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Why People Move to Panama

panama sunset hammock

When I first started doing Panama Relocation Tours in 2010, many of our tour guests moved to Panama because they were looking for great weather and a more affordable place to live.  Everyone is looking for a new adventure.  Fifty percent of tour clients came from the United States.  Back in 2010, the majority of my tour guests were over 60 and ready for retirement.

People from all over the world come on a Panama Relocation Tour.  About 50% of our clients come from the United States and about 25% are Canadians.  We also have clients from England, Germany, France, Poland, Russia, Italy, Spain, Turkey, China, Singapore, South Africa, Egypt, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), New Zealand, Australia, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and more!   It’s fun for me and it’s fun for everyone on the tour to meet people from other countries who are also considering relocating to Panama.

Over the last 4-5 years, the reasons for moving and the demographic have changed.

We still get plenty of retirees looking for great weather, affordable living, and a new adventure.  You can find all of those things in Panama.  Panama is the number one country that retirees move to.  It’s understandable for retirees and others to move to Panama because it offers so much!

Now, we have people in their 30s 40s, and 50s coming on Panama Relocation Tours and relocating to Panama.  These people are obviously not retirees. They are also looking for that new adventure but they are looking for business opportunities that are plentiful in Panama. Some already have online businesses which they can run from anywhere there is an internet connection.

There are many more families with children moving to Panama too.  In Panama, you have the freedom to homeschool if you want to or there are bi-lingual schools for as little as $75 a month.


Proximity! Panama is close to the United States.  Miami is only a 2-hour flight.  From Panama, it is a quick flight to Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico, etc.  Living in Panama makes it easy to explore and enjoy adventures in other countries too.

Panama Beach

Even though Panama is a small country it is packed with a lot of diversity.  Drive an hour in any direction and you can completely change your environment.  Panama City is a very cosmopolitan city where you can find anything you’d ever want.  There are first-class restaurants, fancy malls, opera, ballet, a subway, and some of the best hospitals in Latin America.

Beach lovers can enjoy 1547 miles of coastline from two oceans.  The Pacific Ocean is to the south and the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea is to the north.  There are many islands off both coasts.  Snorkeling, scuba diving, and deep-sea fishing are favorites of sun lovers.  Those who prefer cooler weather will enjoy Spring-like weather year-round in mountain towns like Boquete, Volcan, and El Valle.   It’s not just the weather, the scenery is just spectacular.


Another huge benefit for retirees in Panama is the world’s best retiree program, the Pensionado Visa.  With this visa, you need to prove a lifetime income of $1000 for singles or $1250 for a couple.  Then you qualify for discounts like 20% discount when eating out, 10% off prescription drugs, 25% discount on airfare or cruises to anywhere in the world, and many other discounts.

The Panama Relocation Tours demographic is changing

In August, a family from Seattle came on the tour and decided to stay instead of flying back to the United States.  Within 2 weeks, they had a nice rental house, a car, a bank account, a visa, and a corporation set up.  A few months later, they opened a new restaurant after hiring contractors to completely renovate the building, getting all the permits and health certificates, and hiring employees.   Try doing all that so fast anywhere else!

There are several Visa programs available for people who want to work or start a business in Panama.  If you plan to get a job in Panama, the best visa is the Friendly Nations Visa. There are many multinational companies in Panama who pay very well.

Most people from other countries are not taxed on their worldwide income.  US citizens are taxes on their worldwide income but you do get a $108,000 per person tax exemption.  That means a single person from the United States,who lives overseas full time, can make more than $108,000 in income… and not pay a penny in taxes!  You still have to file a tax return but you will not owe any taxes if you keep your income below $108,000 a year.

That’s a really good reason to move to Panama!  And it is why many younger adults are moving to Panama to work.

If your income is not sourced in Panama, you don’t owe any taxes in Panama either.  So, it is possible to move to Panama and not pay ANY taxes. Even if you do have to pay taxes in Panama, taxes are much less than in the United States, Canada, or other countries.  You can live in Panama but not have income sourced in Panama if you do not sell a product or service in Panama.  An online business is ideal.

Let’s face it, a Social Security or a pension payment will not go very far in North America.  But you can easily live on just your pension payment or Social Security in Panama. 

Yes, you can retire on what you have right now instead of working to save more for retirement.  You may even be able to retire early!

Some people who move to Panama don’t have a pension or Social Security so they need to find a way to make a living in Panama.  During a Panama Relocation Tour or in our Online Panama Relocation Guide, you’ll learn even more ways to make money with an online business when you relocate to Panama.

Boquete Panama

Affordable health insurance and quality health care are another reason people move to Panama. 

Previously, I had international health insurance which covered me at any hospital or doctor anywhere in the world.   But now, I have Panama health insurance that is only $102 a month.  If I travel, I’ll just get traveler’s insurance.   If you are younger it would be less.  If you are older, it would cost more.

Even without insurance, it is only $15 to see a doctor at their private office or I can go to the public hospital where it only cost $2 to see a doctor. These doctors are well trained and many speak English.

In my opinion, Panamanian doctors put the CARE back into health care.

In November, two 52-year-old tour clients who live in the United States told me their insurance has a $6,000 deductible and is $750 per month per person.  That’s $1500 a month for a couple or $18,000 a year for health insurance that they cannot use until they pay $6,000 out of pocket first.

You can live in Panama for $1500 a month!

You can see why affordable health insurance is a big reason why people move to Panama.


Panama has no military.   There is no big division between political, religious, or ethnic groups like there is in other countries.  So, it just feels much safer in Panama.  There are no terrorist threats in Panama. Panamanians are very patriotic and love their country.

Everyone just gets along in Panama. People are friendly and helpful.


Panama Relocation Guide

Panama offers something for everyone. Whether you are looking for a more affordable lifestyle, better weather, business opportunities, or just a new adventure– Panama has what you are looking for.

Come check out Panama during a 6-day all-inclusive Panama Relocation Tour OR an affordable Private Tour. of the areas you like best.

Or, if you’re in a hurry to move to Panama, get our Complete Online Panama Relocation Guide.  It has all the information you need to know to relocate to Panama quickly.  You’ll learn what documents you need to bring with you to get a residency Visa, how to get pets into Panama, and more.  Plus, you’ll get access to our exclusive community forum where we offer ongoing support before, during, and even after your move to 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


  1. Dave Wagner says

    Can we apply for a pensionado visa while in the U.S. before we come to Panama and have them before we go there?

    • Panama Relocation Tours says

      No, you cannot apply for any visa from the United States. There is paperwork you will need to gather from the US before you apply in person for your Visa. You must be in Panam to apply for the Visa.

  2. Louis says

    How accepted are the LGBT people in Panama?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hi Louis

      It has been my experience that everyone is accepted in Panama if they are nice people! Here’s a video interview with a gay man who lives in Boquete which will give you some additional insights

  3. David Bixler says

    I have a huge library and would like to bring it. Is it so expensive that this is not practical? It may be several hundreds of boxes. David Bixler

    • Jackie Lange says

      you will need to run a dehumidifier constantly to prevent mold on the books. It will cost a a lot of money to ship the books to Panama.

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