Retirees Wanted: Panama Among Nations Courting America’s Seniors

Share Article highlights countries competing for the attention of America’s retirees.

America’s senior citizens are at the center of an international tug-of-war as countries in Latin America and beyond go all out to encourage them to retire within their borders,’s new Retirement Index 2012 has revealed.

Researchers at discovered that a number of Latin American nations have introduced a string of measures aimed at encouraging American seniors to retire there.

In putting together the Index, editors collated data from a team of experts on the ground in the most popular countries among U.S. expat retirees.

Factors ranging from the price of bread and average humidity, to utility costs and the friendliness of locals were assessed.

The information was then used to score each country out of 100 in categories such as “Real Estate,” “Climate” and “Healthcare.”

In the “Retiree Benefits” category, several countries scored high due to organized packages of benefits for retirees, which appeal directly to U.S. citizens.

“An ever-increasing number of Americans are worried about how they are going to fund their retirement,” said International Living magazine editor, Eoin Bassett.

“What many don’t realize is that in many countries it’s possible to avail of attractive benefits, live much more affordably, and have access to cheaper, high-quality healthcare. Countries like Ecuador and Panama are putting their money where their mouth is.”

Ecuador scored highly in this category thanks to its senior-citizen discount program. Although intended mainly to help its own citizens, the country’s constitution guarantees foreign residents the same rights as citizens—so American retirees enjoy the same benefits.

These include 50% off public and private transportation within the country, 50% off tickets for all cultural and sporting events, including movies and 50% off electric and water bills. These are discounts on prices already typically much lower than in the States.

The Mexican Government has designed its own array of benefits.

Depending on visa type, these can include national health insurance coverage with a top rate of less than $300 a year for both medical care and medicines.

The Mexican Government also issues cards for senior citizens older than 60, regardless of nationality. Holders then get discounts on things like medical care and devices, airline and bus tickets, entrance fees to concerts, museums and archaeological sites. They also get a discount on property taxes.

However, Panama topped the Retirement Index in the “Retiree Benefits” category thanks to its generous pensionado, or pensioner visa program.

The Panamanian Government has gone all out in its bid to entice U.S. retirees. Those who choose to relocate to Panama can expect things like discounts of 50% off entertainment anywhere in the country, 30% off bus, boat, and train fares, 25% off airline tickets, 25% off monthly energy bills, 30% to 50% off hotel stays, 15% off hospital bills, 10% off prescription medicines, 20% off medical consultations, 15% off dental and eye exams, 20% off professional and technical services and 50% off closing costs for home loans, among other savings.

Retirees who do become a pensionado, are also entitled to a one-time exemption of duties on the importation of household goods (up to $10,000) and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation or local purchase of a car.

Plus, Panama’s pensionado law stipulates that anyone entering the country as a qualified retiree is guaranteed that status for as long as he or she resides there.

This means that even if future laws change the pensionado requirements, the status and entitlements of existing pensionados is secure.

Editor’s Note: Members of the media have full permission to reproduce the two articles below either in part or in their entirety, once credit is given to

Full details of the Retirement Index 2012 can be viewed here “The World’s Top Retirement Havens in 2012”.

An explanation of how each of the nations scored in the “Retiree Benefits” category can be viewed here: ”The Best Retiree Benefits in the World in 2012”.

Media Contact: For information about content republishing, available source material or to book an interview with one of our experts, contact Associate Editor Carol Barron, 772-678-0287 (US), CBarron(at)InternationalLiving(dot)com or visit International Living Media Center. For automatic updates on most current stories, follow International Living Media on Twitter.

For more than 30 years, has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. has more than 200 correspondents traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.


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