Right Now Could be the Best Time to Come to Panama...the Hub of the Americas
Right Now Could be the Best Time to Come to Panama...the Hub of the Americas
Panama has long been the prime choice for retirees, second-home buyers, and property investors alike. Today you can still find apartments in sought-after areas of Panama City for $80,000 and live well on $1,200 per month.
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- Population: 3,559,408
- Capital City: Panama City
- Climate: Tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)
- Time Zone: GMT-5
- Language: Spanish (official), English 14%; (many Panamanians are bilingual)
- Country Code: 507
- Coastline: 2,490 km
When moving abroad, renting a place to stay is an attractive option that offers a lot of advantages, whether you’re headed to Costa Rica, Malaysia, France, Mexico, Ecuador, Ireland…or any country. If you plan to buy or build a home eventually, renting allows you to investigate a region and/or community…or several…before you put down roots. You don’t want to be stuck in a neighborhood, region, or home you don’t like.
People are brewing small quantities of beer in garages all across America….but some of them have taken that passion for “home brewing” overseas and turned it into a livelihood. It seems the whole world is waking up to the higher quality of craft beers, and the market for them is growing. If you’ve been in a bar recently you know about the thirst for craft beers
After 20 years in the restaurant business, working for other people, Kristie Craven wanted to work for herself. So did her friend Rich Littlefield. Having found the right opportunity, they now spend their days running a beach bar on a tropical island off Panama…hosting barbecues, the occasional DJ, and serving up the freshest fish imaginable.
Are you dreaming of a California lifestyle…but think that you’re unable to afford it? If so, you’ll want to consider Coronado, Panama. Just an hour’s drive from the only First-World city in Central America, at first glance you might notice that Coronado isn’t the cheapest retirement choice in the world…or even in Panama. A couple would want a total of $2,000 to $3,000 a month to live comfortably within the Coronado gates (including rent). Monthly rentals can be found for $1,000 to $2,000, and homes sell for $175,000 to $300,000…
Over the years archeological sites across Panama have yielded artifacts used long before the conquistadores came from Spain. Round-bellied clay pots called tinajas kept water cool in the tropical heat. Geometric motifs adorned platters and open bowls used for meals and prayers. Centuries later, this tradition continues in La Arena, known for its pre-Columbian style pottery.
I visited San Miguel de Allende recently while working on a video project, and I had a chance to catch up with an old friend from when my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I lived there back in 2007 and 2008. It pleased me to find him doing well and to hear that his two children were growing into handsome, intelligent young adults. Part of the reason for that, he told me, were the chances they’d had to travel.
We at International Living are sending one lucky winner (along with a friend or spouse) to Coronado, Panama for a full month in 2014—free. The prize includes round-trip flights from the U.S. or Canada to Panama City, furnished accommodation in the beach-resort town of Coronado, plus a living-expense stipend of $1,500.
What are your reasons for visiting Panama? Ask any tourist that question and you’ll get a different answer. Some come for the beaches and the sun, others to explore the jungles or cloudforests. There’s a lot to see, and if you’ve read anything about Panama, it’s likely you’ve felt tempted to hop on a plane. To help tantalize you just a bit more, here are my top four reasons to visit Panama.
Every morning, I wake up and head straight for the rooftop. At 32 stories high, my building is the perfect vantage point from which to check the closest surf break. If there’s no swell coming up, I go downstairs, fire up my computer, and get to work. If there is, well…it looks like I’m not working that day.
We’ve already lived in seven communities in four different countries. We’ve had some time to honestly assess ourselves and what we need to live somewhere for more than just a month or two a year. By now we have some pretty clear criteria for what we really need a location to provide.
The couple to my left, in their mid-70s, was a “good-ol’-boy” Texan and his pretty, soft-spoken wife. Both were raised as the children of sharecroppers. Across from them, the octogenarian of the group was a nuclear submarine engineer in his native Canada. And at the end of the table sat a former automotive repair-shop manager from California and his accountant wife.
Vacation rentals are a great way for an investor to create an income overseas but, unless they’re living next door, anyone who owns a vacation rental needs someone to manage it for them. Property management is a business you can start with absolutely no investment. You are simply trading your time and effort.
