Retire In Panama Vs Costa Rica


David Cost Of Living: $1000 $2000

Retiring in Panama VS Costa Rica

Kris Cunningham is an expat from Sarasota, Florida who moved to David, Panama with her husband in 2012. A retired RN, Kris writes detailed accounts of her life in David. In her latest cost of living in Panama post, Kris details everything from rent to utilities to food, as well as costs for extra expenses such as drinking, painting class and supplies, and trips to Panama City. Kris reports that their cost of living in David is $1,243.26 for them to live comfortably as a couple. As Boquete increasingly seems to price out some expats, David is becoming a more popular option for those who can stand the heat. Its a more humid and hot climate, alongside a very different vibe.

Winner: Panama By A Landslide

Due in part to a long-standing U.S. military presence, Panama is one of the most connected countries in Latin America. Broadband internet service is available in most cities and is very affordable. There are also numerous free wi-fi hotspots nationwide.

In fact, Panama was recently named #2 in all of Latin America for technology and internet penetration. It also earned the #1 spot for wireless availability. Thats why so many multinational companies like Dell, 3M, and Philips are choosing to establish regional headquarters there.

Brian Gratwicke

Outcome: Too Close To Call

Healthcare is excellent in both Costa Rica and Panama. The two countries both have inexpensive public health care, with Costa Ricas being touted as one of the worlds best low-cost medical programs. In fact, the quality of its health care system is ranked 36th in the world by the WHO, with the U.S. in 37th place.

Both countries also have private hospitals available, where many of the doctors speak English and trained in the U.S. Panama has several state-of-the-art hospitals that are affiliated with world-renowned facilities in the U.S., such as Johns Hopkins.

Panamas only drawback is the accessibility of its modern private medical facilities. Theyre often found only in the largest cities, specifically Panama City and David. Those in rural areas may have trouble finding the care they need, as often only first aid is available in the most remote areas.

World Bank

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Outcome: Varies By Region

This category is a hard one to call. Both Costa Rica and Panama have such varied topography and eco-climates. Not to mention all the other factors that can vary greatly from one region to the next, such as climate, infrastructure, and proximity to attractions.

For comparisons sake, well compare Panama vs. Costa Rica in four subcategories and examine the top cities expats are choosing for each type of area.

Where To Retire In Latin America 6 Countries To Consider

Costa Rica vs Panama: Which is better for Your Retirement

By Team Latin America | January 13, 2022

If you are planning to move abroad when your career comes to an end and are considering where to retire in Latin America, a recent study has identified six Latin American countries as being among the worlds top 10 retirement destinations.

Many retirees seek out warmer climates

According to the 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index, , Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay all appear among the top 10 countries to retire to, with European nations Portugal, Malta, Spain, and France making up the rest of the list.

The report is largely aimed at US and Canadian retirees and based on opinions and real-life experiences provided to International Living by a global network of contributors, with the reports authors making clear that none of the contributors are influenced by local interest groups keen to promote the country they are reporting on. They also stress that the report is opinion-based and not an empirical study.

In no way is our Global Retirement Index meant to be a scientific output. Its designed to be a useful tool for people, constructed out of real-world, on-the-ground information interpreted through a lens of well-informed experience and opinion, the reports authors state.

Below, the six Latin American countries that made it into the top ten of the 2022 Index are highlighted, along with some insight into what makes them such a good destination to retire to.

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Is Costa Rica More Or Less Expensive Than You Expected

We asked expats in Costa Rica, “Financially, has living in Costa Rica met your expectations? Exceeded them?” Here’s what they had to say:

“No! Costa Rica is far more expensive than I thought. I eat out a lot and most of the time the prices are equivalent to US. You can eat for less at sodas and the market, which I do. Buses are a bargain, but cabs cost far more than any other major city in the region: Guatemala, Managua, San Pedro. Also, since everything is exported, prices for shampoos, soaps, tooth paste, razor blades, and things of that nature are much higher than the U.S. Also, my rent is much higher than anticipated,” said one expat in San Jose.

Living abroad in Costa Rica has definitely exceeded our expectations financially. Imported products such as electronics can run 50% higher than our native country so this is definitely a downfall. Some imported foods are expensive too. However, it is not difficult to learn to live without all the high end electronics and the latest gadget. Learning to shop locally for food brings your grocery budget to a reasonable level. Fruit and vegetables are inexpensive and living on the coast, fresh fish is a great deal! Property taxes are inexpensive and a fraction of what we paid in the states. Vehicles are expensive as is gas however public transportation is widely available and very affordable,”mentioned another expat when asked about living in Costa Rica.

Where Is Best For You To Retire: Panama Or Costa Rica

Retirement Sage Sharing Insights Into Achieving a Great Retirement

While both Costa Rica and Panama are popular destinations for retirees, we wanted to figure out which one’s better. Both are tropical paradises with mild weather, a lower cost of living and miles of sandy beaches. But which one would be perfect for you?

