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Hello. My wife and I are considering retiring overseas and have been researching various countries, particularly in Latin America. We have not yet visited Costa Rica, but hope to travel there in the near future. For many reasons, Costa Rica has long been at the top of our list as a potential retirement destination. However, Panama now offers some very enticing financial incentives for retirees and has become a popular expat destination as well. For us, it is not just about finding the “cheapest” place to retire – there are many other considerations, such as climate, health care, infrastructure, culture and safety. Also, I very much admire and identify myself with Costa Rica ideologically – a peaceful nation (no military), where government money is invested in the health and education of its people, respect for and preservation of the environment, etc. I would be extremely interested in feedback from anybody who has spent time in both Costa Rica and Panama, and why they ultimately chose to live in Costa Rica. A comparison of the pros and cons of these neighboring countries would be very helpful to us.

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jws,

 

Please search this forum for threads about CR vs Panama. Pros and cons have been discussed fairly recently. Incentives aren't the only reason for some people to choose one country over another.

 

And it's really all academic until you try both places out. Things that may not now be on your list may turn out to loom large after you've spent some time in a place.

 

Good luck!

 

regards,

Gayle

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Spending some time in each country will have you putting away the rose-colored glasses and looking at the reality. I have not been to Panamá, but I can tell you that a lot of the reputation of Costa Rica (environment, education and infrastructure, for instance) is illusion. There are good things, too. You mentioned no military, and I am on board with that, and also health care, which can be frustrating but is good quality.

 

Environment: Costa Rica is home of the most polluted river in Central America. Not very environmentally responsible in my opinion.

 

Infrastructure: Roads are terrible here, not to mention un-navigable sidewalks. There is little or no consideration for handicapped.

 

Safety: The crime rate has risen considerably since I moved here six years ago, mostly due to geography. Costa Rica is a prime stoping off place for drug runners.

 

I must say that for the most part, people here are great. I have had people go way above and beyond to provide assistance, whether it be giving directions (they have actually led me to where I want to go), helping me with my wheelchair (which I don't use all the time, just when I have to go a distance), etc.

Edited by Shea

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GO Panama>

 

Nice Beaches that are cheaper to eat, drink and party

Good and cheaper Health Care

Cheaper to eat

Cheaper Rent

Significant discounts for Expats that have Panamanian Residency in their hotels, resturants, etc.

Cheaper to drink beer and hard liquor

Cheaper to buy Appliances and computers

Everywhere is Air conditioned so you got to love that

Better price for Cars

Better Roads

Panamanians speak and understand more english

More air conditioned buses with a bathroom

Cheaper and less hastle regarding obtaining Panama REsidency

Better protection against crime as they have both a Military and Police Force

Lots of Banks that will not tell on you.

Better Plantain dishes that are soft and goohy.

 

Retire to Panama which is a better deal all around. I would have retired there but I found AMOR here in Ticoland.

 

I have visited Panama many, many times and I have a EXpat Friend who retired to Ticoland in 1990 and in the year 2006 he cut his Ticoland ties and retired to Panama in which he now has his Panama REsidency and truly loves the place. He conveyed many of the things that I have posted above and I 2nd it.

Edited by tibas9

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"If you hold a passport to any one of these countries, you, your spouse, your parents, your children under age 18, your children with disabilities, and your children aged 18 to 25 who are single and registered at a university can all claim residency. And this is not temporary residency requiring a series of renewals, as with most visas, but permanent residency immediately."

 

I saw this statement on the Panama site and I was curious on the phase, "registered at a university" which sounds like they could be in a university in the US. People on the forum often say the Costa Rica rule is the kids need to be in a Costa Rician University. Did I understand the difference between Costa Rica and Panama residency correctly as it relates to College aged kids?

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It is In a Panamanian University, the same as the Costa Rica requirement that the student be in 'their country'.

Not all applicants to Panama are American...

Edited by costaricafinca

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...and to Rick's enumeration of Panamanian advantages, I'd respond that it's all well and good if the only thing that motivates you is the cost. It may be Panama now, but, perhaps later, it will be Ecuador or Argentina or Vietnam or Thailand that offers expats the best incentives/lowest cost of living. Admittedly, I haven't been to all those places (have been to Panama, though, and would never choose it over CR), but you can always pick up and move to the next cheapest place, if that's what is most important to you. For me, I love CR!

 

regards,

Gayle

Edited by salish sea

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Thank you all for your feedback. I do not look at Costa Rica or any other country through rose-colored glasses. Most of the information I have about Costa Rica comes from reliable sources that tell both the good and the bad, so I am already aware of the negatives such as bad roads, heavy bureaucracy, and crime. And I realize that the only way to really get to know a place is to travel to it and spend time there. We hope to do this in the near future. But the more information I can gather from those who have already been to another country or are living there now, the better. This has been helpful. I will also search the forum for other posts regarding comparisons between Costa Rica and Panama. Thanks.

