My Top 10 Reasons to Retire in Panama

Posted by Debbie Fishell - Escape Artist Panama

on Thursday, 13 February 2014 19:31

6-top-reasons-to-retire-1110x400After years of research, why I chose Panama as my new home

1) The stable political environment

After General Noriega’s regime ended in 1989, Panamanians decided they would never again allow a military general to become a dictator and closed down the military. They hold free Democratic elections today and are very active in the political process.  Panamanians enjoy freedom of speech, press, and religion. The country is protected by a National Police force and Panama is ranked as one of the safest countries in Central America.

2) The currency is the US dollar

For Americans and others with dollars, this is just plain easy. The Panamanian Constitution forbids the government from printing paper currency. It can’t just turn on the printing presses when it wants more money (does that sound like another country you know?).  The wild inflation that has plagued so many Latin American nations does not exist here. In the potential event of devaluation of the US dollar, Panama also has its own coined currency, called the Balboa (1 to 1 value with the dollar), to which it can switch over.

3) Plenty of varied activities

There is definitely something for everyone in Panama! Panama City is a modern metropolitan city with restaurants, shows, clubs and all that a city dweller desires. The countryside is peaceful with beautiful scenery. There is horseback riding available, coffee and cocoa farms to visit and adventure trails that beckon. Many beaches on both the Atlantic and Pacific are great to surf, sail, fish, or sunbathe (often with no other people in sight!). There are also resort towns offering high class spa treatments and golf. Not to mention tours galore, from the Famous Panama Canal to exploring one of the seven indigenous tribes that still live as they have for years. I can’t imagine running out of things to do and explore.

4) Expat communities & networks already in place

There has been, and still are, a large number of foreigners relocating to Panama. English is widely spoken in the larger cities and communities where groups of expats have settled. I have found quite a few clubs and organizations that have formed through a desire to fill the needs of missed comforts from home, like book clubs and theatre groups, or just to connect with other expats. Need someone from back home to talk to? Many of these groups can be located through Google or found in a Yahoo group search.

5) Top-notch medical care available for less

Panama has high quality health care and modern hospitals.  Panamanian doctors generally complete their studies and residencies in other countries, and then bring their state of the art knowledge and technology back to Panama with them.   Many doctors are also affiliated with top hospitals and medical schools in the United States, like John Hopkins.  Punta Pacifica Hospital is one of the many hospitals in Panama known for having standards as high as those in North America.

Panama also has lower costs for drugs and health care, which is attributed to less-costly office facilities and pharmaceutical companies’ lower pricing.  The average Panamanian earns $500 per month and healthcare pricing is generally set accordingly.

6) A perfect climate for everyone (except for those who like snow!)

Panama has a mountain range running down the center of the country which is bordered by beautiful beaches along the Atlantic and Pacific sides. The mountains are mostly gently rolling and made up of volcanic soil which provides an excellent base for lush vegetation and a green landscape.  If you prefer a tropical climate, like me, you won’t be disappointed on either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts.  Temperatures on the coasts range from about 75-90 with higher humidity than the  inland areas.  If you prefer a more temperate climate just move up the mountainside and you’ll find it. The higher altitudes range from the upper 50’s at night to the mid 70’s during the day. No matter where you are in Panama you’ll have easy access to the beaches or the mountains when you want a change of pace. It’s almost impossible to be more than an hour’s drive from a Panama beach; 30 minutes is more common. Did I mention these temperatures are year-round? There is a rainy and a drier season but you’ll never need a snow shovel again!

7) A lower cost of living

How much you will save by living in Panama will be determined both by the amount you currently spend in your home nation and the lifestyle you choose in Panama. There’s such a great variety among expatriate lifestyles that it’s impossible to tell you how much you’ll save, but if you have any desire to spend less, you will find it far easier in Panama than in North America or Europe. Real estate, restaurant meals, entertainment and daily living expenses are generally lower across the board.  A simple life in the low-cost rural areas is substantially cheaper and it is possible to live quite comfortably.  Those choosing higher-cost urban areas will save less, but still enjoy many of the same amenities as back home, live comfortably, cut overall expenses, and save money. A lower cost of living has always been a primary reason to relocate to Panama and it remains a big one today.

