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According to a recent survey, Panama ranks as one of the very best expatriate destinations worldwide. Surprising, perhaps, when it is up against stiff competition like Australia, Portugal or the USA, all of which are still very popular with expats from the UK. The most obvious question then is what makes Panama so attractive to foreigners? Why does this country seem to attract so many expats?
Ask the foreign population living in Panama for their favourite things about the country and you’ll no doubt stumble across dozens of possible answers. Here, though, are our top reasons why Panama makes such an impressive expat destination at present:
Panama may not be the most popular destination for European expats just yet, but it does benefit from over 60,000 permanent US residents. Some of these are expat workers, while others have taken full advantage of the retirement benefits on offer in Panama. The point though is that American culture has a strong influence on Panama, both as a result of these expat residents and the global power of the US economy. It was the USA after all who built the Panama Canal; something that had stumped previous attempts.
What this means for expats moving to Panama is far less culture shock than one may find in many other Central American countries. English is taught in schools so is considered a second language, many US brands and companies can be found here and American music and movies are also popular. All this means that visitors from the States, UK and Europe find it relatively easy to integrate here; and also won’t need to turn their back on popular culture altogether.
Ease of Retiring
Some countries make it very hard for expats to retire. They prefer workers or investors who either bring in-demand skills or sizeable capital to a country. Panama, however, makes it incredibly easy to retire here. All you need is an income of $1,000 a month, from investments or pensions, paid into a Panamanian bank account each month. Such an income gives you permanent residency in Panama.
Retirement here doesn’t just open up all the various benefits of living in a tropical environment. Retirement in Panama also offers an impressive range of benefits – even for expats. These include discounts on public transport, utility bills and leisure activities to name just a few, helping to make it an even more attractive retirement destination.
Low Costs of Living
One of the real benefits of Central America as an expat destination is the low cost of living. Real estate, eating out and driving are all significantly cheaper than in most Western countries, while the standards of living are relatively high. Many expats therefore find they can live ”like royalty” on an average income, or maintain a perfectly respectable lifestyle on very little money indeed. Those whose pensions are rather less than they would have hoped can often benefit from a far higher quality of life here than they would back home simply due to the lower cost of living.
Panama represents one of the very best places to explore the Central American jungle. The range of mountains – and hence altitudes – makes for a dizzying array of plant life and the animals that rely on it. It’s also a mecca for adventure travellers offering white-water rafting, tree-top zip-lines and more. For people looking for an outdoor lifestyle, Panama offers unrivalled opportunities.
There’s no denying that Panama offers a warm and sunny atmosphere. While some rainfall is to be expected in the rainy season these showers, while heavy, are short-lived. Outside of these seasons the climate is generally warm and sunny, making for a great outdoor lifestyle. This also means all manner of fresh fruits and vegetables are grown year-round, leading to a healthy plant-based diet; perfect for a health-filled retirement.
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