So you are thinking about moving to Panama?

Do you want to move to protect your estate from taxation? Want to live in a warm, beautiful safe country with friendly people and great opportunities for personal and professional growth? Panama should be high on the list of countries you look at when you are first considering moving overseas.

Panama offers a wider range of options for expats of almost all income brackets. The bars to entry are low, and Panama is experiencing a large influx of investment from countries around the world due to favorable taxation and banking rules.

Cost of living can be extremely affordable in Panama. Medical, education, and food costs are lower than most major cities in the United States and Canada. Depending on your lifestyle, where you are coming from, and where you choose to live, you may save up to 40% on your typical monthly expenses.

It can be affordable to emigrate to Panama, and there are many different options available. It is an excellent idea to visit before a permanent move, so you can get a feel for the culture before you commit. Canadians, Americans, and many other nationals can stay in Panama without a visa for 180 days. You must have a valid passport at least three months prior to arrival. If you are staying in Panama longer than 3 months, then your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the arrival date. After the 180 days are up, you can leave and re-enter after three days. This can be done indefinitely.  You can set up a corporation in Panama. If you are retired, and have $1,000 or more income per month (from Social Security or investment income), you can apply for a Pensionado visa. There is no age restriction, but you may not work in Panama or receive citizenship. If you are from one of 47 qualified countries and have $5,000 to deposit in a Panamanian Bank, you can apply for a Friendly Nations Visa, which will permit you to work in Panama and apply for citizenship after five years.

Many Panamanians speak English fluently, and there is a large community of expats for socializing, but it’s a good idea to learn as much Spanish as possible. You will find things go more smoothly. Panamanians appreciate the effort, even if you make a few mistakes along the way.

Infrastructure in Panama isn’t always as reliable as it tends to be in most of North America. Tap water is safe to drink, but occasional Internet, phone, water, and electrical outages are not uncommon, depending on where you choose to live. In a large city, you may find such outages rare, in rural areas, they will be more common and can last longer. Customer support isn’t always as responsive or available as it may be in the US. If you live in a hi-rise or condo development in Panama City, your building may have its own backup tanks and generators, but a longer outage may still happen from time to time.

Do you have any questions about moving to Panama? Message me, and I’ll consider your questions for a future post.