How many US retirees live in Panama

Emigrate to Panama

Panama lies between Costa Rica and Colombia. It is known from the Panama Canal. The most important sea connection between the Pacific and the Caribbean brings ships, tourists and money into the country. The República de Panamá - an attractive destination in Latin America.

Profile: Panama in numbers

Official language: Spanish--
Capital: Panama City1.673 million inhabitants
surface: 75,517 km²(slightly larger than Bavaria)
population: 3.705.246(2016)
Population density: 44 inhabitants per km²(Germany: 230 / km²)
GDP per inhabitant: $ 13,654nominal, # 52 worldwide
Human Development Index: 0,765# 65 worldwide
Germans in the country: <>(very high number of unreported cases)
Net immigration rate: -0.3 immigrants per 1000 inhabitants(2016)

Who will emigrate to Panama? 1 .: Pensioners

If you have a fixed monthly income, you can get a residence permit very easily. The good news for retirees: The German pension is paid to Panama. But maybe you want to live there permanently as a tourist and keep your main residence in Germany? Because that is also possible. I will go into this below.

Cost of living: some price examples

The cost of living in Panama is lower than in Germany. The additional costs (electricity, air conditioning, water, garbage) for an 85m² apartment are USD 77.24. The fitness club costs just under USD 60 per person per month. Meal for two in a 3-star restaurant: 36 USD. McMeal at McDonalds or similar combo meal: 6 USD (average prices, April 2017). Word of this has long since got around among retirees from the USA. They used to go to Florida, but Florida is too expensive and too crowded for many today. So they go to Panama or Costa Rica. The Sun Belt originally referred to the sunny southern states of the United States. It has grown beyond the national border, Panama is its extension.

Who will emigrate to Panama? 2 .: Dropouts

Do you want to go to Panama with little money and a small household? Then the residence permit is more difficult. And the good news: you don't necessarily need it. More on that below. The country is also attractive for dropouts, if only because of the natural way of life. The rural areas or areas near the coast are recommended.

Who will emigrate to Panama? 3 .: Investors

Panama is looking for investors. This is especially true in the tourism sector, in agriculture as well as for investments in the second largest free trade zone, which is located in the city of Colon.

The success story of Panama

This is the history of Panama from 2005-2015 in fast motion. The trade increased. The Panama Canal has been expanded (more sales, more income). And multitudes of foreigners were looking for a better life here. As a result, Panama grew continuously. GDP growth has been one of the highest in the world for over ten years.

You can see the effects in the country. Panama City has a skyline like Boston (only with palm trees) or Auckland. Buenos Aires (in Argentina) may be ten times bigger, it isn't ten times more beautiful. The capital of Panama has become cosmopolitan and has remained affordable.

The expats live very well in Panama. English is widely spoken (this is rare in LatinAmerica, maybe in Curacao it's similar. Doctors have modern practices and drugs 10 years before they are launched in the EU - and the staff is polite and courteous. Have I just made a prescription? No. Have you read it wrong? Neither! Forget the "service" from AOK & Co. Panama is presented to the Germans as a third world country so that nobody goes there. Paying 50% taxes, for dilapidated streets and as a supplicant of a rampant bureaucracy - nobody should miss that.

And if that's not enough: the services are excellent, the service providers value their customers - instead of rejecting their wishes as unreasonable. The bottom line is that a high standard of living is possible at a reasonable price. Americans also rave about nightlife: from fine dining to exotic adult adventures, everything is there.

Panama was one of the first countries to develop a program and framework specifically designed to attract retirees. Not just a pioneer in Latin America, but worldwide.

How can you settle down in Panama? First, let's look at the possibility of living as a permanent tourist. If this is your first time reading this it might sound confusing (unsure? No, actually not). Other countries have created similar opportunities / loopholes for people who bring money into the country and who, in case of doubt, are easy to get rid of (look at an alternative: emigrating to Thailand). So: first life without a permanent residence permit, then with.

Living in Panama without a permanent residence permit

Unless you already have a second passport in your pocket, it is often not necessary or desirable. You do not have to officially take a second residence abroad (e.g. Panama) just because you want to live in the country. The bureaucratic side (registration, residence permit) can be removed from the practical question of where you are actually staying.

Why should you consider this? A legal resident is fed into a country's tax system. Obviously there are nicer ideas than this. It is better (for you) if you could avoid that.

The smarter option is usually: you leave the country after 90 days and renew your tourist visa. Condition: You do not live in a certain country for more than six months a year. (Most countries will consider you a taxpayer if you spend more than 180 days a year there.) Solution: Find neighboring countries to switch between. Panama, Costa Rica and Dominica are ideal.

Keep in mind: Better to be a valued guest (tourist) than a milking cow (official resident).

