January 6, 2016

Yahoo News

It’s that time of year again…International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index is hitting the presses. And in the top spot: Panama.

I should say: Panama again. Because this tiny powerhouse has topped this index more times than any other country. (International Living’s first Annual Global Retirement Index was published in 1992.)

Every year, International Living’s experts and expat contributors compile data and real-world insights about everything from climate and healthcare to cost of living and ease of fitting in. The result is an “only the best” list of retirement destinations that offer comfortable and convenient lifestyles for less.

What makes Panama stand out amongst so many wonderful countries? For most of the expats who have chosen Panama as their home, the welcoming people and the variety of climates and landscapes are some of the things that make this a great place to live. More importantly, the overall value and convenience of life in Panama is hard to beat.

There are plenty of places on our index that offer beautiful beaches, verdant rainforests, friendly locals, and excellent healthcare. But Panama packs a punch because it offers all of the above and more…

According to, Panama is the world’s most attractive place to spend retirement.

Panama tends to score high in most every category of International Living’s Retirement Index. This year, Panama gets a perfect score in the “benefits and discounts” and “visas and residence” categories. That’s because Panama makes it easier for you to become a legal resident than virtually any country we’ve ever written about.

Panama’s Pensionado or pensioner program is one of the best in the world and provides residence and special benefits for anyone with a retirement income. The simple requirements include a verifiable pension of at least $1,000 a month and a clean police record. Once you become a member, you’re entitled to a long list of government-mandated discounts nearly everywhere you go. Restaurants, hotels, cinemas, theaters, clinics, pharmacies, and more offer Pensionados discounts that range from 10% to 50% off regular prices.

“With Copa, which is a wonderful airline, I get a 25% pensionado discount on international flights,” says expat resident Irena Sylya. The opera singer (and founder of the Opera Panama foundation) has lived in such glamorous locales as Vienna. She says Panama measures up well, with Broadway type musicals, plays in English, and much more to keep her entertained. With her Pensionado discount, she gets 50% off tickets. “You can have the most elegant lifestyle here if you want,” she says…without spending big bucks.

For anyone who doesn’t have a pension, the Friendly Nations visa also makes it easy to gain residence. Applicants from countries that maintain friendly relations with Panama are welcome…it’s a long list of more than 45 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, England, Ireland, and more. And there are surprisingly few requirements. They include opening a local bank account with at least $5,000 and either buying real estate, starting a business, or holding a job in Panama. Compared to other desirable destinations, these programs are a quick and inexpensive means to a new legal address.

The best places to retire according to’s Global Retirement Index 2014:

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