Panama takes the top spot in InternationalLiving.com’s 2016 Annual Global Retirement Index.
Months of research goes into compiling this Index and InternationalLiving.com’s editors are helped by their large team of expat contributors based around the world, who help collect the data and offer input used to identify, rank, rate, compare, and contrast the very best retirement destinations in the world.
International Living’s Index combines real-world insights about climate, healthcare, cost of living, renting, and much more to draw up a comprehensive list of the best retirement destinations on the planet. Twenty-three countries made it on to the list this year with Panama receiving the highest score.
“For most of the expats who have chosen Panama as their home, the welcoming people and the variety of climates and landscapes are some of the things that make this a great place to live. More importantly, the overall value and convenience of life in Panama is hard to beat,” reports InternationalLiving.com Panama editor Jessica Ramesch.
“There are plenty of places on our Index which offer beautiful beaches, verdant rainforests, friendly locals, and excellent healthcare. But Panama packs a punch because it offers all of the above and more.”
Panama receives high scores across the board in all 10 categories considered to compile this Index, getting an overall score of 93.5 out of 100.
“We’re healthier and living a better lifestyle here than we ever did in the U.S.,” says expat Mitzi Martain, who has lived on her farm near Santa Fe, Panama for nearly nine years. “And our Social Security income covers all our monthly expenses.”
Mitzi and her husband Bill are two of the approximately 50,000 U.S. expats who have found their piece of paradise in Panama.
One of the major draws of a retirement in Panama is that the country offers one of the best retirement programs in the world—the Pensionado program.
To apply, expats need to have a pension of at least $1,000 a month and be over 18 years of age. Benefits include 50% off entertainment (such as cinema tickets, concerts, plays), 25% off electricity, 25% off restaurants, and 25% off airline tickets bought in Panama.
Other benefits include 15% off hospital bills, 20% off medical consultations, and 10% off prescription medicines.
Panama’s cities are home to world-class hospitals and many medical professionals trained in the U.S.
“The cost for a doctor is very reasonable,” says InternationalLiving.com Chiriquí Correspondent Linda Card. “I have a friend who pays just $10 at one clinic, and the most I’ve ever paid in Chiriquí is $50 to a specialist. Your doctors will often speak English, too, and they are far easier to access than back home.”
With cities, the highlands and the beaches all in one country, Panama offers a wide variety of choice for retirees.
“Get out of the cosmopolitan capital of Panama City, and you’ll find an incredible variety of landscapes to explore,” reports Ramesch. The beaches of Coronado and Gorgona are just an hour’s drive away. Here, expat residents live in oceanview condos for as little as $1,500 a month. All told, expenses can be as low as $2,500 a month. Communities here are active, engaging in everything from golf, horseback riding, and tennis to games, charity work, teaching, and more.”
There’s plenty to do in Panama’s highlands, too, which offer a cooler climate to the beaches. The well-established expat community in the mountain town of Boquete, for example, is known for hosting incredible activities, and newcomers connect and make friends easily.
“No matter what you’re looking for…in terms of climate, budget, convenience, or anything else…Panama is likely to check all the boxes,” says Ramesch.
The full report on why Panama is the best place in the world to retire in 2016 can be read here: Panama: The World’s Best Retirement Haven in 2016.
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