----------------------------------------------- Google Site Map ----------------------------------------------- Cindy in ...: Panama: The Panama City Retirement Blues

Friday, May 16, 2008

Panama: The Panama City Retirement Blues

Well, Panama City is out as a retirement option. Rents have skyrocketed since I was here last. That was before several magazines annointed the country as the best retirement destination in the world. On top of that, wealthy and well-to-do Venezuelans are buying expensive luxury condominiums as a bolt-hole, a place to go if Chavez goes on a nationalization spree. Because one way to guarantee residency is to invest $200,000 in the country and keep it there.

What followed was a luxury building boom, and the typical legislative decision to start taking away the things that make it a great destination. For retirees, one of them is the guarantee that a retirement visa will be renewed at least four times, as long as you don't turn into a criminal and still have the income you qualified with. Starting at the end of August, the guarantee is for only one renewal.

The Panamanian legislature obviously think that people will be willing to spend a half million on a condo with no guarantee that they will be able to live in it for more than two years. But then, in practice, renewals will probably happen fairly automatically. Or the law will change. A new law that only allowed a 30 day stay for tourists, and required renewals for stays beyond that, lasted only a few weeks.

The exception is those that meet their pensionado income requirement using a government pension. Then the pensionado is permanent. Since the requirement is currently $500 per month for a single person, and an additional $100 per month for each dependent, that isn't a difficult standard to meet.

For some, the rise in values has made for large profits. Over on the couch here in the New York Bagel Cafe, a man just told someone that his $86,000 condo is now worth $700,000.

Sound familiar? Everyone is waiting for the bubble to burst.

No comments: