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Sarah Booth of Panama Holiday Homes &  Buyer's Consultant with My Panama Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I'm a Canadian living in Panama, which in my opinion is the BEST place to retire. I've had diverse experiences having lived in Mexico and Southeast Asia before settling in Panama. For me, the main reasons are: weather, cost of living, vibrant expat community, friendly locals, great hub for travel (Copa flies direct almost everywhere that I want to visit in Central and South America as well as US), incredible and affordable health care and the language. I loved Thailand, but decided that I really wanted to learn the language of the country I live in. By comparison to Thai, Spanish is not that difficult to learn (Latin based), and can be practiced in all the Americas and Spain (whereas Thai..only in Thailand obviously). The economy in Panama is excellent, in fact.. I am not the only person who came here to retire and ended up starting a business and consulting for another. Possibilities are endless here!
Chris Frochaux of Chris Frochaux - SERVMOR REALTY – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
What are the best places in the world to retire? That would depend on a number of factors... For most people who spent their lives fighting endless winters and grew tired of scraping their windshields with an ice pick, the answer is deceptively simple: "A beach, and plenty of sunshine!" Libya has terrific beaches, and Somalia enjoys sunshine all year round, for example, and although you might be tempted to explore those and many other exotic countries, you wouldn't necessarily consider retiring there.
If you're coming from the United States or Canada, you still have five continents to choose from, barring Antarctica presumably. Australia offers a solid language advantage, but down under is a bit far away, especially if you plan to stay in touch with your relatives at home. In Asia, unless you are of Asian descent, as well as in Africa - even if you are of African descent - you would not blend in easily, because the mentalities are very different (I love Africa, where I spent my teenage years). Europe is a nice place to visit, but notoriously expensive (which is what Europeans say about New York City, invariably adding that they would not live there). That leaves South America. Taking into consideration the northward migratory tendency of México, which must hint at something, and the distance factor of countries like Argentina or Chile, which endure chilly winters (think penguins), or beautiful countries in constant political turmoil, such as Venezuela, we are left with Central America and the Caribbean. The 700 or so islands that constitute the Caribbean are very attractive, but they are not in the same league as Central America in terms of size and infrastructure. Vacationing in a picturesque location is not the same as starting a new life in a new country... Therefore, let's focus on the seven countries that make up Central America: El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama.
The best places in the world to retire should satisfy a few basic requirements:
Political climate: Nicaragua is headed by former Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega, a stalwart U.S. critic. At the inauguration of his third term (2012), he was hugged by close friend, the late Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran). Honduras is recuperating from a serious crisis (2009) where basic constitutional rights were suspended. Belize's independence was recognized by Guatemala in 1992, but persistent territorial disputes are still unsettled. Guatemala, where the median age of the population is 20 years, held a democratic election in 2011. El Salvador's current president represents the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. In contrast, both Costa Rica and Panama have consistently held transparent democratic elections for many years and maintain no army.
Language: English is the official language in Belize, although Spanish and Creole are prevalent. English is widely spoken in Costa Rica and Panama, where many expats have relocated, but mostly by the educated elites. They are not bilingual countries, but conversational Spanish is not difficult to achieve. Learning a second language will do wonders for maintaining your brain fitness.
Tourism: All of Central America offers beautiful beaches and a varied geology including mountains and rainforests, with access to Indian cultures and plenty of ecotourism opportunities. Guatemala, Honduras and Belize share Mayan archeological treasures. Belize and Panama are sport fishing and diving paradises. The tropical climate is warm, without being overwhelming and you don't necessarily need to pack suits and ties. There are plenty of golf courses in Panama and plaid shorts are optional.
Accessibility and infrastructure: Panama has long been a bridge between the Americas. (It's not that hard to pinpoint it on a map... Try finding Belize!). The Panama Canal, an astounding engineering feat, connects the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean and is doubling his capacity with the ongoing construction of a third set of locks at a cost of US$ 5.2 billion (don't miss the opportunity to visit the amazing construction site!). While driving in the capital can be challenging at first, the country is equipped with an always expanding and well-maintained highway system. Daily flights connect with the United States or Europe. A direct flight to Miami, FL takes only two and a half hours. A new international airport is under construction in the central provinces (Rio Hato) to better connect the beaches with the rest of the world and will be inaugurated in July 2013. A modern subway system (Metro) is under construction in Panama City. The aging fleet of recycled school buses, the colorful "Diablos Rojos", has been phased out and replaced by brand new air-conditioned Volvo modern buses.
