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Old 02-13-2010, 03:17 PM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
7,916 posts, read 16,793,012 times
Reputation: 5454

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I noticed the thread about retiring in the Philippines but didn't want to hijack that thread so I'm starting a new one. I just wanted to share my experience because I came very close to retiring in Panama. I've done alot of traveling to different countries and tried to find out as much as I could about the pros and cons of various places. One thing to keep in mind is the fact that nations often change their policies regarding the requirements for foreigners to move there. I went to Costa Rica a few years ago when that was one of the most popular places for Americans to retire and I looked at real estate which was generally very reasonable. Since that time they have made it more difficult for retirees to move there by making the requirements more stringent and real estate prices have increased substantially. Panama appeared to be the best choice after I researched everything I could find out about it. I even completed all of the paperwork, contacted an immigration lawyer in Panama City and also a realtor before I visited there. This was about three years ago so things may have changed a little but housing was an incredible bargain. Panama City is a very modern city that is filled with skyscrapers and new developments. I looked at a number of condominiums and I remember one place I really liked that was a three bedroom, brand new condo with views of the Pacific Ocean and the downtown area for just $87,000. Their currency is also the US dollar which makes it convenient and they're trying to attract people to retire there to boost their economy.
There are a few drawbacks. First of all you're not allowed to work because they don't want foreigners to take away jobs from the locals. Then of course it's a different culture with a different language and it's also quite hot and humid. However, they don't tax your income and if you buy a new place you won't have to pay any property taxes for twenty years. If you buy something that's ten years old for example then you still get ten years without property taxes. Even if you do buy a place with property taxes they're very low.
In the end I reluctantly decided not to do it mainly because my spanish is not very good and I felt like I'd never fit into the culture. In any case if anyone is seriously considering retiring to a foreign country there are many reasons why Panama would be an excellent choice.
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Old 02-13-2010, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Sierra Vista, AZ
16,133 posts, read 20,817,345 times
Reputation: 8293
Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
I noticed the thread about retiring in the Philippines but didn't want to hijack that thread so I'm starting a new one. I just wanted to share my experience because I came very close to retiring in Panama. I've done alot of traveling to different countries and tried to find out as much as I could about the pros and cons of various places. One thing to keep in mind is the fact that nations often change their policies regarding the requirements for foreigners to move there. I went to Costa Rica a few years ago when that was one of the most popular places for Americans to retire and I looked at real estate which was generally very reasonable. Since that time they have made it more difficult for retirees to move there by making the requirements more stringent and real estate prices have increased substantially. Panama appeared to be the best choice after I researched everything I could find out about it. I even completed all of the paperwork, contacted an immigration lawyer in Panama City and also a realtor before I visited there. This was about three years ago so things may have changed a little but housing was an incredible bargain. Panama City is a very modern city that is filled with skyscrapers and new developments. I looked at a number of condominiums and I remember one place I really liked that was a three bedroom, brand new condo with views of the Pacific Ocean and the downtown area for just $87,000. Their currency is also the US dollar which makes it convenient and they're trying to attract people to retire there to boost their economy.
There are a few drawbacks. First of all you're not allowed to work because they don't want foreigners to take away jobs from the locals. Then of course it's a different culture with a different language and it's also quite hot and humid. However, they don't tax your income and if you buy a new place you won't have to pay any property taxes for twenty years. If you buy something that's ten years old for example then you still get ten years without property taxes. Even if you do buy a place with property taxes they're very low.
In the end I reluctantly decided not to do it mainly because my spanish is not very good and I felt like I'd never fit into the culture. In any case if anyone is seriously considering retiring to a foreign country there are many reasons why Panama would be an excellent choice.
Check out Lake Chapalla, Mexico it has a large American Community with all of the Amenities.
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Old 02-14-2010, 10:55 AM
 
Location: SW MO
23,605 posts, read 31,471,910 times
Reputation: 29071
No thanks. I've lived in three other countries and while I've always enjoyed the experiences, it's also always been nice to return to the U.S.

My wife toyed with the idea of retiring to Mexico for awhile but I refused to go live in any Central or South American country, and especially in Mexico. Governments have a tendency to get overthrown, bribery and corruption run rampant, sometimes there are land ownership restrictions and crime can be off the scale.

