Panama, Ecuador, Belize and France offer the best retiree benefits in the world, according to International Living’s just-released annual Global Retirement Index 2015. In a bid to entice expats, these countries have assembled attractive benefits packages, which offer huge savings for foreign retirees on everything from travel to utility bills to medication. Topping the “Retiree Benefits and Discounts” category in the Index is Panama, which offers the best incentives for retirees in the world.
“Panama offers retiree expats the advantages of the world’s best retirement program: the Pensionado visa,” says InternationalLiving.com Panama editor Jessica Ramesch. “Panama wants you to come—and their policies court you. The Pensionado visa is available to anyone with a lifetime pension of over $1,000 a month. Discounts you can get with the visa include 20% off medical services, 50% off entertainment, 25% off restaurant meals, 25% off air fare, and 25% off electricity and phone bills,” Ramesch reports.
Foreign resident pensionados even get exemptions on everything from luxury taxes on cars to closing costs on home loans. “The best part about being a retiree resident in Panama is the way people treat you. There is a culture of respect and courtesy here. People will stand to offer a seat. Send you to the front of the line. And at banks there are special windows for retirees, so they don’t have to stand and wait for long,” Ramesch says. Ecuador (which places first in the Index overall as the best place in the world to retire) offers many advantages to those who expatriate here, and some of the best benefits go to retirees. For those aged 65 and over who hold a cedula (national ID card), a move to Ecuador can make good sense from a financial standpoint.
“To begin, those of tercer edad (the local term for senior citizens, which literally means “third age”) can receive a refund on the sales tax they pay on many items throughout the year,” says InternationalLiving.com Ecuador Highlands editor Wendy DeChambeau. Other breaks include discounted utility and property-tax bills. Water and electric bills are decreased by 50% for seniors and property taxes are discounted, too. Retirees can have a free telephone land-line for local service.
“There are also some great discounts on entertainment and travel,” DeChambeau reports. Belize has also established an enticing benefit program for retirees. “You need not wait until you’re over 55 to qualify for the retirement benefits offered by the Belizean government.
As soon as you reach 45, you can apply for the Qualified Retirement Program (QRP). And unlike most other countries’ retirement programs, you won’t be required to live in Belize full-time as a retiree,” says Ann Kuffner, InternationalLiving.com’s Belize editor. “QRPs are allowed to import all of their personal effects into Belize without paying any import duties or taxes. They can also import a personal car, boat, and plane duty-free and tax-free during their first year in Belize,” Kuffner reports.
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