Panama

Kathleen Peddicord

Live and Invest in Panama

By Kathleen Peddicord

This beautiful little country with two long coastlines qualifies more than ever as the world’s top retirement, investment, business, and tax haven…

Its pensionado program of special benefits for foreign retirees is the Gold Standard.

As a foreign resident, you can pay zero local tax.

Panama is one of the best places in the world right now to start a business and one of the easiest places to obtain foreign residency.

Plus, outside Panama City, this beautiful country hides the smartest beach, river, and mountain property buys anywhere on the planet today.

It’s a land where the cost of living is low…the standard of health care is excellent…and where the climate can be idyllic (outside the capital…in the beautiful mountains of the interior).

Panama boasts Pacific and Caribbean shorelines with wildflower-covered mountains in between…real-world infrastructure…the U.S. dollar for currency (since 1904), so Americans face no exchange risk

Panama is a land of superlatives…a beautiful country and an expanding economy overflowing with opportunity.

In fact, Panama almost has too much to offer.

No question, you should be looking closely right now at this little country with such an abundance of upside. But, when you do…and the closer you begin to pay attention…the more confused you’re likely to become.

Flower-covered Mountainsides…

In its interior, west of Panama City, Panama hides some of the world’s best choices for highland living…towns and villages, mountains and valleys where the weather is spring-like year-round, the hillsides are covered with wildflowers, the streets are safe, your neighbors are friendly, and the cost of living is highly affordable…

In fact, one beautiful hidden spot hides such an idyllic way of life that Live and Invest Overseas named it the World’s Top Retirement Haven.

This special valley, El Valle de Anton, sits at about 2,000 feet…meaning its temperatures are never too hot. Its population of about 7,000 is made up of locals and expatriates. It’s a community of Panamanians, Germans, Ecuadorians, Americans, Canadians–some retired, some indulging their entrepreneurial inclinations…others are businessmen who drive out on weekends to escape the big city…

Beautiful…and welcoming. Those are the two words of description that come immediately to mind here. The expat community lives closely and happily as part of the community as a whole, with an active but not “separatist” social life.

The focal point of activity is the covered market pavilion, where you can shop for fresh fruit and vegetables every morning.

The town clinic is staffed 24 hours a day, and a doctor’s appointment costs about US$2. You’re 45 minutes away from more serious care and ambulance service to the city, where health care is on par with U.S. and European standards…but costs about half as much.

In this hidden valley, you’ve got the best of clean mountain living…but you’re only 45 minutes from the beach…and less than two hours from the shopping, the services, the infrastructure, and the nightlife of the big city…the most cosmopolitan city in the entire region…

Two Long Coastlines…

But maybe mountain living appeals to you not at all. Don’t worry. In this country with two long coasts and myriad white sand-fringed islands just offshore, you’re never far from a beach. Again, you’re spoiled for choice for both dramatic, crashing Pacific beaches…and gently lapping Caribbean ones…

Surfing, snorkeling, fishing, diving, boating…in all seasons (for Panama sits beyond the hurricane zone)…this little country is a water-enthusiast’s dream come true.

Plus The Most Cosmopolitan City In The Region…

Mountains…beaches…plus the most cosmopolitan city in the entire region. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating. Panama’s capital is without peer in this part of the world. Nowhere else in these parts has the infrastructure, the shopping, or the nightlife to compare.

For more than 100 years, the Panama Canal has linked east and west, north and south. As a result, a multitude of nationalities have shaped the country that it traverses…meaning this little nation is a real melting pot, with the cuisine, the nightlife, and the culture to prove it.

A Land Of Contrasts…

With Something For Everyone…

This is a land of unsurpassed outdoor adventures…where you can dive two oceans in a day, glide through the jungle canopy, ride the white waters, hike through a cloud forest, rappel off a rock cliff, and fish in waters teeming with marlin, tuna, wahoo, and sailfish. More sport-fishing records have been set in the waters off Panama’s shores than anywhere else in the world.

Panama is also a world of cultural opportunity, with ballets at the restored National Theater…dances to traditional Congo music…historic Spanish forts…and world-class dining in atmospheric colonial buildings.

Outdoors-enthusiasts and nature-lovers are at home here…as are the savvy and the sophisticated.