Cost of living:  In all of Central America, housing, food and services are generally affordable, including household help and medical services. Heating bills are rarely a concern and air conditioning is mostly reserved to bedroom usage, while many are content with a ceiling fan. Predictably, the cost of living is higher in metropolitan and touristic areas, while smaller towns offer cheaper opportunities and a more relaxed environment.
Safety: Even in former revolutionary hot spots like El Salvador or Nicaragua, the level of safety has generally improved, with the exception of Honduras. Panama however enjoys a distinctive status, since an amendment to the Panama Canal Treaty provides the United States with the right to intervene - including with military power if necessary - should the safety of the Canal be endangered.
Medical facilities: Many expats have elected to reside in the affluent neighborhood of Punta Pacifica (home to Trump Ocean Club) within walking distance of the state-of-the-art Johns Hopkins affiliate Punta Pacifica Hospital, located opposite the elegant Multiplaza Mall (for those Cartier, Hermès, Vuitton, Apple and Tiffany emergencies). That top-of-the-line hospital illustrates the reason why Panama is receiving an influx of "medical tourists": world-class medical care at discounted prices. Doctors and surgeons have received their training in the best U.S. universities and clinics and speak fluent English. Retirees enjoy discounts on medical visits, procedures and prescriptions. Appointments with a specialist are usually granted the very same day!
Cultural life and entertainment: Honduras, Belize and Guatemala offer well-preserved archeological monuments - at least for the time being since a Mayan temple was recently bulldozed in Belize to make gravel for a road construction (progress comes at a price). Panama provides a vibrant nightlife with top rated musical performances and artistic venues of all kinds, not to mention nightclubs, bars and restaurants that can rival those found in Manhattan. The stunning Museum of Biodiversity, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, located at the entrance of the Canal, is about to open and will host countless exhibitions.
Stable economy and currency: In most Central American countries, you'll need to get acquainted with the local banknotes (and keep a calculator handy) such as the Lempira (Honduras), the Quetzal (Guatemala), the Cordoba (Nicaragua) and the Colón (Costa Rica).  In El Salvador, the U.S. Dollar became legal tender alongside the Salvadoran Colón in 2001. (In spite of this, El Salvador suffers from the lowest level of foreign investment in Central America). Belize's currency is also called Dollar, but it features the portrait of the Queen of England. Panama, on the other hand, has no central bank and does not print currency. Panama's economy has been fully dollarized since its inception more than a century ago and the only banknotes in circulation bear the familiar faces of Washington, Lincoln, Jackson and Franklin. No need for foreign currency exchange tables. Even Panamanian coins have the same weight and denominations as cents, dimes and quarters. Whatever you purchase in Panama, be it a house or a drink, will be priced in U.S. Dollars, which means you won't have to wonder if the Lempira is down or the Quetzal is up. I was recently attending a real estate convention in Vegas and I was commenting on the healthy state of the economy in Panama, where per capita GDP has more than doubled over the past decade with average annual growth rates of 8.5%, when a fellow Realtor started a fascinating discussion about the merits of Costa Rica. When he was about done, I innocently asked if by any chance he was carrying Costa Rican money in his wallet. He was, and gladly passed it around. I then offered to show some Panamanian banknotes and reached to my own wallet, extracting a handful of U.S. Dollars... At that point, we switched to another topic.
Welcome level: As soon as they arrive in Panama, travelers are given a card providing FREE healthcare insurance for 30 days, courtesy of the government. Panama offers the best retirement program in the world, with substantial discounts on most everything: medical expenses, meals, entertainment, lodging, travel, etc. All this is not based on age requirements, only on the condition of receiving a pension, which may qualify you for permanent residence, the celebrated "pensionado" visa. Most importantly, and I can personally vouch for it, Panamanians are genuinely welcoming. They tend to look up to foreigners and are as eager to share their culture as they are to learn about yours. This is just one of the reasons I believe Panama is one the best places in the world to retire.
[Editor’s note: According to a press release August 1, 2014, the Panama Authority of Tourism stated that no charge tourist insurance coverage is no longer being offered.]
Mike Cobb of ECI Development – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The best place in the world to retire is theSan Juan del Sur Bay in Nicaragua – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living place that feels the best to you.  The only way to know that is to rent for 3-6 months and try living on for size.
A new country is like a new pair of shoes; it takes a while to know if they really fit or not.   For most North Americans, the geographic diversity of Latin America, and the similar time zones make it a highly desirable place to explore and evaluate.   
