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Daryl Ries of Keller Williams Panama, associate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Former president of Panama Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berroca – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingGenerally speaking, if you expect that things don’t change and that what you see today will be the same as in a year, two years, or five years and definitely ten years, that is a bad reason to retire to Panama. Everything changes and you must be ready for that change if you are going to stabilize and get the most out of your existence in a new country, especially acknowledging that you’ve had to make those same adjustments in your own country.
 
Upon becoming involved in Panama, the first decision is to become a permanent resident.  In the past, the wait time was less and you needed to supply less information. It will only get harder as the country fills up with foreigners and as the economics change for the better, which means things will get more expensive. You have to take into consideration what the growth of Panama will look like in 5 to 10 years from you being there. If you don’t, you will have lost the entitlements you could have gotten, and that would be foolish.
 
I believe that a lot of Americans don’t even understand the entitlements they have in their own country and then they go to another country and they expect those entitlements. They may miss opportunities or they believe that those opportunities are due them without acting immediately upon them. You have to take a look at the economy, the value of real estate, the projection of the country in general; all those things that will stabilize your income, investment, and health insurance in that country. Nothing stays the same. And so, whether you’re going to live in Panama another 5, 10, 15, 20 years, these are things you have to look at.
 
Since I arrived in Panama 10 years ago, many things have changed for the better and some things not for the better.  You have to be aware and take advantage of everything that is offered to you when you step into that country and make an assessment. I am so glad I arrived in Panama 10 years ago when there was more available for less and Panama will continue that trajectory, just like everywhere else in the world.  
 
(Former president of Panama Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berroca, Panama City, Panama, pictured.)
Chris Frochaux of Chris Frochaux - SERVMOR REALTY – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The worst reason to retire to Panama is based on out-of-date information found all over the Internet... Many things are true and likely to remain so. For example, there are no hurricanes in Panamá, the political system is stable, Panama doesn't print currency, there is no army and it rarely snows. Panamanians are not bi-lingual, although many of them are (especially those who went to college in the US). If this is vital requirement, you may consider moving to Canada instead. The worst reason to retire to Panama is because you have heard or read in some website that Panama is CHEAP. As of this writing, (May 2013) Panama is definitely cheaper than many comparable locations (good luck purchasing an oceanfront apartment in Singapore, for example) especially in the personal services sector, such as domestic help. Thirteen years ago, when I was living in Manhattan, I marveled at the low cost of everything in Panama, particularly restaurant meals. Prices are however starting to catch up. Whenever the numbers of foreign investors in a given location start to swell, property prices tend to rise accordingly and the wages of local employees are bound to increase. 
Ron Hunter of Finca Cazador – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Road of off the grid living at Finca Cazador, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI see a lot of things here in Panama that irritate me and I see it day per day. I see a lot of older expats who move to Panama because it’s very easy for an older gentleman to find a very young and beautiful Panamanian female. That’s the norm here in Panama. To come here for that reason is, in my opinion, questionable. 
 
I’m that person. I’m older and I have a very young Panamanian wife whom I’ve been with for 10 years and whose child I’m raising. But I didn’t come to Panama to find a young and beautiful Panamanian woman. I came to Panama for a host of other reasons. I see a lot of old gringos who are clearly here in Panama for that reason. It happens everywhere in the world. That’s what’s going on here in Panama.
 
I also see a lot of expats who come to Panama only because it’s much cheaper to live here by a huge factor. They’re here in Panama because it’s very affordable, but they’re always complaining about Panama. Why in the world are you here, then? Those are some things that irritate me as an expat. 
 
I see other expats here in Panama who are enjoying the benefits of being here- the beautiful climate, friendly locals, and having everything as easy going, but as soon as they go to get their cars registered and it takes them half a day whereas in Arizona or wherever they’re from, it would have taken them only 15 minutes, they’d be upset because it took so long. 
 
A lot of expats come here and relish the good, but all they do is complain about the things that don’t seem right. I see a lot of expats here constantly complaining, but they’re living their life. Those kinds of expats, as far as I’m concerned, probably shouldn’t be anywhere other than where they came from. 
 
