You’ve decided you have what it takes to live abroad, ( or at least you are willing to pursue it further), but you keep hearing negatives about the countries you are considering. Big deal! You are going to retire to a specific place in a country, not to the country per se. Pick the kind of life you want to live and pick a place within a country that fits that lifestyle.
I live in the United States. What if my only knowledge of the United States was of the slums of Chicago or New York? Would I have a very high opinion of the safety of the United States? Probably not. But, I live in a small community outside of Orlando, Florida. Now that is different. I have the city nearby, but I have some land, a garden, a dog, some chickens, and a relaxed life compared to the “big city”. So, where you retire is more important than what country it is in.
Take Panama, for example. Many people still think of it as a country run by a dictator like in the days of Noriega. A little research quickly show that the country now has a politically stable democratic government, a booming economy, has become the financial and banking center of the Latin American world, and in most lists, rates as one of the top places in the world to retire. That is no expatriate retirement program better than their “pensionado” (retiree) visa, yet there are still areas of the country in which I personally would not want to retire. That are others in which I would be delighted to live.
I have personally applied for the pensionado visa in Panama. So, where would I like to live? I am still not sure, but I have already visited communities in the interior (that’s everywhere outside of the Panama City area) which appeal to me.
I am not a beach person, so living on the coast is not as appealing to me as it is to some. However, with a country bordered on the South by the Pacific Ocean and on the North by the Caribbean Sea, wherever I chose to live would be no more than an hour or so away from a beach. I like the mountains, so I would be more likely to live inland. Your living requirements are probably different.
Do you have to be in a place where the majority speaks English? If so, you immediately narrow your choices of places within a country to live. In Panama, in places like the picturesque El Valle de Anton ( two to two and a half hours from Panama City), and Bocas del Toro ( Up to 8 hours away depending on whether you fly or drive from Panama City); there are numerous enclaves and communities largely made up of English Speakers. In both areas there is no lack of Europeans also. And, if you want to be in a foreign country where the official language spoken is English, you might also look at Belize, the former British Honduras.
So, when considering where you might retire, do not let comments or negative views of the country as a whole be the determining factor. Remember, the cost of living, the availability of medical services, and other personal requirements which you may have, vary greatly from area to area within a country. It is your personal requirements that should determine your retirement location. You are retiring to a place, not a country. Take care in finding that place.
Lamar Ross is an author, educator, photographer, internet entrepreneur, and international traveler. He has a special interest in training individuals for expatriate living and providing information on unique travel destinations. He has lived in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and India and has traveled extensively in 29 different countries. He speaks both English and Spanish fluently and has a basic ability in several other languages.
For more information on other topics related to expatriate living check out http://www.squidoo.com/expatriate-living, and for specific Panama impressions go to: http://www.squidoo.com/panama-impressions.