Panama is the world's #1 retirement haven...
You've heard all this from me before, dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
And you're going to hear it again. Because if you are in the market right now for a place to live, retire, invest, or do business overseas, I'd say you're doing yourself a big disservice if you aren't looking closely at what Panama has to offer.
We're in the middle of a worldwide financial meltdown, but you'd never know it down here in the Hub of the Americas. This remains a fast-moving, ever-expanding market...a land of opportunity.
What's going on?
I invite you to come on down here to sunny Panama to find out for yourself. We're holding our next Live & Invest in Panama Conference Feb. 24-26, 2010. If this country is on your radar for retirement, for investment, for banking, for adventure, for fun, or for profit (and, again, I strongly suggest it should be), I urge you to make time in your schedule to join us for a few days in this beautiful, safe, and welcoming place next February.
For this important and timely event, we've invited all our top Panama experts, advisors, contacts, colleagues, and friends. The personal introductions we intend to make over the two-and-a-half days of this conference are alone worth the price of admission. We'll arm you with every resource you'll need to pursue whatever Panama plans and dreams you may harbor.
And we'll introduce you to Panama in a way that no one else can. We'll show you Panama from the inside. We've been spending time and doing business in this country for more than 12 years and living here full-time for nearly a year-and-a-half. We've bought pre-construction for investment and centuries-old French-colonial for renovation.
We've started businesses, formed corporations, and opened bank accounts...
We've acquired full-time residency through the country's Reforestation Visa Investment program (which is but one of the 13 good residency visa options Panama offers)...
We've hired staff, shipped household belongings, enrolled our 9-year-old son in school, sourced architects and carpenters, paid local utility bills, researched which health insurance plan makes most sense for our family, and recently bought a car (because finally we'd had enough of dealing with Panama City taxi drivers!)...
And our experiences in this tropical haven are only the beginning. Resident global real estate investing expert (and my husband) Lief Simon and I will be on hand throughout this Live & Invest in Panama event in February to share our personal stories, anecdotes, discoveries, recommendations, caveats, and cautions, of course. But we realize that we are but one (well, two) points of view. You need many others.
Plus, you need experienced, professional counsel when it comes to things like taxes, banking, trusts, corporations, residency requirements, investor incentives, insurance... To help you consider and understand the many advantages and benefits Panama offers when it comes to things like taxes, banking, doing business, and investing in real estate, we've invited the top experts in the country on these important issues to join us for this just-in-time event. These are our trusted personal advisors, people you can count on to accomplish whatever you're hoping to accomplish in this country safely and efficiently. And, Feb. 24-26, they'll join us not only to address the group, but also to answer your questions, one-on-one, and, generally, to make themselves fully at your disposal.
Home to more than 940 species of birds as well as 220 mammals and 354 reptiles and amphibians...from howler monkeys to caiman, from tiger cats to turtles, from ocelots to crocodiles, and from pelicans and toucans to king crabs and iguanas...plus the Central American tapir, the American crocodile, the scarlet macaw, many species of eagle, humpback whales, dolphins, and hammerhead sharks...
Blessed with two long coasts and myriad sand-fringed islands, plus some of the best deep-sea fishing, surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving anywhere. Around its Coiba island lies the largest coral reef on the Pacific side of the Americas...
One of the toughest places in the world to get a hotel booking right now. More than 10,000 new hotel rooms are under construction or in the planning stages...meantime, the current hotel shortage creates a serious opportunity for the would-be asset investor (think resale rental)...
A U.S. dollar jurisdiction--that is to say, Panama has been using the U.S. dollar as its currency for about 100 years...
Home to both a World Heritage Site (Casco Viejo) and a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site (the province of Darien)...
Proud to call pro-business, pro-investment Ricardo Martinelli its new President and delighted by what this self-proclaimed "non-politician" has already accomplished...