The cost differential is huge in Panama, and you can live very comfortably on less. If you had your own house and car paid for, for $500 a month, where I live would be a king’s ransom. My farm’s electricity costs about $25 - $35 a month. I go and buy a fillet tenderloin and pork at the local butcher and it costs me $15. I bought hamburger meat at the local butcher here in Río Sereno for $2 a pound. In Volcán Barú, that hamburger meat costs $4 a pound. 
 
It costs less to live in Río Sereno by a huge margin. For example, my car insurance costs about $185 a year, which is the amount I used to pay monthly in the States. A lot of expats come to Panama to save money, but if you’re a guest in somebody else’s country, it serves you well to keep your mouth closed about things you don’t like.
 
(Road to off the grid living at Finca Cazador, Rio Sereno,Panama, pictured.)
Mirhanna Sandoya of Lucero Homes, Golf & Country Club – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Father's Day at Lucero Home and Golf, Boquete, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingLet’s talk from my personal experience if I were to retire somewhere else in the world for example. Living away from my family in Panama for so long made me cherish my family a lot more, and now that I’m with them, it’s different. It’s better between my family and me- we have a closer relationship. I think that retiring in another country or in another continent may have that effect on some people- not seeing their family, or not being as close to their children or grandchildren as they would like to. 
 
Being in a place with a different culture means that sometimes there are things that you will still not understand no matter how many years you live there; there are still things that you will find probably too different or inconvenient. For example, things in Panama are a little bit slower compared to the United States or Taiwan. Panamanians take a little bit longer. The Latin American culture, even though it’s a stigma or a stereotype, are a little bit laid back and a little bit more relaxed, so if you come from a country where everything has to be done right away in the time I said so, you may feel a little bit uncomfortable. You may have to wait a little bit more, like if you are scheduled to meet someone at 3 o’clock, you may meet at 3:15, or probably 3:30.
 
If you are not willing to be a little bit more relaxed, and if you’re stuck into these time frameworks you’re used to, then it may be difficult for you to adjust in Panama. Panama is a very beautiful place. It has a great climate, healthcare, and transportation.
 
(Father's Day at Lucero Home and Golf, Boquete, Panama, pictured.)
Mike Vuytowecz of Inside Panama Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Modern house, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe worst reason to retire to Panama is to expect a much less expensive lifestyle and yet have the same comforts of home. That would be a mistake. There are definitely adjustments that you have to make. Their philosophy is different than ours, their education system is different than ours and the things that they value are different than ours. So you definitely have to yield to their culture. 
 
You can live for less money here in Panama.  However, the cost of living in Panama, like everywhere else, where there is significant demand, is going up for sure. It’s not quite as affordable as it was when I first moved here. However, it’s not quite as affordable anywhere in the world as it was 10 years ago. So yes, you can still live very affordably in Panama and perhaps you may have to make some adjustments as well. The average Panamanian makes less than $1,000 a month and they’ve been living there for a very long time. So again, if we come with North American expectations, we may find that it’s not as affordable as we thought; hence, we make some adjustments on how we live.
 
If you sold your home in the US and you took the money to purchase a home in Panama, once the housing component is out of the way, you can certainly live very comfortably for $2,000 a month. That should be the case anywhere in Panama.
 
(Modern house, Panama, pictured.)
David Bayliss of KW PACIFICA – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
View of golf course from condo in Decameron, near Coronado, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe number one worst reason to retire in Panama is if you think coming here is going to fix your dysfunctional marriage. It may or it may not.
 
If you are moving to Panama because Panama has something to prove to you then Panama is probably not going to prove it to you.
 
If a little trash on the side of the road makes you turn around and go back, then Panama might not be for you. In fact that is my personal pet peeve, but it has improved greatly. The government is now picking up trash from all the roads on a regular basis. With that being said, people still throw more trash out that window of their car than I would ever like to see. If I were ever put in jail, it would probably be because somebody threw trash out and that was finally the moment that I put it back in his or her car.
 