Living in Panama with Permanent Residence: Official. As an investor. Looking towards second citizenship

Still, sometimes it makes sense to become a legal resident of Panama, especially since the second pass gives you benefits. Now you never get the second pass immediately and not without conditions. The good news: One of the easiest countries in the world to get permanent residency status is Panama. Other countries usually make it harder for you.

In 2012, a law was passed to encourage certain foreign nationals to come to Panama. Eligible countries include the USA, Canada and many European countries. Germany too. Bingo!

Residence regulations

Citizens of the following countries can apply for an immediate permanent residence:

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Germany :), Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Canada, Croatia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Czech Republic, Hungary, Uruguay, USA and Cyprus.

Requirements for the immediate permanent residence permit

The applicant must deposit USD 5,000 in a local bank account, plus an additional amount of USD 2,000 for each additional person. So it really doesn't cost the world. Applicants must also demonstrate that they have a genuine investment interest in Panama. How does it work? a) You are buying real estate. b) You become the owner of a Panamanian company with a business license. c) You find a Panamanian employer and get employed. (a or b are better than c). In addition, please do not have a criminal record and have a valid passport. That's it!

The climate in Panama

Panama lies between two oceans. That is why the climate is diverse despite the country's small size. Panama is also very rich in contrasts geographically: We find the highlands, the Caribbean coast and the Atlantic coast on an area that is almost twice the size of Lower Saxony.

In principle, there is something for every taste: The Panamanian summer begins when winter arrives in Central Europe. Extreme heat and high humidity accompany this time. However, there is also that eternal spring in the Boquete highlands: always mild, always pleasant.

European immigrants are mainly drawn to the capital Panama City, to David and Boquete.

The best places for the German emigrant

It depends what you are looking for. Who the who Big city preferred, is in very good hands in the capital. Here you can find everything concentrated: clinics, universities or malls (the shopping centers). A little tip: If you live a little outside in one of the suburbs, it will be cheaper. The properties here have significantly lower prices than in the city.

One prefers them more nature, Living on a finca in moderate temperatures? Then the Boquete highlands would be the right choice.

Who on Caribbean flair is in good hands on the Atlantic coast around Bocas del Toro. The diversity in this country makes it possible.

Personal freedom

Since one does not live in a dictatorship, personal freedom is preserved. In contrast to other countries, the foreigner is accepted as a person and not as a "donor" as in other countries. You notice this when you go shopping as a foreign tourist. When showing the passport with the entry stamp, you do not pay VAT in many Almacenes.

How much start-up capital does the emigrant to Panama need?

This is a question that only everyone can answer for themselves, as everyone has built up a different quality of life over the course of their lives. A simple employee who had to get by with his family of four in Germany on EUR 2000.00 cannot expect to live a life of luxury with his savings.

One can lead a normal life with US $ 2500.00 in Panama City or live with US $ 800.00 in the country. The cost of living is lower everywhere than in Germany and the quality of life is therefore higher. Before you emigrate, you should explore the destination country for a longer period of time in order to find out what quality of life you will find with the money you have each month.

Political situation in Panama

Panama is a presidential republic. Due to the history of the country and the longstanding presence of the USA in the canal zone (the Panama Canal is US territory) and the current situation, one can say that Panama is politically stable.

Major changes such as currently in Bolivia or Venezuela are not foreseeable. Because of the importance of the Panama Canal, enough eyes from the north of America will watch over political security.

Photo: The Panama Canal - the country's most important source of income, largest employer and busiest waterway in the world.

Taxes and Currency

The value added tax is 5 percent for most products. Since the official currency of Panama is the Balboa (PAB) or the dollar (although most products are written out in Balboa), everything is based on the American dollar.

The Balboa is only available as coin. The PAB is at a 1: 1 exchange rate to the dollar. The paper money is exclusively the dollar bill.

One nice thing about Panama is its territorial tax system. In other words: Panamanian residents and companies only have to pay tax on the income earned in Panama. If you run a hotel here, you pay taxes. But if you are an independent investor, then don't. If you run an online business that is generating income outside of Panama, you don't pay a dime.

The labor market in Panama

As a foreign employee, it is quite difficult to find a good job. It is better if you search from Germany or your employer sends you to Panama. More tips for expats here.

What are the arguments against Panama?

The most common illness that guests suffer from is diarrhea. But it's relatively harmless. There are a number of tropical diseases that are far more serious. Inquire about travel warnings and vaccination protection. At least if you think vaccinations are helpful. A friend of mine lives with her family in Paraguay; they haven't been vaccinated for years and are healthy. That being said, service has a different sound than it does here. "Mañana" does not really mean tomorrow, as the stranger suspects, but only: not today.

Which language - do I have to speak Spanish?

You should definitely speak Spanish, although in Panama a lot can be regulated in English. The better you speak the local language, the more independent you are. The relationship with Germans is good overall. As a German emigrant you don't have any disadvantages by being a foreigner. Immigrants also have the same rights as natives.

Web tips

Panama is a great choice for expats. However, there are other options, for example:

last update: 04/22/2017