The one questions I get asked most often about Panama is “Why Panama? What about Costa Rica or Belize?” I visited Costa Rica, Belize, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Honduras, Mexico, and many other countries before I picked Panama as my new home. I picked Panama for many reasons including it’s natural beauty, friendly people, ease of getting a visa, weather, etc etc….but most importantly the stable economy and democratic government.
I ran across this article by Jaime E. Figueroa Navarro titled Why Panama – which helps explain many of my reasons for picking Panama as my new home too. Panama is an incredible country which I’m very proud to call home. Read this article to see why….
Jaime E. Figueroa Navarro
This is an oft-asked question that needs to be addressed regardless of your lifestyle, investment strategy or retirement expectations.
We cannot help but notice while watching the North American evening news the growing number of medications being offered during commercial breaks. Panama is poles apart. We often say that you retire in Panama to live, not to die.
With abundant organic tropical fruits and vegetables, as well as naturally grown cattle, fowl and game, the incidence of first world diseases is noticeably lower here. Never mind that the name Panama in native language means “abundance of fish”. The country enjoys a most delicious seafood variety. Panama prawns are world-famous for their taste and consistency. Local “corvina” or sea bass has been hailed as the best fish in the oceans. Red snapper, lobster and other sea specialties adorn the Panamanian menus. And our coffee has been awarded the #1 ranking in the world by the Specialty Coffee Association for the eight consecutive year.
With local health facilities linked to top U.S. hospitals such as Johns Hopkins, The Cleveland Clinic and the Harvard University Medical School, medical care in Panama is excellent at a portion of U.S. costs and exemplified by humane treatment and not by commercial exploitation. As a matter of fact, the latest fad is for many people to come to Panama for medical tourism. With the savings, the entire family enjoys a marvelous vacation!
In the early years of the twentieth century, the United States built the Panama Canal, one of the wonders of the world. Now under Panamanian control, the canal is currently undergoing an unprecedented expansion project, larger than the original undertaking, to allow the continued expeditious flow to the mammoth freighters that command a sizable number of the current world commercial tonnage.
The U.S. presence in the isthmus extended for almost a century, leading to the creation of a new Panama, the Phoenicians of the modern era, a most unique country in the entire Americas, which finds itself today with the largest merchant fleet in the world, its second most important banking center after Switzerland and home to the second largest free trade zone after Hong Kong, and all this, amazingly, with a population only a trickle over three million citizens!
Additionally, canal traffic and revenues have almost doubled since the American departure at the end of 1999, and the new ports in the entry cities of Panama and Colon have become two of the most modern and efficient in the world.
Fort Clayton, the former U.S. Southern Command troop abode has been converted to Ciudad del Saber (City of Knowledge) where universities and educational institutions from around the world have established research and educational centers (for additional information, please review http://www.cdspanama.org/) and the United Nations has launched its regional headquarters. Other military facilities, such as Amador located at the Pacific entry of the Panama Canal, have been revamped to tourism centers with a plethora of restaurants, boutiques, yacht piers and the new convention center that hosted the Miss Universe Pageant. Nearby, the Biodiversity Museum, soon to be Panama City’s icon, is being constructed under the watchful eyes of world renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Panama has used the U.S. Dollar as its currency since 1903. Thus, as opposed to other investment alternatives elsewhere, there is no exposure to foreign exchange fluctuations and investments are rock-solid. Its close association with the United States has led to a lengthy history of economic stability and very low interest rates, making this the ideal retirement destination. In addition, Panama has maintained double digit annual growth through the 21st century whilst the world economies have recessed.
Panama is very close to North America, just a bit over a two-hour flight from Miami, and in many cases, closer than other North American destinations, depending on your hometown. Unlike the popular retirement destinations in Florida and the Southeastern coast of the United States, Panama is beyond the hurricane belt providing significant savings in expensive hurricane and associated flood insurance and zero stress related to these impacting natural disasters.
When contrasted to the west coast of the United States, it is important to note that Panama has had no major earthquakes. And when matched to the Midwest, Panama has none of the tornadoes or blizzards common to the area.
A tropical paradise in all sense of the word, Panama offers year-round warm climate in an ecologically superior area where you will find more species of birds than all North America and Europe combined, a bio-diverse rainforest so dense that the province of Darien is the only stretch of the Inter-American Highway that has not been joined, from Chile and Argentina in the South to Canada and Alaska to the North.
Panama’s flora and fauna is nothing but inspiring. Its water, the purest in the world, is now being bottled for the overseas markets. As a natural bridge between the continents, there are many species of animals and vegetation in lush greenery that breathes life. Coiba, the largest tropical island in the Pacific coast of the entire continent, is one of Panama’s national parks where you can catch a glimpse of humpbacks and many other species of whales coming from the poles for their annual mating rites. And the Pacific’s Pearl Islands have served as hosts to several Survivor episodes.
Panama is safe: Safer than post 9/11 U.S. and much safer than its neighbors, Central America and Colombia. Panama City is an international business center with modern amenities that match and in many cases, outperform the amenities of North American and European competitors. It is without doubt, the fastest growing, best-affordable, modern metropolis in the world.
Panama offers world-class deep sea fishing, diving, sailing and surfing. Piñas Bay in Panama’s Pacific holds over two hundred world fishing records, including sailfish and both black and blue marlin, ranked as the number one destination by the prestigious Robb Report. Panama offers fabulous diving in both the Pacific and Caribbean. Punta Catalina in Veraguas and Playa Venado in the Azuero peninsula are regarded among the top surfing spots in the world. And beyond ocean sports, there are many golf courses and other amenities from ocean to ocean, to cater to your specific desires.
Of extreme importance to those baby boomers researching Panama is the best Retiree Program in the world. By applying for the Pensionado Visa you will be granted permanent residence in Panama, regardless of whether you decide to stay here permanently or visit for a few weeks or months every year. The Pensionado Program entitles you to the following perks:
- 50% off from entertainment (movies, sporting events, etc.) –
- 30% off bus, train and boat fares
- 25% off airline tickets
- 50% off lodging (hotels, motels, etc.) Monday – Thursday
- 30% off lodging (hotels, motels, etc.) Friday – Sunday
- 25% off restaurant meals
- 15% off fast-food restaurants
- 15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
- 20% off prescription medicine
- 20% off doctors’ consultations
- 15% off dental and eye exams
- 20% off professional and technical services
- 50% off home closing costs
Above all, Panama is its people. With the highest bilingual population in Latin America, the three million inhabitants of Panama are hospitable and warm. Panama City’s skyline is deemed by many as similar to Miami’s, the only difference being that in Panama City we speak more English. Be prepared to enjoy the veritable meaning of Carnaval during this annual festivity the week prior to the beginning of Lent, as well as the patron saints year-round celebrations in all the cities and towns of Panama. A colorful rainbow encompassing cultures from all corners of the world, Panama is truly the melting pot where there is mutual respect, admiration and curiosity for diversity. Enjoy the casinos, rich night life and myriad of restaurants offering fare from all over the world at a fraction of North American and European costs.
People come to Panama for its quality of life, and affordable standard of living. Its ultimate testimonial, crafted by none other than the New York Times, recently conferred Panama the number one travel destination in the world, over 44 other impressive termini including Paris, London, Tokyo and Florence. That, in itself, states it all. Come one, come all, come to Panama and become immersed in the passion for the most unique adventure in your lifetime!