Panama has been recognized as one of the world's most appealing retirement options for nearly a decade. You may even be able to retire younger in Panama than you could afford to in the U.S. The age of those "retiring" in Panama is getting younger all the time.
Karen Snyder and her husband, for example, are a couple of 40-somethings who have been "retired" in Panama for five years. Prior to the move, Snyder commuted to work each day in Toronto, Canada, sometimes through snow and ice. "We decided we were going to figure out a way to take advantage of a 'retired' lifestyle even though we were nowhere near retirement age," Snyder says.
Karen and her husband took a leave of absence from their jobs and flew to Panama to test out a new life there. Now, five years later, "Panama is home," Snyder says.
The couple's biggest concern about moving to Panama was that they would be bored. Their families and friends told them they were crazy to be moving to a place where their new neighbors would be a bunch of "old retired people". "We did worry," Snyder says. "We wondered if we'd fit in, if we'd make new friends."
But the couple has now found a welcoming new community. "It turns out that those 'old retired people' are among the most adventurous we've ever known. They run circles around us sometimes," Snyder says. "Plus, there are more younger people like us relocating to Panama all the time."
In the five years Snyder and her husband have been living in Panama, they have become involved in several businesses. There's no shortage of business opportunity in Panama right now. Panama boasts the fastest-growing economy in the region and an expanding middle class. Big international companies are basing their Latin American operations in Panama City, meaning expanding populations of businesspeople and executives. Tourism is growing, which also means ever-greater demand for many types of businesses.
Even if you don't need or want to work, you'll find yourself fully occupied - if you want to be. Panama boasts well-established communities of expats and foreign retirees in Panama City, Boquete and Coronado. And members of these communities are increasingly much younger than typical retirement age. "Sometimes we have to close our door and say, 'No, we can't come to that pool party. We just need to stay in today'," Snyder says.
Moving overseas gives you something in common with other expats, regardless of your age. "Age isn't important. All the other expats I've met in the five years we've been living in Panama, all the friends we've made, we all have an important commonality that transcends age," Snyder says. "We all stepped outside the box. We all worked up the courage to take a chance and make this move. And just look at the adventures we're having as a result."
Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 28 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her newest book, How To Buy Real Estate Overseas, published by Wiley & Sons, is the culmination of decades of personal experience living and investing around the world.