Robert Irvin of The Oaks Tamarindo Condominiums-- Costa Rica – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Beach at The Oaks Tamarindo Condominiums, Costa Rica – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingFor me, Switzerland is one of the best places in the world to retire. I lived in Switzerland as a retiree for three years. When I was living in Switzerland, the US dollar was very strong compared to the Swiss franc, and although that changed almost 15 years ago, there are still a lot of pluses to retiring in Switzerland. These advantages include absolute top-notch medical care that also comes with top-notch prices, and since I lived in Lake Geneva, I got to have a moderate climate year-round.
Where I live, in Lake Geneva, we had palm trees just a few meters away from our house. Lake Geneva is surrounded by mountains and provided easy access to all of Europe, making it a wonderful base for exploring Europe. Living and retiring in Switzerland does require a certain amount of money. This means retiring on $1,000 a month in Geneva is not a good idea.
I left Switzerland after living there for three years because I found Switzerland to be too peaceful and too quiet for me. Three years in Switzerland was all I could take as an American. But then again, if you have the money and if you’re looking for a place to have a safe, secure and pleasant base in the center of Europe, Switzerland is fantastic.
Aside from Switzerland, I have also lived and retired in Costa Rica, and have visited Panama many times. I prefer Costa Rica to Panama because I like the climate and the lifestyle in Costa Rica better. That being said, there are also people who prefer living in Panama over Costa Rica.
Costa Rica for me is the best place in the world to retire because it is easily accessible to the United States, whereas Switzerland is not. For me, the weather in Costa Rica is perfect. The only two places in the United States where I enjoyed living were South Florida and Southern California. I enjoyed these places because I tend to like warmer weather.
The huge advantage of Costa Rica over South Florida is that the lifestyle in Costa Rica is slower. With that, I mean in Costa Rica, life is more laid back and more peaceful. If you’re going to retire, you’re most likely looking for these things. I found life in Switzerland more peaceful and laid back than I needed. Here in Costa Rica, life is sufficiently a mix of things, so that I can pick whatever lifestyle I want to pick just by with whom I associate-- be it the Tico’s (Costa Ricans), the Americans, the Brits, the Canadians, or my next-door neighbors from Switzerland. I can pick and choose, so I can vary with my lifestyle.
For me, Costa Rica’s the best place to retire in the world. If you have the money, I’d consider Switzerland and California.  
(Beach at The Oaks Tamarindo Condominiums, Costa Rica, pictured.)
Ross of Abroad We Go – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Retirees dancing in the streets of Merida, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe best places in the world to retire are places abroad where you want to live. These are places that you have an interest in, and places that you love and want to absorb the culture of. These are places where you enjoy and like the people and the way of life. These are the most important things to consider in choosing where you want to retire. 
For example, one of the things that we love so much about Brazil is the way of life. At 9 o’clock at night, you don’t see people sitting at home and watching TV shows. In Brazil, at 9 o’clock in the evening, people still walk up and down the streets, visiting neighbors and sitting outside of the cafés while having a coffee or a beer. Also at night, kids are still out playing. These are the activities in Brazil seven nights a week. 
People in Brazil are still active, out doing things at night. This is one of the things that made me fall in love with Brazil. 
When living abroad, you have to like the lifestyle of the people living in that country, or you’re not going to like living there. It’s different for everyone- one way of life may appeal to me but may not appeal to other people. 
Brazil is louder; there’s more noise in Brazil than there is in the US. In Italy and other similar countries in Europe, the people are loud, exuberant, fun and outgoing. If your idea of living abroad in retirement is being in a safe, gate-guarded community with lawns, there are many places that would be great for that. On the other hand, if your idea of living abroad is to watch people and be around exciting culture and activities, then places like Brazil or Italy will appeal to you. 
Another factor in choosing the best place in the world to retire is your age, health, and general ability and desire to move around. Some things may be better for younger and single people, while other things may be better for people who are older. For example, if you’re older and are living in an area that is known for beautiful beaches and resorts, you may not be able to take advantage of those amenities or enjoy the lifestyle there if you don’t have the health for it. In this case, you may enjoy another location better. However, this is not always the case.  There are plenty of people in their 70’s and 80’s who could probably beat me at hiking on a good day.  
(Retirees dancing in the streets of Merida, Mexico, pictured.)
David Truly of Dr. David Truly Ph. D. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
David Truly performing with his band the Tallboys Band in Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingRetirement has become a worldwide phenomenon so there is a multitude of places in which to retire depending on your origin. In Europe, the common retirement spots are the coast of Spain. The Mediterranean area has been a wonderful place for a lot of people to retire to, so is Australia, areas in Thailand, and areas in Vietnam.
