Expat Life In El Cangrejo, Panama City

Panama City's Rowdiest, Bawdiest Zone

Oct. 2, 2014, El Cangrejo, Panama: El Cangrejo is a top choice in Panama City for the expat, the entrepreneur, and the retiree.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

El Cangrejo is our top pick for an urban lifestyle in Panama. Other Panama City neighborhoods can be more affordable (the area around Via Tocumen, for example)...more luxury (Punta Pacifica)...more historic (Casco Viejo)...and more scenic (certainly if your ideal view is of the water...El Cangrejo is not oceanfront).

But no other neighborhood in the Panamanian capital has as much personality. It'd be fair to describe all Panama City as multicultural, but nowhere else is the diversity more apparent than in El Cangrejo. This region at the heart of this city is dense with restaurant options (Italian, French, Swiss, Colombian, Cuban, Lebanese, Chinese, Mexican, Argentine, and on and on), small, family-owned businesses (where the proprietors, again, hail from across the globe), and an eclectic expat community, North American, Latin American, European, and Asian, that mingles everywhere and always with their neighbor Panamanians. The expats in El Cangrejo aren't segregated or separated but fully integrated.

El Cangrejo is also Panama City's rowdiest, bawdiest zone. It could be called the city's Red Light District, though no discrete red lights are required to signal the locations of brothels or other sex-industry businesses. Prostitution is legal in Panama, and El Cangrejo is where the trade is largely focused in the country's capital. This may bother you or be just what you're in the market for. In the case of the latter, know that the Veneto Hotel and surrounding streets are a good place to hang out. If the case of the former, the Veneto and environs might be a good area to avoid.

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Should The Retiree Or Investor Abroad Care About Economic...

Do Economic Freedom Rankings Matter?

Oct. 1, 2014, Panama City, Panama: What does Heritage Foundation’s Index Of Economic Freedom mean for the retiree and investor overseas?

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

A reader wrote in recently to say that he was thinking about relocating from the United States but would consider only those countries with more economic freedom than the United States. This, he explained, meant that he wouldn't be considering any of the countries I write about that aren't ranked higher than the United States in the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom.

I responded to say that I thought this a narrow-sighted and severely and unnecessarily limiting approach. The only affordable options that rank better than the United States on the Heritage Foundation's list are Canada, Chile, and Mauritius (the reader also wasn't interested in Mauritius, he told me in the course of the conversation, as he didn't know where it is).

Another reader wrote in recently with links to both the Heritage index and another economic freedom index. The rankings for the two are similar. The top quarter or so is mostly European countries plus Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, and several Middle Eastern countries.

What are you, the global citizen and investor, to take away from all this? Beats me.

All indexes like these are inherently flawed, as they are compilations and rankings of available statistics. They are backward-looking and must push available data into slots as may or may not make sense.

If you're looking to go abroad to start a business, certainly "economic freedom" isn't to be ignored and it comes into play, too, of course, when considering an investment, including a real estate investment. You should factor in the country's economic prospects as you conceive your eventual exit strategy.

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The Tax Advantages Of Starting And Operating A Business Offshore

How To Operate Your Business Overseas Tax-Free

Sept. 30, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Starting or relocating your business overseas, including your website or laptop business, can make it possible to operate your business tax-free.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

The key advantage of going offshore is diversification. The good news is that you have the opportunity to diversify not only your investments in this way, but your life, too—both your personal life and your professional one.

That is, in today's world, you can realize many benefits by taking your business offshore along with your investments and yourself—either your existing business or one you would like to start to fund your new life overseas.

Most important among these can be the tax benefits. Whether you have (or are considering building) a factory or an Internet business...whether you're earning your income as a consultant or a laptop entrepreneur...
taking your business offshore, especially if you're a U.S. person, can result in significant tax advantages.

One young lady I met at our Belize conference last year made bead jewelry. She sold her jewelry in the United States and was looking to expand her production capacity. She was in Belize (among other reasons) to take a look at the country's Export Processing Zones (EPZ). Setting up shop in one of these zones (or starting your own EPZ specifically for your own business, which is possible in Belize) allows you to import your materials, process them, and then re-export the finished product without paying taxes in Belize.

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The Benefits Of Living, Investing, And Planting Flags Overseas

Why Not Just Stay Put?

Sept. 29, 2014, Panama City, Panama: The big benefit of living and investing overseas is diversification, both of your assets and also of your life.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

I was "onshore" in Nashville recently for our once-a-year Retire Overseas Conference. We arrived in the States on a Sunday afternoon. Once we'd cleared U.S. immigration in Houston, where my wife was singled out as she is now every time she crosses the U.S. border, for reasons no one with U.S. immigration seems to be able to explain, the experience of making our way to downtown Nashville was painless.

The truth is, the United States is one of the easiest places in the world to live and travel. You might begin to wonder: Why do anything offshore in the first place? Easier, surely, just to stay put.

Overregulation and poor government stewardship of the people's money are two reasons to consider voting with your feet and your finances and relocating yourself and your assets somewhere else.

However, I'd say that going offshore is better approached as an opportunity rather than an escape. Or, put another way, this isn't a political decision. It's a practical one.

In that context, what's the real advantage of the Five Flags ideas I report on?

Diversification. It's the key to success in all things, from personal happiness to a healthy portfolio. And you don't have to go physically offshore, not immediately and maybe not ever, to reap the benefits.

That said, having a residency permit that allows you to stay in another country indefinitely should you decide you'd like to can be a good idea even if you right now have no intention of moving yourself anywhere. A backup residency, as I think of it, keeps your options open down the line. Many countries allow you to obtain legal residency without having to be resident full-time or even most of the time to maintain your residency status.

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Giving Back To The Local Community

Community Connections

Sept. 28, 2014
Panama City, Panama

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

In Nicaragua a couple of weeks ago, Lief and I set out early Saturday morning to visit a development community we invested in several years ago, to see what had been accomplished since we were last in the area. We made the short drive from Granada to Vistalagos, overlooking Laguna d'Apoyo, and were happy to find several houses built and a couple of owners in residence.

One house in particular caught my attention, and I asked Lief to stop the car.

"They have such a nice garden," I said. "I'd like to have a closer look."

"But they could be home!" Lief replied. "Don't go creeping around some stranger's house."

"No, no, I don't think anyone is here," I said. "I'll just run around back. I'd like to see the garden up close and the view of the lake from their patio."

As I was making my way around the side of the house toward the lake, I heard someone call out and Lief respond. Uh, oh, I thought. Busted.

Indeed, it was the homeowner, Brian Davis we soon were to learn, who had spied us out his window and come to the door to ask Lief...well, I'm not sure what he asked Lief. Fortunately, he didn't seem too bothered by two people appearing on his property unannounced on a Saturday morning.

"Would you like to come inside?" Brian asked after we'd all introduced ourselves. "You're welcome to have a look if you'd like."

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

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