Because of its unique geographical position, Panama harbors a greater diversity of wildlife than any other country in Central America. A natural land bridge connecting the two continents, Panama is home to both North and South American species of wildlife. About 29% of the country's land area is protected in 14 national parks, more than a dozen forest reserves, and 10 wildlife refuges...
The biggest international banking center in the region...
Perhaps the best place anywhere in the world today to start a business (that's why we moved here from France in 2008)...
One of the few Latin markets where it's not only possible, but, in fact, relatively straightforward for you, as a foreigner, to borrow locally to buy real estate...
Home to more than two-dozen international schools...
Home to the Johns Hopkins-affiliated Hospital Punta Pacifica in Panama City...
One of the world's last remaining tax and asset havens, a place where your privacy still matters...
As so much of the developed world is experiencing collective panic, nearly to the point of paralysis...and as so many nearing retirement are wondering and worrying how in the world they're ever going to be able to afford to stop working...and where in the world, now, amidst the chaos, they can find safe haven, for themselves and their money...
Panama is the answer!
What's So Special About Panama?
Other former bubble markets worldwide have imploded. Why not the Panama market?
I can identify four reasons:
- This market was not made by Americans, at least not 100%. This market was also made by Venezuelans, Colombians, and other Latino investors looking for safe haven for their capital. Panama continues to offer this, certainly relative to other regional options. Meantime, the Venezuelans are more keen than ever to move whatever assets they have out of Venezuela...
- Panama is not only a safe haven for worried investors from less free markets, it's also the top doing-business haven in this part of the world. Big international firms (Dell, 3M, Caterpillar) have targeted this country, especially Panama City's new Panama Pacifico international business park under construction at the former Howard Air Force Base. One mega-group in particular is in the process right now of scouting rental apartments for hundreds of its executives to be relocated here over the coming year...
- Panama's own infrastructure improvement projects (the Panama Canal expansion project...the new Cinta Costera Panama City-center thoroughfare...the proposed new Panama City metro) are requiring a big and ongoing influx of foreign labor. This foreign labor population is an important and expanding piece of this country's economy...
- Newly elected President Ricardo Martinelli. You may think you know Panama, but I predict that, when President Martinelli's through, you won't recognize the place!
The Martinelli Plan calls for a First World Panama, and the new pro-business, pro-investor President has worked aggressively every day since taking office in July to progress that agenda. Martinelli's plan is all about cleaning house and creating competition, two ideas that aren't always welcome in this part of the world.
But Martinelli doesn't seem to mind ruffling feathers. He's laying off government workers who don't work and increasing the salaries of those who do. He's jailing corrupt government officials and fining developers and others who've refused to play by the rules of Panama's careful and conservative development protocols.
Fewer than three months into his term, already Panama's new President is traveling abroad to establish business allies and trading partners, all the while pushing hard back home for his ambitious infrastructure improvement programs (which call for two new international airports and a public transportation system for downtown Panama City...more on this in a minute).
The new-and-improved Panama is a work in quick and aggressive process, thanks to President Martinelli. We're here, in the country, watching the developments day-by-day, and we're having trouble keeping up ourselves.
Bottom line, down here in the Hub of the Americas right now, the future is looking as bright as the noontime sun.
The trouble is, as you may have figured out already:
My Rallying Recommendation Gets You Only So Far
Internet research...e-mail communications...armchair searching and planning...manuals, reports, and guidebooks...
All these resources are great...but no amount of them is enough.
You can't determine whether or not Panama makes sense for you as a place to think seriously about retiring or relocating or buying preconstruction or investing in raw land or setting up a corporation or launching a new business...long distance.
You can't make any real decision about Panama until you've come down here to see it for yourself.
Therefore, I suggest you get yourself down here ASAP.
You could make the trip on your own. I'd recommend you allow at least a month in the country...and that you count on a series of follow-up visits. No matter how well prepared you think you are before you get on the plane, you'll likely find, once you're on the ground, that nothing plays out quite as you expect.
