Monthly Archives: February 2014

31 Reasons to check out Coronado Panama

31 Reasons to consider Coronado Panama

  1. In Coronado, you can increase your “standard of living” at about 40% of your present budget in North America or Europe. If your “quality of life” requires frequent visits to the ballet, opera and theater Coronado will not compete with New York City, Toronto, London or Paris.
  2. In Panama, you will forget about freezing cold winters common to much of North America and even Europe. You can live a “vacation lifestyle” all year long with little incentive to travel.
  3.  For example, the ocean temperature, across the street from our house, varies between about 79 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit all year. You can swim in your pool every day of the year in complete comfort.
  4. The so-called “rainy season” in Coronado starts in April lasts until November during which time there is an average of about one hour of heavy rain every three or four days after which the sun usually shines. Every several months you will also have to endure a full day of overcast skies with drizzle.
  5. Coronado has been described as a retiree, offshore tropical paradise for many years minus the hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and floods that plague some other “hot spots”.
  6. In 2013, Coronado Panama was picked as the “best retirement town in the world” by Kathleen Peddicord, who happens to be a well-known expert on this subject. For more than 10 years, International Living and other major international news organizations have rated Panama in the top two or three countries for retirement and living offshore.
  7. Permanent residency possibilities in Panama are many, varied, inexpensive and very easy to comply with. Some recent residency options can lead to full citizenship in 5 years. Panama is desperately short of professionals and the red carpet has been rolled out to citizens of about 50 “friendly” countries. All you need do is maintain a bank account of $5000 and own a business that requires your presence in Panama. The permanent “Pensionado Visa” for retirees only requires a pension income of $1000 per month.
  8. Panama City features one of the largest international banking centers in the world often compared to Switzerland and Singapore. Panama banks remained rock solid during the recent Great Recession in the USA and they still are today. Panama has been removed from the black/grey list as a banking haven by the OECD. Coronado has 8 branch banks.
  9. Panama has become the major hub for airline traffic in Central and South America. There are many direct flights from Canada, the USA and Europe taking 5-7 hours.
  10. In Coronado you can easily start a profitable business or a second career with very low risk (low rental and labor costs) and with excellent upside potential. I have been doing this for the past 8 years and I can see many expats, of all ages, running very successful businesses in a wide range of sectors.
  11. An International School with all classes in English was recently opened in Coronado providing welcome support to expat families with teenage kids.
  12. In Coronado you can significantly reduce your health insurance and medical costs by 60-75% while having easy access to internationally accredited five star hospitals with a full range of services, English speaking doctors and modern equipment. Coronado has a new first class medical clinic operated by San Fernando Hospital. This medical insurance is open to expats and Panamanians of all ages.
  13. My favorite doctor (about 6 miles from my house) charges me $7 for a 15-20 minute “consultation” which could include, if necessary, two or more medical issues. A visit to a specialist here in Coronado or in Panama City costs about $40 after your standard “Jubilado” discount. Try that in New Jersey. You can get an appointment in one or two days in contrast to Canada where you may have to wait up to 6 months.
  14. My wife and I have an excellent health insurance policy with a five star, internationally accredited hospital (San Fernando) for less than $2000 per annum total including a cancer rider but without preconditions after 2 years.. Although there is a 30% co-pay, the costs of a similar “medical procedure” in Panama is about one third or even much less of the cost up north. For example, a bypass operation in a first class Panama hospital might cost $15,000 to $17,000 rather than $150,000 in your average American hospital.
  15. In Canada the average wait time for a hip replacement is 18 months but it is “free”. In Panama, with our insurance package, the total cost would be in the $9-10,000 area and my co-pay would be about $3000 but it could happen inside one week.
  16. In Panama your cost of prescription drugs are about 65% of the cost up north. Coronado has 5 excellent drugstores one of which is open 24×7.
  17. In Coronado you could comfortably decide to hire a “private, live-in registered nurse” if or when you need “assisted living” services. The cost would be about $500 per month. Compare that to North America prices for assisted living at $3000-$4000 per month.
  18. There are four, excellent private dental clinics in Coronado where a cleaning costs about $30, a filling about $40, a crown about $350 and a root canal about $400. Go compare.
  19. In Coronado you will dramatically enhance your health with a regular diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, organic meats and fish. It is almost guaranteed that you will lose about 10% of your weight in three months without any special diets or workouts. Your overall level of health and immunity will improve dramatically (such as allergies)  as you spend more time outdoors and breath cleaner air.
  20. You can hire “domestic help” in Coronado for your cleaning chores and gardening for about $20 per day rather than for about $20 per hour up north.
  21. You could purchase a smaller new house or new condominium in Coronado and/or the surrounding area exempt from municipal taxes for 15 years. A larger and more expensive house will feature a five or a ten year exemption.
  22. You can enhance your personal safety and exposure to crime by living in a gated community. Homicide rates are higher in Panama than in North America or Europe however, “crimes against the person” are much lower per 100,000 people. Most homicides occur in “red zones” at night with males aged between 16 and 28 conducting some sort of illegal activity. Large amounts of drugs are moved through Panama (by land and water) from Columbia, Peru and Bolivia to North America.
  23. In Coronado and the immediate area, you can select from more than 40 restaurants and eat out in style several times a week without blowing your budget. Some of these restaurants are very high end.
  24. Your children will probably thank you profusely for finally taking full financial control of your life while protecting and enhancing their inheritance prospects. You can send them a return airfare ticket for vacations with you with your savings.
  25. In one hour from Coronado (50 miles on a 4/6 lane highway) you can be shopping in the Albrook Shopping Mall with about 600 modern air conditioned stores including restaurants and specialized kiosks. It will take you two days just to visit briefly all the stores.
  26. In the alternative, you could shop at the MultiPlaza in Panama City with its 250 extremely high end “Gucci-style” exclusive shops and probably another 50 wonderful chic restaurants. Bring your no-limit credit card.
  27. You can easily acquire a very large network of expat friends by attending the frequent and varied expat gatherings and “happy hours”. When we first arrived (2006), my wife and I participated in about 20-25 such “events” (lunches, parties, dinners etc etc) every month during high season until it literally wore us out. But we still enjoy our outings.
  28. Your stress level will diminish dramatically as you quickly realize that your passive income will probably last even if you live to 100.
  29. You might be blown away by the range and quantity of luxury cars and SUVs whizzing along the highways. Automobile selection and prices are often better here than in North America. Gas prices are just slightly higher than American prices but much lower than those in Canada or Europe. The hourly charge in a good garage to fix your car is about $20 rather than about $90 up north. I recently changed my timing belt on my older Nissan Pathfinder for $110 including the price of all required parts. The same job in California for the same car was $700 about 4 years earlier.
  30. Coronado now features four major shopping centers where you can purchase virtually anything you need. One high end grocery store with an excellent pharmacy is open 24x7x365. In addition there are approximately 200+ smaller businesses that offer virtually every imaginable service or product. New businesses are popping up weekly.
  31. On the housing front, there are probably 1000 new residences under construction at various stages within 5 miles of Coronado although the higher end expensive market remains a bit soft.