Panama is an open-minded, progressive place. The government offers investment laws far more beneficial than anything in the United States, for example…there is little racial tension…health care is available for both nationals and foreign visitors…the economy is strong…luxuries and comforts beyond reach in the U.S. are affordable here.

 

Specifically, Panama offers:
  • Affordable First-World Health Care
  • Generous Incentives For Investors
  • The World’s Best Program Of Discounts And Other Benefits For Foreign Retirees…it’s the Gold Standard
  • Real-world Infrastructure
  • Great Shopping
  • One Of The World’s Biggest International Banking Centers
  • A U.S. Dollar-based Economy (since 1904)
  • Favorable Tax Legislation For Foreign Residents
  • A Stable Political System
  • A Fast-growing Economy And A Bright Economic Outlook
  • Safety And Security
  • A Travel Hub (meaning you’ve got easy access to and from the United States and Canada, anywhere in Latin America, and even Europe, including new nonstop flights)
  • A Natural Wonderland

And A Land Alive With Opportunity

After nearly 25 years covering this live, retire, and invest overseas beat and more than a decade living outside the States, I could be living and doing business anywhere in the world right now. About three years ago, my husband and I relocated from Paris, France, to Panama City, Panama, because, frankly, right now, Panama offers more opportunity than any place else on the planet.

In a world where markets are shrinking, businesses are downsizing, unemployment rates are rising, and investment opportunities are evaporating overnight…Panama pushes ahead. Thanks to its unique history and its enviable geographic position, Panama continues to offer what so much of the rest of the world just can’t right now: a chance.

A chance for the would-be entrepreneur abroad (like me)…a chance for the would-be global real estate investor (like my husband, Lief Simon)…a chance for the would-be retiree overseas (in the world’s #1 retirement haven I told you about earlier)…

A chance to slow down and a chance to make your fortune…a chance to start over and a chance to have the adventure of your lifetime…a chance to build something big and, at the same time, a chance to chuck it all and settle into a sunny, sultry tropical beach escape where nobody will find you if you don’t want to be found…
Despite slowdowns and meltdowns elsewhere, Panama’s economy continues strong.”

I’ve seen a lot of this world, and I know no other place boasting such diversified options, opportunities, adventure, and upside as we continue into 2012.

My Panama is frenetic Panama City, where I enjoy wireless Internet and global telecommunications without interruption, an international banking infrastructure, top-notch attorneys and bankers when I need them, an educated and English-speaking labor pool, a low cost of doing business, zero currency-exchange worries, and all the support I could ask for as I work to build a business.

My husband’s Panama is a stretch of beautiful Pacific coastline in an until-now overlooked region of the country that is beginning to attract the international attention it deserves. He’s reaping the benefits of a market that offers comprehensive resources for the property investor (not to mention some of the world’s most primo property to think about investing in in the first place!)…plus the active, growing marketplace to make it all pay off. Indeed, despite slowdowns and meltdowns elsewhere, Panama’s economy continues strong, expanding quicker than most any other in the world. The canal, the ports, and the Colon Free Zone have benefited greatly from regional and international trade expansion over the past several years. Meantime, the construction industry has boomed, and the financial sector has expanded. Unemployment has fallen to an unprecedented low.

The country is mid-boom…there’s just no other way to describe it. Its economy expanded by more than 11% in 2007…and that following an average annual growth rate of nearly 8% during the preceding three years. The surge continued through 2008 (in which the growth rate was 10.1%). Panama even finished out 2010 with 7.5% growth, global market and fiscal fiascos notwithstanding. As well, the outlook now for Panama is sunny and blue skies…the IMF recently projected steady growth into 2012, and the country has been recognized as “investment grade.”

The Panama Canal expansion project is in full swing…a new highway is being built between the country’s two main cities, Panama and Colon…and downtown in the capital is being completely reconfigured with a new, widened central thoroughfare, a city bypass system, and a broad, grassy stretch of parkland along the bay.

Lief and I are here to take advantage of unparalleled business and investment opportunities.

But perhaps you have another agenda entirely. Perhaps you’re at a stage of your life where you’d like to slow down…to get away…to take time to smell the coffee each morning…

Again, I can’t imagine a better place to do that right now than Panama.

Not Panama City. Many foreigners have retired to the Panamanian capital, but it’s not a take-it-easy retirement of peace and quiet, for Panama City is the farthest thing you could imagine from peaceful and quiet these days.