"Thank you to you, your staff, and the professionals who participated at the event. It was a great experience for me and I am sure for all the other participants, as well. I am so happy I made the decision to join the group. I learned a lot about investments, offshore banking, living in foreign countries, and much more. Congratulations for your organization."
-- Janet K., United States
You'll run around from banker to attorney...from developer to owner...from agent to broker...from tax advisor to insurance salesman...from visa specialist to customs agent...back to the banker...back to the attorney...
You'll stand in lines...you'll struggle with the language...some appointments will show up hours late...others will never appear...
You'll be batted around among bureaucrats...you'll wonder if you're getting a good price...if you're being presented with all the options...
Yikes. Why would I subject myself to that torture, you might be wondering.
Indeed, why in the world would you?
Especially when you have a far superior alternative.
You need to get down here to Panama straightaway to see what's going on in this country with so much to offer. And, while you're here, you want to make efficient use of your time. You want to make the contacts and the connections you'll need to realize whatever Panama agenda you imagine. You want to have all the options and opportunities laid out for you. You want to meet with the bankers, the attorneys, the visa specialists, the property developers, etc., etc....
And you certainly don't want to spend weeks and weeks of your time doing it.
How Much Does It Cost To Live In Panama?
There's no answer to this question...at least no one-size-fits-all answer.
A couple could live comfortably in this country on as little as US$1,000 a month.
Of course, you could also spend a whole lot more than that...
Together, in February, we'll walk through a series of budgets
, from very modest to fully loaded, each one realistic and based on real-world experience...so you can make an informed decision both about what it would cost you
to live in Panama...and exactly what that monthly spend would buy you.
Make plans to be in Panama City Feb. 24-26, 2010
. Be in Panama City...and in the room for our Live & Invest In Panama Conference
. We'll take care of the rest.
At Home In Panama
At this point in our lives, Lief and I could be living anywhere. We choose now to be in Panama. We're making a home here. Our 9-year-old son is attending the Paul Gauguin French school. (This is but one of the many good schooling options in Panama City. If you're thinking of making a move with children, you have more than two dozen top-notch international schools to choose from.)
We're building businesses.
We're putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to the local real estate market. We've been investing in Panama property for more than seven years, and we continue to shop...and to buy.
As we've been reporting, Panama City is not the place to buy for investment...but, outside the capital, this country still hides some of the smartest property buys on the planet today. You just need to know where to look.
We're also becoming part of the community. We have good friends in this country, some Panamanian, some American...others are Dutch, British, Russian... Our commitment to Panama is long-term.
What's the point of all this to you?
Well...all those years of experience...all those contacts and resources...and all those community connections? We'll be bringing all that...and then some...to the table over the two-and-a-half days of our Live & Invest in Panama Conference
We've put out a general call, and I'm pleased to report that all our top contacts have responded enthusiastically in the affirmative. They are ready for action. With their help, we've put together an A+ program.
"You are like the Babe Ruth of overseas living."
-- Sean A., United States
Join us in Panama City Feb. 24-26, 2010, and you'll learn everything you need to know about residency
and health insurance
opportunities (these are limited) and entrepreneurial
options (these are not)...
Over the course of these two-and-a-half days, you'll also meet everyone you'll need to know to launch your new life in Panama. We're opening our personal rolodex for this event...live and on stage.
At our Live & Invest in Panama Conference
, we'll introduce you to:
- The #1 Resource for Living and Retiring in Panama: Rainelda Mata-Kelly, attorney-at-law and principal of Law Offices Rainelda Mata-Kelly
Rainelda is our personal attorney, the one who's been by our side for every real estate purchase, every visa application, every bank account, every corporation, and every contract.
Furthermore, we've been recommending Rainelda as the top legal resource in this country for 10 years. In that time, Rainelda has assisted thousands of readers with real estate purchase, residency applications, incorporations, bank accounts, and tax and business issues. Her track record is as good as they come...her reputation second to none.
