I provide the majority of customer service for Retire in Panama Tours, through emails, chats and phone calls. Just in the last week, I have had 3 serious conversations with people, having to straighten them out on the facts. The first persons question was: “If I move to Panama with the Friendly Nations Visa, the $200,000 investment that is required, can part of that be a home I purchase?” Wow, I said, where did you hear that, there is no $200,000 investment required with the Friendly Nations Visa. “But sir, I think you are wrong, I heard this on Facebook, they replied. So I lead them to the proper place to get some facts, and they were quite relieved to learn the truth.
Another lady I talked to, told me she had decided that Panama was not for her, as she discovered online that if she moved to Panama, she would loose her Canadian Government Pension. Wow, again, did she get wrong information, and she made the decision not to move here because of it, and in her case, there is lots of bad information about this topic online, I have seen people posting this untruth all over Social Media. So, I directed he to the correct Canadian Government website, so she could get the facts, and Panama is now back on her radar.
Then there was the person that told me they are not considering Panama, because our waters here are full of pirates. We have had one unfortunate incident, in the last many years, in the waters off a remote area of Panama. But you know how media works, especially will you add Social media to it, you get a distorted picture.
This list of thing you need to make a move can be quite daunting. From immigration lawyers, health, home and auto insurance, banking, rentals, future real estate, shipping goods and importation tax, pet importation, cell service, utility hook ups, drivers license, etc, etc, etc. And remember, the majority of these things are done in a foreign language that most of you do not speak. You need to get down here, make some friends and connections that can help you out when you arrive here.
Probably one of the most important decisions to start, is the right lawyer. Please don’t take 3 – 4 recommendation from a Facebook group to choose a lawyer, that is a very small sampling. And stay away from the lawyers that troll the Facebook groups, if that is the only way they get business, you don’t want them. One of the biggest mistakes people make is choosing the wrong Visa. Panama has many visas although it is mostly known for the Pensionado Visa, you know, the one with all the discounts. Well, that in itself is not true, as all permanent Panama residents, no matter what visa you choose, who reach a certain age, 55 for women, 60 for men, receive the coveted Jubalado discounts that Panama is so well know for. The difference in a Pensiondo Visa and the Friendly Nations Visa, is with the former, you can never work. And I have seen some “retirees” decide to open a B & B, or small restaurant, but now they cannot work in it, as thy have the wrong visa.
Probably the second most important thing to look after once you are here is health insurance, and this gets very complicated. The insurance companies here, most of their polices and literature are in Spanish, some will have employees that speak some English, but in my many months of research into health insurance here, I did not find much English available. I highly recommend going though a reputable agent, as I have done price quoting directly through the companies and through an good agent, and have not seen much difference.
There are horror stories that you read about in forums that going through an agent will cost you double, that is not true, if you have the right agent. An agent can customize a plan for you, help you translate and understand the policy, and assist you when the time comes when you need to use the insurance. The insurance company is not going to do that for you.
I could continue to go through the entire list of things you need when moving here that I wrote above, but this article would turn into a book. It’s simple, you need to get here, and there are two ways of doing that.
Book a trip and come here yourself, and you will need at least 3 weeks to get a full handle of the country. You need to travel the country and look at all the great possible places that there are to live. You need to meet with multiple lawyers to find the right fit, meet with insurance people, rentals people, probably set this up before you come so you have places to look at. You need to talk to banks, and you will be surprised to know that not many banks in Panama open account for foreigners, especially if you are from the United States. You need to meet other expats, and hear there stories, make some friends, and learn from their wins and losses of their move to help make yours more successful.
Or, even better, come on one of our Retire in Panama Tours, where in 6 days and 7 nights we will cover more than you could possible do yourself in 3 weeks. We will visit every possible place in Panama that someone would move to, meet with all the experts that we know personally that will provide you the service you need if you decide to move here. We meet with expats for dinner almost every night you so you learn from them, and here their stories. We will show you rentals so you can see what you get in what area for what price. Yes, we can even get you that bank account open, for a foreigner in Panama if you want to when you are here.
Our service does not end with the tour, if you decide to move here, we can assist you in many ways, like meeting you at the airport when you arrive with your pets, and helping you through that ordeal. Helping you secure a rental for when you arrive, buying a car, getting your utilities hooked up, the list goes on. The best thing our our relocation tour, is that we have a small group size of between 6 – 10 people, so we can give you the personal attention that you deserve, and that each and every one of you have time to talk to the experts about your situation. And with our small group, we get to know each of you personally so you know if you decide to move here, you already have friends with the Retire in Panama team.
So get off the Facebook forums, and get to the booking section of our site, find a date that world for you and put down you $500 per person, fully refundable deposit. Use the contact page to send us an email or even call us with any questions or concerns you may have. View the testimonials of past tour guests to help make your decision. We look forward to showing you this great country that Oscar and I have loved for many years, but our job will not be to convince you to move to panama, it will be to give you all the accurate information and the important contacts you will need if you make the decision to move to Panama.
A short Video from our August Tour. In our tours we visit virtually every location in Panama where an expat is likely to move to, learn a lot of culture and history about the country, meet with experts in many different areas that will help make the move go smooth, and most importantly, we have a lot of fun!