Panama Retirement - Part III

Visa & Benefits * Health Care * Culture

Panama retirement facts you should know: visa requirements, health care, culture and entertainment.

Visa Requirements & Special Benefits

Panama's pensionado program is amongst the best ones in the world. The visa process is fairly simple and inexpensive. Once granted, you have residency for life in Panama.

For the most common visa for retirees, the "Tourist Pensioner Visa", you will need evidence of your pensioner status and a state or private pension of at least $1,000 per month (plus an additonal $100 for each dependant). If you purchase $100,000 in Panama real estate, your monthly pension can be as low as $750.

Benefits that come with the pensioner visa include:

  • One time import tax exemption for used household goods up to $10,000
  • Every two years, import tax exemption for a car
  • Between 10% and 50% discounts on entertainment, travel fares, airline tickets, hotel stays, hospital bills, closing costs for home loans and others.

You also get those discounts without the pensionado visa, if you are a resident of Panama and over the age of 55 (women) or 60 years (men).

Healthcare

Compared to Europe and North America, health care in Panama is less expensive, but has the same high standards. Many of the Panama doctors are trained in the U.S., Canada or Europe and speak excellent English.

There's a public and a private health care system in Panama. If you work in Panama, part of your salary is deducted as contributions to the public health care. In return, you'll receive free health care and medication from the clinics within the Social Security System (very similar to the system we have in Germany).

As a foreigner however, you will most likely opt for private health care. You can either cover your expenses out of your pocket, or get health insurance from one of the local providers. The younger you are, the less you pay: comprehensive plans for people in their 20s and 30s cost as little as $50 per month. Good plans for people aged 40+ range between $80 and $180 a month.

A visit to a general practitioner will set you back about $20 to $45. Many medications are cheaper than in the U.S. and Europe and can be bought over the counter.

The most popular private hospitals in Panama City are:

  • Hospital Punta Pacifica
  • Clinica Hospital San Fernando
  • Hospital Nacional
  • Centro Medico Paitilla

Culture & Entertainment

Whether you are an outdoor person, a movie addict, a museum lover or a gourmet, Panama has a lot on offer to satisfy your gusto. Mountain hiking, beach walking, snorkeling and diving or exploring the rain forest, even within Panama City - the Parque Natural Metropolitano boasts 265 ha of rainforest just 10 min from downtown.

After enjoying the physical activities, you might want to give your brain something to do. For example, you could visit the historic Casco Antiguo district in Panama City (a World Heritage site) or one of the many museums in the urban centers and the Canal Zone.

Speaking of the Canal Zone, a visit to one of the locks is an absolute must. Standing on top of the building at the Miraflores Locks, watching ocean liners, freight ships and tiny looking sailing boats line up and float through the locks is a one-of-a kind experience.

And what about shopping in Panama?  Glad you asked. Panama is home to the second largest duty-free zone in the world. This means that you can buy luxury goods from all over the world at bargain prices. The capital boasts four large shopping malls,  numerous trendy boutiques and less trendy, but cheap department stores. The "Multicentro Shopping Mall" in Balboa Avenue even claims to be the largest shopping center in all of Central America!

If you are into partying, you won't be disappointed either. Apart from the ubiquitous clubs and casinos in Panama City, there are many festivals and folkloric traditions celebrated in different parts of the country.  The biggest one being - of course - the Carnaval festivities in the month of February. More about Panama culture coming soon.

Retire in Panama - Part I

Facts for your Panama retirement:  Cost of Living * Climate * Infrastructure & Internet Access

Retiring to Panama - Part II

Facts for your Panama retirement: Education & Schools * Safety * Real Estate

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