8) An attractive pensioner program

One of the biggest draws for retirees is the very attractive pensionado program in Panama. If you currently receive a monthly pension in your home country of at least $1000 per month for an individual, $1250 for a couple, you may qualify for this popular visa. The pensianado visa offers an array of excellent incentives to foreigners who retire here. A few of the extensive list of discounts you can get by showing your card include 30% off public transportation (including buses and ships), 25% off Copa Airlines flights, 30-50% off hotel stays, 15-20% off at most restaurants, 10% off prescription drugs, 20% off the cost of doctor’s visits, and even a 25% discount on your telephone and water bills. In addition, you can bring in all your household goods free of taxes and import a new car every two years for private use.

Foreigners who become pensionados can buy and own real estate and enjoy exactly the same rights and protections as Panamanians, which is not always the case in many nations.  As for income taxes, you will be pleased to know that in Panama you pay no taxes on income earned outside of Panama.

9) The economy is thriving

As North Americans and Europeans know from their own experience, a healthy middle class is the foundation for a stable economy and a secure democracy; and Panama’s middle class is growing. The Panama Canal provides Panama with a large, steady, dependable income and will continue to for years to come.  It is a source of thousands of well-paid jobs for Panamanians (with the $5.2 billion expansion of the Panama Canal, currently underway, adding even more). These are jobs that pay considerably more than picking coffee beans or cleaning houses.

But there is more than the Canal to Panama. International banking, maritime services, manufacturing, and shipping combine to provide more jobs and tax revenue than the Panama Canal. Panama is also home to the second-largest free trade zone in the world (Hong Kong is the largest) which has had a dramatic impact on the economy, employing twice as many people as the Canal. Panama’s economy is far more modern and service-oriented than you might expect. The roads are in good condition in most of the country and internet service is widely available. This means stability not only for Panamanians, but for those of us who retire there.

10) Foreigners are welcome. Really!

If you’ve done much international traveling, you have probably been looked at with awe or downright dislike in a few foreign countries. One of the things that I noticed on my first trip to Panama was the genuine friendliness and acceptance of foreigners by the Panamanian people. I find this to be true all over the country, regardless of economic status. This may be due to the introduction of hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to Panama over the years, including tens of thousands of Americans assigned to support the Canal before its turn-over to Panama in 1999. Panamanians are perfectly comfortable with people from other nations. English is widely-understood and also spoken by many of those who deal regularly with expatriates, although many Panamanians are hesitant to speak it at first, for fear of embarrassment, as is so often the case in reverse! No matter how little Spanish you may know, try speaking to locals with it and you are guaranteed to bring smiles. The people of Panama are just plain friendly and a pleasure to know.

11) And in summary….

The factors above are just a few of the reasons why I chose Panama for my new home.  One of the main reasons, which can’t be substantiated by facts, is that it simply “feels right” here.  Panamanians are among the most pleasant, relaxed people I’ve ever met. Panama is still a relatively young nation and has its growing pains, but it’s made a great deal of progress already and is headed in the right direction. There are numerous opportunities for residency, investment, and exploration.  We’ve found that we can live comfortably for much less money and far less stress. We save money living in Panama, but we also bring money, create jobs and open new possibilities for Panamanians.  These reasons and more is why Panama is such a good place to retire.



Is It Over, and We Just Don’t Know It?

Posted by Tom Blumer via PJMedia

on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 16:18

constitution off switch big 2-6-14-2Has the U.S. lost their Founders' government?

Historians have a tough time agreeing on many of the turning points in ancient history.

(The republic) began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, c. 509 BC, and lasted over 450 years.

* * * * * *

Towards the end of the period a selection of Roman leaders came to so dominate the political arena that they exceeded the limitations of the Republic as a matter of course. Historians have variously proposed the appointment of Julius Caesar as perpetual dictator in 44 BC, the defeat of Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, and the Roman Senate’s grant of extraordinary powers to Octavian (Augustus) under the first settlement in 27 BC, as candidates for the defining pivotal event ending the Republic.

There’s little doubt that the United States of America has reached a point where, relatively unhampered by legislative or judicial barriers, its president and his bureaucracy exceed the limits of the nation’s Constitution “as a matter of course.” They in turn are quietly but effectively under the control of our “independent” central bank.

Decades from now, it’s possible that historians will look back and conclude that the American experiment, which began with its declaration of independence from and defeat of Great Britain, ended sometime between 1999 and 2014. As with Rome, the pivotal event isn’t obvious, and the list which follows isn’t all-inclusive.

The failure by the U.S. Senate to convict Bill Clinton after his impeachment by the House was the first signal that the rule of law might not matter any more. These days, the law seems to be whatever Barack Obama and Eric Holder want it to be.

President George W. Bush’s formation of the mammoth Homeland Security Department and mission creep at the National Security Agency after the 9/11 terrorist attacks consolidated awesome and disturbing powers in very few hands. Now both outfits are out-of-control monsters.