We have to remember that the best places to retire are personal and it has to really match the individual. Tourism and retirement sometimes go hand in hand, too. So people who have traveled a lot to different places many times have a place that sticks out on their mind that could be a possible place to retire.
With all that said, some of the places that seem to be highly rated and places that I am familiar with are certain areas in Mexico, which are probably some of the better places to retire for Americans and Canadians because of the proximity. Areas of Central America like Panama and Ecuador are also great places, although they tend to be a little more difficult as far as accessibility. Geographic proximity is really important to retirees, particularly those who have children or family because you still want to be able to get back and be in touch. So I think the best places to retire are those places that have some kind of geographic proximity for people so they can still access family, friends, or services. Also the best places to retire are those places that hit a heartstring on people that makes them say it is the place for them.
Today many popular places around the world are advertised such as Spain, Argentina, the Caribbean Islands, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, Bali, and Hawaii. So internationally, there are a thousand different places that you can go to but the best place to retire really depends on the people who are going to retire and their place of origin. We find streams of migration that develop between locations and that can be really helpful for people in information gathering while they are making a decision. The other really important consideration is whether the retirement is a permanent or temporary/part time retirement. But proximity is always an important consideration for many people.  
(David Truly performing with his band the Tallboys in Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Kristin Wilson of Orbis Relocation – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Kristin Wilson at the Corn Islands in Nicaragua – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe best place to retire depends on the person, and what they’re looking for.  In order to do this, you need to establish the reason you’re moving before you pick a place.  The best place for another person may not be the best place for you.  You need to get clarity on why you’re moving, what you want to accomplish, and what you want your daily life to be like.
Write out your ideal day.  When you wake up, who do you see around you?  What do you see around you?  Is it mountains?  Is it a beach?  Is it farmland?  A valley?  Skyscrapers?  Then, go from there.  What do you eat for breakfast?  Would you want some tropical fruit?  That tropical fruit could be falling off the trees in Nicaragua, where there could be mangoes in the road, pineapples and watermelons growing on the side of the road.  Or, perhaps you would prefer a baguette and an espresso.  There are no espresso machines in a lot of places in Nicaragua and Ecuador, for example, unless you have it at your house.  There’s no cappuccino.
(Pictured to the right and above: Corn Islands, in Nicaragua.)
What would you like to do in your normal day?  This is something that, otherwise, we don’t generally get to choose.  All the way from being a five year old in kindergarten through school and then work, most of us don’t get to define our day.  What would you do if you Kristin Wilson in France – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Livingcould do whatever you wanted?  Would you like to go whitewater rafting, would you like to go hiking, would you want to sit at a café in a city and sip your coffee and read a book?  What is your ideal day?  Maybe you don’t want to see any people.  Maybe you want to live on the top of a mountain only surrounded by nature.  
Once you have a clear idea of what your day would be like, then move to the finances.  How much money do you have to live on each month?  Most of us aren’t going to be living in a chateau in Switzerland, which is one of the most expensive countries in the world.  Of course, the more you have to live on each month, the more flexibility you’ll have in choosing your best place to live.
After you’ve defined what you want your typical day to be like and you’ve come to terms with your budget, you need to do your research.  This is the point where it’s really good to have someone to help you, even for an hour or so to get a real perspective from someone who’s worked in the place you’re considering or lived there.
We have lists of countries and areas that are the best and the worst, based on very specific criteria.
(Pictured to the right: France)
Robert Adams of Retirement Wave – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Unfortunately, the answer to the question of what are the best places to live in the world is an example of the kinds of questions that so many websites try to answer. The answer is totally determined by the individual’s taste and what they are looking for. Honestly, it’s one of those impossible questions for me to answer for a specific person, because people are just so different.
Some older or retired people may want to remain within, let’s say, two to four hours of travel distance from their home area where they have their children or grandchildren, so they can get back there or maybe they plan to visit. If you live a seven or eight hour flight away, it may cost you US $1,500 to $2,000 for a plane ticket, which makes it difficult. That is why so many Americans or Canadians end up in Central America; Panama, Mexico and the Caribbean, because it’s easy and a quick distance. Those who go to places like Uruguay or Chile end up having to pay a lot more money and it takes a lot more time so they don’t get home as frequently. If there’s a reason to get home quickly, it’s much more difficult and expensive for them than people, for example, who live in Panama.
Overall, what I think you should your choice from the viewpoint of where you want go, where you want live, and the experience you want to have.  Then, look for the countries that seem to offer that and then pick one. The country that’s closest to you might not be the appropriate one.
