In the News from Panama

Addressing the Real Estate Fears of International Retirees

As more and more North Americans look to retire in other countries, they must make tough decisions about international real estate. A myriad of important choices must be considered, as they weigh a competitive landscape and make selections that will have a long range impact on their golden years.

For many people, this is a scary proposition. There are a lot of horror stories from markets around the world, where retirees lost their savings or found themselves trapped in bad deals. But the concerns go beyond the real estate transaction, according a new survey by Clements Worldwide, the insurance company.

According to Clements’ survey, retirees are most concerned about political and economic upheaval, and terrorism. It wasn’t even close. Of the respondents, 92 percent listed political and economic stability as their biggest fear.  A potential health crisis or a natural disaster were the other biggest areas of fear.

Looking at the data, I was reminded why Panama is such a popular retirement destination. The survey confirms that it’s not just beautiful waterfront apartments drawing retirees. Panama’s stability, both political and economically, provide a comfortable environment to retire, especially compared to other markets. A growing GDP and an international environment set Panama apart from many countries. And Panama is far off the radar for the religious terrorism sweeping other parts of the world.

In many ways, Panama shines in any competitive evaluation of retirement markets. It is consistently named among the top retirement spots in the world. In addition to all the stability and safety factors available, Panama is well known for welcoming retirees from around the world, including one of the world’s most generous benefits packages. The pensionado deal includes discounts of anywhere from 20 to 50 percent on already affordable entertainment, restaurants, utilities and medical services.

The pensionado is a great deal, especially for retirees on a fixed income. A few days ago, my colleague Eddie Montes, who runs our property management operation, showed me a clip from the AARP newsletter (the association for senior citizens), that his father had noticed. The news item was from the newsletter’s “Saving a Buck” and it noted that Panama is one of the most economical countries to retire, thanks to the pensionado program.

As more and more of the aging population in North America explores their operations– considering all the risks and economic factors–retirees are going to play an increasingly important role in real estate in Panama. The Clements study found 24 percent of those elder people surveyed said they were considering an expatriate life within the next 15 years.

When those soon-to-be retirees start studying their options and weighing their fears, Panama is going to be their best choice.

Duncan McGowan is president of Punta Pacifica Realty, a Panama real estate agency focused on Punta Pacifica, the exclusive neighborhood of 18 towers perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

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