The 2007-2008 crackup in housing and mortgage lending would be a leading candidate for the pivotal moment prize if one believes that it was the result of decades of conscious effort. Evidence that it was, including the Community Reinvestment Act and HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo’s 1990s housing discrimination directives, both of which forced banks to make loans to vast numbers of borrowers who couldn’t repay, is compelling. Compounding the problem, government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “routinely misrepresented” the quality of both the mortgages they packaged for the securities markets and those they kept on their own books for 15 years. The amounts involved were in the trillions of dollars.

It would have been painful in the short term, but the nation’s economy would likely have recovered, as it always previously had, from that Cloward Piven-like attempt to collapse the system if a frightened George W. Bush administration, opportunistic Congress, and conflicted Federal Reserve hadn’t intervened in the fall of 2008. But they did, and heavy-handedly. Congress passed TARP, despite citizens’ overwhelming opposition. Bush’s Treasury Department then used it to “put a gun to the head” of big-bank CEOs, forcing them to accept government “investment” and de facto control, which the Dodd-Frank legislation solidified two years later.

All the while, the Fed engaged in a massive, undisclosed bailout of domestic and even foreign banks, followed by what became known as “quantitative easing.” And $4.1 trillion later, our central bank’s tiny cadre of suits and skirts now has the ability to almost instantly send the economy into a tailspin any time they see federal government policies or actions they don’t like. Don’t think for a minute that the three branches which nominally run our government don’t know this.

Historians may conclude that the presidential election of 2012 was the last chance to undo the authoritarian encroachment. Pervasive Obama administration harassment of political opponents by its Internal Revenue Service, serial lying about the September 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, and the mother of all 21st century lies — “if you like your health care plan, doctor, medical provider, and drug regimen, you can keep them” — inarguably delegitimized its result.

Things have now gotten so out of hand that a president consumed with arrogance can go in front of his nation and tell it that he plans to exceed his constitutional authority — and get a standing ovation from the same people who said they were scared to death of “the imperial presidency” a decade ago.

Obama acts as if he’s untouchable, and he seemingly is. If there’s a level of defiance or incompetence which will lead to serious calls for his removal, we haven’t yet reached that threshold — one which would long since have been crossed with any other president of either party.

Just days after his State of the Union address, we saw a cocky president comically declare that there’s “not a smidgen of corruption” at the IRS. He then stood by as the agency, in a clearly in-your-face move, handed out millions in bonuses to employees.

A short time later, we learned that the Health and Human Services Department allegedly allowed programmers from Belarus, a country which should be considered an enemy, to be involved in producing the objectively not-secure HealthCare.gov web site supporting Obama’s so-called “signature achievement,” the Affordable Care Act. The intelligence community believes that these programmers may have deliberately installed malware, which “could be used to covertly route data from the Obamacare website to foreign locations.” Since the Obamacare computers have access to a myriad of other federal databases, our enemies may literally now have the keys to the kingdom. As of when this column was written, this shocking development had barely made a ripple.

I certainly hope I’m wrong, and I’m not suggesting that we hang our heads and give up. But it sure feels like we are already in the grip of post-constitutional despotism. The best counter-argument right now is that some in Congress have finally determined that passing laws or even discussing legislation while a lawless president is in office is a pointless exercise. Will enough of them figure that out in time to begin taking the country back?




You, Taxpayer, Come Hither

Posted by David Thompson via SmallDeadAnimals.com

on Monday, 10 February 2014 02:02

UnknownNovelist Brigid Delaney is just better than us:

As a member of our creative caste, Ms Delaney wants to capture the buzz and thrum of city life. She wants to inspire "recognition" and, above all, "empathy." It's just that she'd prefer not to empathise too much with those non-creative people. Say, by working for a living and paying her own bills. via http://smalldeadanimals.com



You'll Be Surprised How Many Donuts Worth Of Sugar Are In These 10 Everyday Foods

Posted by Dina Spector - Business Insider

on Thursday, 06 February 2014 13:21

Some foods contain a shocking amount of sugar.

To visualize this, we compared the amount of sugar in foods that are not traditionally thought of as dessert items, like yogurt and apple sauce, to the amount of sugar in a chocolate glazed donut — about 13 grams.

Nutritionists recommend limiting added sugar to 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men. For reference, 4 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon of granulated sugar.

Added sugar only includes things like cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup that aren't found naturally in ingredients like fruit and milk. Keep in mind that naturally-occurring sugars and added sugar are combined on nutrition labels as "total sugar." 

