Panama welcomes retirees with open arms and an open wallet because they know the wealth they bring with them invigorates their economy.

Panama has been in the news recently because the British missing, presumed dead, canoeist John Darwin was in hiding there. But Panama is getting world attention not just because of the famous hat, canal, cigars and as a tax haven but also because it actively attracts retirees from outside the country to settle.

So what benefits does Panama offer? Here are a few examples:

One-time importation duty exemption on all personal and household goods up to $10,000.

Importation duty exemption of a car free of taxes every two years.

All foreigners (not just retirees) who purchase a home of more than $200,000 have the right to a residency visa.

100% Property tax exemption for sole residence
50% off entertainment including movies, concerts, theatre etc. (a regular movie ticket costs $4 – the retiree price is $2.)
25% off restaurants
50% off hotel accommodations Monday, Thursday
30% off bus, boat and train fares
25% off domestic airline tickets
10% off prescription medicines (much cheaper than US prices to begin with)
15% off dental and eye exams
50% off closing costs for home loans

And the list goes on.

Compare this to Turkey where the influx of foreign retirees has completely caught the Turkish Government by surprise. In fact Turkey couldn’t make it more difficult for the would-be retiree to settle in Turkey. The high cost of residency, the huge cost and hassle of importing belongings and the cost of importing a car are all examples.

So why does Panama welcome retirees with open arms but Turkey with a hand in their back pocket?

Well we think the government has been caught unaware. The current rules and regulations were never designed with financially self sufficient settlers in mind but the opposite. However, the retirees who have settled and worked through the hassles are now invigorating the local and national economies. From the initial purchase of a home through to the money spent on regular goods and services the retiree is injecting a substantial sum.

So maybe Turkey should stop just looking to big business to bring hard cash into the economy but look to the ‘Grey’ market as well