The last worst reason for retiring in Panama is if you do not want to make friends, in which case it is probably not going to be a good experience for you. I talked to people who left Panama and they said they didn’t make any friends. I asked what they did to make friends and they didn’t give me an answer. You need to make an effort to meet people and as soon as you make an effort to meet people, you’ll be fine. There is a Wednesday expat happy hour in Coronado that gets about 250 expats and if you go to that and say, “Hi, would somebody play golf with me?” then you will have friends. The same thing occurs in Panama City.
 
(Pictured: view of golf course from condo in Decameron, near Coronado, Panama.)
 
Eddie Montes of Panama Property Rentals – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
1981 Datsun Laurel sold in Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingBack in the 1980s, there was what was considered some “shady business” going on here in Panama, so there is probably still some presence of some money laundering, drug activity, and, sexual tourism.  These are some of the worst reasons that some people have to move to Panama, and these are not good reasons to move to any country.
 
(1981 Datsun Laurel sold in Panama, pictured. )
kevin obrien of BarefootPanama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Beach sunset in Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingPeople who look for good high quality service should not come to Panama because one of the worst reasons to retire to Panama is that they have no customer service. That’s the big one that is lacking. It covers a lot of ground, too. You cannot expect the simple reliability of things that you are used to. 
 
If you are looking for what you have, don’t leave it. Living here is something totally different so I guess the more adventurous type of people are going to find their niche here, whereas, those who are expecting what they’re leaving behind, are going to be less happy.  
 
If you’re a disabled person, don’t even get on the plane to Panama because there’s no sidewalks and safety measures, or anything like that. If you are in any way disabled, forget it. It can’t work and there is no service whatsoever for them. They can stay in the States or in Canada. 
 
(Pictured: beach sunset in Panama.)
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
the Gringo Guide to Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWhen you think about moving, especially in your "golden years," and even more specifically, if you are a "baby boomer," when all your memories of when you were growing up in a country with a strong economy and strong values are certainly very different than the current reality, it is something that you must plan very carefully, and ask yourself the real reason why you would like to leave your country that you know so well, and leave behind everything you have considered so dear until now.

Of course, there are certain "basic" reasons to consider, for example:
  • have a new adventure
  • lower cost of living
  • better quality of life
  • getting a new partner
  • a classic and unique country in which to write a book
From these reasons, we can generalize them all into one: you are simply considering a change.  And what would that change be?  How would that affect your life?  That´s the question you should ask yourself.  Where would I go that offers me a better option than what I had all my life?  Then, you analyze your options: What is better, and what is worse?

Here are some simple "worst" possibilities to retire into Panamá:
  • Maybe you will not speak the language
  • Maybe you will have specific problems to get around at first.
  • Maybe the laws are not enforced the way you are used to in some other countries.
  • You're concerned about corruption (but corruption is a virus in every country).
BUT, contrary to this, here are some exceptionally good reasons to retire in Panamá:
  • Beautiful environment.
  • Warm and friendly people.
  • The capital city is very cosmopolitan city.
  • The economy is the envy of the world.
  • It has a budget for everyone, even those living on Social Security.
  • Gorgeous weather all year round.
  • No snow, no earthquakes, no tornados, only a little flooding here and there.
  • You can choose either city, or country life.
  • An envious cultural combination between old and modern life, only hours away from each other by car.
  • Chose a housing protocol between single homes, condos, apartments, gated community, isolated cabin, expat community, resorts.
  • A tremendous variety of mountains, rivers, warm or cool weather, or simply, a social life in the city.
  • Hundreds of beautiful islands to chose from, to visit or in which to set up your home.
  • An excellent source for outdoor adventures.
  • One of the most extensive places on earth for exotic and rear plants, primary forests, rainforest, birds.
  • A place that has it all for shopping, from one pin to one airplane at great low prices, or the most famous brand at very expensive prices.  Your call.
  • A place where all legal retirees benefit with a discounts (that goes from 50% to 10%) on airlines, medical bills, pharmacies, movies, metro, train, restaurants, among others.
  • A place where you make friends so easily.
  • The only place on earth where you can go from one ocean (Caribbean) to another (Pacific) in only one hour and a half.
  • In other words, a place where you can ENJOY your golden years, with dignity and happiness, if you are seeking a better quality of life, in a place that is not perfect, but picturesque and unique.
(Best Places in the World to Retire contributor and best selling author, Elizabeth Vance's book, The Gringo Guide to Panama, pictured.)
Linda Jensen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Odette_Cortez_en_la_portada_de_la_Colección_Primavera_Verano_de_Vergara_&_Vergara_Couture (1) – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe number one reason people should not retire to Panama is if they come with the attitude that it will be just like America. They should stay at home if they feel that way because they can’t be happy if they can’t adjust to the different pace of the lifestyle here in Panama, to the fact that not all stores have American products, that some things are not that convenient. We learned to deal with inconvenience in all walks of life and in all countries. It is different here. So if you come with the attitude that it is going to be just like America, you will be disappointed and you will only stay for a short time. 
 