David Whittington of Tucan Golf Club and Resort – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Turks and Caicos beach with sail boats – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe best place in the world to retire is a very difficult question to answer, because everyone’s needs, likes, and even their budget are different.  Given that, I can still give you our experience, which may be helpful by example, even though your specifics will be different.
We first thought that we would like to live in Turks and Caicos, some small islands with a small population in the Bahamas.  One of the things we thought we liked about it was the beach.  It started out that we walked on the beach every day.  Then, we walked on the beach a few times a week, then, once a month.  It turned out that the beach wasn’t as important to us as we thought.  If we had bought in Turks and Caicos without fully understanding this, it would have been a mistake, at least for us.  (Maybe not for you, if you really love the beach.)
Tucan Panama golf course with golf cart – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingLater, we came down to Panama, to Boquete, to visit friends who lived here and were enthusiastic about retiring here, so their attitude influenced us.  In addition, the cost of living and the lifestyle we saw in Panama were totally different than what we had in Toronto, Canada, which is where we’re from, so we decided to build a vacation home in Panama.  Having a vacation home in Panama worked for us because we could visit before making the final move.
We knew more what we wanted because we had already done the beach scenario at Turks and Caicos, and even though we enjoyed it there, it became clear to us that our priorities were for golfing, the social activities in a retirement community, and the weather, so the beach started to take a second position, because we found that in Boquete, we had the things that we discovered were most important to us.
Another very important factor is the cost of living.  The cost of living in Panama is much, much less than in Toronto, Canada, which you realize when you come here to Panama.  This becomes an eye opener, and you think “I can come down here to Panama with my US $2,000 to $3,000 per month pension and live quite nicely.”
This is one of the reasons why, if you’re on a budget, Panama is much better than Turks and Caicos.  The costs in Turks and Caicos are unbelievably high for food and other items.  Everything is imported.  I used to joke that when we went down to visit for two or three weeks, it felt like I had to take out a second mortgage just to finance the purchase of our groceries.  I was talking with a woman yesterday who has her home on Curacao who told me that her electrical bill was something like $1,000 / month.  Many of these places are very nice and have picturesque beaches, but when it comes to actually living there, when push comes to shove, it’s very, very expensive.
Tucan Panama house with pool – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn Boquete, which is up in the mountains, the weather is especially nice, if you like cooler weather in the evening.  Here at Tucan, in Arraijan, we’re closer to the ocean, so the weather is not as cool in the evening.  We do, however, have other advantages that may appeal to you: 
  • We have the country setting, but we’re actually part of Panama City, on the far side of the canal, in the Canal Zone.  All the land behind us has been designated as a rain forest preserve, so that will stay the same.  We have the view of the city, similar to living in New Jersey and looking across the Hudson at Manhattan; same idea for the view (but we’re not like New Jersey in other aspects).
  • You can go across the bridge to all the major malls, which are 10 minutes away and then come back to the country where you live to have all the peace and quite and solitude of living in the country with the golf course community.  Pretty much every home or every apartment has a view of at least one hole.
  • If you want to go to the beach area, we’re just around the corner from us is Veracruz, which has two hotels, and you can get there in 10 minute by car.  There are beach and fish restaurants there.  Coronado is 45 minutes away.
Is this the best place for you?  Maybe, if these things appeal to you. Find out what you want and then find your best place.
Sieg Pedde of Helix Courier Limited – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account

Bocas Del Toro – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living
The best place in the world to retire is someplace you really want to be.  Will your retirement destination give you what you want?  And what is it, that you really want?
Do you have a retirement destination in mind?  Can you imagine yourself spending years and perhaps decades there?
If you simply wish to escape from things you don’t like (high taxes, over-regulation, cold weather, etc.) then any place that has lower taxes, little or no regulation and warm weather, might work for you.  But getting away from things you don’t like alone isn’t enough to have a happy retirement.  You also have to get things that are important to you, beyond merely safety, great infrastructure, internet access, etc.  Are you planning a retirement within easy walking distance of a hammock and a beer cooler?  Or do you wish to be active in retirement and want lots of things to do like hiking, riding, white water rafting, deep sea fishing, etc?
There are many places in the world where you can retire at reasonable cost.  The question is whether you will be happy there.  And that is a matter not so much of where you go but what your tolerance is for change.  If you want to live in a place that is ‘just like home’ your choices are dramatically reduced   But if you want to live just as you have been in your working years, why do you want to leave home and travel to another country?
