Panama: The Best Place in the World for Retiree Benefits
For anyone considering a move abroad, a well-rounded location has to offer more than just a warm climate or a low cost of living. Ease of travel, proximity to home, safety, and affordable health care are key. Panama excels in these areas, but it gets a top score in the Special Benefits for Retirees category with 100 points.
No other country in this Index makes it as quick, easy, and inexpensive to become a legal resident. Though there are many options for the would-be resident, the best known is Panama’s Pensionadoor pensioner program.
To be eligible to apply, all you need is a verifiable pension of at least $1,000 a month—the equivalent of a middle class salary in Panama. The program grants permanent residence and access to the same discounts Panamanian pensioners enjoy. And these discounts are in every area imaginable, across the board.
Enjoy entertainment? A first-run movie in Panama will cost you $5. But retiree residents pay 50% less. With few exceptions, they also get 30% off bus, boat, and train fares, 25% off airfare, 30% to 50% off hotel stays and 15% to 25% off at restaurants.
And while all these discounts on travel and entertainment make life here fun, there are many that also provide peace of mind. Take health care, for example. Pensionados in Panama get 20% off consults and professional services; 15% off hospital bills, dental appointments and eye exams; and at least 10% off medication, with drug stores going as high as 20%.
There are little clinics where you might not even bother asking for the discount. Where a consult costs $6 or less. But you can save even if you want to go to one of Panama City’sadvanced medical centers (all of which are affiliated with hospitals in the U.S.). See a prominent neurologist, allergy specialist, cardiologist…you name it…for 20% off the regular consult price of $40 to $75.
Foreign resident pensionados even get exemptions on everything from luxury taxes on cars to closing costs on home loans. The best part about being a retiree resident in Panama is the way people treat you. There is a culture of respect and courtesy here. People will stand to offer a seat. Send you to the front of the line. And at banks there are special windows for retirees, so they don’t have to stand and wait for long.—Jessica Ramesch