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Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

Posted by glenny56 (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 29, 10 at 11:48

Hi! My husband and I are middle income and with the market today are very worried about retirement in 5-8 years. We are considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador to make our retirement dollars go further. I understand that these countries do not charge you taxes on income earned outside of their country and the cost of living is much less than here in the US. If you have moved to another country where your $ goes further and is it safe, I would love to talk with you about it!

Thank you.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

I don't normally post a personal link, but we have friends who just moved to Panama and are now applying for legal residency. Like you, they could not afford to retire in the US. The three important lessons are:

1) If you don't speak Spanish - LEARN! Prices get jacked up the moment you start speaking English. In our friends' case, she grew up in South American and speaks fluent Spanish. He's trying to learn as fast as he can.

2) Establish your banking connection well before moving. For tax reasons (the IRS goes after banks holding US funds) the process is laborious.

3) Be prepared to move around before deciding where to settle permanently. At the very least, plan to visit several times before making your move. This is a very important decision and you should absolutely not rush into it. Our friends have rented a number of houses to try different locations, and all have their pros & cons.

The mountains are cooler but a lot more remote. Our friends lost their Internet access two weeks ago to a lightning strike and haven't gotten it back yet. They tried the flatlands, but the weather was just too hot to stick it out for more than a few months.

Here is their blog. It's well done, and quite entertaining.

Here is a link that might be useful: Luisa's blog on moving to Panama


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

A question I would have,are you intending on living in a "American" compound/community or among the regular inhabitants. From friends have mentioned that civil unrest is common in many of the South and Central American countries. Panama does not have as much but the expenses in some of the communities are as high as here.

Some of the countries you must purchase outright any property. Check on requirements for living in the countries and do not rely only on real estate agents. HGTV makes it look easy but you will be considered a 'have' by the 'have nots'.


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

I have been to Columbia and several of the nearby islands, they are not safe in spite of what people tell you. Puerto Rico is an American colony or territory, and the guides there told me it was safe. It is not. I met the sister of a man who married a woman in San Juan. He set up his dental practice there and raised his children there. He carries a gun with him at all times. He has a gun in every room of his house. He has security doors on his dental office. His children came to the US for their education and won't move back. They beg their mom and dad to move to the states where it is safe. Some of the islands do have American compounds and it safe there, but I would feel like a prisoner.


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Puerto Rico

"Puerto Rico is an American colony or territory, and the guides there told me it was safe. It is not."


I believe them. I have an uncle who lives here in a gated community. You pass a guard house to get in. Once the guard has checked your license to make sure its ok to let you in, you drive to your house where you have to open an electronic gate to get in the driveway. After that closes behind you, you get out of the car to open yet another (sliding) gate before you even get to the front door! I noticed that many houses (outside of the gated communities) had bars on the windows.

While I was there, we took a drive along the old scenic highway. On the way back we drove through an unfamiliar area where we saw men in uniforms standing on street corners holding rifles.

I would not feel comfortable living there either.


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

I've been thinking about retiring to Panama, I've been trying to make contact with someone who lives there and would be willing to email back and forth about the day to day in Panama


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

bob, please read the blog I linked in my first posting. Our friends live in Boquete, and this is the fourth city in Panama they have moved to.

Unlike other countries mentioned above, they feel very safe and have never felt the need to live in a gated community, although of course they are available in Panama if that's what you want. But there are some serious disadvantages to moving overseas, so you really need to have a long-term strategy and execute it in phases. Just jumping in increases the odds it will not be anything like what you think.


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

Thank you to everyone who responded to my "post"! I am still researching, but I believe we have now added Belize to our list! They speak English there and it might make it easier for us. We aren't against learning Spanish, it's just not as easy as it sounds when you aren't surrounded by it all the time. We feel that moving just for economic reasons isn't enough. We want to participate in the culture and community as well. I'll definitely check out the link provided and again thank you...!!


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

International Living (magazine and website) recently featured Uruguay as a retirement haven. You may wish to look into this - there's 3 or 4 articles in the series; one is linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Uruguay article


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

I seriously considered moving to one of the Caribbean Islands or somehwere is South America and did quite a bit of research. The thing that persuaded me not to pursue that dream was the lack of really good medical/hospital care.


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

Wife and I have thought about all of those, also even places like Bulgaria, we have looked everywhere.
When it comes right down to it we have decided to retire in OREGON LOL.
We can or at least could last time I checked buy a decent 2-3 bedroom 2 bath nice house near the river with 2 acres of land for right around $150,000 or less.
We are going to make it extremely efficient if it isn't already, possibly solar panels, small wind turbine.
have a good sized about 20'X30' greenhouse.
We will be paying less than we are now in mortgage in bills and actually will be making a bit more money in retirement especially once the annuities kick in.

plus Oregon is beautiful, nice people, mostly all are progressive democrats, large atheist/agnostic population so not surrounded by religious nuts.
No state tax.
Still reasonable prices on land and homes.

Every place we looked elsewhere were all being bombarded with gringos buying everything up quickly causing prices to skyrocket.
Just got tired of looking for Shangri La, it may exist somewhere but Oregon is looking real good to us.


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

One more thing to consider: Medicare does not extend beyond the borders of the US and it protectorates.


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

Doesn't much matter because most of the planet, at least anyplace you would really want to retire to has Universal Healthcare and has better medical care than we do here.

It would be a concern in only a few countries that your Medicare doesn't follow you.


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

I love Oregon but until recently anything under $200K was very small and to be honest a dump. Each year when I go I have been looking for something to have after my husband dies with no avail. One thing about Oregon though is the have both estate and inheritance taxes. I too am exFed but will need medical care as I age many areas of Oregon have little medical coverage and most will send you to larger cities. I do love that you do not have to pump your own gas and the pump people do not expect tips.


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

I have seen some rather nice houses around Bend for under $200,000, that is where we are planning to go.
They combined estate and inheritance tax, its all the same thing now and doesn't even affect you unless its over 1 Million dollars so not ever going to affect us.

Nice that they do not have State tax though.

But I do think that they tax retirement pay as income which sucks.


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

we're selling our home in vermont and traveling a bit before we settle down again. much as i love vermont is's quite an expensive place to live, and i have been wondering where else in the country i might find similar minded folks. sounds like oregon might be the place,so i'm real glad you posted.
i've also been researching latin america as a winter home, but for various reasons that's taking a back seat to the living in an rv idea.
it's good to have options though!


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

Yes Oregon is a nice state, totally Blue politically which means the state isn't out to screw you in every possibly way like most Red states.
Most in Oregon depending on the area are 1960s Californians so very laid back, nice.
It is the only state I have been in since the early 70s of which you still see several hitchhikers on the roadside thumbing, you will see a bunch of cars on the roadside in places which usually turns out to be a natural hotspring which if you hike a bit up the stream there will be a big group of people relaxing in a hot spring, many times skinny dipping.
The roads are well maintained, just an overall nice state.


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

Have you considered english speaking Belize? It used to be called British Honduras ? there are very nice homes for a good price , check around Orangewalk,and Progresso, on the internet I mean. They have photos etc.
Money sense magazine reported Belize to be one or the 6 best retirement Countries , oh yeah Equador was one of them too.
google Belize expat forums


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RE: Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?

Oregon is a lovely state, but they are not considered tax-friendly at all. In fact, they tie CA as one of the highest overall tax burdens on residents.

That said, one of my bosses had a favorite saying: "Don't let the tax tail wag the dog!"

Here is a link that might be useful: Kiplinger state-by-state interactive tax map


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