Ultimate Guide For Expats and Investors in Panama in 2023
When moving to Panama, you will find dozens of unique opportunities to further advance your career or enjoy your retirement in this lovely Central American nation. From its beautiful green landscapes, strategic geographic location right in the center between North and South America to its relatively stable political climate as well as its strong & growing economy, Panama is one of the best places to do business and build a future for yourself and your family.
In addition to its diverse career opportunities, Panama also shines with a lower cost of living compared to most Western countries, making it a convenient choice for those looking to get the most for their money. All of these factors contribute to Panama’s increase in popularity as a destination for expats from across the globe, seeking promising work- and business opportunities abroad. In the following section, we are going to explore why Panama is perfect for investors & expats as well as give you a couple of important topics to keep in mind when moving to Panama!
Finding A Place To Live
First and foremost, finding yourself a comfortable and suitable place to live is probably your number one priority when moving to Panama. On your own, this can be a challenging task though, as the cost and availability of housing can vary significantly depending on the location and property type you are looking for – so having an experienced real estate professional by your side is always a good idea. Renting an apartment or house is a popular option in Panama – however, it’s important to budget for utilities and other expenses such as internet, electricity and cable, as well as community, maintenance or security fees, depending on where you live.
When looking for an investment property, Panama boasts a robust and growing real estate market with a wide range of apartments, houses, land, islands & more at various price points, so there is something to find for every budget. To make the best out of your investment, be sure to always conduct thorough research and work with a realtor that is transparent and trustworthy! It is also wise to have your lawyer revise all neccessary contracts and documents before you sign anything.
Finding A Job Or Starting A Business
Securing employment or starting a business is yet another important aspect to consider when moving to Panama. If you have a job lined up before moving to Panama or if you work as a digital nomad, this may not be as much of a concern. However, if you are seeking employment or planning to start your own business, it’s essential to be proactive and start networking in the country as soon as possible. Panama has a strong economy with a diverse set of industry sectors including finance, tourism, and logistics, so there is plenty of work available – especially if you have enjoyed western education.
The country is also becoming a popular retirement destination for many Europeans, Canadians and US citizens. This trend is only going to continue with Panamanian officials heavily investing into sectors like healthcare and education. Panama’s business friendly climate and relatively low cost of living make it an attractive location for entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe, the Panama Canal also makes it convenient to start an import, export or logistics company. As an expat moving to Panama, make sure to familiarize yourself with the regulations and requirements for starting and operating a business in Panama to avoid any unwanted surprises.
Taxes & Regulations
As an investor or business owner in Panama, you’ll find yourself in a very supportive environment with a wide range of regulations and tax incentives in place in order to help you succeed and further grow your business. The Panamanian government has implemented several policies in the past that make it easy to start and operate businesses, including a streamlined processes for registering a company and obtaining necessary licenses and permits with ease.
In addition to that, Panama has a well-developed legal system and laws in place that strictly protect businesses and foreign investors as well as their assets, with a strong tradition of upholding contracts and protecting property rights – for individuals as well as corporations. The country has also implemented a number of free trade agreements, which can provide additional benefits for businesses looking to expand their logistical operations and invest into the region!
When it comes to taxes, Panama offers a number of incentives for businesses, including several tax-free zones and reduced import duties. Expats may also be eligible for certain tax breaks, such as those available through the “pensionado” program. The country has a territorial tax system, meaning that only profits that were made in Panama itself have to be taxed. Capital gains taxes are limited to a maximum of 10% – also, the maximum income and corporate taxes are at 25%.
Education & Healthcare
Panama as a country places high value on both public and private healthcare & education for its citizens – and as an expat living here, you’ll have access to all of them. The healthcare system in Panama is already well-developed, with a range of public and private hospitals and clinics to choose from. Medical care in Panama is generally approaching western standards, and the country has a high concentration of qualified doctors and nurses. Expats moving to Panama have the option of purchasing private insurance or joining a medical association for coverage.
Education in Panama is far above Latin American standards as well, with a wide range of options available for both local and international students. Panamanian public schools follow the U.S. curriculum and there are a number of well known private schools offering international programs. Attaining higher education in Panama is also no problem, with a variety of universities offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs in many fields – providing exciting opportunities to learn and advance your (or your children’s) education when moving to Panama.
