Retiring in Panama Pros and Cons

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Panama, located in Central America, stands out among the world’s ex-pat destinations. It’s the beauty of all countries! Panama is connected with many destinations in the Caribbean, North and South America and parts of Western Europe. The current population of Panama is 4,371,796 as of Thursday, May 6, 2021. 

Panama has two cruise ship ports along the Caribbean and at Amador. Thousands of tourists visit The Panama Canal each year. The majority of travelers fly into Panama’s main international airport, the Tocumen International Airport. It’s fairly modern, convenient and is 15 miles east of downtown Panama City. The airport includes ATMs, a bank and ATP booths. 

Speaking of which, Panama’s currency is the U.S. dollar, but the Panamanian balboa circulates in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent coins. The Panamanian Balboa is pegged to the dollar at a 1:1 ratio. Balboa coins and their U.S. counterparts are sized quite similar. Identifying their value won’t be a problem for travelers. 

Retiring in Panama can be beneficial for most people, but a mistake for others. If you do decide to retire in Panama, you should be there to stay. You don’t want to end up going back home thinking it was a mistake. It’s best to know all that Panama has to offer, and all that it doesn’t have to offer first. In this article, you will read about the pros and cons of retiring in Panama. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Retiring in Panama?

Panama has a lot to offer for those of you retiring. But you must keep in mind that there are also downsides to retiring in Panama. Do the pros outway the cons? Do the cons outway the pros? Keep reading to find out. 


Safe for Expats to Live In

Panama is relatively safe to live in. Of course, it does contain crime, just like every other place in the world. But the usual crime is petty theft. Just use the same common sense you would in any other setting and you’ll be fine. Many Panamanians don’t even like confrontation. They’ll try to avoid it at all costs. 

Most of the ex-pats in Panama are retired. This is thanks to the Pensionado program. It provides retirees with discounts and a relaxed process of visa. Panama City contains a younger ex-pat scene. 

Uses the U.S. Dollar

If a currency has ever been a problem elsewhere, it’s not a problem here in Panama. The U.S. dollar is its official currency. This makes doing business and living in Panama much easier. ATMs are quite easy to use. International wire transfers are more straightforward. It makes purchasing items just like home. Also, most U.S. credit cards don’t bother charging extra fees for making any Panama purchases.

Residents are Happy People

Panamanians are normally always happy and cheerful people. They love their country. They’ll even provide help to you regardless of the language you speak. 

Affordable Cost of Living

When it comes to the cost of living in Panama, there’s a lot of variety and value. You can live quite well on much less than a lot of other countries. Many ex-pats live on monthly budgets that range from $1,000 to $10,000. It’s relatively cheap to rent a home in Panama. This is especially in rural areas. That’s where friendly locals can assist you with anything you might need.

High-Quality Healthcare

Panama provides one of the best healthcare systems in Latin America. Moving to Panama will ensure that you have access to high-quality healthcare. They have both private and public healthcare systems. It’s very inexpensive too. They’re much less than North America. Panama City provides top-notch medical facilities, high-quality equipment and well-trained doctors.

Modern Infrastructure

Panama’s infrastructure is also the best in Latin America. They’re always building new roads and bridges, and keeping them maintained. The cell phone service is good and there’s reliable internet countrywide. The intermittent electricity outages become less and less every year. Also, in most of the Panama areas, you’ll be provided with nice drinking water coming from the faucet of your kitchen. 

Cities, Mountains and Beaches

Panama may be a tiny country, but it’s one of the most diverse countries you’ll ever find. It’s astounding to those who come expecting Third-World conditions. There are extremely long coastlines that provide countless opportunities for waterside living. You can even go fishing, surfing, scuba diving and more. 

Panama has also forever been a business destination, even though tourism is a burgeoning industry. There’s no racial tension, cause Panama is considered the land of opportunity. Mountain hamlets boast cooler climates to be this far south of the border. There are tropical rainforests, a ton of islands and plenty of rural areas for farm-loving types.

Resident Retirees Can Avail of Many Benefits and Discounts, Such as:


Embraces the “Mañana” Effect- Nothing Moves Fast in Panama

In Panama, they embrace the Manana Effect, meaning when they say tomorrow, it really just means not today. It could be any day, except today. It can be quite frustrating for ex-pats to get used to until you’ve adjusted to having a slower lifestyle. Relax and stay calm, whatever it is it will get done, eventually. 

The Weather is Hot and Humid

Panama’s weather is sunny almost every day of the year. It’s in the rainforest so it annually receives about 60-140 inches of rain depending on where you live. It ranges from the mid-70s to high-80s at sea level temperatures. 

Name Brand Product Availability

Sadly, there is no Walmart in Panama. In a small populated country, there are not many diverse products or brands in stores. It isn’t financially possible for store owners to do that. Say goodbye to those favorite brands found in other places. Local brands are cheaper than imported brands anyway.

Bureaucratic Problems

As mentioned before, Panama moves slow and criticizing it won’t make it go any faster. 

You’re gonna need time and patience to see anything get completed at a government office in Panama. It’s nothing like the U.S., so don’t expect it to be.

Love to Party and Enjoy Life

Parties are quite the norm here and will usually last from night to early morning. You may eventually start partying along with them and socializing with your neighbors of Panama. The motto is “work to live, not live to work”.

What’s the Quality of Life in Panama?

Panama is wildly influenced by the U.S. and has a huge impact on the reason for ex-pats choosing this place. There’s also a wide indigenous population and a substantial amount of cultural activities. There is plenty of food with grocery stores often carrying imports of your most enjoyed items. 

Panama City is considered to be a cosmopolitan city and an ideal place for ex-pats on a sophisticated budget with a love for diverse food and cultural scene. Panama has a similar vibe to Hong Kong and Miami. Restoration efforts are now underway in Casco Viejo, Panama City’s oldest part. This spot is perfect for going out and grows in popularity now that it’s becoming safer to visit at night.

What Does it Cost to Live in Panama?

Does Panama have free healthcare?

When thinking about retiring in Panama, a burning question might be if Panama has free healthcare or not. Healthcare does cost, but the prices are much less than residents of first-world countries. Procedures are as little as half to a fourth of the cost of what they’d run in the U.S. This is why when comparing different aspects of healthcare here, low costs are a big plus. 

A lot of foreign Panama residents choose to purchase international health insurance. It covers them no matter what country they are in. You can also live in Panama without insurance and just simply pay the full price for any medical treatment.

Can I Collect Social Security in Panama?

Once you’re living in Panama, you’ll want to collect social security there. Retirement benefits are granted to all residents and citizens of Panama who are of a certain age. Men can claim these benefits at 62 years of age, women at 57. The Ministry of Social Development runs the social security system there. It applies to both the public and private sectors. 

The contributions are paid by the employers as well as the employees. Workers that are self-employed have the option to make voluntary contributions. Foreigners that work for Panama-based companies are covered as well. 


Now that you know the pros and cons of retiring in Panama, you can factor that into your final decision. For more information, please visit our website or contact us today!

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