (The Hague Convention of 1961) is a faster way of authenticating documents and is normally obtained through the Secretary of State in your home state (in the United States) or through the Foreign Office (in Britain). For Canada , please check with the Panamanian Embassy or consulate nearest to your home city.

All documents must be fresh (within three months of visa application) and passports must have at least one year to run.

Dependents: Bring a marriage certificate. However, original marriage certificates are not acceptable if over three months old, so you'll need to request fresh ones. If your children under 18 are to be covered by your visa, you'll need to bring fresh birth certificates (not originals).

None of these visas grant work permits.

All visa applications require that you obtain a health certificate in Panama.

The Tourist Pensioner VISA ( Turista Pensionado)

This visa is designed for persons whose pension from a government entity or private corporation is $500 or more ($600 or more for a couple per month). It is granted indefinitely. The benefits include one-time exemption of duties for the importation of household goods (up to $10,000) and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation of a car (sales tax will still apply). However, please note that under this visa you cannot qualify to acquire Panamanian nationality.

Private Income Retiree VISA ( Rentista Retirado )

Retire in Panama

This visa is for persons who don't have a monthly pension, are no longer working, and have received a retirement lump sum. As a visa requirement, that money is to be deposited on a five-year certificate of deposit with the National Bank of Panama, to yield at least $750 a month (at current rates the face value of the CD would need to be approximately $220,000). The visa is renewable every five years, as long as the CD is renewed. The Private Income Retiree Visa includes such benefits as a travelling Panamanian passport (that however does NOT grant nationality), a one-time exemption of duties for the importation of household goods (up to $10,000), and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation of a car.

Healthcare in Panama

Panama offers good quality medical care and modern hospitals in the metropolitan areas. The more isolated your location, the farther you are from first-rate medical care. In the city of David in the Chiriqui Province in the western region of Panama , there is a great medical center with modern facilities.

Many Panamanian doctors are U.S.-trained, and the standards at the top hospitals compare favorably with those in the United States

Private health insurance is available and much less expensive than insurance in the United States (because doctor's fees and hospital visits are much cheaper). Two more reasons why health insurance here is so affordable: 1) malpractice insurance is very low because the laws do not allow for frivolous lawsuits; and 2) the median income is around $300 a month, so health care cannot be expensive or no one would use it.

Prices for prescription drugs are low as well, because manufacturers price them for the market. Plus, many drugs that require a prescription in the States are available over the counter in Panama .

Moving to Panama for the perfect retirement

A large portion of the expats moving to Panama have chosen the tropical paradise as a destination for retirement. Panama offers an incredible pension program for retirees, which combined with a high-quality of living and the affordability of everything from real estate to health care, creates what International Living considers to be the top retirement destination in the world.

Moving to Panama for its gorgeus beaches

One of Panama 's primary attractions for everyone from retirees to teenage surfers is its many miles of beautiful coastline. A move to Panama is almost like moving to an island due to the tremendous amount of beaches – both Pacific and Atlantic.

Panama is a convenient, modern destination

Retire in PanamaMany Americans favor Panama as a destination because it is so close to the United States . There are dozens of quick, direct flights going to and from the U.S. daily. Moving to Panama , therefore, does not separate you from friends and family to a great extent. In fact, a move to Panama from New York is little different than a move to California from New York . 

Panama is also far more developed and modern than most people anticipate. The idea that moving to Panama means a move away from the first world could not be further from the truth. People who move to Panama can typically find the same luxuries and amenities that they would hope for anywhere else, and can even afford more of them due to Panama 's low cost of living.

Panama encourages retirees and other expats to move to Panama by offering a very straightforward visa program. For people who have decided to move to Panama there are a variety of available visa types, including: the Tourist Pensioner Visa, the Private Income Retiree Visa, the Person of Means Visa, the Small Business Investor Visa, and the Forestry Investor Visa.

If you are considering moving to Panama with a family, then you will be pleased to know that Panama is an excellent place for kids…of all ages. Panama offers a wealth of outdoor activities and cultural activities that will ensure that your children will never be bored. Looking back, your kids will undoubtedly appreciate that their move to Panama was an incredible, childhood-enriching experience.

It is also easy to take your pets with you when you move to Panama . There are some basic requirements, including an in-home quarantine requirement, but overall the process is quite simple. Moving to Panama with your household goods, on the other hand, is slightly more complicated and expensive, so we typically recommend that you buy furniture and other household goods here. Besides, it is doubtful your furniture will be suitable to your new tropical environment. Start fresh…it couldn't be more fun.

Once the decision has been made

Retire in PanamaOnce you have decided to move to Panama there are a few final tasks that should be on your checklist. The first is to learn a little bit of Spanish. There is a lot of English spoken in Panama , so don't allow a lack of Spanish fluency to keep you from moving here. But do familiarize yourself with some of the most basic and essential Spanish phrases.

