This is the question that many expats have to ask themselves. Both countries have beautiful beaches, a lower cost of life, and tropical weather. However there are certainly differences. Let’s compare retirement in Panama and retirement in Belize.
Retire To Panama
Weather-Panama City can be hot as hell. It is also tough to stay dry, either the sweat or the rain storms will get you. Additionally, wearing beach clothes is unfashionable when you’re in the city so there is no relief there.
However, when you are in the interior, it is a different story. The refreshing ocean breeze makes things much more bearable. Mountain areas such as Boquete can even be described as cool.
Currency-Dollar is the currency. This is convenient and helps make Panama the most stable economy in Latin America.
Crime– Panama has the second lowest crime rate in Central America, making it one of the safest places for retirees and residents.
Access To The United States– The major gateway airports with direct flights to Panama City are Miami and Dallas (on American), Houston (on Continental), Atlanta (on Delta). It is approximately four hours flying time from Houston, Dallas, and Miami. It is slightly longer from Atlanta. There are also direct flights from JFK and LAX (on Copa) that take about 5 hours.
Retiree Benefits- To qualify for pensionado status, you must have a regular pension of at least US$1,000 per month. Panamanian pensionado benefits include-
•50% off bus, boat, and train fares
•25% off airline tickets
•50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, theaters, concerts, etc.)
•50% off hotel stays Monday through Thursday
•25% off hotel stays Friday through Sunday
•25% off at sit-down restaurants
•15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
•15% off at fast-food restaurants
•10% off prescription medications
•15% off dental and eye exams
•20% off medical consultations
•20% off professional and technical services
•50% off closing costs for home loans
Language- Spanish is the official language although the country is quite bilingual, especially in the city, English is widely used.
Retire To Belize
Weather- Belize is typically hot and humid all year-round. Temperatures vary by only about 4°C between the coolest part of the year (December to March) and the hottest (May to September).
Currency- Belize’s currency, the Belizean dollar (BZ$), has been fixed for many years at US$0.50.
Crime- Belize has a higher crime rate but it is mostly limited to Belize City which isn’t a retirement destination anyway.
Access To The United States-Nonstop flights are available from Belize City to Houston, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Retiree Benefits– Belize grants many incentives designed to encourage foreigners to come and bring their money. These incentives include a permanent exemption from all Belize taxes, including income tax, estate tax, capital gains tax, and import tax on household goods (up to US$15,000), automobiles, boats, even airplanes.
The only requirements are that you or your spouse be 45 years of age or older, that you consider yourself to be retired, and that you show that you have at least US$2,000 a month in income to support yourself in Belize (not necessary from a pension, but from any source).
Language– The official language is English although it can be difficult to understand people due to the different accent and dialects.
So as you can see, it’s tough to decide whether to retire to Belize or to retire to Panama. However, to learn more about overseas retirement, sign up for the Live and Invest Overseas free daily e-letter.