Sweet Spots For Retirees In 2015

If you are counting your days when you will leave active duty and plunge into leisure time and whatever you feel like doing without constantly looking at your watch, there are several places where you can build your nest as a retiree.

Each year, International Living Magazine releases its Global Retirement Index to help point retirees in the right direction. The survey relies on a combination of  first-person accounts from their legion of international correspondents and editors, as well as data from the World Bank and the World Health Organization. Countries are ranked based on a range of factors, including real estate, cost of living, ease of fitting in, health care costs/quality, infrastructure, and climate.

According to ILM, the ten best countries to retire are the following in order of preference:

  1. Ecuador
  2. Panama
  3. Mexico
  4. Malaysia
  5. Costa Rica
  6. Spain
  7. Malta
  8. Colombia
  9. Portugal
  10. Thailand

Panama slipped from the top spot this year, but it’s still the second-best place to retire, according to IL. The benefits for expat retirees are probably the country’s biggest draw. Panama offers something called a Pensionado visa, which provides any foreigner who can prove they receive income from a lifetime pension or Social Security of at least $1,000 a month the ability to live there indefinitely. The visa also comes with some pretty sweet discounts such as:

  • 20% off medical services
  • 50% off entertainment
  • 25% off restaurant meals
  • 25% off airfare
  • 25% off electricity and phone bills
  • Lots of sunshine, friendly people and white-sand beaches
Panoramic picture of Panama’s modern skyline at daybreak. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

10 thoughts on “Sweet Spots For Retirees In 2015”

  1. I think Ecuador and Panama are the two best places to retire and get the most bang for your buck. The American expats population is getting larger and larger as taxes escalates in the States.

    With a steady income of around $1,400.00 a month a couple can live a confortable life in Panama.

    Best Regards,


  2. I’ve heard this, too, about Panama being the best place to retire. So many good benefits on the pensionado program. We are looking into different options in the next couple of years. It is getting very difficult of people in the US to retire because of escalating prices and taxes. We are very blessed to have been able to retire in our early 50’s.

  3. That is what many Americana are saying down here. Paying taxes and other services is getting more and more difficult to pay, thus traveling to South America or Central America makes a lots of sense.

    I was pretty impressed on the benefits offered by Ecuador as well. As a matter, traveling to this country just to get a feel of it, would be a good experience. Taking a camera with you would also add pizzas to the sojourn down South.



  4. Being second on that list is no shame. Of course, you always risk the curse of popularity: too many Yanquis heading your way! It’s Texas’s problem right now, at least to a degree. Many people are moving here because of our booming economy, and yet they want to transform Texas into what they just escaped. People can be so funny!

  5. American expats are coming to Panama in large crowds, mainly headed to the highlands of Chiriquí due to its excellent Spring weather all year round.

    Generous discounts in Panama make your pension check stretch a long way. Ecuador is another country which is currently a magnet for retirees looking for a place to live after leaving active professional life.

    Boquete is considered the best place to live in Panama. I fully agree; it’s like living in Paradise; however the real estate prices are rising rapidly even as we speak.



  6. As you know, Omar, I’ve been living in Panama for a bit over five years now. I live out here in Chiriqui, but not in the gringo ghetto of Boquete. The list of discounts is nice, but hardly a reason to move here. The reason to move here is simple…the Panamanian people. Panama tops many polls for having the happiest people on the face of the earth, and I believe that’s true.

    Let me say this about the discounts. I see a lot of expats using the right to discounts at restaurants every time they sit down and fill their pie holes. I don’t. First of all, the government DOESN’T reimburse the restaurant owners but they are required to give the discount. When I can eat at a family-owned restaurant and get a good meal, WITH a beer if they sell it, for the same price or less for a Happy Meal at McDooDoos I’m NOT going to beat those people up for 25% off that price. On the other hand, if I go to a place that’s part of an international chain, like TGIF, or to a large, expensive hotel restaurant, I DO pull out my card and take the discount. I usually leave THAT as the “propina.” (Tip)

    On the other hand I DO use, and am grateful for, the discounts at the pharmacy. Last week I had to get some meds for my COPD problem and the discount was $28 and change. I recently got new glasses. Nice progressive bi-focals (thank you Benjamin Franklin) with the tinting that darkens in the sunlight, the discount was $72 or, to be correct, here, B/70. And, since I don’t own a car and use the bus everywhere, I’m grateful for that discount, too. I’ll be going into David later this morning to do some grocery shopping and the fare, after the discount, is SIXTY CENTS!!!

    No, the discounts AREN’T the reason to move here. They were put in place for the benefit of the Panamanian “jubilados” and the government was generous to extend them to us expats as well. They’re a wonderful thing, but need to be used judiciously.

  7. Morning Richard,

    With a limited pensionado check, we have to squeeze every cent from the dollar we can. My wife and I are very careful to ask for discounts, because we need to.

    Usually we don’t go out to restaurants, but when we do, we take advantage of the discount. After all there are two meals to pay.

    Discounts for transportation is excellent. A few months ago I had to fly to David and got a considerable discount from the carrier. Many jubilados here are also very careful to request their discounts. Even the new Metro has a special rate for Pensionados. Electric bills and phone bills are also subjecto to discounts. We take those as well.

    I remember reading that Panamanians are the happiest people on the planet. You can eloquently see that during the Carnivals. I haven’t seen anything like it with the exception of Brazil.

    I spend about $100 each month for medicine, thus taking a discount for medication is a dramatic savings. Yep, overall, I would say that discounts in Panama is a way to increase our take home jubilado pay.

    Enjoy the rest of the day,


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