Panama edges out Costa Rica as the best place to retire in 2022. This is primarily due to a lower cost of living, reduced import taxes and overall better infrastructure. Still, both countries are great retirement destinations.

There are many global options to retire abroad and Central America remains the most popular.

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El Valle De Antn Cost Of Living: $1200 $2800

Betsy, Reyn, Skylar, and Blaise, eight years into their Panama life, have a good grasp on which areas are best for families in Panama. They share a look at the cost of living in El Valle, as well as two more towns in Panama that are popular with expats. They report that the cost of living in Coronado is about $1,440 to $3,342 per month.

Overall, with all these destinations considered, living in Panama is comparable to Mexico: food, culture, and costs. Similar to Thailand, while it is possible to live on $1,000 per month in Panama, you will enjoy life more by expanding your budget and allowing for extra activities and events. A baseline of $1,250 a month would be more reasonable.

And while all this research gives a good baseline of vibes for each place and possible costs, I cant tell you how much I recommend that you plan a trip to Panama so you can do your research in person. If you have the time, consider spending your 60-day tourist visa as a research trip. You could move to the city with the most potential for the two months, or spend a few weeks in your top three spots. My dad and I rented a car once we made it to Panama City, and this was such a good call. Driving in Panama City is super stressful, but the rest of the roads tend to run pretty well. The resources at the end will help you continue your research, as well as help you plan your research trip to Panama.

Immigration And Becoming A Permanent Resident

Part 2 – Panama VS Costa Rica – 9 Retirement Factors – Which one is better for living & retirement

To become a permanent resident in Belize, the government requires 50 consecutive weeks in-country to qualify. Another alternative showed the Belize Retired Persons Incentive which allows those over the age of 45 to come and go pretty much as they please.

Panama offered several options including something called the Friendly Nations Visa. Apparently, applications were being processed in less than 6 weeks. What really tipped the scales was the Pensionado Visa discounts that they were giving for retirees on things like utility services, restaurants, and travel. In some cases, these discounts are as high as 25%. Go Panama!

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The Best Countries To Move For Early Retirement

Weve all dreamed of biting the bullet and moving abroad to enjoy early retirement. But how easy is it to move to a new country and survive without all the trappings of your everyday life? And where are the best places to retire abroad?

Retirement experts International Living advise on everything to make life post-retirement easy. Their Annual Global Retirement Index lists the best places to retire around the world, taking into account cost of living, accessible healthcare, good food and great weather. Read on to discover 11 of the best countries to move to for early retirement.

Where To Live And Housing In Costa Rica

Here’s an excerpt from an article about the Best Places to Live in Costa Rica:

“Costa Rica is loaded with small peaceful towns a friendly people, but you are best advised to either tour the country for a while with a guide, or if you have the time, rent a SUV and Tour the Country yourself to see what areas are to your preference, climate, culture, etc. Costa Rica is a surprisingly diverse country for its relative size . It has 7 specific major “zones”, from northern coastal plains and beautiful beaches in the dryer and hotter Guanacaste Province, all the way to the opposite side of the Country on the southern caribbean near Puerto Viejo.”

An expat in Playa Hermosa de Jaco reported:

“Our housing costs are lower than in the states. Taxes are very inexpensive in Costa Rica and the taxes in the states substantially higher. Private home insurance is less expensive in Costa Rica from our experience. It is very hard to determine the average cost of housing. In this area, the closer the location to the beach, the higher the price. Direct waterfront may cost well over $500,000 to the millions depending on amenities. However in a lower profile condo building with less amenities, you can absolutely find something at half that price. Knowing the market is really key here and return on investment must be weighed in if you plan to rent the unit, seasonally or long term.”

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How We Compile The Annual Global Retirement Index

Each year, we use our ever-expanding network of editors, correspondents, and contributors all over the world to give us the on-the-ground information and recommendations we need to put our index together

All these people were once in your shoes. All of them wondered if they could nd a better life abroad. Many of them were former International Living readers who took the plunge, and now want to share their love for their new home with the world. These are the people we draw upon to put together our index each year.

We rank and score each of the 25 countries in the Index across the following 10 categories:

Note: Weve given Nicaragua and Bolivia low scores in the Opportunity and Governance categories. Theyre still viable retirement locations, but because theyve experienced political instability in recent years, proceed with caution.

Healthcare In Costa Rica

Panama versus Costa Rica

The World Health Organization ranks Costa Rica 36th in the world, ahead of the United States, Cuba and New Zealand. Their universal healthcare system is referred to as CAJA .

According to International Insurance, it provides access to around 30 CAJA hospitals and 250 clinics. The government continues to upgrade services and infrastructure as many rural facilities are in need of modernization.

The public system is funded by mandatory contributions from all residents and adjusted by income. Many expats choose to relocate here, in part, because of the affordable healthcare.

