In accordance with International Living’s 31st Annual Global Retirement Index, Panama has been named the world’s #1 destination for 2022. This Index, produced in accordance with numerous statistics and on-the-ground input from in-country correspondents, ranks and rates the world’s leading retirement locations. The index surveys 10 major categories that include cost of living, retiree benefits, healthcare and more.
Panama snatches the top spot in InternationalLiving.com’s 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index. Panama capped the categories of opportunity, visa/ residency and benefits/ discounts, while scoring at the top amongst the fitting in and healthcare categories.
For such a small country, Panama is truly emerging – this marks the 11th time that Panama has dominated in International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index, for all the right reasons.
In 2022, Panama ranks as one of the simplest retirement destinations for travel from the United States or Canada. Panama City, the capital of Panama, is the one true First World city in Central America. Easy access to Panama from all over the U.S. increases the flexibility for travel, with several one-way flights available across the U.S., and cities in Canada and Europe. The modernity of Panama is only a short three hours from Miami, and five hours from New York. Not to mention, the currency is also the U.S. dollar!
Jessica Ramesch, the International Living Panama editor reflects on her experience in the country, stating, “as a single woman I feel safe and free to live my life here, whether I’m going out to dinner and Ubering home late at night or driving cross-country to visit friends. Perhaps that’s because this is truly a land of opportunity, home to thousands of hard-working, upwardly mobile locals and immigrants.”
Ramsech continues her advocation for Panama, touching on the accessibility, indulgences, and credibility of the country. She states, “My favorite spot right now is Coronado, a happening beach town just an hour’s drive from the capital. In fact, I like it so much I bought an apartment there, and am packing up to move. Coronado is home to one of Panama’s most active and welcoming expat communities. I’m not even there yet, and I’m already getting invites to potlucks and happy hours.”
No matter where retirees choose to live in Panama, Ramesch says, they’re likely to be only an hour away from hospitals. In Coronado there’s access to the San Fernando facility. It’s a satellite of the San Fernando in Panama City—a JCI-accredited hospital affiliated with the Miami Children’s Hospital, Baptist Health International of Miami, and Tulane University Health Services Center and Hospital Clinic.
“Panamanian doctors make patients feel truly cared for,” says Ramesch. “They don’t rush through appointments, and they’ll often give you their cell phone number so you have direct access to them while you’re going through treatment or recovery.
“In fact, I’d say Panamanians in general are the best part of living in Panama. I have made so many wonderful friends here. People who are welcoming and fun and have a wide range of interests, so the conversation is always engaging.”
According to International Living, one of the most attractive features of living in Panama stems from the Pensionado program suitable for retirees.
Ramesch declares her support for the program, declaring, “the Pensionado program is, hands down, the best retirement visa program in the world. It’s a big reason Panama has taken the number one spot on International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index so many times.”
Part of the reason for why Panama continues to steal those number one spots is due to the discounts that retirees with this visa have access to. The program makes it exceptionally simple – and inexpensive – to become a permanent legal resident. All of Panama’s legal residents are permitted to 20% off prescription medications if they’re of “pensioner” age. The base age is remarkably low, too – just 55 for women, 60 for men.
The Pensionado advantages expand to other discounts on dental care and transportation. Other leisure’s such as entertainment and hotel stays are available at low-cost rates, too.
Applicants with income of at least $1,000 a month qualify for the Pensionado program, and once you’re approved, you can appreciate all of the reductions.
“If you’d like to apply with your spouse, you can qualify with less than $1,000 each. You can even include dependents if you need to,” says Ramesch. “You just need a pension of at least $1,000 plus $250 for each additional person on your application.
“The $1,000 pension requirement reflects the low cost of living here in Panama. While it’s true that most of the North Americans who’ve chosen to retire here spend upwards of $2,000 a month, there are expats living here on far less.”
There are great areas in Panama that have rent prices as low as $300 to $500 a month, leaving extra money for retirees to spend elsewhere.
For those not 100% ready to make the permanent move just yet, Panama has a variety of alternatives for legal residency.
“The country has just unveiled a new extended-stay visa for digital-nomad types: The Temporary Telework Visa,” Ramesch says. “It allows you to come down and stay here—not for three months or even six, but for nine months. And you can extend for an additional nine months. That’s a generous total of 18 months, and the main requirements are simple: you must have medical insurance and an external source of income (at least $3,000 a month).”
Panama, too, has a “Foreign Professionals” Visa that has been available for over eight years. It allows foreign nationals to work in Panama, with easy requirements; you need a university education and a job arranged in Panama.
Though Panama ranks at the top in this year’s Annual Global Retirement Index, there are 25 other countries that were evaluated in the 10 categories used for judging, including; housing, benefits/ discounts, visa/residence, cost of living, fitting in/ entertainment, healthcare, development, climate, opportunity and governance. The full index country rankings for the year of 2022 can be found HERE.