I like Panama as a retirement destination because it has things that are important to me:  English is widely spoken, the economy is booming, the currency used is the American dollar, there are lots of North American and other English-speaking ex-pats to interact with if I wish, and the locals are friendly and welcoming.  But there are also things that are frustrating for escapees from any go-go society.  Everything takes longer to get done.  Having anyone show up to an appointment on time is always a welcome surprise.  On the other hand, prices are relatively low, there is a lot to do, and life slows down enough so that you can actually take the time to enjoy everything you do.
I like change.  I like adventure.  If you do too, then Panama might be a good retirement choice for you.
Ian Usher of House Sitting Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
What are the best places in the world to retire? The answer to this question will obviously be different for each individual, so I'll just give you my own answer - make of it what you will.
Bocas del Toro, Panama, retire, gringo, expat, Starfish Beach, Caribbean, lifestyle – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living
For now, I have chosen to spend my time in beautiful Bocas del Toro on the sunny Caribbean coast of Panama. Take a look at the picture on the right, which shows Starfish Beach, a short bus or boat ride from Bocas Town. That might give you some suggestion as to why you might consider Bocas as a possible retirement location.
I'm not sure that I can actually classify myself as retired, but I haven't done a stroke of paid work for anybody else for over five years now, and that's how I'd like it to stay. I'm a writer, and I wrote my second book right here in paradise. Now that certainly beats some  writing in some chilly flat in wintry London, fingers gloved to keep them warm.
Bocas del Toro offers a cheap alternative to the rat-race, a place where the cost of living can be very low, but the quality of life disproportionately high.
The best things about living here?
1). The people - both the expat community and the local populace are wonderful people to spend time with. This place seems to draw interesting, and sometimes slightly eccentric people.
2). The weather - it can rain quite a bit, which is a good thing if you are off-grid and rely on rainwater collection. But when the sun comes out, which it does often, and there is no wind, the lagoon is so beautiful.
3). Wonderful restaurants - away from town, down in the lagoons there are some hidden gems which offer wonderful social scenes, awesome views and great food.
4). Dolphins - I live just outside Dolphin Bay, and when out and about in the boat it is rare not to see at least a couple of dolphins. They always brighten your day.
5). Swimming and snorkelling - I can do both right from my dock.
6). Clothing choice - one of my favourite things is that here the temperature is pretty constant. When you get up in a morning there is no clothing dilemmas:
"Will I take a jacket?"
"What shoes should I wear?" 
You can be pretty sure that shorts, t-shirt and a pair of flip-flops cover all occasions.
I could go on, but instead I'll just suggest that you really need to come and take a look at this special place for yourself.
Judith Tovar of Easy Travel Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD TO RETIRE...Panama City skyline looking from Casco Viejo – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingPANAMA IS DEFINITELY ONE OF THE BEST!
Panama is not a place to come to die - Panama is a place to come and start living and enjoying life.  You work all your life, and now you deserve to start living it.  Panama offers an environment that stimulates you in so many ways, not only financially but also spiritually!
The high quality of living for a modest price available in Panama City was the subject of a news report on CNN a couple of weeks ago.  Using the Economist Intelligence Unit's report, Panama was the "shining star".  Panama City is listed as the most affordable capital city in the Americas, with a "plethora of top-quality, luxury experiences for cut prices".  In the report, Panama`s "fastest growing economy in Latin America", and free 30-day travel insurance for tourists arriving at Tocumen International Airport were the main subjects.
Panama is fast becoming one of the world´s top retirement destinations and also a world class tourist location. With a US-style infrastructure, Panama offers an easy transition particularly for US retirees.
So why is Panama gaining in popularity among retirees, investors, and part-time expatriates?  Not only because of increased publicity. Panama has more amenities, lower costs and lower crime rates than many other traditional retirement locations.  In fact Panama´s advantages are unrivaled.  Apart from tax advantages and privacy advantages, consider the following:
  1. Panama has a stable government and a growing economy
  2. The US dollar is the legal tender.  Panama has a stable economy that has been based upon the US dollar since 1904
  3. Residents pay no tax on foreign earned income.
  4. Foreigners can buy and own property in Panama with the same rights and protections as Panamanian citizens.
  5. PENSIONADO PROGRAM (retiree incentive program), the best in the world, is not necessarily age-related and the benefits are considerable.  It is considered to be the best retirement program in the world.
  6. English is widely spoken
  7. The US presence in the country for many years has lead to a US style infrastructure with a number of familiar names and businesses.
  8. Panama has a number of US-standard health care facilities and services with  many US-trained English-speaking doctors available.  Very good hospitals, including a John Hopkins Hospital.
