Panama, Take a Bow! Costa Rica, Step Down!

Liz Larroquette’s no BS approach to advising clients and investors on real estate has earned her the respect of thousands of expats who have relocated to Panama, and many more who are considering relocating in the future. To learn more, visit And the award for best retirement destination goes to….

 According to a recent CentralAmericaData report, Panama has recently surpassed Costa Rica as a retirement destination. Finally, the data crunchers are catching up and realizing what I have known for years, that Panama is the jewel of Latin America! They’ve cited rising real estate prices in Costa Rica as the main factor in the switch. But I could list a slew of other reasons why Panama is the bee’s knees! 

I’ve spent ample time exploring Latin America. What separates me from most of the other folks talking up Panama is that I actually live, work, and invest here. You could say “I’m all in”.

After all, if I wouldn’t raise my own family here, how could I rightfully give that advice to anyone else?

Upon first exploring the tropics in the early 2000’s, I, like many others, was faced with the Costa Rica VS Panama conundrum. And while Costa Rica has proven a lucrative investment for those that got in early, the cost of living has risen rapidly but the lifestyle has not followed suit.

What makes Panama special is that you have nearly all the luxuries of living in the USA or Canada, without the price tag. I say nearly, because the reality is that Panama is Panama – it’s a different country, with a different culture, and many wonderful people. 


What good is the “perfect home” if you don’t feel safe in it? Even the prettiest beach isn’t enjoyable if you worried about your bag when you go for a swim. When it comes to crime, Panama has the right approach. Safety is especially apparent here on the Gold Coast, where security gates and roaming police officers keep the riffraff out and thriving local businesses provide job opportunities. Ultimately, Panama’s secret isn’t segregation, it’s about integration – which is a two way street folks!


Panama’s economy is expected to grow over 5% in 2014, making it the fastest growing in Latin America. In recent years, it’s undergone a GDP growth rate of up to twice as much as Costa Rica’s. Whatever your reason is for relocating to Panama, living within this flourishing economic powerhouse has obvious advantages. Opportunity is everywhere in Panama, especially for those smart enough to go out and grab it and they do both expats and locals alike. And we all know it takes a thriving middle class for a country to succeed long-term and that is exactly what Panama is building. I’ve also been working with investors who have been purchasing condos and then matching them property management companies. Smart people and smart money are flowing into Panama!


Costa Rica has a wonderful expat community. Still, though- I prefer the one we have right here on the Gold Coast. What’s unique about Panama’s expat community is that it’s not confined to one demographic. We have people of all ages, backgrounds, and professions. This makes for an incredibly stimulating society, one that I take great pleasure in being part of.


With ownership of the most technologically advanced hospital in Latin America, healthcare in Panama really can’t be beat. Not only is healthcare in Panama modernized, it’s also affordable. Americans enjoy saving up to 50% on medical costs, and even Canadians (with their free healthcare) often opt for procedures in Panama to avoid long waiting lists. While Costa Rican healthcare is also affordable, you’re not going to find as many options (or English-speaking doctors) as you will in Panama. Of course, if you move into the boonies, the quality of healthcare decreases significantly. That’s why I recommend you stick to the Gold Coast. 

Cost of Living

“A bag of Doritos is HOW MUCH?” has got to be one of my most commonly used phrases in Costa Rica. The difference between the cost of living here and there is monumental. Thanks to the Panama Canal, you can find almost anything you would want in Panama at the same or a similar price; and for those items that you can’t, you can setup a mailbox that forwards from Miami for a very reasonable fee. While goods in Costa Rica often enter through Panama, getting hit with an extra import tax at the border.

Panama’s recent triumph over Costa Rica may come as a surprise to the rest of the world, but not for us. After all, we’ve been enjoying the vast benefits of life in Panama for several years. Panama is finally getting the recognition it deserves as the jewel of Latin America. 

All the best,
Liz Larroquette
(+507) 6981-1717


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