gI_96993_PR%20Panama-City.pngFour countries today are rolling out the red carpet to attract North American retirees, according to a new report from the editors at In addition to a warm welcome, sunny weather, and good-value living, these four countries offer retirees today special benefits, discounts, and VIP treatment.

Retirees Wanted: Some countries are enticing foreign retirees to their warm-weather, good-value shores by providing them special benefits, discounts, and VIP treatment—everything from tax breaks to front-of-the-line privileges, to deep discounts on everyday items.
Within a select number of countries around the world, expats from the U.S. can live better for less—that’s the simple truth. But four of those countries are going a step further today to specifically woo retirees with tax breaks and other incentives designed to make life both easier and even more affordable.
“Discounts and preferred treatment for retirees can have a huge positive effect on an expat’s overall quality of life,” says Jennifer Stevens, International Living Executive Editor. “In some countries, the respect and deference shown older folks comes paired with significant savings and convenience.
These countries are actively wooing North American retirees with policies designed to attract them to their shores. Tax breaks... discounts on such things as airfares, movies, medical consultations, and more... paired with a built-in cultural deference for older folks... can make for easy, affordable living. And that’s something that can be much harder to come by for retirees in the States.”
Below are the four countries that earned the top-ranked spots in the “Discounts and Benefits” category of International Living’s recently released Global Retirement Index 2017 for their positive treatment of retirees:
1. Panama - The Best Retirement Program in the World
If you have a pension, you can easily become a resident of Panama via the famed pensionado program. The main requirement is straightforward: applicants must receive a pension of at least $1,000 a month to qualify. This can be a government pension (like Social Security) or a corporate pension—and couples can pool pensions if need be.
“Submit your application and you’ll instantly get temporary residence,” says International Living’s Panama editor, Jessica Ramesch.
“Panama’s pensionado program is known as one of the world’s most convenient residence programs as there’s no second application or waiting period. Panama immigration will generally process your paperwork in a matter of months. Once you get your Panama ID, you’re officially a pensionado.”
This means that—in addition to permanent residence—those who qualify also gain access to a host of government-mandated retiree discounts. These include 25% off power bills, 50% off movie and show tickets, 25% off plane tickets, 20% off medical consultations, 25% off meals at restaurants, and the list goes on.
“And here’s the best part—even if you don’t have a pension, you can easily become a resident via another program. And you’ll still enjoy the discounts when you hit the local retirement age (currently 55 for women and 60 for men),” Ramesch says.
"The entertainment discounts are great,” says expat Nanette Witmer who lives in the city of David. "I get 50% off tickets to movies, theaters and all sporting events like baseball games and soccer… so first-run movies that normally cost $3.50 set me back just $1.75."
2. Ecuador - Benefits and Great-Value Living
“Third Agers”—as those 65 and older are called in Ecuador—pay half price for public transportation, cultural events, movies, and airline flights that originate in Ecuador.
“They can also get a 50% discount on electricity and water bills for property they own, as well as discounts on property taxes,” reports International Living senior editor, Dan Prescher.
Ecuador has a value-added tax, or IVA, that is added to the price of most purchased items. By registering with the SRI, the Ecuadorian income tax department, Third Agers and retirees can have much of that tax refunded each month by submitting receipts. Refunds are automatically deposited in the local bank account of those claiming refunds.
While not specifically a financial benefit, retirees and Third Agers in Ecuador…as in many other Latin American countries, are allowed to go to the front of the line in government offices, banks, grocery stores, and other public places.
“It’s part of the respect for elders that is still a common cultural trait throughout much of Latin America,” Prescher says.
3. Mexico - Big Discounts for Retirees
Mexico doesn’t bill itself as having a formal retiree visa program. But senior discounts are big. Mexico’s senior discount card gives a discount from 5% up to a whopping 50% off a whole range of everyday goods and services.
“If you’re an expat senior at least 60 years of age, with a valid residence visa for Mexico, you can take advantage of these discounts, just as a Mexican citizen would,” says International Living Mexico editor, Glynna Prentice.
“The program is administered by a government agency called INAPAM, for Instituto Nacional de Personas Adultas Mayores (National Institute of Senior Adults). To sign up (which is free), just take your passport and your Mexican residence card to the INAPAM office in the Mexican state you live in. You’ll likely be issued your INAPAM card—complete with photo—right on the spot.”
The card qualifies the user for discounts on everything from theater tickets to bus tickets, and from museum entrance fees to medical devices…and everything in between. Get half off the cost of museum entrance fees, for instance. Some pharmacies even give a discount on medications.
4. Belize - Home of the Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) Program
Belize offers a major enticement to potential expats—the Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) program. This program was designed to provide benefits to attract foreign retirees to settle in Belize. The alternate option is to become a permanent resident. But that’s a major commitment that takes a few years to obtain. The QRP residence option is much faster. Qualified expats can often obtain their QRP status within a couple of months. And the QRP comes with significant benefits.
“Fortunately, you need not wait until you are 60+ to apply,” says International Living Belize correspondent, Ann Kuffner. “Once you reach 45 you can apply for QRP status.”
QRPs are not taxed on their international income, or on capital gains…and can open both a domestic and international bank account in Belize. (Note that foreigners can no longer open a domestic bank account in Belize until they become a QRP or a permanent resident.) QRPs can also have an international business corporation in Belize.
Expat QRPs Clive and Janet Brewster enjoy a fantastic lifestyle on the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye in Belize.
“The QRP application process was simple for us,” says Clive. “We were emailed the application forms and completed and gathered all the other documents to go with them. To our surprise, we were approved only a couple of days after filing our applications.
“We were able to ship virtually all of our household belongings to Belize duty-free. We also had the option to ship a vehicle, but declined to do so and bought a golf cart, instead. And since the company in Belize purchased it outside the country, we were also able to get it duty-free, too.”
The full report on the top four countries with the world’s best retiree benefits can be read here: The Top 4 Countries in the World for Retiree Benefits.
Editor’s Note: Members of the media have permission to reproduce the article linked above once credit is given to
To learn more please contact Associate Editor, Carol Barron, tel. (772) 678 – 0287, e-mail: CBarron(at)internationalliving(dot)com
For 36 years, has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. has correspondents traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.


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