We’ve blogged about multilingual legal translation services in the process of expatriation. As baby boomers retire, they are looking for options. They want to maintain the standard of living that they enjoyed during their working years, but many were not able to save up enough money for retirement. For some, retiring in a foreign country is an option. The cost of real estate is less and living expenses are lower, affording a higher quality of life for many retirees. As an added bonus, many of the top foreign retirement spots around the world are in warm climates.
According to several retirement organizations, Panama ranks as the most attractive place for Americans to retire. There is something for everyone in the tiny Central American country. It has major cities like Panama City, and more remote areas of the country like Bocas del Toro. A retired American couple can live comfortably in many areas of Panama for $1,500 a month.
Currency is one of top reasons for retiring to Panama. The U.S. dollar is the standard currency of Panama. While Panama does have its own currency, the Balboa, the U.S. dollar has been widely circulated in the country since 1904. Dollars are accepted at most establishments, so there is no reason for retirees to worry about exchange rates or getting stuck with a worthless foreign currency. Given Panama’s low cost of living, a dollar goes farther in Panama. Goods and services often cost half as much as in the United States.
Healthcare is also inexpensive. Many doctors in Panama were trained in the United States. They provide easily accessible and safe healthcare to retirees. In Panama City, there is the Johns Hopkins-affiliated Hospital Punta Pacifica. It has facilities and services similar to those that are available in any metropolitan area in the United States.
To cater to retirees, Panama offers a visa specifically for people who are receiving a pension or Social Security. Called Panama Pensionado Visa, the document is available to anyone who receives at least $1,000 a month pension or retirement benefit. Proper documentation of the payment is required. In order to apply for the visa, a Panamanian lawyer must draft the documents and provide proof of income. Spanish is the official language of Panama, so legal document will require a professional English to Spanish translation. That way the documents can be understood by both the English-speaking Americans and Spanish-speaking Panamanian officials.
If the documents are approved and the retiree is issued a Pensionado Visa, he or she will receive discounts on movie tickets, hospital bills, airline tickets, and phone and electric utilities. The visa also gives retirees the same rights as any citizen of the country.
Good deals are available on real estate in Panama. The country offers high-rise condominiums in Panama City and beach cottages along the sea. Buying real state in Panama is not complicated, because there are laws aimed at protecting foreign investments. Real estate transactions in Panama are fairly similar to real estate transaction in the United States, and involve an offer and acceptance by the buyer. There is then a closing period, which usually lasts around 45 days. Once the purchase is finalized, a title transfer takes place. A title search takes place prior to the sale.
While much of the transaction can be completed in English, legal translation of all Spanish documents is recommended. If a dispute arises between the buyer and the seller, the Panamanian court requires that all documents be translated into Spanish, as Spanish is the language used in the court system.
In addition to the business reasons for retiring to Panama, the Panamanian government, unlike some other countries in Central America, is stable and the country invests significant financial resources in infrastructure. The country has reduced its debt in recent years and has an improved credit rating. It has one of the fastest growing economies in the Western Hemisphere. As a result, real estate prices have remained stable even after the economic collapse in 2008.