Panama Earns the No.1 Spot in This Year’s Index
“We’re healthier and living a better lifestyle here than we ever did in the U.S.,” says expat Mitzi Martain, who has lived on her farm near Santa Fe, Panama for nearly nine years now. “And our Social Security income covers all our monthly expenses.”
Mitzi and her husband Bill are two of the approximately 50,000 U.S. expats who have found their piece of paradise in this year’s winner—Panama.
“We are so blessed to live where we do,” say Connie and Mikkel Moller, who have called Pedasí, Panama, home since 2012. “Our stress level is 10% of what it used to be.”
Panama has long been a favorite of retirees. You’ll find them along both Caribbean and Pacific coasts, on white-sand islands, living contentedly nestled in mountain valleys, and along the glittering promenade of Panama City. Panama has hands down the best package of retirement benefits in the world. Pick your climate—tropical or temperate. And it’s close to home, just a three-hour flight from Miami.
“It is definitely cheaper than the U.S.,” says Maureen LoBue, who enjoys a beach life in San Carlos. “Water is included in my rent, so I just pay electricity, which last month was $16. My satellite internet service is just $15 a month. And when I buy produce at the local market down the street, I can fill a bag with fresh veggies for less than $5.”
“A couple can manage on as little as $750 a month here, if they own their home,” says expat Carl Conway who (like the Martains) has also found his ideal retirement in the mountain town of Santa Fe.
“Utilities are very low, at around $100 a month for electricity, water, trash pickup, internet, and even cellphone cards. Keep in mind you don’t need heating or air conditioning up here, and that makes a big difference. So even if you rent, a monthly budget of $1,500 is more than plenty.”
In Panama, you can live whatever lifestyle you desire. You can hike green hillsides, explore rainforests teeming with exotic wildlife, or just laze on a Caribbean beach and watch the world go by. And if you’re an urbanite, you can savor the incredible dining and culture of places like Panama City.
“In Panama’s capital I have the best of both worlds,” says IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch. “There’s a growing cultural and arts scene. I collect flyers of all the fabulous activities there are to do here. Opera showcases, art exhibit openings, and handicraft festivals…[and] there are so many new restaurants every week, I stopped trying to keep track.”
1. Panama has long been a favorite for retirees and this year it has taken the top spot in our retirement index.
2. Another long-time favorite with expats, Ecuador has taken second place this year.
3. Mexico, which this year scored highly across the board, has once again taken the bronze medal
4. Costa Rica, another firm favorite with IL readers, has notched up an impressive score in one of our new categories; healthy lifestyle.
5. Malaysia is bursting with things to do, see, and experience. From a rich culture to the tantalizing food, you’ll never be short of something to do, hence the country’s high score in entertainment and amenities.
6. This year Colombia has risen two places in the index. Its high scores in healthcare, healthy living, and entertainment and amenities has ensured a spot in the top 10.
7. Puerto Vallarta is undoubtedly one of the best choices in the world.
8. Nicaragua is an immensely affordable place to live and this is where it shines in the index.
9. Sunny Spain has come out on top in the category of infrastructure. This European retirement haven has modern roads, extensive public transportation, and excellent internet coverage.
10. Finishing up our top 10 list, Portugal, like its neighbor Spain, has excellent European infrastructure.