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...and to Rick's enumeration of Panamanian advantages, I'd respond that it's all well and good if the only thing that motivates you is the cost. It may be Panama now, but, perhaps later, it will be Ecuador or Argentina or Vietnam or Thailand that offers expats the best incentives/lowest cost of living. Admittedly, I haven't been to all those places (have been to Panama, though, and would never choose it over CR), but you can always pick up and move to the next cheapest place, if that's what is most important to you. For me, I love CR!

 

regards,

Gayle

 

Gayle, I am wondering how much all this matters. It seems like once one decides to retire, your narrow the locations down. There is not much difference between Costa Rica, and Panama physically (unlike a CR and Canada choice) ... what I mean is the political divisions are arbitrary and both could have been part of greater Panama if the US had needed the land when they took Panama from Columbia and we would be discussing locating in Northern Panama (aka Costa Rica) or Southern Panama close to the canal.. It seems the decision on where to live is which places have the most chance of making you happy. For some, money or saving money is happiness (real estate appreciation, secure banks, stable government) , for some it is all about being safe all the time (banking, crime, fraud, weather, etc.). It seems like the expat who is chasing the next big real estate boom in ND or the cheapest place to live in AZ will do the same thing when looking at countries because they think it will make them happy. But I think it all starts with understanding what makes one happy which is a more difficult question than it would seem. So, JWS0319, I do not think the question is Panama or Costa Rica, The question is what makes you happy - money, kids, safety, climate, freedom, etc- and than you can asks the question whether Panama or CR using your happiness criteria.

 

Second, any assessment is temporal. If you are going to be shifting from place to place because inflation, Obama or Bush is president, the roads and crime are getting worse, etc. you will be in flux where ever you choose and unlikely to achieve happiness IMHO.

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Gayle, I am wondering how much all this matters. It seems like once one decides to retire, your narrow the locations down. There is not much difference between Costa Rica, and Panama physically (unlike a CR and Canada choice) ... what I mean is the political divisions are arbitrary and both could have been part of greater Panama if the US had needed the land when they took Panama from Columbia and we would be discussing locating in Northern Panama (aka Costa Rica) or Southern Panama close to the canal.. It seems the decision on where to live is which places have the most chance of making you happy. For some, money or saving money is happiness (real estate appreciation, secure banks, stable government) , for some it is all about being safe all the time (banking, crime, fraud, weather, etc.). It seems like the expat who is chasing the next big real estate boom in ND or the cheapest place to live in AZ will do the same thing when looking at countries because they think it will make them happy. But I think it all starts with understanding what makes one happy which is a more difficult question than it would seem. So, JWS0319, I do not think the question is Panama or Costa Rica, The question is what makes you happy - money, kids, safety, climate, freedom, etc- and than you can asks the question whether Panama or CR using your happiness criteria.

 

Second, any assessment is temporal. If you are going to be shifting from place to place because inflation, Obama or Bush is president, the roads and crime are getting worse, etc. you will be in flux where ever you choose and unlikely to achieve happiness IMHO.

Good points Jim. We are still working on the question of what makes us happy and will probably not have all of the answers until we have visited several places in person. But I can tell you that we are not interested in Costa Rica, Panama or any other country for speculative purposes - buying real estate cheap then selling high and moving on to the next place, etc. For us it is partly about adventure (experiencing other cultures) and partly about quality of life. And we realize that no place is "paradise" - every country has its issues just as the U.S. does. But we do have at least one very legitimate concern about life in the U.S., which is the ever rising cost of healthcare. There are currently over 40 million people in the U.S. who cannot even afford health insurance. I work in the healthcare industry myself and I can tell you first-hand that it is becoming a national crisis. We do not want to spend the "golden years" of our retirement simply struggling to survive. So that is not the only factor, but as with many who are considering retirement overseas, it is a major one.

Edited by jws0319

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Good points Jim. We are still working on the question of what makes us happy and will probably not have all of the answers until we have visited several places in person. But I can tell you that we are not interested in Costa Rica, Panama or any other country for speculative purposes - buying real estate cheap then selling high and moving on to the next place, etc. For us it is partly about adventure (experiencing other cultures) and partly about quality of life. And we realize that no place is "paradise" - every country has its issues just as the U.S. does. But we do have at least one very legitimate concern about life in the U.S., which is the ever rising cost of healthcare. There are currently over 40 million people in the U.S. who cannot even afford health insurance. I work in the healthcare industry myself and I can tell you first-hand that it is becoming a national crisis. We do not want to spend the "golden years" of our retirement simply struggling to survive. So that is not the only factor, but as with many who are considering retirement overseas, it is a major one.

I am with you. Healthcare in the US is a disaster. It is not that Costa Rica is cheap .... It is actually normal ... It is that the US is out of control. Healthcare cost is the main reason I am leaving he US.

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Healthcare is the main reason I am in CR. In the U.S., health insurance would have cost way more than half of my income. Plus I would have had to pay co-pays and high deductibles.

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