  9. Panama  has a reliable communications system with fiber optic telephone lines and much of the country has ADSL internet
  10. Panama is one of the best offshore havens in the world
  11. The cost of living in Panama is lower than the US and much lower than Western Europe.
Come to Panama to visit and you can see for yourself!  You will love it!
James David Audlin of Editores Volcán Barú – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Of course, the best place in the world to retire to for YOU is different from where it is for ME. If that were not so, you'd be sitting in my living room right now with a cup of tea reading a book after a pleasant walk in our little village of Cerro Punta!
I've lived in three countries - the United States, France, and Panama - and visited many more. Any citizen of, say, the United States or Canada knows there is an astonishing variety of locations in the one country, and to say "Canada is a great country to retire to" begs the question of where in that country. The same is true of any country in the world, even one as relatively small as Panama, which is about the same in size as South Carolina.

Still, I found governmental bureaucracy in France, that is to say, the Eurozone, not well disposed toward helping foreigners retire happily. The paperwork was forbidding, and the officials unhelpful, sometimes incorrect, and often rather rude.  I speak French fluently, and shudder to think of how they might treat foreigners who are unable to talk in French. Where I lived in southern France was beautiful, and the neighbors delightful, but France, as a government, seemed uninterested in encouraging me to stay.
Panama, on the other hand, is well-disposed toward a comfortable retirement. It is a dollar-based economy, which is especially handy for U.S. citizens. A permanent retirement visa is not hard to acquire, but it's not necessary for U.S. citizens; just every six months stamp out at a border and turn around and get stamped back in again, and you're good for another six months. The pace of life (except for the cities) is much more relaxed. The food is delicious and fresh. Restaurants abound. Here in the Tierras Altas of the Chiriqui province, the landscapes are stunning, and, if you're a hiker or even just a leisure-walker, you will find yourself in paradise. Even after living here for two and a half years I still often exclaim aloud in wonder and delight as I walk around the village and the surrounding countryside. The Panamanian people are universally friendly and pleasant. Crime and pollution (except in the cities) are nearly nonexistent. Medical services are, in my view, of better quality than in the States, and at a far lower cost. The cost of living is far lower, with the exception of imported items. And, as a professional writer, I must add that I find this land to be incredibly inspiring; if you pursue some artistic means of expression, I daresay you will have the same experience.
Allen Rosen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
People are different. Some like it hot, some like it cold. Some like orderly societies, others enjoy a bit of chaos. Some are obsessed with good food and wine, others don't much care what ends up in their stomachs. Some like to be surrounded by fellow  expats like themselves in gated communities, others prefer to blend into the local culture.
There is no one-size-fits-all best place in the world for everyone to retire. (And if there were, it would get crowded very quickly).
The real questions is: where is the best place in the world for you to retire?
And that depends on many factors, such as what you enjoy doing (e.g. surfing, snow skiing) and don't enjoy doing (e.g. drowning, getting frostbite). It also depends on what you can afford, your ability to learn new languages, and what you want to do in your new home.
Retirement is not death, or at least it shouldn't be.  When you move to your retirement paradise, you will quickly discover that a 24 hour day is exceedingly long if you have nothing to do. You will need to fill up up those hours with activities you enjoy, and that will influence where the best place is for you.
So, what have we got now? We have several criteria to be applied in choosing your retirement home: Ask yourself:
1) What are my likes and dislikes? What is important to me?
Make a list of the things that are important to you -- warm sunny weather, friendly natives, bird-watching. Then make another list of countries that fit with those likes and dislikes. If you hate seeing graffiti on walls and chewing gum on sidewalks, your list should include Singapore, because in Singapore you can be whipped with a cane for vandalism and thrown in jail for leaving gum on sidewalks. On the other hand, if you are big on personal liberty, Singapore is probably not the place for you. Similarly, if you are a Mormon missionary, you should probably not consider Saudi Arabia; and if you are a nudist, France is a better option than Iran.
2)  What do I want to do when I retire? How am I going to spend my time?
Golf? Hiking? Cross-country skiing?  Reading your Kindle? Surfing the internet? Sitting on a beach? Make a list of countries that excel in the activities you want to pursue when you retire. If you are a sport fisherman and live to catch yellowfin tuna, then Panama would be a good bet.  If you are an avid cross-country skier, then Canada and Norway should be on your list.
3)  Where can I afford to live when I retire?
