At the top of the list is Panama and Costa Rica both countries are considered the best places to expatriate or retire and live a happy life in the tropic....

Gabriela Pedrotti 2021-02-04 01:59:29

In these challenging times, where many are surrounded by drama from political differences and a crazy pandemic with consequences that have abruptly made changes in our routine and life expectations, many may be looking to start all over again in another country or look for a place where they can live away from the chaos in their home countries, maybe this new location is in the middle of the rainforest or in front of the ocean with yearlong summer temperatures.

Central America can be your next move!!! With great cultures, growing economies, and governments working toward making their quaint countries friendly and attractive to foreign money and secure for your real estate investment, this area is fast-becoming the hottest expatriation destination. At the top of the list is Panama and Costa Rica, both countries are considered the best places to expatriate or retire and live a happy life in the tropics.   

There are almost innumerable factors when considering which country is the best fit for your expatriation plans and getting accurate information will help you make the right decision to choose the country that fulfil your expectations and budget. Among these aspects are: cost of living, security, immigration requirements, real estate costs, tourism, accessibility, as well as other elements that need to be carefully weighed. 

Let’s take a look at these two countries and compare what each has to offer.


The country is internationally recognized as one of the easiest places to obtain Permanent Residency, reason why it is an attractive destination to relocate whether you apply as a single person or with your family.

Panama is working hard to attract retire foreigners by offering generous benefits to with the pensionado visa. You’re eligible for a one-off exemption on import duties for household goods. This is good for up to US$10,000. Retirees are eligible for special discounts depending on the service or good.

Even if the cost of living in Panama has increased in recent years, the expenses are still lower than in Costa Rica and much more than North America, especially if you’re moving to the countryside, to places like Boquete, Pedasí, Coronado, Bocas del Toro. The country uses the US dollar as its currency, making it very easy for US citizens.

- It is also easy to buy local products, which will save you money and help you to eat more healthily. Cost of goods in Panama is significantly cheaper than in Costa Rica.  In fact, many Costa Ricans come to Panama to take advantage of the better deals (particularly during Black Friday).

- When talking about Real Estate, Panama is definitely offering the best options. Prices are very competitive due to the great variety of Real Estate opportunities and you can easily purchase land, homes or condos for a fraction of the cost in Costa Rica.

Due to certain advantages such as good prices, tax incentives, and the rising popularity of Panama as an expat destination, a large retiree and expat developments in places such as Panama City, Boquete, Coronado, and Pedasi area becoming more and more popular.

- Panama is considered the “Hub of the Americas” due to its great connectivity through the International Airport of Tocumen, as well as domestic airports that can easily connect you with the world.

Copa Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Spirit flight directly to different cities in the US at moderate prices.

- When talking about places to visit in Panama, the unique variety of beaches and islands on the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean coast make this country a great place to consider living the rest of your life in front of the beach. Places like Pedasí, Playa Venao, Chiriquí Gulf on the Pacific Coast and Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean offer a unique combination of sea, wildlife, and adventures.

- Health Care in Panama, especially for expats, is private. The country has some of the best and most modern hospitals in Central and South America. Many hospitals in Panama City are at the cutting edge of medical technology. Public health care could be very limited, particularly in rural areas.

English is a common language among Panamanians and it is easy to always find people who can assist you when needed.


- In Costa Rica there are different types of visa, from retiree, long-term renter, permanent resident, or investor.  All of which have clear guidelines including the amount of guaranteed income needed from long-term annuities, savings, or pensions. The retirement visa requires a monthly income of at least US$1,000 per month.

In Costa Rica, imported goods could be very expensive. The high import duties make everything that isn’t local expensive. There are certain regions or cities (typically the most developed or heavily-touristed areas) where everything from rent to restaurants runs close to North American prices.

Costa Rica is a famous tourist destination – especially for green tourism - for that the country wins for being a great jumping-off point for adventures throughout Central America, however, the number of flights to Costa Rica are more limited than Panama.

The country is committed to protecting its natural environment, due largely to its importance in the country’s eco-tourism industry.  It’s also on its way to becoming the first carbon-free economy in the world.

Over 25% of the country is covered by protected National Parks and Costa Rica has some of the most stunning beaches in the world.

- Costa Rica offers a universal health care available to all citizens and residents, however, most expats opt for private health care.

Panama or Costa Rica, that’s the main question??? Both countries have their strengths and weaknesses as any other place in the world. Consequently, which country is best for you will depend on so many little details and information that our suggestion is to get in contact with local experts such as and make an easy and smart decision of moving overseas guided by people that will connect you with the bests.

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