I'm perfectly content being retired in an area in which people speak my language, the cost of living is handily manageable and I'm on the shore of a beautiful lake.
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Old 02-16-2010, 02:37 PM
 
13,316 posts, read 25,550,246 times
Reputation: 20495
Sounds like many places in the Southeast or South or Missouri...
As I watch the snow fly here in Massaachusetts, I'd be happy to retire here, if I didn't have to get on the highway in the snow to make a living. I could always hope to hire somebody to shovel if need be. Do people want to retire to foreign countries strictly where it's warmer and is assumed to be cheaper? I gather American (or European) ex-pat communities can be quite expensive.
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Old 02-16-2010, 07:16 PM
 
2,845 posts, read 3,935,154 times
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I have lived in Malaysia for 14 years now and do plan on retiring here. As MontanaGuy said, the rules seem to change a lot, but not always for the bad. Starting this year, retirees in Malaysia will be able to work up to 20 hours per week in selected, critical industries. Since I teach civil engineering (in the local language), and few graduates want to teach my subjects, there is a chance that I can continue to teach part-time well into retirement.

I would present one caution, however, to those that look at condo units for retirement options. In Malaysia, condo units are notorious for being presented in nice glossy brochures (swimming pools, manicured grounds, sidewalks with birds and butterflies fluttering nearby, etc.), but the reality is grossly different. Typcially, condo owners are assessed management fees for pool maintenance, groundskeeping and so forth, but once the developer turns management over to a management company, all bets are off. Pools go uncleaned, sometimes no water. Rubbish covers the grounds. People in the upper units will throw their rubbish out the window. Also, many locals buy condo units as investments, and end up renting to the factory owner who wants to put 14 Nepalese workers into a 2-bedroom unit. And so on. Nope; skip the condo and look for a regular house in a neighborhood of owner-occupiers.
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Old 02-17-2010, 06:15 AM
 
Location: Maryland
1,534 posts, read 3,780,673 times
Reputation: 2307
I'm in Costa Rica doing my snowbird gig, renting a casita from some retired US ex-pats and have done so for several years. There is a fairly large and established community of US and other foreign retirees down here. In general they seem pretty happy with their decision to live here, but a smaller subset of retirees are known to give it up and return home after 3-5 years. There has been an explosion in real estate costs over the last 5-10 years. Health care is excellent, cars and fuel are expensive, utilities and food are inexpensive. Rentals, especially if one goes "native" as opposed to living in a gated community, are fairly low by US standards. We never really considered moving here permanently, we're happy to visit annually but we prefer the US as home base. There is a website: welovecostarica, which I would recommend to anyone who is interested in some good information on CR.
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Old 02-24-2010, 12:36 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas
13,886 posts, read 25,311,688 times
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I considered Panama City and Boquete as well. Also looked at CR and Nica. Visited Honduras and Belize too. I finally decided I wanted the ability to work legally. I also wasn't thrilled with the cultural isolation aspect of the whole ex-pat experience.

I have lived in other countries so I thought I was an ideal candidate. The idea of being elderly and infirm in a foreign country just didn't feel right to me.
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:25 AM
 
12,686 posts, read 14,068,003 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowsnow View Post
I considered Panama City and Boquete as well. Also looked at CR and Nica. Visited Honduras and Belize too. I finally decided I wanted the ability to work legally. I also wasn't thrilled with the cultural isolation aspect of the whole ex-pat experience.

I have lived in other countries so I thought I was an ideal candidate. The idea of being elderly and infirm in a foreign country just didn't feel right to me.
I live abroad and have for ten years, and I am old and infirm...just to play the Devil's Advocate:

"Cultural isolation"...much of American culture, especially pop culture is everywhere...but it usually (thank the gods!!!) is not as abundant or as obnoxiously intrusive as it is in the U.S. However, on a daily basis one usually will not have one's every whim and want met by gadgets or services that we are used to in the U.S. In many foreign places one has to learn to live with more restraint, and much less of the I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now-my-way that is a pervasive characteristic of we Americans.

If you mean isolation from people, that can be overcome, but it takes time, by learning the language, watching the local news, being interested in what local people are interested in, etc.

"Elderly and infirm": I live in what is often described as a second world country, I do not participate in the national health plan, but I do use the local doctors and both state and private hospitals. I have a private insurance policy. I have found that medical and hospital fees are about half of what I pay in the U.S. - before insurance, and that the doctors are just as competent.

Long term nursing homes are in very short supply, however, and most very infirm foreigners hire caretakers to look after them...much cheaper than in the U.S.

