For several years in a row, the Republic of Panama has ranked No. 1 in Gallup’s Global Well-Being Index and been named as one of the top-rated destinations to retire. While the capital city of Panama remains a good retirement destination with its modern infrastructure and an abundance of restaurants and entertainment, we have seen the cost of living in Panama City increase significantly over the past few years. For those who still want to enjoy the benefits of retiring in Panama, there may be a good alternative: Pedasi.
Up until just a few years ago, Pedasi was just another sleepy little town in the Isthmus of Panama. Located a four and half hour drive from Panama City, Pedasi is where you will find locals sitting outside their houses, chatting, watching the world pass by. Where you will find surfers from all over the world practice their craft on one of the best surf spots in the region. And where you will find couples and families from The United States, Europe and Canada enjoying a simple, yet comfortable life in a thriving community surrounded by nature.
So what makes Pedasi so interesting? What makes this small town in the Azuero Peninsula such an attractive retirement destination? Here are our top 7 reasons why Pedasi is the ideal destination for retirees.
First of all, though Pedasi has been growing in the past few years, this fishing town with a population of about 3,000 certainly hasn’t lost its charm. The serenity this little town provides is in sharp contrast with the hustle and bustle of Panama City. The atmosphere is laid-back and people are warm and friendly. To make it even better, Pedasi is one of Panama’s most traditional towns where you will be able to enjoy a number of folkloric celebrations throughout the year. The area is popular amongst both locals and foreigners, with about 150 expats permanently residing and another 150 spending part of the year in Pedasi.
2. Amenities and Facilities
Pedasi has seen a rise in foreign investment as well as in young people, families and retirees calling Pedasi their new home. As a result, new hotels, restaurants, bars, bakeries and other amenities have been emerging and facilities are improving. Just last month, the Minsa-Capsi hospital started operations. The 5,724 m2 facility offers services in general practice, hospitalization, gynaecology, obstetrics, paediatrics and dental care, amongst others.
Though more and more services and amenities are now becoming available in Pedasi, the town luckily has kept its original character and charm. Moreover, since Pedasi is a relatively small town and amenities such as supermarkets, restaurants and bars are located within a few mile radius, you will find that biking is an easy way to get around. Many retirees living in Pedasi seldom drive their car unless they need to go to bigger cities such as Las Tablas or Chitre or decide to visit one of the farther beaches on the Azuero Peninsula.
Panama is known for being one of the safest countries in Latin America. Pedasi happens to be one of the safest places to live, with crime levels that are lower than in the rest of the country. For this reason, it doesn’t take long to notice the strong sense of community in this small town and to see that Pedasi is the kind of place where people still look after each other, making Pedasi a pleasant and safe place for families and retirees to live.
Panama City is characterized by a hot and humid climate. Foreigners often have a hard time adjusting to the city’s high temperatures and humidity. Luckily, the Azuero Peninsula, in which Pedasi is located, enjoys a drier, more favorable climate. While rainy season runs from May to December, this season is often seen as a refreshing and welcome change in the region that is known as Arco Seco or Dry Arc. Showers usually only last for a few hours at a time and you will still be able to enjoy temperatures between 24° and 34° Celsius (75° to 93° F).
While Pedasi is a small town, the area offers a plethora of activities. The Azuero region is known for its spectacular Pacific beaches which offer the opportunity for whale watching and turtle watching. These beaches are still largely an undiscovered paradise, a fact known to both locals and travellers alike. The idyllic and protected island Isla Iguana for example is only a short boat trip from Pedasi and one of Panama’s most popular surf beaches Playa Venao is only a 20-minute drive. Those who enjoy hiking or love to go fishing also won’t be disappointed on the ‘tuna coast’ of Panama.
For those who wish to connect with other retirees, expats and locals, poker nights are being organized once a week at the Los Vientos Beach and music lovers get together twice a week for live music at Smiley’s, one of Pedasi’s most popular restaurants. There are also book groups, golf outings, fishing clubs, and more…meaning you can be as busy or as “not busy” as you’d like in Pedasi!
6. Real Estate/Property prices
Though Pedasi has gained popularity in the last five years, property prices remain attractive and are significantly lower than in other popular cities and beach towns in Panama. Simple, charming, comfortable 2-bedrooms houses in or close to the city center can easily be found for $110,000. Oceanfront properties are more expensive and one can expect to pay up to $400,000 for a 3-bedroom property on the beach. Rental prices for a 2-bedroom could be anywhere between $500 and $800.
7. Cost of Living
One of the main reasons Pedasi is popular among retirees is the cost of living. Retiring in Pedasi will allow you to enjoy a good lifestyle for a cost of living that is vastly lower than The United States or Europe. Giving an accurate estimation of the required budget for a (retired) couple is difficult, as this very much depends on the kind of lifestyle you have. The good thing about Pedasi is that there is a number of places where you can find local food (fruits, meals), with meals that can be as cheap as $4. On the other hand, you also find a variety of American and European restaurants where you can have dinner for $10 – $25 dollar p.p. Utilities are low, as well as transportation in Pedasi. Overall, prices in Pedasi are fairly low, especially in comparison to other cities in Panama, and it is safe to say that a couple can live comfortably in Pedasi for about $1,500 to $2,000 per month.
8. Additional Benefits
While the information below applies to all foreigners who are considering retiring in Panama, not only those that are interested in moving to Pedasi, this retiree benefit is worth mentioning.
In the Republic of Panama, it is relatively easy to obtain residency as a foreign retiree. Any foreigner can apply for the Programa de Pensionados (retiree program) in order to obtain a residence permit. The Panamanian Law states that any foreigner with a retirement or pension income from either a foreign government, private company or international institution, with enough source of income to take care of his/her expenses and his/her dependents, will be eligible to obtain a visa under the Programa de Pensionado. The minimum monthly pension is $1,000 and it must be a lifetime pension. However, the minimum income accepted could be $750 per month, if the applicant proves that he/she has made a property investment in Panama for at least $100,000
Once you have joined the Programa de Pensionados and have obtained your residency, you will have access to a number of benefits and discounts that are offered to both national and foreign retirees as shown below.
(incl. movies, concerts, sport events, theater)
|Bus, boat, train fares||30%|
|International and domestic airlines||25%|
|Hotel stays||30% – 50%|
|Restaurants||15% – 25%|
|Doctor visits and surgery||10% – 20%|
|Closing costs for home loans||50%|
In addition, foreign retirees are entitled to two major benefits :
- A single tax exemption on the importation of household goods (up $ 10,000).
- A tax exemption every two years on the importation or purchase of a car.
The benefits of the Program are significant and the process of applying is fairly easy, so it is certainly recommended for any foreign retiree who decides to come down to Panama to join the Programa de Pensionados.
Living in Pedasi
Overall, it can be said that there is plenty to like about this little treasure in the Azuero Peninsula. The authentic, charming town of Pedasi boasts a diverse community and offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere to expats and retirees looking for a pleasant and safe place to live. Though small, Pedasi has a strong community and the region provides a plethora of outdoor activities from hiking to turtle watching and from surfing to whale watching. You will find a nice range of restaurants which is expected to increase as newcomers will continue to drive demand for services and amenities in the next couple of years.
Though Pedasi has gained popularity in the past couple of years, it is still relatively undiscovered, making it a great location for investment and an ideal retirement destination. Few would argue that Pedasi is a beautiful, friendly and fairly inexpensive place to retire and that now is a good time to find out what the buzz is all about.