Why Panama?

Panama is one of the world’s top retirement destinations, not just because the incredible and famous Panama Canal, but for many others reasons as birding -the country is host to over 900 species of bird species alone, this is more than all bird species in the United States and Canada combined-; there are 14 national parks in Panama protecting the beautiful natural landscape and heritage. Panama is home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Darien National Park, Coiba National Park and la Amistad National Park. Panama is also known for world record deep sea fishing; river rafting; rain forest experiences; ecotourism; great beaches and surfing; kayaking; diving; snorkeling and every kind of adventure you can imagine.

There are many international articles about Panama as in the National Geographic, New York Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, Travel and Leisure and Harpers Bazaar describing Panama as “the most beautiful retreat in the world and almost undiscovered” (Harpers). “Known mostly for its canal, Panama is in fact an undiscovered tourist paradise” (Boston Globe). Making this country very desirable for tourists, retirees and for those who are looking for a second home in a wonderful location.

International magazines rated Panama as one of the best retirement destination in the world like Modern Maturity magazine (the AARP magazine with the largest circulation of any consumer magazine in the world, upwards of 20 million subscribers) rated the fourth (Boquete, Panama), International Living rates Panama on their list at the first.
Panama offers an incentive and motivation for everybody, it has a perfect location for every taste, it has beautiful beachfront properties and ocean front lots at affordable prices, gorgeous cool mountains with unbelievable views, a cosmopolitan city with high rise buildings overlooking stunning mountains, ocean and city views.

Rental properties are still very active, especially in highland areas, even in this market; so even if you are not looking to retire for a while you also have an opportunity to make a considerable return on your investment in the meantime.

There is more than beautiful, gorgeous and spectacular scenarios and views. The Panama Canal, which extends approximately 80 km. (50 miles) from Panama City on the Pacific Ocean to Colon on the Caribbean Sea. Is one of the largest man-made canals in the world, connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean. Its construction, although one of the most difficult undertakings,helped replace the traditional route via the Southernmost tip of South America. The present Panama Canal ensures that faster travel time is capable through its route. A typical ship sailing from New York to San Francisco would generally traverse more than 14,000 miles via the old route via the Cape Horn, whereas it would take just over 6,000 miles via the Panama Canal, less than half the distance. It is widely considered to be one of the world’s great engineering achievements. Around 13,000 ships transit the Canal each year, hauling an estimated four- percent of the world’s goods around the globe.

Additionally, Panama’s ports (Manzanillo International Terminal, the port of Balboa, The Evergreen port at Colon) have expanded their container transshipment capacity that allow Panama to transship over 2.8 million containers per year and continue growing over the years making Panama the No.1 container transshipment center in Latin America. Together with the ports, the restored railroad by Kansas City Southern Railways already operational connects the ports creating a land bridge to complement the Canal.

Panama’s Free Trade Zone (CFZ)establish since 1953, located in Colon, is the largest in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest in the world after Hong Kong.

Panama has a very strong international credibility, has been ranked first in the region for low cost of living, operational cost and index of labor by the Tripartite Committee, which consists of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB). Panama has full coverage from OPIC, MIGA, IDB and other multilateral entities. Political Risk Services (PRS) placed Panama in the top three countries of the hemisphere with the best risk-investment qualifications. Moody’s and Standard & Poors have both granted high ranking to Panamanian bonds.
International banking center in Panama has the most modern and successful international and financial banking centers in Latin America, with more than 85 banks from 35 countries represented. Panama’s new comprehensive banking law (Decree No. 9) meets the standards of leading financial centers around the world for transparency and regulation, and conforms to the statutes of the Basle Commission.

Some of the banks present in the center are: Citibank, HSBC, Dresdner, Bank of Boston, International Commercial Bank of China, Banque Sudameris and more. Panama´s banking system has effectively achieved the following, among others factors like international standards, international cooperation, modern legislation and competitive advantages.

There are many investment opportunities. The Investment Stability Law (Law No. 54 of July 22, 1998), guarantees all foreign and national investors equal rights in terms of investments and business practices, continuing Panama’s quotes long-standing policy of providing a foreign-investment environment that requires no special authorizations, permits or prior registration. This law provides a 10 year stability as of the registration of the investment that all legal, tax, customs, municipal and labor rules will remain identical to those in force at the time of registration. This is an important guarantee to secure no-changes will affect the amortization of investments. Up to date, more than US$2 billion have been registered under the protection of this legislation, ranging from energy and petroleum to industrial and tourism development projects.
The hotel occupancy rates reflected the stability and growth of the tourism industry, based upon the stable markets and indicators displayed in Latin America, Canada and the Scandinavian countries.