Secondly, you should figure out how you will be paying credit card bills and taking care of other similar responsibilities. The advent of the Internet has, thankfully, made moving abroad much simpler in recent years. Most responsibilities – like paying bills – can be managed online and are exponentially easier than they once were. 

Finally, be prepared that moving to Panama , or any other country for that matter, can seem a little hectic and overwhelming at first. So just take your time and make sure that when making important decisions like buying real estate you are proceeding cautiously and finding the best deals possible. There is no question that you will be in the swing of things, enjoying your new life in Panama , even more quickly than you had anticipated

Invest in Panama

How to use Panama an a Off-Shore money haven

Retire in PanamaThe Republic of Panama is perhaps the ideal destination for anyone looking for serious financial privacy and no taxes, corporate or personal. Its proximity to the growing Latin market makes it a natural base for world business operations, and in spite of its troubled history, it isn't directly under the thumb of either the United States or the U.K.

Panama is a country in much better shape financially than its Central American neighbors to the north, or Colombia to the south. Annual inflation has averaged 1.4% for the past 30 years, and during the 1990s it barely exceeded 1% per year. Then there is the wealth represented by the Panama Canal . Its operations in 2001, according to the Panama Canal Authority, generated $630.8 million in total revenues, much of which was plowed back into constant maintenance. But the move that could turn the current flow of 14,000 annual ship transits into a flood is the widening of the canal and the building of bigger locks.

There are also thousands of acres of land from former U.S. military installations, prized real estate with an estimated value of $4 billion. Admittedly, its distribution and privatization has been slow and marked by charges of corruption, producing few of the general benefits promised or anticipated.

How to Build a Tax-Advantaged Enterprise in a country poised to boom

Panama is on the rise…as a retirement destination…an adventure wonderland…and as an investment paradise. It is simply bursting with opportunities for the adventurous entrepreneur. Things are just starting to get going here. Those with foresight stand to make impressive gains.

The government of Panama has set up a number of attractive programs and special zones in order to attract foreign investors to its shores. These programs won't last forever, though. But while they're here they'll give the adventurous pioneers who decide to capitalize on them a tremendous head start in the business world.

In fact, almost every International Living reader we know who has come to retire in Panama has capitalized on the opportunities here, and has begun a business of some sort…from guesthouses…property developments…resorts…eco-tourism projects…forestation projects…charter dive operations—even boat repair outfits…

Spend just $50,000 building a guesthouse in the hills of Boquete and reap enormous tax benefits

In 1994 Panama passed Law No. 8—the most modern and comprehensive law for the promotion of tourism investment in Latin America and the Caribbean .

Since the law was enacted, dozens of the world's largest hotel chains have swept in to take advantage of it, including the Marriott, the Radisson, Holiday Inn, the Sheraton, and the Intercontinental. But Panama 's attractive tourism investment laws are not just for big business. Anyone willing to invest as little as $50,000 in a tourism project can take advantage of the enormous tax and financial incentives available here.

You could build a guesthouse in the hills of Boquete…start a charter-dive operation on Bocas Del Toro, or a white-water rafting outfit in Chiriqui Viejo…open a surf-board rental shop at Playa Santa Catalina…trek tour groups through the wild and uncharted Darien Gap…open a marina, a hotel, or a nightspot along the beaches of the Pacific coast…launch a horse-drawn carriage service on Taboga, “the Island of Flowers” that has no cars…take tour groups through the historical ruins of Panama's Colonial era…open a riverside restaurant in Boquete… The opportunities are endless…

With a minimum investment of $50,000 anywhere in Panama 's interior you can receive:
• 20-year exemption of any import taxes due on materials, furniture, equipment,
and vehicles.
• A 20-year exemption on real estate taxes for all assets of the enterprise.
• Exemption from any tax levied for the use of airports and piers.
• Accelerated depreciation for real estate assets of 10% per year.

And if you start up a tourism-related business in one of the specially designated tourist zones, you can also receive a 15-year exemption on your income taxes.

Real Estate Investment Incentives

Retire in PanamaWith its Decree Law #9 of Aug. 27, 1997 , the Panamanian government created great incentives for property developers interested in Panama City 's Casco Viejo.

For instance, any income you make from the sale or rental of your property is exempted from income tax for 10 years. You can also deduct 100% of the costs of the renovation from your income tax. Plus you won't have to pay any duties on any materials you import to complete the renovation.

You won't have to pay any property taxes for 30 years. Nor will you have to pay any transfer taxes—providing the property costs $50,000 or more.

Signs of private investment prompted by these incentives are everywhere. You don't walk far without passing a restored building or one in process of renovation. Scaffolding seems to be on every corner. There's an almost “land rush” feel to condominium development in the area.

Panama is finally starting to catch on as a top-notch destination for expats as people are becoming more interested than ever in moving to Panama . Some people are looking to retire overseas, some are looking for a life on the beach, and some are simply looking to move abroad and start a new life. Nevertheless, Panama has something to offer everybody – and is a very convenient place to move to.