(A similar post from Dana Liebelson at Mother Jones inspired our list of high-sugar foods. See their list here.)

Fruit-flavored yogurt = 2 chocolate glazed donuts.

....continue reading & viewing 10 more foods HERE




....continue reading & viewing 10 more foods HERE



What's in Millennials' Wallets? Fewer Credit Cards

Posted by Emily Alpert - Los Angeles Times

on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 20:23

Boom-bust cycles leave the millennial generation more wary of credit card debt and more prone to thrifty lifestyles.

UnknownRinged by the posh shops of Beverly Center, Tim Ratliff said no — he didn't have a credit card. He didn't need one.

"I just hear so many horror stories about people being in debt," said Ratliff, 21, who studies psychology at Ohio State University. "When you have a credit card, you feel like you have a lot of money when you don't."

Ratliff is like many young adults, emerging data show. His generation, dubbed millennials by academics and marketers, grew up during the boom and bust cycles of the U.S. economy over the last decade and a half — crises that appear to have reshaped their attitudes toward spending and debt.

Millennials, who range from teenagers to people in their early 30s, are more financially cautious than the stereotype of the spendthrift twentysomething, several studies suggest. Many embrace thrift.

Some experts say their habits echo those of another generation, those who came of age during the Great Depression and forged lifelong habits of scrimping and saving — along with a suspicion of financial risk.

"Both generations had a childhood memory of wealth and then saw that wealth yanked out from under them" in or around their teenage years, said Morley Winograd, who has co-written several books on the millennial generation. Though the pain was much more severe during the Depression, "Both generations are very conservative spenders," Winograd said.

During the economic downturn, while older households ran up credit card debt, younger households whittled it down, a Pew Research Center analysis of federal data found earlier this year.

More young households had no credit card debt in 2010 than was the case in 2001, the data show. Among those who did owe on their credit cards, the median amount fell from roughly $2,500 to less than $1,700.

Maria Garcia, 30, said she gave up her credit card seven years ago. "The fees — they get you," said Garcia, a mother studying Web development at Los Angeles Harbor College. Her attitude these days is, "If I can do without it, I'll do without it."

Other studies hint that Garcia is not alone in that attitude: Young adults were less likely to report using a credit card for everyday expenses than the average adult, a National Foundation for Credit Counseling survey found. Another survey from the Corporate Executive Board, a business advisory company, found that millennials with credit card debt feel worse about it than older adults do.

"They're keenly aware that the decisions made by their parents, politically and economically, have put them behind the eight ball," said Michael D'Antonio, co-author of "Spend Shift," which draws upon an international opinion survey about values and spending. "This is the screwed generation — and I think they know it."

Many young adults have forgone big purchases. Millennials buy fewer cars and own fewer homes, federal data show.

They cook from scratch more often than older adults, are more likely to try homemade beauty treatments, and are more apt to use coupons to find deals, the market research firm Information Resources Inc. found in a survey last year.

In recent years, Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveal, young adults between the ages of 25 and 34 spent less annually on entertainment than those ages 65 to 74.

Even as they cut back on spending, millennials started saving for retirement earlier than older generations, according to studies by Merrill Edge, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.

"It's not that we're more pious about saving money," said Nona Willis Aronowitz, a 28-year-old Pipeline fellow with the progressive Roosevelt Institute who writes about generational issues. "It's more that we have no idea what the future looks like. We're not sure if we'll have our jobs in six months."

Aronowitz added that many millennials who went to college also are burdened by ballooning student loans, making them loath to load up more debt.

Yet despite their thinned wallets, young adults were more likely than any other group — including households making $90,000 or more — to say they were happy with their standard of living, a Gallup survey found two years ago. In another Gallup survey last month, they were more likely than adults ages 30 to 64 to say that their financial situation was good or excellent — which nearly half of them asserted.

In some quarters, thrift has become cool, reflected in the do-it-yourself stylings of Los Angeles hipsters and economical new apps and websites.

"As a kid, if you had a patch on your jeans it wasn't cool — people made fun of me," said Jonaya Kemper, a 27-year-old preschool teacher who grows her own vegetables and sews her own sundresses. "Now they ask, 'Can you teach me?'"


September 3, 2013 | By Monte Morin
At least 200,000 Americans die needlessly each year due to heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, and more than half of these deaths occur in people younger than 65, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of these premature deaths could be prevented by quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure, keeping cholesterol levels in check and taking aspirin when recommended by a physician, public health experts said. "These findings are really striking.



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