There are lots of fabulous places to live on this planet -- Lake Como or Florence (Italy), Paris or Nice (France), NYC or The Adirondacks (New York), Laguna Beach or Marin County (California),  Barcelona or Ibiza (Spain) . These are all great places -- if you can afford them. If not, you will need to start thinking about other wonderful places with lower costs of living. This is the point at which places like Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and Thailand come into view. These countries all have areas where English speaking expats live and thrive in substantial numbers, and they are all relatively inexpensive.
4) Can I learn the local language?
Understanding the local language is important for two reasons. First is the practical one that you will need to get around and do stuff in your new country, which is hard to do if you cannot talk to people (waving and pointing has distinct limits). Second, you will never really understand the local culture if you cannot speak the language.
Some languages are harder to learn that others. Spanish is relatively easy. Mandarin, Thai and other Asian languages are very hard for most westerners. This is one of the main reasons I moved to Panama instead of Thailand, Cambodia or China, which I also love.
You are now at the end of my short rant, but you are only starting the work you need to do if you want to retire overseas. You will need to consider a host of other factors that depend on your personal circumstances.
Are you healthy or do you have medical issues? If you do, then you may want to consider Panama, which has excellent health care, but not Cambodia, where you can die on the street and no one will notice.
If you worry about crime, Honduras is not the place for you (highest murder rate in the world) but Thailand would do nicely, as would Canada, England or Japan, which all have very low rates of violent crime.
Now is the time to start thinking and making your lists.  Do your homework. Do not rely for all your information on businesses that make money pitching one destination or another, or organizing retirement tours. If you are interested in a particular country or region, read everything you can on the internet. There is an enormous amount of information available on the internet. Use it. Make yourself the master of your own destiny. Start figuring out which retirement location is best for you! 
Jay Butler of Asset Protection Services of America – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account

Over the last 10 years, various cities in Australia (Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney) and Canada (Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto) have ranked among the best places in the world in which to live or work.  But in-so-far-as retirement is concerned, where do you go?  That answer will ultimately depend on what you, as an individual, value most.  As a 40 year-old American who has lived outside the United States for almost 1/4 of his life, I can share with you what I believe to be some of the most important considerations when trying to determine 'what are the best places in the world to retire' for you!


First and foremost is language.  At retirement, a great many Americans look to move south to warmer weather and consistent climates.  But, unless you speak Spanish or Portuguese, you may not find the lifestyle as enjoyable when ordering at restaurants becomes a nuisance and trying to initiate a conversation over drinks at the beach is problematic.  If you only speak English and have no real desire to learn a foreign language, then your top choices may be anywhere in English speaking Belize or St Kitts & Nevis, or (in and around) Panama City where large numbers of expats reside and tourism demands locals speak your native English language.


Second may arguably be the cost of living.  If you are on a fixed monthly income of say $1,500 (USD) a month, then you will certainly want to stretch every dollar and countries which offer favorable exchange rates will be of tremendous value.  While the Dominican Republic has a (fluctuating) exchange rate of around 40 Peso to 1 Dollar, Chile offers an exchange rate over ten times that amount at around 490 Chilean Peso to 1 Dollar.  Other top favorable (fluctuating) exchange rate countries include the Philippines (42 to 1), Mexico (12 to 1), and South Africa (7.5 to 1).


Jay Butler on a catamaran in the best places in the world to retire – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingLifestyle and medical care might tie for third.  If you live to snorkel or scuba dive, then you might want to live near a barrier reef in Australia or Belize.  If you want hiking, back-packing and related outdoor adventures, then Ecuador, Argentina or Chile might be good possibilities.  Ongoing medical issues could cause you stay within in direct-flight distances to Miami, Florida or Houston, Texas.  Surprising to some, Costa Rica and Panama have excellent medical facilities and often allow for homeopathic remedies (prohibited in the United States) for cancer and age related maladies.


Notwithstanding any of the aforementioned concerns, and depending on which part of the world in which you wish to live, here is my list of the top 3 best places in the world to retire listed alphabetically by region:

  • Africa:  Canary Islands, Republic of Seychelles, South Africa
  • Asia: Thailand, Philippines, Singapore
  • Central America / Caribbean:  Belize, Dominican Republic, Panama
  • Europe:  Estonia or Latvia, Ireland, Switzerland
  • South America:  Argentina, Ecuador, Paraguay


"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell (or) a hell of heaven."

- John Milton, Paradise Lost

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Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadUse the menu on this page to go to categories of Stories.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadUse the menu on this page to go to other categories of questions.
The Best Places In The World To Retire Location Advisor makes personalized recommendations for where to live and retire overseasGet matched to your ideal location to live abroad.
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Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadStories by expats & others about their life aborad.
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