If you make your money online, there are some great benefits to locating yourself in Panama. One of them is gaining residence on the basis of your economic activity. Panama welcomes expats…and if you register your business as a corporation, you can easily apply for a residence visa. Online workers may not have the same need to officially register their business—the way bricks-and-mortar entrepreneurs do—but becoming a legal resident is a good idea.
Although my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I write a lot about retiring overseas, we’re not officially retired. We write for a living, and even after we do reach official retirement age, I’d be very surprised if we didn’t continue our work writing, editing, and traveling. We know more and more folks in the same situation. They have no intention of retiring in the traditional sense and will probably work at something well past any official retirement marker or milestone they may pass.
Figuring out how to make some extra money doing something you love is a wonderful thing. And many of my fellow expats are doing exactly that. If you’re looking for inspiration, I’d like to share some of those stories with you. In fact, we know of so many such stories that my husband Dan and I devoted an entire chapter of a new book we’ve written to this exact topic. (More about that in a moment.)
The retire-overseas experts at InternationalLiving.com will send one winner (along with a friend or spouse) to Coronado, Panama—for a full month in 2014, free. The prize includes round-trip flights from the U.S. or Canada to Panama City, furnished accommodation in the beach-resort town of Coronado, Panama, plus a living-expense stipend of $1,500.
As we approach our lucky 13th year of living overseas, my husband, Dan Prescher, and I are fortunate to have shared so many wonderful, memorable experiences in so many far-flung corners of the world—from Southeast Asia to Europe, and nearly every country of Latin America. We’ve lived in Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, and Ecuador… In fact, we’ve lived in more than one destination in some of those countries. We’ve learned to speak Spanish, we’ve bought and sold property…
My adventures in pursuit of stories have taken me to strange and wonderful places. The spice-scented bazaars of Istanbul were memorable, as were the breweries of Dusseldorf on the banks of the German Rhine. I have haggled with gypsies, queried stamp investors, “borrowed” a speed boat to check out real estate, and handled shotguns in London worth $100,000 each.
In the U.S., there’s a simple reason why our medical bills are high: Going to the doctor costs more. Perceptive, I know. But it’s the truth. If we dump the unions, the politics, Medicare, government and any other hot button from our discussion, we’re left with the simple yet disturbing fact that Americans pay more for services than patients elsewhere around the world—even in similar “first world” economies. Lots more.
Panama’s a place of sunshine, 365 days a year. You have hundreds of miles of beach…highland retreats with green valleys where the weather is spring-like, even in January and August…and a genuinely cosmopolitan capital city, too, with one of the world’s largest financial districts. And Panama offers the world’s most generous retiree benefits.
For many, Latin America conjures up images of steamy, wildlife-filled jungles and beautiful people lounging on tropical beaches, sipping umbrella-bedecked drinks. But there’s a whole other side to Latin America…regions where temperate—even cool—climates and jaw-dropping vistas of snow-covered volcanos are the order of the day.
Cynthia West bounced through the door vibrating with the news she was about to tell her husband Robert. He listened with mounting glee as she explained her medical company’s plan to inject some younger blood into the workforce. They were offering an early retirement package—one that would give Cynthia “an avenue of escape” from her high stress, 10-hour-a-day job in Silicon Valley. She grabbed the opportunity. Though Robert, 62, was working part-time…
There’s a big difference between how a tourist sees Panama City and how a potential resident views it. If you come for a visit, you’re likely to note the sparkly, spiky skyline. Even back in the 1990s it was impressive—no other city in the region could compete. And these days there are more than plain old skyscrapers here. There are some true architectural specimens, like the Trump building (sail shaped, like that iconic hotel in Dubai).
Coronado is a relaxed community. Only an hour from Panama City, this coastal town—now popular with expats—was once a vacation getaway for Panamanians, who came from miles around to sun themselves on the black-and-white-sanded beach and swim in the Pacific Ocean.
When I first discovered Sora, I had been looking for someplace quiet to spend a weekend away from Panama City. I wanted a place that was an easy drive from the capital. Somewhere with a cool climate and little noise or light pollution. I wanted to be able to look up and see the stars, maybe wear a light jacket, and have a relaxing weekend.
