Retire To El Valle, Panama

Number One Place To Retire In 2009

Panama is the world’s top retirement haven.

That’s hardly news, you may be thinking. And, in fact, it’s hardly true.

I’m writing today to set the record straight.

Don’t retire to Panama. Don’t even think about it.

The truth is, you couldn’t if you wanted to. You couldn’t retire to Panama anymore than you could retire to the United States or to New Zealand.

You don’t retire to a country. You retire to a city or a village or a beach or a neighborhood…

You could, therefore, for example, contemplate the idea of retiring to Panama City.

What a thought. The city from where I write this morning is at the top of the list of the world’s best offshore, tax, banking, and business havens. But retirement? Maybe if you’re looking to start a business during this phase of your life. Otherwise, you might find it hard to put up with the racket, the mud, the crowds, the crazy traffic, the testy taxi drivers, the ever-present construction crews… If I weren’t here to do business, I know I would.

I don’t recommend Panama City as a retirement haven.

Neither do I, any longer, recommend Boquete, the picturesque mountain town of wildflowers and waterfalls in this country’s interior. The tiny outpost has been so widely recognized as the best place on earth to spend one’s retirement years that that statement is no longer true. Boquete is beyond discovered, and the cost of real estate in the region reflects this.

Still, big picture, Panama is hard to beat. As I explained earlier this week, its program of special benefits and discounts for foreign retirees is the current gold standard. As a pensionado in this country, you’re treated like a king (or queen).

Plus, Panama is a low-tax jurisdiction, a travel hub, and an international banking center. The cost of living is affordable. In particular regions, the cost of real estate is a bargain. The standard of health care in Panama City is excellent.

In my mind, no country compares as a potential retirement haven.

So…what am I saying? Retire to Panama? Don’t retire to Panama?

That’s it. Don’t retire to Panama. Retire to El Valle.

That’s the word this morning from Overseas Retirement Letter Editor-in-Chief Lynn Mulvihill and her team, who, in their current issue, hot off the virtual presses, name El Valle, Panama, as the best place in the world to retire in 2009.

“After spending a month in the melting heat of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula,” writes Overseas Retirement Letter Contributing Editor Lucy Culpepper in the new issue out today, “we craved a cooler, greener place. Panama had been on our minds for almost a year, and El Valle–conveniently positioned not too far from Panama City, yet high enough to be cooler and less humid–kept popping up on our radar.

“El Valle de Anton (‘El Valle’ to the locals) lies at an altitude of approximately 2,000 feet in the Province of Coclé to the west of Panama City. The population of almost 7,000 is made up of natives, retired and working Panamanians, and retired and in-business expats.

“Apart from its natural beauty,” continues Lucy in her report, “two things are immediately striking about El Valle: its sense of community and the undercurrent of wealth. The town has grown along a straight, not particularly attractive, thoroughfare. But turn off the main road, down any sidestreet, and you’ll enter the other world of El Valle…”

You’re going to be hearing a lot of El Valle over the coming few years. It’s the next Boquete. It offers everything Boquete offers, including springlike weather year-round…plus some (it’s far more accessible from Panama City, for example)…and, because no one today knows it exists, it remains a quiet and, critically, a highly affordable place to enjoy your retirement days.

The world will catch on. Meantime, dear would-be retiree abroad, get ye to El Valle today.

If you’re a subscriber to the Overseas Retirement Letter, watch your mailbox. Lucy’s full report on why and how to retire to El Valle, Panama, is featured in your current issue, on its way to you as I write.

Kathleen Peddicord

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