If you are thinking of moving to Panama, your reasons had better be more than the Van Halen song by the same name, which incidentally has nothing to do with the country, but in the vein of many metal acts of the 80s, had more to do with a stripper and a fast car!
The country Panama redefines the term ‘tropical paradise’ and it is a lot more than a popular tourist destination. Panama is an excellent country for expats and retirees to live in, making it a top choice among immigrants and working professionals from across the world, especially Americans.This small country has a lot to offer, with a diverse landscape that includes exotic tropical rainforests, breathtaking mountain ranges, spectacular beaches, over a 1000 islands, a modern capital city, an active nightlife, world class resorts and quiet getaways, quaint historical sites, leisure activities like golfing, fishing, diving, surfing, and last but not least, the world famous Panama Canal.
If you’re looking to relocate to a country though, you will of course be concerned with more than the interesting sites and weekend activities.
1. Expat-Friendly Population
Panamanians are extremely friendly towards foreigners and will make you feel quite welcome in the country. Because of the country’s geographic location, which has made it a historic international crossroad of sorts, the local population is well versed with the ways of international travellers, immigrants and the likes. Integration within the country is also made a lot easier because of the huge expat population in the country. Most locals also understand and can communicate effectively enough in English. To make things even simpler for new expats, especially for those from the U.S, Panama uses the USD as its primary currency, although it also has its own currency.
2. World Class Infrastructure
Panama doesn’t just have incredible infrastructure – it also has a robust economy and is an international financial and business hub. It has the world’s second largest Free Trade Zone, and is also home to a banking sector with 90 banks. The quality of water in the country is also said to be exceptional, with drinkable tap water. Panama also has some of the best hotels, restaurants and shopping destinations in all of Latin America. The country’s transport and highway infrastructure, healthcare sector, telecommunications, and business services are on par with any developed country. Internet speeds in the country are blindingly fast, as all of the world’s connecting fiber optic cables run through the Panama Canal!
3. Tax Haven
Panama’s tax policies make it one of the most attractive destinations for new businesses and expats alike. In contrast to most countries, Panama does not impose any taxes on income earned from outside of the country. In other words, a business owner living in Panama who conducts all of his business overseas will not have to pay any tax on the revenue generated from his business. With the high speed internet and excellent telecommunication services, running a business remotely is no problem when you’re living in Panama. In addition, your pension and social security payments can be made out to any part of the world.
4. Thriving Economy
Panama has one of the strongest economies in Latin America, with consistently high GDP growth despite the economic recession of the past decade. Its GDP rose by 5.57 percent in 2013, and it is expected to continue to rise by even more than 9 percent in this year and the next.
Unemployment in the country was as low as 2.9 percent in the past 2 years, making it the lowest in the region.
5. Low Crime Rate
Expats in Panama always talk about how safe and at home they feel in the country. Crime rates have dropped drastically in recent years, especially with the stringent measures implemented by the Martinelli government. Tourism crime is also extremely low, and this is often a concern for expats and travellers in Latin America. You can travel safely through the country without having to keep an eye out for car-jackings, pick-pockets or petty thieves.
There aren’t too many drawbacks that one can see when considering the move to Panama, but try to be realistic with your expectations. Panama’s climate is one that you will either love or hate, probably also depending on where you come from. It can be unbearably hot and humid, as temperatures year round fluctuate between 80-95° F (27-35° C). While temperatures soar, humidity levels remain high, making you unbearably sweaty. With just two seasons, it is dry and hot for four months and for the rest of the year it doesn’t just rain, it pours incessantly.