Panama has been voted one of the top retirement havens in the world for years. It has a lot going for it and deserves its good reputation. North Americans and Europeans have been flocking to Panama not only because of its natural beauty and its reputation as a safe and friendly place but because retiring there makes sense for other compelling reasons.
Panama is Convenient 6 -7 hours, depending on how much sight-seeing and how many pit stops I make along the way. Flights from Tocumen to David take less than an hour on modern turboprop planes and the flights offer gawkers an opportunity to look down on the splendid topography of the Panamanian countryside.
Panama City's Tocumen Airport can be reached from many North American cities by direct flights. If you prefer to live in the western province of Chiriqui, the Enrique Malek International Airport in the city of David, near the famous mountain town of Boquete and approximately an hour's drive from the Costa Rican border, has been enlarged and updated and soon many international flights will land there as well.
And yes, The Republic of Panama runs west-east, not north-south. Check it out: Map of Panama.
I often like to drive cross country and land in Tocumen, then rent a car and drive to David and Boquete. It takes
Tocumen Airport is also a hub from which you can fly just about anywhere else in Central and South America.
Panama is Beautiful
Panama is right next door to Costa Rica. It has the same ecology, the same wildlife, the same rain forest and in addition has one very clear advantage -- fewer tourists. That will change over time, of course, but Panama hasn't been as hyped as Costa Rica and it will take a long time to catch up. Panama doesn't depend on tourism as Costa Rica does. Anything you might wish to do to stay active -- deep sea fishing, sailing, snorkeling, birding, horseback riding, hiking, zip-lining through the forest canopy, and even resting from all that activity on a secluded and pristine beach -- is available to you.
Hundreds of bird species have been identified in Panama, including the Quetzal, one of the most exotic birds in Central America. On my first trip to Panama, someone proudly announced to me that in Costa Rica ten individuals will see one Quetzal while in Panama, one person will see ten Quetzals. Is that true? I have no idea. It does make for a good story, though.
Panama is Economically Healthy
Panama is an agricultural powerhouse, especially Chiriqui Province in the west, right next to Costa Rica's eastern border. Among other crops, potatoes, oranges and strawberries are grown here, along with Chiriqui province's famous highland coffee in the Boquete area.
Panama City, nearer the eastern part of Panama, is home to the Pacific entrance to the famous Panama Canal. The canal is being widened at a cost of some 7 billion U.S. dollars.
Panama is also a banking center and has a stable economy with a government friendly to business. Panama has had one of the highest, protracted GDP growth rates in the world for years and there is little indication that the trend will abate anytime soon.
Panama uses the American dollar as its currency, locally called 'the Balboa'. If your savings and retirement income are denominated in dollars, you will always know where you stand and won't have to worry as much about dramatic currency fluctuations.
Panama has attractive incentives for retirees. The most famous of the several visa types available to foreigners who want to live in Panama is the Pensionado Visa. It offers numerous discounts to retirees and is accessible to anyone as long as a reasonable income threshold is met and the subject isn't considered undesirable.
My Personal Impressions of Panama
I visited Panama first in 2005. I have been back numerous times, at different times of the year, and love the country. Panama basically has two seasons, wet and dry. The idea of a wet season frightens some people because they understand that to mean wall to wall rain for several months. That is not the case. If you have spent any time in the Caribbean, you will remember that at certain times of year it will rain furiously for a few minutes or at most an hour or two and then the sun comes out and shortly everything is dry again. The run-off of the rain keeps grasses and flowers and shrubs fresh. One of my favorite pastimes in Panama is sitting on a covered patio when it is raining pell mell, sipping a coffee or an alcoholic libation of some sort. The air is fresh and alive, the sound of the rain pounding on the roof fills the air and it is a wonderful experience.
One short article can't do justice to all that Panama offers to individuals and families who wish to live there. To help you decide if Panama is where you would like to live to you, please check out the banner ads above this article.for more information. For a FREE, no obligation, Panama Report written by my company, click the link below to get a PDF version.
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