Panama: The Best Place in the World to Retire

International Living just released their 2016 Best Places in the World to Retire report.  PANAMA WON AGAIN!!!

This is what International Living wrote

DSCN8369Retiring abroad is easier and more affordable than ever before. These days it really is possible to spend your days relaxing beneath palm fronds on a Caribbean beach, enjoying farm-fresh produce in a mountain haven with year-round spring weather, or wandering the storied streets of a historic and cultured European city…or all of the above.

But with so many choices available, finding the right one can seem daunting.

Enter International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index.

Researched over months with the help of our ever-growing team of correspondents, editors, and contributors all over the world, this Retirement Index is the ultimate resource for helping you find your ideal retirement haven.

And our 2016 Index is our most comprehensive yet. We’ve crunched more numbers than ever before…asked more questions of more expats…all in a quest to bring you the best retirement havens in the world. And here they are. Among this year’s 23 countries you’ll find something to suit every lifestyle and budget…

Are you looking for low costs? Are you after a place with great, affordable healthcare? Or both? Is high-speed internet crucial for you, or do you just want a place with a warm climate year-round? Whatever you’re looking for, our findings this year will give you a feel for the relative strengths and weaknesses of each country on our beat.

We strive to make our Retirement Index better every year. We refine, we add, we whittle…with one goal: to get the most accurate results. Our belief is: The more input, the clearer the result. Our correspondents and editors, our contributors all over the world, help us identify what matters most when weighing up the perfect retirement destination.

Then they provide us with the hard data and “on-the-ground” insights we need. These expats often started out as IL readers themselves. They know exactly what’s important to you to enjoy a happy and comfortable retirement.

Not every corner of a country is the perfect haven. And some of these countries are big and diverse places. We focus our research on the spots within them that we know are attractive and hold appeal.

This mountain of information then meets a set of complex formulas designed by our in-house editors to crunch and process the results.

This year, across 10 categories, we factored in absolutely everything needed to make a great retirement destination. How much to rent? Can you catch a movie in English? What is the average humidity? Can you get direct flights to and from the U.S.? How much does a doctor’s visit cost? Do they speak English? The list goes on…

This year we’ve added two entirely new categories. Time and again, we hear back from readers looking for a healthier lifestyle overseas. So we’ve added a Healthy Lifestyle category. And for anyone looking to retire abroad, a key consideration is the ease and expense of getting a residence visa that is right for your circumstances. Hence our new Visas and Residence category. And we’ve included a brand new destination in the Index: Peru, a country with much to offer.

All 23 countries in the Index are terrific retirement destinations, as proven by the many expats who have chosen to settle in each. If they weren’t great retirement spots, we wouldn’t be writing about them, nor would we give them a place in our Index. Even if a country scores 100 in a category, it doesn’t mean it’s perfect in that one aspect—it just means it’s that bit better than the rest.

Also, keep in mind that while numbers can guide you, it’s up to you to decide which of these countries (if any) is right for you. We can help you narrow down your list, but the final decision is up to you. Part of what makes a great retirement haven is intangible; we’ve been trying to capture it in words for over 30 years. But you’ll know, in your gut and in your heart, when you’ve found it.

Panama Earns the No.1 Spot in This Year’s Index

Boquete Panama
Boquete Panama

“We’re healthier and living a better lifestyle here than we ever did in the U.S.,” says expat Mitzi Martain, who has lived on her farm near Santa Fe, Panama for nearly nine years now. “And our Social Security income covers all our monthly expenses.”

Mitzi and her husband Bill are two of the approximately 50,000 U.S. expats who have found their piece of paradise in this year’s winner—Panama.

“We are so blessed to live where we do,” say Connie and Mikkel Moller, who have called Pedasí, Panama, home since 2012. “Our stress level is 10% of what it used to be.”

Panama has long been a favorite of retirees. You’ll find them along both Caribbean and Pacific coasts, on white-sand islands, living contentedly nestled in mountain valleys, and along the glittering promenade of Panama City. Panama has hands down the best package of retirement benefits in the world. Pick your climate—tropical or temperate. And it’s close to home, just a three-hour flight from Miami.

“It is definitely cheaper than the U.S.,” says Maureen LoBue, who enjoys a beach life in San Carlos. “Water is included in my rent, so I just pay electricity, which last month was $16. My satellite internet service is just $15 a month. And when I buy produce at the local market down the street, I can fill a bag with fresh veggies for less than $5.”

“A couple can manage on as little as $750 a month here, if they own their home,” says expat Carl Conway who (like the Martains) has also found his ideal retirement in the mountain town of Santa Fe.

“Utilities are very low, at around $100 a month for electricity, water, trash pickup, internet, and even cellphone cards. Keep in mind you don’t need heating or air conditioning up here, and that makes a big difference. So even if you rent, a monthly budget of $1,500 is more than plenty.”

In Panama, you can live whatever lifestyle you desire. You can hike green hillsides, explore rainforests teeming with exotic wildlife, or just laze on a Caribbean beach and watch the world go by. And if you’re an urbanite, you can savor the incredible dining and culture of places like Panama City.

“In Panama’s capital I have the best of both worlds,” says IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch. “There’s a growing cultural and arts scene. I collect flyers of all the fabulous activities there are to do here. Opera showcases, art exhibit openings, and handicraft festivals…[and] there are so many new restaurants every week, I stopped trying to keep track.”

Panama City

From the glamour of Panama City
to the stunning beaches of Coronado,
there really is something for everyone
in Panama.

And the healthcare? Panama’s cities are home to world-class hospitals and many medical professionals trained in the U.S. A Pensionado visa can further lower your costs by providing discounts off the already low fees for care.

“The cost for a doctor is very reasonable, says IL Chiriquí correspondent Linda card. “I have a friend who pays just $10 at one clinic, and the most I’ve ever paid in Chiriquí is $50 to a specialist. Your doctors will often speak English, too, and they are far easier to access than back home. Last year, my husband Al spent two weeks in a private hospital in David. He had a semi-private room with the standard features which was kept spotlessly clean by the housekeeper. The nursing staff was professional and attentive and the hospital was fully staffed, with nursing aides and support personnel busy on the unit. We were billed just $60 a day for this room.”

But on top of all these tangibles, it’s the people that make Panama so endearing to the many expats who call it home. “People here are warm, friendly, helpful, and welcoming,” says Kris Cunningham, who found her perfect retirement spot in the city of David. “I have felt so welcomed and accepted, and I feel so much a part of the community. It is surprising, but I have more sense of belonging here in this foreign country than I ever felt in the U.S.”

See the complete report here

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions


  1. Thu ha Pho says

    I really like to live in panama when I retire, but I don’t know how to start . I am from Cana. Thank you

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