In 2018 the publication rated Costa Rica as the best place to retire.
Just because the country is ranked third this year instead of first is really no big deal. But the fact that Panama is ranked ahead of us, is absolutely ridiculous. If Panama was better I would certainly be living there.
First, there are only 4 places where most expats settle in Panama: Panama City, Coronado, Pedasí on the tip of the Azuero Peninsula and the David/Boquete areas. On the other hand, Costa Rica has at least 25-30 prime beach and inland areas from which to choose. So, this country offers more choices when it comes to choosing where to live.
There are other factors such as lifestyle, climate and people which set Costa Rica apart from Panama. The pura vida lifestyle found here is his very hard to beat. We basically have something for everyone and everything for someone. You will not be bored here unless you want to be. We also have many micro climates from which to choose. The country’s people are some of most happy, polite and well educated in Latin America. They will make you feel welcome and right at home.
Really the only advantage that Panama has over Costa Rica is affordability. Unfortunately, most people look at price rather than the other intangibles and factors that I mention above. Basically, “you get what you pay for.” As we say in Spanish, “Lo que algo vale, algo cuesta.” However, if you are a retiree living on a shoestring, then Panama just might be a better choice.
All of the clients on my relocation tours who have visited both countries say that Costa Rica is by far more beautiful.
The bottom line is that each person’s ideal retirement spot is different and highly subjective. After visiting a country you will know if you have found your slice of paradise. I found mine 40 years ago.