Rainelda knows Panama law, and she understands the current Panama market. She knows the players. She knows what to look for in developer sales agreements and what to demand in pre-construction contacts. She (and her top-notch staff) know their way around the immigration office...and understand the advantages and the downsides to every one of this country's 12 residency visa options.
Rainelda is Panamanian. However, she earned her Master of Laws from Cornell University and practiced in London for six years...before returning to Panama to found her own private practice. Rainelda specializes in corporations and commercial and shipping law, as well as taxes, contracts, real estate transactions, immigration, and labor permits.
In Panama, You Could...Enjoy Perfect Weather
Not in Panama City, of course. The climate in the capital is hot, hot, hot...and humid. But in the interior of the country, in places like Boquete and Volcan...Santa Fe and, nearer to the big city, El Valle...the weather can be spring-like year-round. In Boquete you might even want a fireplace for the chilly nights...
In Panama, you'll never again have to worry about snow. Nor will you have to give a thought to hurricanes. As our young Marketing Manager Harry puts it, "The only hurricanes in Panama since 1851 have been the kind you drink."
Rainelda is the most knowledgeable attorney we've found in more than a decade of looking. She's the one you want on your side when you sit down at the negotiating table...or when you begin considering your full-time residency options.
- The #1 Resource for Real Estate Investing in Panama: Lief Simon, private real estate investor, consultant, and developer
Lief Simon has lived and worked on 5 continents and traveled to more than 50 countries. His real estate investing experience began more than 12 years ago with a multi-unit building in Chicago. After selling that building for a leveraged total return of more than 1,800% in 2 ½ years, Lief began to diversify internationally. In the dozen years since, he has personally bought and sold property in 18 countries.
As the founding editor of Global Real Estate Investor
and Real Estate Editor for International Living
for 10 years, Lief spent more than three weeks out of four on the road for an entire decade, traveling almost constantly in search of the world's top emerging real estate opportunities.
"I wish to congratulate you for the quality of the reports I have received up to now--the plain, matter-of-fact, but essential and wise information we all need to make vital decisions, especially in these extremely difficult times."
-- Peter L., Italy
Lief looks for one of two market situations when evaluating a potential investment: an abundance of opportunity created by a market distortion (crisis investing) or a chance to position yourself ahead of new infrastructure or some other local trend (the path of progress).
For example, Lief told readers of his Global Real Estate Investor
to buy in Argentina immediately after the 2001 financial crisis in that country, a time when CNN was showing riots in the streets and warning people to stay away. Lief saw not crisis but opportunity. Forward-thinking readers who followed his lead enjoyed appreciation rates of 100% and more in fewer than three years on buys in Buenos Aires.
In recent years, Lief has also turned readers on to investments in Mexico, Nicaragua, and Romania, buys that have appreciated 160% in 18 months, 120% in 12 months, and 82% in 15 months, respectively.
Lief retired from International Living
at the end of 2006 to pursue his own real estate investment agenda. In the two-and-a-half years since, he has focused his attention on Panama.
Lief made his first Panama purchase six years ago and continues shopping and buying today. In that time, he's covered every corner of this country. Lief knows where to buy now and how much to spend. He knows the pitfalls and the caveats and how to avoid them all. If your Panama agenda includes any real estate component, this is the man you want to speak with.
Over the two-and-a-half days of our February 2010 Live & Prosper in Panama event...you'll have the chance to do just that.
Where Should You Buy For Investment
In Panama Today?
Panama's is one of the fastest-moving property markets on the planet.
No, that's not true. Panama is many property markets...and they're all shifting so fast right now it can make your head spin.
How do you keep your wits about you...buy smart...and come out on top?
More to the point: Where do you look to buy in the first place?
Our in-country Panama property experts will tell you. Join us in Panama Feb. 24-26 to find out...
- Is this the time to buy in Panama City? The capital city market is down, and sellers are more negotiable than they've been in more than a half-dozen years. Will prices fall further or is this the window for action?
