Panama: One of the Easiest Places in the World to Retire

Sometimes the best way to see something is through someone else’s eyes.

For example, I know Panama. My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I lived in Panama City several years ago, and we’ve traveled nearly the entire country. We’ve also attended dozens of International Living events in Panama.

And yet I found myself marveling like a novice traveler at the tales told by the speakers and presenters this week at International Living’s Fast-Track Panama Conference at the new Hotel RIU in Panama City.


I’d actually forgotten one of Panama’s best features… one of the most important reasons that the country is so popular with expats young and old; experienced or just starting out.

I’d forgotten how easy Panama can be.

Don’t get me wrong—Panama is nothing if not exotic and out of the ordinary… vibrant local cultures mix with influences from around the globe thanks to the Panama Canal in a landscape of verdant mountains and beach-strewn coasts that just about defines “tropical paradise.”

And yet for all its exotic and unique features, Panama is one of the easiest places on earth for a North American to start a new life.

The reasons are really quite simple, as I remembered while listening to the many U.S. and Canadian expats who shared their stories with us during the Fast-Track Panama Conference.

Expats have been learning the ropes in Panama for more than a century. Even before the Panama Canal was built, trains, wagons, and carts were crossing the isthmus of Panama laden with people and goods traveling from one ocean to another. Back then, as today, many of those travelers found what they were looking for in Panama and decided to stay.

Which means that there are refreshingly few things that haven’t already been done by and for expats in Panama over the past century or so.

Ease into your new life when you retire to Panama

The theater groups are already putting on shows. The book clubs are already reading. The cooking classes are already cooking. The language schools are up and running. The community assistance organizations are assisting. The animal rescue groups are rescuing and placing pets of all descriptions. The expat business organizations are organized. Panamanian builders and re-modelers already know what North Americans want and  specialize in providing it.

In fact, almost anything that a North American expat would want to do or try or help out with or participate in or need is waiting for you in Panama.

Listening to our guest speakers talking about their experiences in Panama, I realized again what many of our other conference attendees were realizing for the first time… that much of the “grunt work” has been taken out of moving to Panama. The hard ground that many other countries present to potential expats has largely been plowed in Panama for you.

Add in the fact that Panama’s currency is the U.S. dollar and that many native Panamanians have been speaking English to their expat Canal Zone neighbors all their lives—and it’s easy to see why Panama is a natural first choice for so many North Americans wanting to trade in their old lives for something newer, healthier, and more affordable.

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