I don't recommend, however, that most Americans even think of retiring abroad. We are simply too used to having things our way and resist - and resent - change, which, of course, makes relocating abroad misery for many.
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:10 PM
 
1,915 posts, read 4,605,233 times
Reputation: 1350
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevxu View Post
I live abroad and have for ten years, and I am old and infirm...just to play the Devil's Advocate:

"Cultural isolation"...much of American culture, especially pop culture is everywhere...but it usually (thank the gods!!!) is not as abundant or as obnoxiously intrusive as it is in the U.S. However, on a daily basis one usually will not have one's every whim and want met by gadgets or services that we are used to in the U.S. In many foreign places one has to learn to live with more restraint, and much less of the I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now-my-way that is a pervasive characteristic of we Americans.

If you mean isolation from people, that can be overcome, but it takes time, by learning the language, watching the local news, being interested in what local people are interested in, etc.

"Elderly and infirm": I live in what is often described as a second world country, I do not participate in the national health plan, but I do use the local doctors and both state and private hospitals. I have a private insurance policy. I have found that medical and hospital fees are about half of what I pay in the U.S. - before insurance, and that the doctors are just as competent.

Long term nursing homes are in very short supply, however, and most very infirm foreigners hire caretakers to look after them...much cheaper than in the U.S.

I don't recommend, however, that most Americans even think of retiring abroad. We are simply too used to having things our way and resist - and resent - change, which, of course, makes relocating abroad misery for many.
What country are you in? Was it difficult to retire there (bureaucracy, etc)?
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:13 PM
 
Location: Beautiful Downtown Rancho Cordova, CA
491 posts, read 1,097,181 times
Reputation: 399
Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
I noticed the thread about retiring in the Philippines but didn't want to hijack that thread so I'm starting a new one. I just wanted to share my experience because I came very close to retiring in Panama. I've done alot of traveling to different countries and tried to find out as much as I could about the pros and cons of various places. One thing to keep in mind is the fact that nations often change their policies regarding the requirements for foreigners to move there. I went to Costa Rica a few years ago when that was one of the most popular places for Americans to retire and I looked at real estate which was generally very reasonable. Since that time they have made it more difficult for retirees to move there by making the requirements more stringent and real estate prices have increased substantially. Panama appeared to be the best choice after I researched everything I could find out about it. I even completed all of the paperwork, contacted an immigration lawyer in Panama City and also a realtor before I visited there. This was about three years ago so things may have changed a little but housing was an incredible bargain. Panama City is a very modern city that is filled with skyscrapers and new developments. I looked at a number of condominiums and I remember one place I really liked that was a three bedroom, brand new condo with views of the Pacific Ocean and the downtown area for just $87,000. Their currency is also the US dollar which makes it convenient and they're trying to attract people to retire there to boost their economy.
There are a few drawbacks. First of all you're not allowed to work because they don't want foreigners to take away jobs from the locals. Then of course it's a different culture with a different language and it's also quite hot and humid. However, they don't tax your income and if you buy a new place you won't have to pay any property taxes for twenty years. If you buy something that's ten years old for example then you still get ten years without property taxes. Even if you do buy a place with property taxes they're very low.
In the end I reluctantly decided not to do it mainly because my spanish is not very good and I felt like I'd never fit into the culture. In any case if anyone is seriously considering retiring to a foreign country there are many reasons why Panama would be an excellent choice.
Thanks. Great Post. My wife and I are also researching Panama and are just about sold on it. We of course want to take several trips to get a feel for the country, but everything I've heard seems to indicate it is the best overall choice.

We have lived in many part of the U.S. and are used to the experience of not knowing our way around a new location and not knowing anyone. However, I know that a foreign country presents a different situation for a lot of reasons.

We are in our mid-50's and plan to learn to speak Spanish as well as we can before moving to Panama.

I have to admit that even five years ago, I would never have considered retiring abroad. However, our SS and retirement pension will be so small that it is almost out of necessity that we consider other options. I really don't want to live in some backwoods town in the U.S. that we have no connections to, living a miserable existence just because its cost of living makes our dollars stretch a little further. I am also concerned that the U.S. may not even be the place for not-so-well-off people to to live within 10 - 15 years.

Regarding becoming infirm in another country, what I have read is that a lot of Americans retiring abroad eventually return home when they can no longer live on their own and then take advantage of Medicaid.
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