Retiring to Panama with an elderly parent

My wife and I are planning to retire in Panama and can do so sooner if we are able to take an elderly parent with us.  She is in very good health, but we would want to have an occasional in home health care worker.  We are both fortunate to have jobs that we can continue from anywhere in the world and I have an annuity that pays $24k per year.  From a legal standpoint, how hard/easy would it be to make this work?  Would the government of Panama permit this?  My Mother-in-law also has Social Security.

It sounds like you have enough income to qualify for residency and live comfortably.  You can work remotely without a problem since your employer isn't a Panamanian company. You can hire anyone you want, home care worker, gardener, etc. As far as I know this is correct but of course consult a lawyer to be sure.  We (and many others) love Marcos.

Also, ask about employees. I don't know where occasional turns into enough hours that you need to pay benefits and meet requirements for employees. Again... a lawyer question.

$24K may not be enough depending on how you want to live.  If you will be caring for an elderly person I strongly suggest you live near Hospitals/Doctors which would put you in David or Panama City.

I think they will have a remote dual income in addition to the $24k pension. I believe that income qualifies, and the addtl income would make them comfortable, and medical affordable. I hear wonderful things about the health & medical care in Panama, and not just in the city.

Really?  We have lived here 5 years, and I would stick close to larger centers.  Even an area like
Altos de Maria, where lots n lots of older expats live, you are 30 min. to the main hwy., and then
another 20 min. to the nearest town Coronado, which has emergency healthcare, but no hospital.
So with a heart attack or a stroke, it would be iffy.  And after this length of time, I have heard of
so many cases that did not end well.  Even a small little medical thing, like a cut or bite if not
treated rightly or in a timely manner, can blow into a life or death situation.  And the panamians?
Well, they just end up dying in most cases, whether in the hospital or not, from things you rarely
ever die from in the usa or canada.  And I won't even mention the REALLY bad cases that I know of 
from the friends who themselves experienced it, or it will just spoil your day!,  They do their surgeries
and operations the same way they do their construction, lol.  Thats all I will say.

We live in David and like the peace’ of mind of having hospitals and health care only minutes away. If you are in a more remote area there probably isn’t ambulance service, or if there is they may not have gas, or expertise to do much more than basics.

I’m glad for the health care here. What I have seen and heard about from friends has been very good, and it’s affordable. As one of the many uninsurables in the US, a major illness or injury would have bankrupted us, and even something smaller was a hardship. As a nurse who worked manly with seniors, I was not impressed with a lot of the care in the US, especially care of the older people. And health care providers are tied up in reams and reams of red tape, communication is poor (in all my years I had the cell phone number of only ONE doctor), and you can’t just show up at the office and expect to be seen like you can here. Nothing is perfect and there are bad stories everywhere, but I’ll take care here over the US.

the WHO (world health organization) has some interesting statistics showing no significant difference between Panama and other key players when it comes to life expectancy at age 60. For those interested they even provide descriptions of the indicators/measures.

WHO stats site: … s/2015/en/
Here the stats with life expectancy

Probably too high level of course but still an indication that Panama is not doing bad. Assuming the statistics are correct they even show Panama progressing well.

Even in countries like Switzerland it makes a difference when you live in cities like Zurich, Basel, Berne or Geneva as opposed in some remote place when it comes to healthcare. I can tell about that based on personal experiences.

I full agree with the comments above with regard to elderly people being placed in specialized homes. 

I cannot agree more with the above comment when it comes to costs even if costs is not all... but it is definitely key. So it is not to go cheap here but to face economic reality. How much is a dollar, EURO, CHF worth when you compare Panama to North America, Europe? but I understand as Westerners we tend to feel much more comfortable "at home" and it is not fully unjustified ... I agree.

here the link to the stat with life expectancy: … 2.pdf?ua=1

I hope that works  :)

Chapter one shows the life expectancy at age 60 and how the figures changed between 1990 and 2013. Interesting...

Very interesting, thank you. Keep in mind also that Panama has a large indigenous population who don’t always use the available health care, and have worse outcomes in life expectancy and survival of children so they could affect the statistics. Panama also has a more relaxed lifestyle, and people have strong family and community ties which I believe affects health and well being more than we realize.

indeed some bias is possible and various factors can affect the data so figures should be used as indicators and with the usual caution

Now I would hope that life expectancy at age 60  is an "easy" figure less subject to bias... assuming there are good data quality in Panama  :cool: ... and I certainly was surprised by the good score of Panama on that scale  :)

WHO comment the statistic on life expectancy at age 60 this way
"The lack of complete and reliable mortality data, especially for low
income countries and particularly on mortality among adults and the
elderly, necessitates the application of modelling (based on data from
other populations) to estimate life expectancy [...]"

There is more information available on their indicator compendium, page 157 … m.pdf?ua=1

The age 60 number was right up there with the US. I can think of three Panamanian women in their 90s who are/were active and healthy (one died at 98) and many more men and women in their 70s who are very active. Retired people here tend to keep busy and involved.

I have no doubts. Sounds wonderful.... despite the less positive feedback I can read from time to time on this forum  ;)

I wish my employer would show compassion and fire me so I can enjoy life in Panama quicker and with some financial compensations that would make a move even easier  :D

The WHO figures for Switzerland seem definitely right btw

Life expectancy very interesting topic, average life expectancy in Panama = 78.12 .
81 for women,
75 for men, (men are prone to ingesting obnoxious amounts of deep fried food and booze)

Average life expectancy may vary considerably from province to province, with Panama and Chiriqui scoring high, and the indigenous regions scoring very low. And that is official data from the national health ministry, I found a link quite some weeks ago but now it is broken somehow. … 70398.html    (sorry it is in spanish but google translator can do the trick).

From personal experience as a Panamanian, someone in my family died at the age  71, no healthy diet of course even while having enough money to pay for proper health/nutrition counseling and healthy foods.  On the other hand other two persons in my family both lived past the age of 85, both of them were strong enough to even wash some clothing, cleaning their house and cooking for the kids. 

Medical care can be good, food can be good, if you and your parent's lifestyle is healthy and relaxed enough you will live long and happy lives. The stats are very accurate, panamanian retirees even keep themselves working  or occupied past the age of 75.


ATTY. Guerra

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