Costa Rica continues to invest in upgraded facilities and equipment. Dental tourism has become one of their specialties attracting clients from across the world.

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The Worlds 5 Most Welcoming Retirement Havens In 2022

Now that many of us are working from home, many U.S. citizens are talking about moving to another country ahead of retiring there. With this in mind, a new report from points to the top 5 retirement destinations across the globe where its easiest to fit in as an expat.

The Fitting-in category of ILs 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index considers the character of the expat community, how easy it is for a single or LGBT person to adapt, how welcoming the locals are, if English is commonly spoken, and other factors.

Even for those who have done their due diligence researching healthcare, real estate, weather, cost of livingtheres still a wildcard: fitting in. Although this is often an afterthought in planning, it can make or break your expat experience.

The Fitting in and Entertainment category isnt just about making friends with locals and expatsits also about feeling at home. Can you pick up your favorite North American comforts? How easy is it to adapt to the local culture? Are there museums, events, and exhibitions? Outdoor activities? Movies in English?

The most successful expat retireesthe ones who report theyre thoroughly enjoying life abroadare very often those living in a place where theres a community of fellow expatseven if that community is small, says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor, International Living.

#5 Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lea Lane

#4 Panama

The old section of Panama City

Lea Lane

#3 Malta

#2 Costa Rica

List Of The Cons Of Retiring In Costa Rica

1. It can be difficult to adjust your circumstances if you change your mind. Costa Rica is not a country for everyone. If you didnt do your homework on the country before deciding to retire there, then you might wake up one day deciding that you hate your new home, despite the country, and would do anything to reverse your decision. Living a modest lifestyle here to extend your retirement savings can create a boring life for some people and couples. If you bought a property at too high of a price, it might take forever to sell it.

You can counter some of the problems in this disadvantage if you start renting first and try different locations. It can be helpful to spend the first couple of years looking around for a place that you love.

2. You must pay significant attention to your lifestyle choices. If you manage your money wisely in Costa Rica, then you can legitimately retire here for under $20,000 per year as an individual. Some expats envision a life where they live at the beach, take daily walks along the surf, and then have a late, large breakfast. Then they spend an afternoon enjoying the sunshine or exploring the community before having an early dinner to do it all over again.

Why not take a bicycle instead? Because there are only a handful of bike lanes available to cyclists throughout the country. Although the government is making it a priority to install safe spots to pedal, the infrastructure is seriously lacking in this area right now.

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We Can Assist You With Business Formation And Property Purchases

If you are keen to move overseas and considering where to retire In Latin America, Biz Latin Hub can assist you in the event you plan on starting a business or want to buy property in a major city where we operate. We have offices in 15 countries around Latin America, including all six that were included in the top 10 global retirement destinations.

We are a professional services provider offering integrated packages of back-office solutionss to corporations and investors entering the region for the first time, or already doing business there, and we help people entering the region for the first time to overcome the linguisitc and cultural barriers they encounter when making investments.

Our portfolio includes accounting & taxation, company formation, due diligence, legal services, and hiring & PEO, and we can assist with property purchases in Bogota, Cartagena, Mexico City, Montevideo, Panama City, San Jose , and Quito.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can assist you doing business and getting set up in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Or read about our team and expert authors.

Key services offered by Biz Latin Hub

Panama Versus Costa Rica

Retire in Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Colombia? | Expat Advice for Living Abroad 2022
  • Worlds top offshore haven
  • Bona fide tax haven
  • Uses U.S. dollar, meaning no currency exchange risk
  • Generous and easy-to-maintain visa policies
  • New residency by investment program
  • Strong economy
  • Diverse lifestyle options
  • Entrepreneurs playground
  • Super accessible, the Hub of the Americas, with direct flights to the States and Europe
  • Long-standing reputation as an overseas retirement destination, well-establishedexpat communities
  • High-quality health care
  • Dual coastlines: Pacific and Caribbean
  • Stunning natural environment: beaches, rainforests, rivers, lakes, etc.
  • Trailblazer in protection of environment and biodiversity
  • Progressive policies: widespread LGBT acceptance, high literacy rates
  • Stable government and economy
  • Mostly humid climate long rainy season
  • Poor service standards
  • High-quality health care isnt evenly distributed across the country
  • Road quality is among the worst in Central America
  • High cost of living
  • Tico timethe slow pace of life, doing administrative tasks can be painful
  • High import fees for goods brought intothe country
  • High costs to qualify for visa options
Belize Cons:
  • Limited access to quality health care
  • Poor road infrastructure
  • Limited selection of goods in supermarkets
  • Cayes and coastal areas can be impacted by hurricanes
  • Time-in-country requirement to maintain QRP status
  • Reputation for crime, gringo pricing
  • Foreign restrictions on property ownership
  • Over-development of tourist zones

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