- How much should you pay for productive or farmland? Where should you buy? And what might you best grow?
- What's the best investment in the country right now overall?
- Is preconstruction still smart?
- What about these hotel-condos?
- Most up-and-coming region?
- Where will the new international airports go?
- Where else might you front-run the infrastructure?
- Panama's Next Big Thing? We believe we've found it...
- Best buy on undeveloped beachfront?
- Best condo buy for 2010?
- The #1 Resource for Insurance, Including Health Insurance, in Panama: Kevin Bradley, licensed broker, Ducruet Insurance Agency
Kevin Bradley is your one-stop resource for all your Panama insurance needs. Kevin has been helping expats in this country shop for insurance for more than 35 years. He understands your concerns and needs, and he's well familiar with all the options.
Health insurance may be one of your biggest worries as you prepare to make a move overseas. Kevin understands that and is ready to answer all your questions.
In addition, though, he's also the most knowledgeable and experienced source of information and advice you're going to find in this country on title, automobile, fire, homeowners, and life insurance. Kevin can help you understand the costs and the product options in each case and make the most informed decision to suit your personal circumstances.
Again, here in Panama in February, you'll have the opportunity to speak directly with Kevin and to have your particular questions and concerns addressed.
- The #1 Resource for Buying or Renting Property in Panama: Janet Novak
One of the toughest things about planning a move to a developing market like Panama is getting your head around the real estate options. Remember, there's no Multiple Listing Service in this country.
How can you know what's for sale or for rent? Which neighborhoods might best suit you? Which beach towns? How much should you expect to spend to rent an apartment? How much should you pay per square meter to buy in the mountains?
Real estate professional Janet Novak has the answer. When it comes to real estate, Janet is our go-to woman. She knows the on-the-ground Panama property market better than anyone else you're going to find...and she speaks about it more directly. What should you buy and how much should you spend? Janet will tell you straight up.
"Informative and factual, no bunk! I really appreciate that."
-- Judith D., United States
Janet knows the current per-square-meter cost to buy or to rent in every neighborhood of Panama City. She will help you get the lay of the land regarding this country's key real estate markets...she'll help you to set realistic expectations about what things currently cost...and then she'll do everything possible to make sure you buy or rent safe and for the best possible price. No other real estate agent in this town will work harder for you.
- The #1 Resource for International Tax Planning: Chris Rusch, JD, MBA, international tax attorney and advisor
You don't want to organize your live, retire, or invest overseas plans according to tax code, but you sure don't want to ignore it either. Especially when you're just starting out, but even after you've been at this a while, buying real estate in a foreign country or setting up an offshore corporation...these are intimidating propositions. You worry you'll end up running afoul of some tax law you didn't know existed.
You need advice from an expert. The trouble is, a reliable, affordable international tax expert...who really understands the opportunities created by living and investing your money across borders...is hard to come by.
Every American living, retiring, or investing outside the United States needs two tax advisors--one in the country where he's spending his time or his money...and a second back home in the States. Chris is the guy you want working for you back home.
In addition, over the course of these two-and-a-half days in Panama City, you'll also meet and hear from:
We looked for more than 20 years...then, finally, 4 years ago, we found Chris Rusch.
Chris is an international tax lawyer with 10 years experience working with international structures, asset protection, banking, and multi-jurisdiction tax issues. Lots of guys call themselves international tax experts, but Chris is one guy we'd describe that way.
Most recently, Chris has focused his attention on Panama.
Panama is one of the world's top tax havens...and one of the best remaining offshore havens, a place where your privacy still matters.
Organize your affairs properly, and you could live here 100% tax-free. Our experts will show you how...
- Robert Kroesen, director, United Nature
Panama offers 12 options for obtaining full-time foreign residency. The most appealing in many regards is the Reforestation Visa, which provides not only full-time residency, but also a long-term investment in a hard asset (timber) with an upside.
