Panama Enjoys Growing Reputation as Hot Vacation-Home Destination

CHICAGO, Feb. 8 /PRNewswire.  As more and more baby boomers investigate ideal retirement destinations, they may be surprised at what they find. Mainstays such as France and Florida are being bumped from their spot at the top of the list in favor of places such as Malaysia, Australia, and, perhaps most favored of all, Panama.

Boasting year-round sunshine, low taxes, luxury shopping, deep discounts for retirees, and first-rate healthcare at third world prices, Panama as a retirement destination has been the darling of hot-spot seekers for several years. Today, Panama is fully emerging as the place to be for discerning vacation-home buyers who want to stay one step ahead of the crowd.

"Until recently, Panama was behind the curve when it came to promoting itself as a tourist destination," says Chicago-based developer and Amble Resorts president Ben Loomis. "But they're focused on it now and the work is beginning to pay off."

Loomis says that though Panama shares some similarities with retirement favorite Costa Rica - miles of lush coastline, year-round sun, an abundance of exotic wildlife, etc. - there are major differences. "Panama has all the same natural attractions as Costa Rica," he says, "and it also offers the cultural attractions of several indigenous tribes, the history surrounding the famous Canal, and an infrastructure that the rest of Central America just can't match." Loomis adds that though it has long been seen as an ecotourism and vacation property hot-spot, overdevelopment in Costa Rica has lead to deflated experiences and inflated prices. But in Panama, "You can still buy a great home at a reasonable price."

Last year, Forbes magazine put Panama at the top of their list of desirable retirement destinations - and they weren't alone. The Economist, BusinessWeek, USA Today, and CNN all reported on Panama's emergence as a vacation haven for those looking to escape the recession and enjoy the good life.

For seniors, the dollar economy of the country offers limitless perks. Retirees enjoy half off discounts on movies, travel, hotel accommodations, and doctors' visits, among other professional services. What's more: Foreign income goes untaxed in Panama, and for many projects, property taxes are being waived for the first 20 years. For those looking to retire in Panama, advantages abound.