Uruguay as a Retirement Destination

The Future of Uruguay as a Retirement Destination

The ink had barely dried on one of my recent postings comparing Coronado Panama rather favorably to Atlantida Uruguay when suddenly everything changed. A reassessment was called for.

Argentina happens to be Uruguay’s most important neighbor in terms of trade and tourism. However, Argentina has once again managed to totally screw up its economy manifested by a major devaluation of its currency. The short to medium term prospects do not look good and this development will create a significant drag on Uruguay as it did at the turn of the century.

Exactly why this has happened in Argentina is another story for another day. Based on recent experience, Argentina will probably take a decade to resolve its problems. Remember that Argentina was once among the ten richest countries in the world.

What happens in Argentina does not stay in Argentina. It would not be very difficult to predict that the recent very robust growth in Uruguay will come to a screeching stop. I would expect that many economic indicators in Uruguay will reverse dramatically over the next several years with an impact of quality of life.

There are also serious economic slowdowns brewing in Brazil and in Chile; Uruguay’s other most important trading neighbors.

The bright side to all of these impacts for a North American “retiree” in Uruguay is that your American (or Canadian) dollar will go a lot further. The price of houses in Uruguay should also decline significantly after a rather rapid run-up since 2011. On the negative side, general unemployment will rise, tourism will decline and inflation may well become an important political issue.

Coronado by comparison

In comparison, Panama and Coronado continue to chug along at mind boggling economic rate (higher than China) with major new residential and commercial projects, starting up every week or so. I am still not sure where all the customers are coming from.

The new Rio Hato airport (20 minutes from Coronado) is finally up and running with several flights having actually arrived. Rio Hato will become a much busier airport by the end of 2014 as most charter flights are being moved out of the main Tocumen Airport in Panama City to allow room for expansion. In anticipation of these charter flights direct to the Pacific Coast, large numbers of resort hotels are breaking ground in the greater Coronado area.

Although Uruguay still has many pluses, some clouds are gathering that are beyond its control. Uruguay unfortunately does not live in an economic vacuum. The lesson learned is that change can happen very quickly and rather unpredictably.