Why Panama?

The one question I often get asked about Panama is “Why Panama?   What about Costa Rica or Belize?”  I visited Costa Rica, Belize, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, and many other countries before I picked Panama as my new home. I’ve traveled worldwide, and have lived in five countries. I could live anywhere. But I picked Panama. I picked Panama for many reasons, including its natural beauty, weather, friendly people, ease of getting a visa, 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.   Panama is an incredible country that I’m very proud to call home.   Read this article to see why.


by 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.

Farmer's Market in Panama
Fresh Produce

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 the native language means “abundance of fish”.  The country enjoys the 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 eighth 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 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, Panama City’s icon, was 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 are nothing but inspiring. Its water, the purest in the world, is now being bottled for 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 four 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!

Come see how you can LIVE BETTER for less in beautiful Panama!

Since 2010, we’ve helped many thousands of people relocate to Panama.  

For many, it all started with our all-inclusive 6-day, 7-night Panama Relocation Tours. A Panama Relocation Tour is the easiest way to see all the most popular places to live in Panama and meet experts and expats. It’s like a rolling seminar because the entire time the bus is rolling, our Guides are teaching you important things you need to know to have a hassle-free move. You’ll see rentals in each area to help you decide which area is best for you.

Marie wrote this review about her Panama Relocation Tour on TripAdvisor:

Memorable experience!
Oct 2023 • Friends
Our relocation tour with Panama Relocation Tours (PRT) led by our exceptional tour guides Jolynn and Jay was an unforgettable experience. They thought of and took care of everything! Their extensive knowledge of Panama’s culture, history, local insights and their wonderful sense of humor added tremendous value to our journey. I was quite surprised at their energy level. At times we were so exhausted by the day that we happily dozed off on our way back to the hotel. But they just kept going and their emery level never dropped. Their friendly and approachable demeanor created a comfortable atmosphere, which was critical as the tour group was very diverse in age, ethnicity, backgrounds and political affiliations, yet we all felt like family making us feel more connected and able to focus on learning the many many valuable facets of information being shared on the tour. The attention to detail in organizing the tour, along with their willingness to address our questions. We are grateful for their expertise and highly recommend these guides and PRT for anyone considering a move to Panama. The driver was also a superstar, kept us safe and was able to navigate unplanned stops required by some guests (who needed to stop unexpectedly). This tour is truly time and money saving as you get soooooo much in a neat and trusted package. Kudos PRT. Kudos Jay and Jorge. And Kudos to my personal fave Jolynn!!

See other reviews on TripAdvisor.

Panama Relocation Tours has the experience you can trust AND NEED when relocating to Panama.

Come see Panama… then you’ll understand Why Panama!

bocas del toro panama
Bocas del Toro Panama

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



    where is Punta Pacifica?

    • Panama Relocation Tours says

      Punta Pacifica is just a little west of Panama City

      • Ronald D Sharp says

        Don’t know where to start: I was stationed in Panama at what was then Fort Gulick in 1976-1980. I loved it and the people of panama. I retired last year after 45+ years in Law Enforcement, including my time in Panama as a Military Police. I’m looking into retirement and looking for information about Panama. I would love to retire closer to the Atlantic side other than Panama City area (Don’t like crowds)

        • Jackie Lange says

          HI Ron

          A lot has changed since you were in Panama in 1980. The Atlantic side has much more crime now. So it may be better to pick an area on the Pacific side. See our videos with expats living throughout Panama to help you decide where is a good fit https://www.youtube.com/c/PanamaRelocationTours

        • Vernon Haynes says

          Hola I was station in Panama and lived at Ft Randolph 1968-1971.Worked on the Nuclear Power ship Sturgis located between the locks and the dam.I also came back 1974-75 and was stationed on the power ship Weber beside the
          locks at Mira Flores.I am going back to Panama around 1st Dec. I would suggest Boquete as a great place to retire. There are 5000 expats in a population of around 20000.The best weather in Panama. Vern

          • Jackie Lange says

            Great advice! There are many great places to live in Panama. You will be amazed when you see how much Panama has changed.

  2. Johnny Dean says


  3. Errol douglas says

    I would love to live and work in panama full time🇵🇦

  4. Marvin Bryan says

    Great information, now send more

  5. Richard Link says

    Would like to live in Panama to see if this is a place I would like to move to.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Tourists can live in Panama for 30-180 days depending on which country they are coming from. This will give you time to determine if Panama is a good fit.

  6. Maria F says

    Jackie: Great site. Question if we cannot do the tours at this time but we sign up for the $595.00 information and later on we are able to do the tours would the $595.00 be applied towards the tour for 2.
    Thank you in advance

    • Dustin Lange says

      No. The price of the online guide does not get credited to a future tour purchase. We are currently running a promotion where, if you purchase the online guide, you receive a coupon for $200 off a group tour.

  7. Curtis Hundley says

    Interesting to know

  8. Bill Williams says

    Wife and I have discussed this often, America’s politics is getting very scary, love to have much more information, but the book rice is a bit steep.. Gonna watch some You Tube first to see if we are committed, then the book and the tour. Blessings

  9. William Francis Hurley says

    Jackie, do you post any information about obtaining your FBI clearance for Jubilato visa?

  10. Jim Rodrigue says

    Hello Jackie, what can you tell me about gun ownership in Panama? Is gun ownership prevalent? Prohibited? I thought I read somewhere that guns were not allowed in Panama. One of the biggest reasons I want out of the US, besides the government of the Corporations, by the Corporations, FOR the Corporations, corrupt politics, crime rate etc., is the whole attitude towards guns, guns and more guns in the US. Now they want to arm teachers to protect the children from school shootings! I thought that Panama would be a safe place to retire to because guns were not allowed. I was very surprised to see a guy selling handguns at the Tuesday Market in Boquete! What’s up with that? You can answer me in private if you want.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello Jim. Gun ownership is rare in Panama. It’s very difficult to get a gun permit and guns are very expensive in Panama.

      The guns you saw at the market were probably pellet or BB guns.

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