Managed timber has beaten the stock market over the past 30 years, returning about 15% a year, while stocks, during the same period, have returned only, on average, about 11% annually.
"The honesty and realism of your information shines through. I am looking forward to continuing reading your offerings for a long time."
-- Carol C., United States
Furthermore, not only is timber a good way to beat the markets, it's also a great way to hedge them. Timber operates blissfully ignorant of things like worldwide financial meltdowns.
The demand for this commodity continues to grow, while the supply, especially for certain kinds of timber, like teak, the world's most valuable hardwood, is limited.
Teak is indigenous to only four countries in the world (Burma, Thailand, Laos, and India), but it also grows exceedingly well down here in Panama, particularly in the Darien region, where Robert's 15-year-old plantation is thriving.
Even if you aren't thinking about moving to Panama (and therefore shopping residency options), right now, given the current financial climate, this kind of investment is hard to beat.
Robert will tell you all about it when we meet in February.
Who's This Man Ricardo Martinelli?
Panama's new President Ricardo Martinelli, voted into office by a wide margin in a record-turnout election, is a successful businessman. Martinelli didn't get himself elected President of Panama to line his own pockets. He doesn't need to steal government money; he's got plenty of his own.
President Martinelli's agenda is simple. He wants to clean up government corruption and use the public's funds for the public good.
What a concept! Especially down here in the Land of Fiestas
Martinelli ran his campaign and won the election on the strength of these Big Ideas. When he entered office, though, I have to say that, just like everyone else, I was skeptical. I wondered if we'd ever hear tell of these bold promises again.
In fact, we've heard of little else since President Martinelli was sworn in. His first week in office, the new President, in work shirt and blue jeans, appeared, unannounced, at the waterfront site where a wealthy local businessman who owed the state of Panama US$11 million in unpaid rent was building a new marina for himself, without approval, on land he didn't own but was leasing from the government. President Martinelli, with his own hands, tore down the wall surrounding the marina construction site. Then Martinelli posted a police guard, who was instructed to arrest anyone who attempted to continue construction efforts on the leased land.
Other business owners who owe back taxes and back rent are now scrambling to pay up.
What's Martinelli doing with these windfall revenues? He's plowing them into infrastructure improvements and public services. The landscape of Panama City is being transformed before our eyes, and the rest of the country is soon to follow.
Panama already boasts the best infrastructure in the region. But The Martinelli Plan calls for Panama to compete not regionally, but globally. President Martinelli is committed to building a First World Panama, a country to take its position on the world stage. Watching him at work is like watching time-lapse photography.
Every day, The Martinelli Plan makes more and bigger news.
Recently, the President showed up late to a meeting of investors, bankers, and businessmen, again in his work clothes. He offered his apologies, explaining that he'd been delayed handing out checks for his new "US$100 for 70's" program. Thanks to this new pension plan, the 11,000 of Panama's elderly population 70 years old or older who had not been eligible for any state pension previously are now receiving a monthly check for US$100.
Meantime, since taking office, Martinelli has donated all but US$1 of his own US$11,000 salary each month to local charities.
Day after day, we're watching along with everyone else in this country. And we, like they, are being won over. This guy is on a mission, and, after but a few months in office, already he's making dramatic progress toward realizing it.
Martinelli is a showman, no question. But he's making his point. He's not only putting on a show and making speeches; he's taking action. And the good people of Panama are taking notice. Their new President has taken a zero-tolerance position against fraud, corruption, and theft in government, and his constituents are cheering him on.
At a recent meeting of the UN General Assembly, Martinelli explained, "I have a vision of growth that rewards responsible business owners and requires business owners to be fair."
Soon, everyone in Panama will enjoy lower electric bills. Until recently, the hydroelectric suppliers were charging the same price as other producers of electricity--even though hydro power produces electricity much more cheaply than other methods. The new administration has moved to mandate that the hydroelectric producers sell their product at a fair rate, saving consumers money.