In other words, Panama City probably isn’t your idea of an ideal retirement haven. But beyond its capital, the retirement options in this country are hard to beat. At this point in my life, I could be based anywhere in the world. Panama’s pro-business, pro-growth President Martinelli is making me feel very good about my decision to move to Panama, with my family and my business, nearly three years ago.

We’re benefiting every day from the advantages of living and doing business in this country. And we’re taking great pleasure in watching this little country work so hard to continue along her path of peace, prosperity, and growth.

We’re not the only ones, of course.

Land of Transformation

Transformation is a way of life in this country. Ask a hundred people from anywhere in the world why they moved to Panama, and you’ll hear a hundred stories of new opportunities and dreams fulfilled.

A French Canadian woman and her Panamanian husband moved from her homeland to his, intending to retire. Elyse and Paul had enough of the cold, so they bought a house in one of Panama’s most appealing mountain towns, within easy-access distance of Panama City. They created a lush Garden of Eden in their back yard, where Elyse dreamed they would finally relax together. But seeing all the new faces arriving in their corner of the world from all over the globe, Paul had a different idea. He had always dreamt of owning his own business. So, instead of retiring, Paul started a new venture, buying, roasting, and selling organic coffees from the mountains of Panama…

Another couple from the Netherlands tired of the stress of running businesses in the developed world. Lydia and Dennis decided to sell everything and move to quiet Bocas del Toro. They bought a house far out of town on a sleepy dirt road directly in front of the sea, where they looked forward to being lulled to sleep each night by the gently lapping surf. Quickly recognizing opportunity, though, their lazy days at the beach were cut short. The couple opened a bed and breakfast and today welcome guests from all over the world to their backyard botanical garden, complete with lily pond, night-blooming jasmine, a pet sloth, and red, green, and yellow frogs…

A successful businessman from the U.K. sold his business at age 50, bought the top floor of a new high-rise apartment building in Panama City, and settled into a new life. Four years on in Panama, Edward has discovered that this tropical paradise suits him perfectly. Edward enjoys improved health, a wide circle of new friends, and a new business endeavor, which he has undertaken with renewed energy and enthusiasm…

People come to Panama for many reasons. To retire to a mountain hacienda, a condo on the golf course, or a seaside retreat…

To start a new business in a free market where capital goes far…

To protect and grow assets in one of the world’s few remaining safe havens…

All excellent reasons…but they may not get to the heart of what really draws folks here from all over the world. In fact, sometimes, those who seek out this land of opportunity may not understand themselves the true Call of Panama.

Simply put, people come to Panama to build better lives than they could live anywhere else.

You don’t have to look far to find solid and logical reasons for why you should think about spending your time and your money in Panama.

You’ve heard me say it many times…Panama is the world’s #1 Retirement Haven, offering the best program of retirement benefits available anywhere in the world, bar none.

And, no question, this country is the best place on earth to start and run a business right now. The costs of doing business are low. The labor pool is impressive and affordable. And the government is pro-business, meaning you, as an employer, are left alone to run your business.

The facts of this place are overwhelmingly positive. Financial incentives. Steadily growing economy (despite the uncertainty, slowdowns, and worse that other countries around the world are struggling through right now). Both turquoise Caribbean and crashing Pacific coasts, now just a couple of hours apart by car via a brand-new, smooth-as-silk toll road. Plus lush and cool mountains, with quaint villages and easily accessed hiking trails, where monkeys and toucans are common sights.

But beyond all that, there’s something else that makes Panama unlike any other country in the world.

To continue reading, you can get the full report here.

For more information on Panama, check out these resources from Live and Invest Overseas:

Panama Starter Kit – The ever-expanding and comprehensive Panama publication package. This full report is everything you need to get started in your consideration of Panama.

The Panama Letter – The monthly e-zine in which you hear about the real Panama…warts and all.

Live and Invest in Panama Conferences– The only way to truly experience Panama…to determine if it’s a place you could call home…or a place to invest.

The Panama CircleThe premier hand-holding VIP service in Panama. Lifetime membership includes real estate discounts, free conference attendance, a personal trilingual assistant, access to a full library of Panama publications, and much, much more.

Panama Country PageMaps, photos, and general demographic, tax, and government information.

For a complete list of publications and services, including information on other top retirement havens, visit the Live and Invest Overseas Online Store.