I am an early retiree who chose Panama as my retirement destination, or perhaps more genuinely, Panama chose me. It is well known that Panama is regarded as a top retirement destination, but what few people realize is that it’s also a great destination for early retirees. So, it’s not just those who are retired or are approaching the classic early retirement age of 62, but those who are retiring in their 50s or younger.
These younger retirees are supplied with the resources that allow them to reside in the country with something other than a retirement visa, affording them an uber lifestyle, one that is as special as they want it to be. In Panama, that can be a very special lifestyle indeed, with all of the leisure, cultural, and wildlife adventures that await. No mistake about it, a young retiree could certainly live their best life in Panama!
But not to be outdone are classic early retirees with a retirement visa, Pensionados, as they are called, who receive certain advantages because of their retiree status. Along with their Panamanian counterpart, Jubilados, Panama’s pensioners receive accommodations that may not seem like a lot, but are in fact welcomed and valued. It feels good as a mature person still active in society being treated and looked upon with appreciation and understanding. This is why I say Panama chose me.
The following are other reasons why I believe Panama is the perfect retirement destination for early retirees — no matter how old or young they are.
1. Ease Of Visa Process, Discounts, And Additional Benefits
As I presented in an earlier article, 9 Reasons I Decided To Spend My Retirement Years In Panama, early retirees are eligible to receive discounts. And, those who can qualify / for a retirement visa — by having the required minimum guaranteed monthly income of $1,000, a clean background report, and a health certificate — are also eligible.
In addition to discounts, retirees enjoy added benefits, like priority customer service treatment. For example, we all know how frustrating it is to have to wait in long lines to pay bills, or similar, when in public. Well, for retirees in Panama, aged 55 for women and 60 for men, there is a separate line for Jubilados, or where there are no retirees, you can go to the front of the line to transact your business. (How cool is that!)
I tell you I certainly can appreciate this accommodation because it allows me to get in and get out. Most times, I do pay online; however, there have been instances when I will find my jubilado/pensionado status permitting me to go to the front of a line. And, if you use public transportation, which I do frequently, it is a given that you will be able to sit on a crowded train or bus without even having to ask. A seat automatically opens up for you. As I mentioned earlier, I find these benefits to be helpful and supportive.
2. Permanent Residency For Indefinite Period Of Time
The immigration attorney handling your retirement visa will advise that in Panama all retirement visas are granted indefinitely to all retirees, as long as you are not out of the country for more than 2 consecutive years straight. If you are out of the country for any length of time, just be sure to get back before your 2-year clock runs out; and you would only need to stay for a short period of time to avoid forfeiting your permanent residency status.
3. Proximity To U.S. For Medical Emergencies
For early retirees who maintain Medicare coverage, Panama’s close proximity to the U.S. is a great benefit because, in less than 8 hours of travel time, you can find yourself back in the States for medical attention. It’s close enough for those unexpected emergencies, or for regularly scheduled appointments. Since Medicare is not accepted in Panama, many retirees utilize a couple of options, including private insurance and/or expat health insurance, when it concerns their healthcare needs.
4. Affordable, Quality Healthcare
Early retirees too young for Medicare and are otherwise in great physical shape can be relieved to know that Panama has excellent and affordable healthcare. Having been fortunate to be a wellness patient all my adult life, only requiring up to this point regular, yearly medical screenings and dental checkups, Panama’s healthcare has been a great comfort to me personally. Just knowing I have the option to keep up with yearly appointments — as well as the tremendous cost savings and other minor issues not requiring a return to the U.S. — is a substantial benefit.
5. Online Digital Opportunities
Panama allows for resident foreigners, including retirees, the ability to earn income online without having to pay taxes on that income. This is a great incentive for digital entrepreneurs and those retired at any age. The ability to supplement your retirement finances, should that be the case, is yet another incentive to relocate to this tropical haven. Having retired early on modest means, I am by necessity a digital entrepreneur, supplementing my income by earning online and providing tours, overseas relocation assistance, and retirement coaching.
6. Unique Cultures And Historical Characteristics
The rich, notable historical events that helped shape Panama also form the basis for its distinctive cultural diversity. From slave descendants of the 16th century being habituated and the Spanish influx of European ancestry and colonial influence, to the the African, West African, and Jamaican immigrants that worked on the Panama Canal in the 1900s, all have had their cultural presence and traditions expressed here for hundreds of years.
Two of the country’s seven indigenous tribes, the Guna and Embera, live out very traditional, well-preserved cultural identities. Their thriving cultures, together with a poignant mix of African and Spanish influence, all blend to create a fusion of societies that make up a diversified Panamanian heritage. Per Cultures.com, “Panama is the most diverse and multicultural country in Central America.”
Early retirees who settle here will appreciate how this melting pot of traditions and cultures live out their lives harmoniously to the country’s benefit. For many early retirees, especially those on expat journeys with specific objectives, you may find the attraction of international, interpersonal relationships and be part of a worldwide community — a major component of a successful expat experience.
7. A Quality Lifestyle With Value-Added
Panama’s laid-back, relaxing lifestyle can be enjoyed in all parts of the country and is a major appeal for retirees of all age groups who relocate here. From the beach to the mountains, and areas in between, the slow pace of life energizes you, and you feel awake to a full range of emotions. It is an invigorating place where you feel alive!
I often meet visitors who excitedly relate to how wonderful it all is! How liberating is it to be stress-free, strolling beachside to a daily sunrise or sunset of beautiful vistas. Or, experience the bustling pace of the capital city — jogging, cycling, or walking along the popular Cinta Costera, looking out at the ships on Panama Bay as they line up to traverse the Panama Canal. Panama offers all retirees the chance to let go and appreciate the simple pleasures of life, because here, the culture of “manana” implies that all is well and even better tomorrow!
Having the ability to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish, which is the mainstay of my diet, I am totally into the fresh food experience everywhere here. It’s especially apparent in the Panamanian neighborhoods where local fishmongers and fresh produce vendors visit each week, right at your door, delivering you fresh, quality foods and drinks at very reasonable prices.
Finally, what I appreciate most is the absence of harsh realities and daily experiences witnessed in so many countries. Panama has very strong weapons laws and sits outside the hurricane belt as well. All put together, the lifestyle I have experienced here has given me the beneficial change I needed from the daily grind and stress I experienced much of my working adult life.
When the opportunity for an early retirement presented itself, I knew I wanted to try out Panama, and after more than 3 years, for me, it has been a great decision to relocate and place roots here. But don’t just take my word for it, Panama is an easy-to-get-to getaway adventure — nearly perfect! And who knows, after you have seen for yourself, it just may turn out that you can say the same also.
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