It’s 10 a.m. and I’ve already had time to drop the kids off at school…take in a morning Zumba class in a studio overlooking the canyon…and enjoy a café con leche (coffee with milk), holadre (a Panamanian breakfast pastry), and vegetable omelet during my morning “business meeting” with my husband.
During these breakfast meetings, we discuss the sales and profits for our online import business that funds our life in the idyllic mountain town of Boquete, Panama. Boquete is a cool-weather paradise with the best of everything Panama has to offer—beautiful views, several micro-climates, and 73 international and local restaurants within a 25-mile radius.
Sunrise in Boquete is a grand spectacle, with sun rays bursting through the clouds and often multiple rainbows reflecting off the mist in the valley.
That coupled with the fact that most businesses have WiFi and I am minutes away from 24-hour internet café should my internet go down (which is something that happens when you live in a small-town mountain paradise) makes Boquete the perfect location for someone who earns importing online.
An online import business was the ideal business for myself and my husband. We didn’t want to start something that would require a large financial investment and force us to take out a loan. Our primary investment was time.
We knew early on that we wanted to focus on selling cell phone accessories because of the increasing reliance worldwide on cell phones. We knew that market was rather broad though, so we focused instead on smartphone filmmakers and citizen journalists, selling equipment to support and enhance their storytelling—lenses, phone-attachable drones, smart phone tripods and sticks, and more.
We’ve never carried inventory—the manufacturer ships everything directly to the customer—so the business was profitable after just a few sales. Right from the beginning we had a passive income that continues to grow with little financial risk. Even in the event of internet outages the business can tick away in the background.
Once the business was up and running, we were able to run it from anywhere in the world. We chose Boquete because of the attractive cost of living. Raising children in Boquete literally costs about a tenth of what it would cost us the States—private school back in North Carolina is $17,000 a year and about $1,700 a year here. A private doctor’s visit here costs me between $15 and $25 depending on the physician. If I want to visit a specialist, I’m looking at $40. I had an ultrasound here and paid just $15, and they gave me a copy of my ultrasound on a CD.
For a family of four, we live comfortably on a budget of $2,500 a month—half of what we would have had to spend in the States for the same lifestyle. For us, this is only possible because our business allows us to sell our products remotely without compromise.
If you want to set up your own import business to fund your life abroad, I recommend starting your business in your home country, choose products that interest you personally, and start small.