I’ve been writing about Panama for International Living for nearly five years. Interestingly, more and more expats are asking me about business opportunities. They don’t want to “just retire”. Our Facebook page is peppered with questions and comments about making a living here. We asked our readers for business ideas for expats in Panama City. Here’s what they said…
1. Cafés with free Wi-Fi topped the list. More and more expats are moving here, and many of them have “portable” jobs or businesses. All they need is a laptop and a nook with Wi-Fi and they’re set. Panama City’s New York Bagel fits the bill, but the popular café is always full. There is plenty of room for more venues in the same mold. As a member of the “have laptop, work anywhere” crowd, I agree…this is a great business idea for expats in Panama City.
2. Another suggestion that caught my eye: An international chocolate shop. Talk about a luscious business idea. There are many chocolate lovers here and an all-Panamanian product would go over well with the “Locavore” crowd. Keep in mind: Panama is an international destination. Health-related trends are catching on…more and more people are eating local, vegan, organic…the list goes on. Cater to any of these needs and you may find you’ll fill an important niche.
3. Import/export is always a good idea, too. Says one reader: “I have a leather business and I would like to see if I can transfer to Panama.” There aren’t many specialty leather shops here, so I think this one could be a real winner. Just make sure you keep costs low and quality high. Another reader suggests importing high-end and/or custom beach wear. In a country where the weather’s always warm, we think this is a hot idea.
4. If you’re into more cultural pursuits, Panama does not disappoint. The art community is growing and galleries have popped up all over town. Readers say they’d like to see high-end or specialty photography shops, old-style record shops, artsy tattoo-piercing shops, and jewelry stores that don’t follow pop-culture trends.
5. Of course, retirement-age expats are often looking for businesses that allow them to live life at a slower pace. They often want to make a small profit and have plenty of down-time. Bed & Breakfasts are opening, it seems, on every corner. But not many of them are pet-friendly. Look around and you may well find there are still many niches to fill in the hotel/inn industry here.
More business ideas for expats in Panama City looking to live the good life: gluten-free bakery, horse rides, upscale car wash, doggy daycare, and—er—hangover recovery center. I’m not sure that last one is serious but…you get the picture.
My advice: play to your strengths. If you are looking for more business ideas in Panama City, pop down for a visit. Expats here can’t help but see niches to fill everywhere they look. Panama has a fast-growing economy, an international population and it is a logistics dream. If you’re looking to relocate but are worried you’ll be bored….don’t. It’s just not possible here.
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