The cost of living in Panama is lower than the US and much lower than Western Europe. For example, electricity costs approximately are 10 – 12 cents per kilowatt hour depending on the area, and water and trash collection around $7 per month. Direct TV, telephone, and internet services vary according to the plans chosen. Direct TV with a wide choice of English language channels is approximately $50 per month. Locally produced vegetables, meat, and fish are priced considerably lower than in the USA although imported items may be slightly higher. The minimum wage for housemaids or gardeners is 88 cents per hour. Local beer at the supermarket costs 30 cents per can, and having a cup of coffee in a restaurant may be as little as 30 cents.

Panama is an affordable cosmopolitan location, the high-rise buildings tower above the ocean and rain forest, high class restaurants, international franchises, first class hotels and fast food chains are here for all tastes and pockets. Entertainment is varied, the latest movies, concerts featuring foreign and local performers of all genres, modern night clubs, international casinos, every kind of sporting events. Shopping options range from local markets to multi million dollar super malls and luxury goods, where you can find stores like Louis Vuitton, Liz Claiborne, Nautica, Puma, Nike, and more. Great walking, jog, ride a bicycle day at the Amador Causeway, yacht clubs, and a duty free shop. Panama City even has a rain forest within its city limits. The old Panama City is Casco Viejo, you will see many remnants of French and Spanish colonial architecture. Some properties are gradually being rescued and have become restaurants, bars, studios and small hotels in an area that could well become another New York City Soho. The Presidential Palace and the National Theater are located here as well, as a monument to the French who made the first attempt to build canal. Purchase and restoration of properties in this area receive incentives from the government in the form of tax exemptions and discounted mortgages. Even your rent is a tax deductible expense.

Natural beauty and tax relief programs and incentives really encourage one to consider Panama, the centrality of the country, as well as being outside of the hurricane and tropical storm belt, as the favorable climate and landscape truly contribute to the overall positive nature of the region. Panama regular receives votes of confidence from international investors, as well as rating agencies, which they have described as stable and high performing.

The interest in Panama is not just limited to the United States, but has become increasing popular for residents of Canada as well as that of numerous European countries. It’s a numerous cultural diversity of people of the whole world (Chinese, Indians, Jews, etc).

There are airlines increasing their direct flights to additional number of US cities and worldwide countries making Panama easier to travel for retirees going back and forward to their foreign country, also for families and friends to visit them.

Major benefits from a Panamanian perspective include: residents pay no tax on foreign earned income; legal tender in the country is the United States Dollar, and has been since 1904; property tax exemptions may apply in certain areas, calculated according to value; considerable benefits in the Pensioners program; increased encouragement of foreign investors as property owners, legally protected under common law, as applicable to Panama citizens; reliable communications infrastructure; Panama has a number of US standard health care facilities (John Hopkins Hospital for example) and services with many US trained English speaking doctors available; with around $250 yearly, there’s a service where in the case of an emergency, an helicopter pick you up anywhere in the country and bring you to the hospital; tourism investments have exemptions from import duties, construction materials and equipment, income, real estate taxes, etc; continued road and amenity infrastructure development and investment; English is commonly and widely spoken.

Living and retiring overseas was once an option available only for the wealthy, but is now an affordable trend. So, Panama is worth investigating because the geographical location of Panama at the crossroads of the world, the Panama Canal, the fact that the US dollar is legal tender, a stable government and a growing economy, a large banking and financial center, a developed insurance and reinsurance industry, several state-of-the-art container ports and not very onerous business requirements.

Considered to be the best retirement program in the world, the Panama “Pensionado” program offers retirees excellent incentives, just to mention some, include:

  • Import tax exemption for household goods
  • Tax exemption to import a new car every two years
  • 25% discounts on utility bills
  • 25% discount on airline tickets and 30% on other transportation
  • 25% discount on restaurants
  • 15% discount on loans made in your name
  • 1% reduction on home mortgages for homes used for personal residence
  • 20% discount on doctor’s bills and 15% on hospital services if no insurance applies
  • 15% off dental and eye exams
  • 10% discount on medicines
  • 20% discount on bills for professional and technical services
  • 50% discount on admission to movie theaters, cultural and sporting events
  • 50% discount at hotels Monday through Thursday, 30% on weekends

In addition the lower crime rates than many other traditional retirement locations, Panamanians are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. All this makes Panama an ideal location for retirement or a second home.

There are more factors and legislation in your favor as an investor to make informed decisions and investments in this country than most other well known retirement destinations.
Located in the middle of the Americas, it excellent geographical position makes it more accessible to countries in the whole world, that’s why we named “Panama as bridge of the world, heart of the universe”.