Thanks to the location independence my career provides, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of making a living from some truly amazing locations all over the world. Places like the top deck of a ferry crossing the Gulf of Thailand at sunrise…in the sleeping cabin of a night train on the way to Sapa, Vietnam…in a pub on Dublin’s Temple Bar…
Some years ago a man I know visited Florida and asked a retiree why he moved there. “You don’t have to shovel the humidity,” the retiree merrily responded. This month my friend’s mother is in Florida…wrapped up in sweaters. Times are changing. Even down south, the climate isn’t what it used to be. East coast cities are like freezers. And the Mid-West is more tightly in the grip of Jack Frost’s icy fingers than it used to be.
People come to live in Panama for lots of reasons. It’s one of the world’s best destinations for retirees, and if you’re keen on running your own business, it’s got much to offer. But if your dream is to establish a winery, then most folks will tell you to look elsewhere. David Feinstein and Kersti Landeck are not most folks.
Moving overseas can bring some challenging choices, especially if you have school-age kids. But a little research shows there are schools overseas for every budget, academic goal, and personality. You’ll need to weigh the cost against your preferred curriculum, as well as take into account the needs of your child and the academic culture of available schools.
Steve Doane is a guy’s guy. A retired member of the NYPD, this keen surfer has an athletic physique and likes his rock ‘n’ roll. So when he describes his new life in Panama as “like falling into a Walt Disney movie,” there are no raised eyebrows. Rather, there are nodding heads. “What I mean is everything’s so intense…the sights and sounds,” he says.
Proximity to Panama City and to beaches like Coronado makes El Valle one of the world’s rare “have-it-all” locations. Here, you can live right in the middle of a display of nature’s bounty, teeming with life…and yet be close to important conveniences. And the number of expats discovering this tiny town is growing. Over the course of my visit I encountered quite a few of them and counted many nationalities. Ask them why they choose to live here, and you’ll hear a range of answers.
One of the places my wife, Suzan, and I have lived since moving abroad in 2001 is Panama City, Panama. And I must say, if it was a big, modern city I was after as an expat destination, Panama City would have to be it. The idea of craving the amenities of a big, busting metropolis as a place to retire or have a second home strikes some people as odd.
When I first came to Panama from Oregon, my Spanish was limited to numbers from 1-10 and a very gringa sounding “Cómo estás?” Lucky for me, most of the upper crust Panamanians I met during that first year spoke perfect English. They’d gone to excellent private schools like St. Mary’s or to U.S. Department of Defense schools. I got by just fine.
For every substantial, bricks-and-mortar business set up by an expat overseas, there are hundreds of small enterprises that people operate from their own homes with very little investment. Within a year of starting their micro-enterprise overseas, Jim and Mariellen Wiemann are making a profit and supplementing their retirement income.
The highlight of my journey in mastering the Spanish language came on a night out in Panama when I had to negotiate my way out of trouble with the police. My husband, Clyde, and I moved to Panama from South Texas in 2011. Before leaving we had invested in a Spanish-language program and by the time we got there we had enough knowledge to get by.
Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador offer the most attractive programs in the world for retirees—wooing foreign pensioners with special visas and significant discounts on everything from airfare to health care, reports InternationalLiving.com.
For many years now, we’ve contributed to International Living’s annual Global Retirement Index. It’s a ranking of the 24 countries that International Living editors feel offer the best potential for anyone considering moving abroad for a more affordable or adventurous retirement.
Panama is the best place for North Americans to retire overseas, according to InternationalLiving.com’s newly released annual Global Retirement Index 2014. In putting together the Index, now in its 23rd year, InternationalLiving.com’s editors collated data from its team of experts on the ground in the most popular countries among U.S. and Canadian expat retirees.
The first time I visited Pedasi, I thought to myself, “Is this it?” Small colonial homes line the main strip, behind which you’ll find a small plaza flanked by a neat little white church. There are usually a few old-timers sitting under the gazebo, wearing the same sombreros pintados (painted hats) their fathers and grandfathers wore.
All over the planet you’ll find little pockets of prosperity…corners where you can live comfortably on a modest budget…destinations rich with opportunity for adventure and profit. Rarely—if ever—are these places you hear about on the nightly news. But that’s not surprising. Our correspondents aren’t looking under bushes for a brouhaha.