Culture & Communication
Understanding the culture and language of your new home country is essential for a seamless transition as well as a proper integration into the Panamanian society, business & sports clubs and so on. Adapting to a new culture can be one of the most significant challenges for expats though, so it’s important to always keep an open mind and embrace the new experiences you will make. Panama is a culturally diverse country with Indigenous, Hispanic, and African influences, and is home to a variety of languages including Spanish, English, and various Indigenous languages.
English is widely spoken in Panama – especially in the business, banking and tourism sector – however, it’s still advisable to learn at least some basic Spanish skills before moving to Panama. This will not only help you navigate daily life and communicate with locals more effectively, but also demonstrate respect for the culture and people of Panama. There are numerous resources available for learning Spanish, including language schools, online courses, and language exchange programs.
Visa & Residency Status
Panama offers a wide range of Visa options, tailor made for expats and retirees looking to live and work in the country. Whether you’re planning a short visit or a long-term stay, there is a Visa that will meet your needs. Some common Visa options include the Temporary Resident Visa, Permanent Resident Visa, and Investor Visa. The Temporary Resident Visa is intended for expats planning to stay in Panama for more than 180 days but less than two years, and is renewable. The Permanent Resident Visa is for expats who are planning to live in Panama permanently and is also renewable. Finally, the Investor Visa is for individuals who are planning to invest a certain amount of money in Panama (at least $300,000 into real estate for example) and allows the holder to live, work and study in the country.
To apply for a Visa in Panama, you will need to present a valid passport and in some cases you may need to provide additional documentation, such as proof of employment, proof of sufficient funds, and a police clearance certificate from your home country. It is always a good idea to check with the Panamanian embassy or consulate in your country for the most up-to-date information on Visa requirements and further procedures, or you can contact a Panamanian law firm specialized in immigration law. Before moving to Panama, make sure to choose a competent lawyer to assist you whenever you need legal advice or help of any kind.
Landscapes & Locations
Panama is rich in contrasts – it shines with a wide array of breathtaking landscapes that range from lush green rainforests, rolling hills and mountains to pristine beaches and remote Caribbean islands. The combination between untouched natural beauty and ambitious high rise buildings in the city makes the country’s character even more appealing. While it might be tough to fully grasp the beauty of the country before moving to Panama, you won’t be disappointed when you get there!
The Chiriquí Province with its captial David and highly sought after mountain town of Boquete, situated in the western region of the country, is well known for its picturesque scenery of dense vegetation and abundant coffee plantations, as well as the majestic Volcán Barú – standing tall at an elevation of 3,475 meters (11,401 feet). The mountain offers a wide range of outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, bird watching and camping, as well as fertile volcanic soil for agricultural production in the surrounding areas.
The Caribbean coast of Panama is absolutely perfect for beach enthusiasts, wildlife explorers and dolphin fans, offering some of the most gorgeous and pristine landscapes to be found anywhere in the world. The Bocas del Toro archipelago in particular is a popular destination renowned for its white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and coral reefs that offer an ideal setting for snorkeling and diving. The San Blas Islands are yet another gem to be discovered, known for their secluded private beaches and lush tropical forests that provide an idyllic setting one usually finds in magazines only.
As the country’s capital and largest population center, Panama City is a melting pot of modern day skyscrapers and colonial-style buildings. It is well known for its vibrant nightlife and rich cultural heritage, as well as its location right at the Pacific entrance of the world-famous Panama Canal. The city is home to Panama’s major industry sectors such as banking, legal and logistical services – and with about half of Panama’s entire population living here, it’s the main hub for economic and social activity and probably the prime destination for most expats moving to Panama.
Moving To Panama As An Expat – Conclusion
While each one of us might have different reasons for moving to Panama, one thing is for sure: The country is definetely worth it. Panama has a growing economy, stable banking sector and political landscape as well as an incredibly diverse real estate sector. Overall, Panama’s business friendly environment and favorable tax policies make it a great place for companies and investors looking to establish or expand their operations. Panama’s education and healthcare systems are also rapidly approaching western standards throughout the country, with Panama City and David leading at the top.
By finding a place to live, securing employment or starting a business, as well as understanding Panamanian culture and learning basic Spanish, you will be able to immigrate with ease! If you are looking for a Visa or residency status for yourself or family members, professional legal assistance is a must have – with an experienced law firm by your side, the entire process of moving to Panama feels absolutely effortless for you!