If you are a person who is used to fine and upscale lifestyle, I think you should stay in America. They have an upscale lifestyle available here by the way, but it is a different type of lifestyle and I am not sure that you can compare the upscale lifestyle in the US to the lifestyle here. 
 
Here in Boquete, for example, you don’t have Dillard’s, you don’t have Macy’s, you don’t have the higher end Neiman Marcus stores, but things are good here in Panama, although it is not the same kind of shopping mall as America. Here in Boquete, it is not American- style when you go to a shopping mall, but you almost feel like you are at home, except that it is not that American-upscale. I don’t miss that, I really don’t. I am very happy with what we do have here in Boquete, but if you are a person who would miss that, you would find yourself unhappy, and wanting to go back to America more often.  (If you really like American-style shopping, Panama does have it, but only in Panama City and the areas just around it, not that much in Boquete.)
 
Panamanian Dancer Odette Cortez  modeling for the Panama City boutique, Vergara & Vergara, pictured.)
Charles Conn of The Visitor – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
1912 old railroad cars used for housing for Canal construction laborers. Houses and bar, Cafe Manana – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living
If you are expecting for the culture here in Panama to be like the American culture, it is not. One of the things that drive people insane is that difference in culture. They call the culture here in Panama “The Mañana Culture.” When you ask someone when something is going to happen, they will answer, “Mañana” (which means “later,” or “tomorrow”).
 
If you come here with that American attitude that everything needs to happen now and on time and precisely at the moment you say it, here in Panama, that is seen as an intense way to be and people aren’t like that. So people who need the American style of doing things will find a big headache moving here to Panama. There is a huge cultural difference and you have to be aware of that.
 
(Railway cars  were made into homes and businesses, like Cafe Mañana for the Canal construction workers, pictured in 1912 above.)
Michael A. Martinez of B & B Real Estate Nicaragua / Panama Real Estate Information – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Throughout Central America, a common incident happens where a guy meets a girl on his vacation and winds up marrying her without knowing her and then living there, only to realize later on that things weren’t as he dreamt. I think that is the worst reason for coming to Panama; because you meet somebody who will be with you because you are 50 and she is 20 or 30.
 
Don’t come here just to marry or get a bride. You have to come here and know the people. Sure, you can turn that into a prospect and maybe in the process find a wife because you can live a good life here, but do not make it the main reason for coming to Panama.
 
If anyone out there is thinking of moving to Panama, thinking that it is one way to evade the law or taxes, there is no safe place anymore. This is a destination known by every agency in the world. So if you are coming here to hide, there is no hiding here.
Lucia Haines of Panama Realtor Inc. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I think the number one worst reason to retire to Panama is when you are running from the law.  If you are running from the law, do not come to Panama, because you will almost always get caught.  Panama has really strong ties with the United States, and there are pretty strong extradition laws.
 
The second worst reason why people leave their home country is because they are unhappy there. I personally have noticed that there are a lot of people who are unhappy where they are, and they think that moving to another country will fix that. Most of the time it does not.
 
