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The Rewards of ‘Jubilado’ Status

We’re pleased to report that Latitude 38 magazine can now be found in Panama — if you know who to ask, that is. Ever since we got acquainted with former San Diego sailors Frank Nitte and Shirley Duffield last year, they’ve served as Latitude ambassadors in Panama City, where they’re not happily retired.

Meet Shirley and Frank, our crew in Panama.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We send them a couple of bundles of magazines every month which they distribute to cruisers at both ends of the Canal. So if you find yourself in Panama and in need of a Latitude ‘fix’, drop by the Balboa YC and ask for Frank or Shirley.

By the way, they, along with thousands of other former travelers fell in love with Panama and decided to stay, partly because of the generous benefits given to senior citizens. As Frank explains, "Jubilado residency is a really good deal." Once you officially receive ‘jubilado‘ (retiree) status, you get all sorts of special privileges such as: 25% off roundtrip airfares aboard Continental and Delta flights; 50% off hotel rooms during the week and 30% off on Friday, Saturday or Sunday; 25% off on restaurant food (but not drinks); 20% discounts on prescriptions; discounts on medical care; discounts on electrical and water bills; etc.

So how does one qualify? In order to receive a jubilado card, individuals need to show that they have at least $1,000 per month in regular retirement income (from Social Security, a pension or whatever), and a small amount more (i.e. $100/mo. per dependents). In addition, you have to present a medical report stating that you have no major diseases (i.e. AIDS), and a police report from your home town stating that you are not a criminal. You give all this to a Panamanian lawyer, and for an $800 fee he will fill out all the paperwork and get your request processed.

With Costa Rica experiencing all sorts of problems and Mexico’s image suffering due to the drug wars, thousands of North Americans are deciding that Panama is the place to be. Because the Canal is essentially a cash machine, and the current president Ricardo Martinelli is decidedly anti-corruption and extremely progressive, the country seems to have a very bright future. Its economy is already considered to be the third strongest in Latin America.

Panama is a country rich in history, and has an unending revenue stream, thanks to the Panama Canal.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"If you want to buy an expensive house, such as in a new high-rise built just for gringos, you can spend a lot of money," explains Frank. "But if you want to live in a Panamanian neighborhood you can probably buy a house for $60 to $80,000 USD." It’s worth noting also that many gringo communities get a 20-year tax exemption. These days it’s nice to know that not everyone hates Americans!

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With many midwinters series wrapping up throughout the rest of this month, the weekend regattas are back in full swing.