When I decided to get away from the cold winters of Colorado, Panama attracted me with its warmer climate, low cost of living, and first-rate infrastructure. That alone was worth moving for…but as a retiree here, it gets even better.
One of the national laws of Panama can make the already low cost of living even lower. Law #6 entitles any resident of the country who is a female over 55 or male over 60 to receive a discount on specific services.Called the Jubilado Discuenta it’s mandated by law for all Panama residents. And expats with a temporary or permanent visa qualify for this program too.
To give you an idea of how the Jubilado discount can help with everyday costs, my average water/garbage bill is $16. With the Jubilado discount, I pay $12.
My average electric bill is $50 so with the 25% off, it comes down to $37.50. The discount amounts differ depending on the service covered. You’ll also get 25% off a basic residential phone service.
I also get discounts on public transport. The cost of a ticket for local bus services or long-distance buses within Panama get a 30% discount. Panama trains and boats give 30% off. Although the bus fare from David to Panama City is already reasonable at $15, with my Jubilado I paid only $10.60 each way for a savings of $8.80.
The Jubilado discount also gives me hotel discounts of 50% off Monday through Thursday and 30% off for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. These discounts apply to the rack rate. A tip…you have to ask for these discounts at the time of booking—make your reservations directly with the hotel and asking what the rack rate is. Making your booking online will not give you the option for this discount.
Last month I went for mid-week outing to the beach. I did not make a reservation but asked for my Jubilado discount when I arrived at the hotel asking for a room. I was told the rack rate was $95 so I was charged $47.50 plus tax for an overnight stay. Not bad for an ocean view room.
You can even get discounts on flights out of the country…there is a 25% discount on Panama airlines. Again, these discounts cannot be gotten by making online reservations. You must reserve tickets and get your discount at local travel agencies or the local airline offices.
Medical expenses are another area where I get to take advantage of these Jubilado discounts. Doctor’s visits, ongoing prescription medications , as well as over the counter medicines are all cheaper when you’re part of this program. It is great to get discounts on cold medications, cough syrup and even aspirin. All doctor’s prescriptions and over the counter medicines get a 10% discount with the Jubilado.
You can receive 15% off services in hospitals and private clinics. Medical doctor’s fees are reduced by 20%. Dentists give a 15% discount.
Optometric examinations are required to have a 15% discount under the plan. I recently had an appointment with an optometrist. As I was purchasing new lenses she didn’t charge me for the exam. The cost for the lenses was $305…but with my Jubilado discount of 10%, I saved myself $30.50.
The entertainment discounts are great too. I get 50% off tickets to movies, theaters and all sporting events like baseball games and soccer…so first-run movies that normally cost $3.50 set me back just $1.75.
Eating out is also cheaper when you’re a Jubilado. Sit-down restaurants offer a 25% discount when you purchase a full meal. Be aware that the restaurant does not have to give a discount if it has less than five tables to serve people. Fast food restaurants are required to give a 15% discount. A recent visit to a new upscale restaurant for a buffet lunch cost me $10.50 with the discount instead of the usual $14. With a savings of $3.50, every fourth lunch is basically free.
Another great advantage to being a Jubilado is that I get my own lines at banks, utility companies and anywhere else where you have to queue. In my particular bank, I can stand in the Jubilado line. If there are three tellers and 20 people in the regular line, everyone must wait until the Jubilados are served first. And everyone complies with kindness towards the Jubilados, knowing someday they will get their turn.
Adding up all the savings in a month…in addition to the already affordable cost of living…it’s not hard to see how inexpensive living in Panama can be. It is just the icing on the cake for an already great place to live.
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