If you are thinking about moving to Panama, you have to analyze where you are and what you are looking for. It is a really personal decision, and it is a big move, especially for people who have lived their entire lives in the United States. Living in another country is very different from living in the United States, in terms of language, in terms of conveniences, in terms of traditions and customs, driving, shopping; many, many things. People come to Panama thinking that moving here is going to fix things and provide a fresh start, but it is not easy. And you kind of have to be very open-minded and willing to move forward. The local word for this is “adelante”; you just kind of have to move yourself forward.
Terry Bradford of Origen Real Estate Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Here in Panama, we do not have to put up with political correctness and the ever-changing regulations and laws that are absolutely ridiculous. Also, we feel safe here in Panama. There is turmoil going on in almost every part of the world, but not here. Panamanians cannot even believe some of the bad things that have happened in the US. They can't conceive that somebody would go to a church, school, or a movie theater and shoot somebody. Panamanians are too grounded in God.
 
The other good reason to retire in Panama is the strong economy. The employment rate is close to zero. Panama’s GDP is almost at 11%. A couple of years ago, I think I heard that the US has a 2.5% GDP. It may be lower now. The information you get on television is not the same as some particular sites that are more inclined to tell the truth, because the TV news is slanted to not bring fear to the people in the US, so that they might stay there. But when you come to Panama, and you are surrounded by people from every different walk of life, such as people from France, Italy, Denmark, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Russia, and others, and you talk to them, the sad part about living here as an American, is they are laughing at us. They are laughing at the United States and that hurts us very deeply.
James David Audlin of Editores Volcán Barú – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
There are two worst reasons for retiring to Panamá.
 
One is to hang with other gringos, speaking only English. If you do that, you miss out on getting to know the Panamanian people, who, in all of my world travels, I have found to be among the most delightful and interesting. Even if you only speak a few words of execrable Spanish, use them; people here are delighted when foreigners give Spanish a try. Don't be afraid of Panamanians!

The second is to show off. I have lost count of the gringos who were just middle-class back in the States who come here, find their money goes a lot farther, and set out to build ostentatious McMansions and pretend they're Warren Buffett. These are the homes that get robbed.

If you come here for the wonderful culture, the gorgeous scenery, the great food, the delightful Panamanian people, you're on a far better path.
 
Bill Hamilton of Bill Hamilton – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The worst reasons to retire in Panama is if one cannot adapt to the culture or way of life. Tolerance and adaptation is all important. Do not expect the same service or attitudes that you have in your own country.
 
Also consider what you intend to do once you are retired. If you like nature, beaches and the associated hobbies then you will be fine and kept occupied.
 
Learn the language as there are many centers where you can enroll. Someone once said to me "The Panamanians don`t like us foreigners, they don`t talk to us".  I replied that it was merely the case that they could not talk to them if they did not speak Spanish! So very important to adapt. 
Roy Cannon of Gestoria Cocle - main office in Penoneme – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
There is a rumor "floating around" that people in Panama are for the most part bi-lingual.  While it is true that English is a requirement in order to graduate from University, don't expect to find large numbers of bi-lingual Panamanians working in the shops and even fewer once you get outside of Panama City.   "Spanglish" does have a lot of American words incorporated, but sometimes these words have different meanings or are misspelled in a way that is amusing - a "walking closet" is often seen advertised as a feature of an apartment.  A "six pack" is only beer, if it is a soft drink, it is not a "six pack".   Bicycles with a flat tire are called "flateadas"....you can make a study of these things as a hobby, but will be challenged to fully communicate with people using only "Spanglish".
 
If you have to live in an English speaking area, Boquete or Bocas del Toro are your best bets, but then ask yourself why come to Panama if you are just searching for an English speaking area, with a better climate?  If you don't make the effort to learn at least a bit of Spanish you are missing the point of living in Panama, and you may become one of the minority of Ex-pats who return home within a few months of arriving in this interesting country.   Sure you can survive with just English, but is a Gringo Ghetto really where you want to live in Panama?  Make the effort to learn the language and doors will open for you here.
 

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