Like many other Central American countries, Panama offers low costs of living, making for a great place to move to. Housing, groceries, and healthcare are all very affordable. It is said that you can live abroad in Panama with just $2,000 a month!
There are many communities that welcome U.S. expats and retirees that offer American standards of living and a variety of activities to enjoy.
There is good news about visiting Panama as a tourist! Visitors from the United States and Canada don’t need a visa for 180 days. The bad news is extensions aren’t available unless you can prove that you need to stay in the country for an extended period.
I’ve read of some situations in which people were living abroad in Panama without any kind of residency or visa and would take trips to surrounding countries every six months in order to avoid getting a visa. Though that could work, it could become expensive and time-consuming to take vacations every six months.
Fortunately, you can choose to ditch your tourist status and apply for residency!
For decades, Panama has welcomed expats and offers friendly residency options for the ones seeking to work or spend retirement in the country. One of the biggest perks is the retiree benefits program that can be taken advantage of by foreign retirees.
Panama has put together one of the most attractive programs for retirees looking to live abroad. The perks that Panamanian retirees are entitled to are open to foreign retirees as well.
These perks include, and are not limited to, discounts on entertainment, public transportation and flights, energy bills, hotels, and some hospital bills. Panama is a great place to retire from a financial standpoint alone!
In order to be a part of the program, there are some requirements. You must first draw a pension of at least $1,000 a month to qualify. The other option is an income of $750 dollars a month and a minimum of $100,000 of investments in real estate.
Is financing available for your new overseas property?
There is also a $250 dollar fee for each dependent child.
This visa grants expats a national identification card and permanent residency abroad, but not citizenship.
Similar to the Belizean retirement visa, these visa holders cannot have a job. You may own your own business, however.
Here is a list of some of the retirement perks in Panama:
- 50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, theatres, concerts, sporting events)
- 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
- 25% off airline tickets
- 25% off monthly energy bills
- 30% to 50% off hotel stays
- 15% off hospital bills
Friendly Nations Visa
There is a list of 47 nations that can conduct economic or professional business activities and who maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with Panama. This list includes the U.S. and Canada.
This form of visa requires you to open a local bank account that holds a balance of at least $5,000. You also have to either purchase real estate, open a business, or find employment in Panama.
The real estate option has a minimum required investment of $10,000.
This visa allows you to hold a job or start a business during your time in the country.
The complete list includes the following countries:
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Marino, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United States of America, Uruguay, United Kingdom (Great Britain & Northern Ireland).
Forestry Investor Visa
Panama allows those who invest with a minimum of $80,000 USD in land for a government reforestation project to obtain permanent residency. This encourages the production and preservation of teak hardwood.
Investors must purchase at least 5 hectares of titled land.
After two years of having a forestry visa, holders may renew and apply for permanent residency. After five years of residency, you can apply for citizenship.
If hardwood isn’t your thing, Panama offers many investment alternatives. There is also a business investment option in which you must invest $160,000 in capital stock in a Panama business.
Professional Residence Permit
This type of visa is offered to those looking to live and work abroad in Panama. Those looking to do so, however, cannot take a job that is reserved for Panamanian nationals.
To apply for this visa, you must have a college education.
After having the visa for two years, you must reapply, proving you have been working and paying local social security for the last nine months.
In conclusion, the best option seems to be the Pensionado Program for retirees. It is the least expensive and the perks are outstanding. You also cannot just lose your Pensionado status. Some countries have new laws that have affected the status of retirees living abroad, but Panama has pledged to grandfather in Pensionado residents.
Want more information about moving to Panama? Download our Panama Country Guide book for free – CLICK HERE