In Panama, a retired American couple can live on the beach and eat farmer’s market fruits and vegetables all year-round, without sacrificing the conveniences and amenities of home for $1,500 a month — all in.
The cost of living is low compared to the quality of life in Panama, which is why the Central American country was named the best place to retire in International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index for 2016.
Already home to 50,000 US expats, Panama topped the index after raking in top scores across 10 categories including: buying and renting property, visas and residence, cost of living, environment and amenities, health care, infrastructure, and climate.
The list was compiled after consulting a team of correspondents, editors and retirees around the world.
New this year, voters were also asked to weigh in on two added categories which have emerged as important issues for expat retirees: healthy lifestyle and visas and residence.
Couples interviewed for the index raved about their new life in Panama, where the sweet life is described as not only cheaper, but simpler and stress-free.
“We’re healthier and living a better lifestyle here than we ever did in the U.S.,” says expat Mitzi Martain, who has lived on her farm near Santa Fe, Panama for nearly the last nine years.
Added Connie and Mikkel Moller who have been in Panama since 2012: “Our stress level is 10 percent of what it used to be.”
Utilities are a fraction of what retirees are used to paying back in the US, clocking in at around $100 a month for electricity, water, internet, cellphone cards, and trash pickup and allowing renters to live happily on $1,500 a month.
That can be slashed by up to half for couples who own their own property.
“In Panama’s capital I have the best of both worlds,” said IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch.
“There’s a growing cultural and arts scene…opera showcases, art exhibit openings and handicraft festivals…[and] there are so many new restaurants every week, I stopped trying to keep track.”
Here are the top 10 places to retire according to International Living’s Global Retirement Index 2016:
4. Costa Rica