Increasing security was another big Martinelli campaign promise. The new President's first step to this end since taking office has been to raise the salaries of the country's national police officers. Where'd he get the money to pay these guys better? He cut the budget of the country's General Assembly. Didn't the General Assembly need the money? Not really. Maritnelli noticed that, over in that office, a bunch of folks were on the payroll and receiving salaries but not actually doing any work.
Obviously, this is all good news for the people of Panama. But why am I so excited about The Martinelli Plan? More to the point, why should you care?
Panama is a country loaded with potential. I've been making this point for years. The trouble in this part of the world is that potential is more often squandered than realized. Funds are misappropriated or misplaced. Money ear-marked for public services and infrastructure projects--everything from transportation to education and health care--often disappears before it can be spent. People look the other way, and usually no one is held accountable.
I'm not interested in doing business that way, President Martinelli is not only telling his countrymen...he's showing them.
"Law 49 of September 2009," Martinelli's reformation of the country's fiscal code, calls for a new tax on casinos and gambling. This is big business in this little country, and now the government's going to take a bit off the top. But, again, this new revenue stream isn't going into officials' pockets (as you might reasonably expect it would). Martinelli is making sure this new cash flow is being accounted for, because he has his own plans for it. His project list is long.
The infrastructure progress we're watching from our windows every day is hugely impressive for a country this size. The new Cinta Costera highway already has alleviated many of downtown Panama City's traffic bottlenecks. It's cut our daily commute time in half.
Meantime, this highway-expansion project has also made the center of this city a whole lot more pleasant. The new 10-lane road system is bordered by an expansive palm tree- and wooden bench-lined park area along the bay that's greener with every passing day. Green...and tidy. Crews are out every morning picking up litter and tending to the landscaping.
This important project, completed in less than two years, is just the beginning. President Martinelli has even more ambitious plans for easing Panama City's congestion woes as this city continues to expand and grow. The Martinelli Plan calls for a new city metro, and the President has sent delegations to Chile and Italy to study their systems and report back.
To help with growth beyond the capital, The Martinelli Plan calls for two new international airports (likely in David and Colon).
These mega-infrastructure expansion projects are exactly what this country needs at this important turning point in its history.
I say again, Panama is a Land of Opportunity. And with President Martinelli calling the shots, a whole lot more of it is about to realized.
In addition, during the two-and-a-half days we're together here in Panama City, we'll introduce you to a professional Panama mortgage broker
One of the most frequently asked questions from readers is, "Can I arrange financing locally to buy real estate?"
In most of the developing world, the answer is no. In Panama, the answer is, indeed. This is the biggest international banking center in the region, home to more than 120 international banks, and a number of them lend to foreign property buyers. Right now, when it's no longer an easy option to borrow against a real estate asset back home or to bring your equity with you, this is a more important than ever advantage to choosing Panama.
Which banks offer financing? According to what terms? What paperwork will you need to apply? How will you qualify? Can you be pre-approved?
Our preferred mortgage broker in Panama City will detail the answers to all those questions and every other one you have regarding financing in Panama.
We'll introduce you to our preferred Panama City banker
, as well.
"Just great. Very welcoming and supplied answers to all questions very well. I'll see you again soon."
-- Charles M., United States
It's harder and harder to open a foreign bank account anywhere in the world. It pays to have a personal introduction...an introduction and all your banking questions answered.
If you're considering retiring to Panama, some of your most urgent questions likely have to do with the quality and the cost of health care in this country. When we meet in February, we'll make sure you get honest and direct answers from local health-care professionals
You could get by living in Panama without learning Spanish, especially if you intend to focus your time in Panama City.
However, we strongly recommend you make an effort to learn the local lingo. Your experience living and spending time here will be greatly enriched once you cross the language barrier. And a little effort goes a long way.
That's why we're also inviting a representative from one of the top language schools
in Panama City.
Also among our Panama Conference Team will be an international shipping agent
(to help answer all your questions about shipping your belongings, importing your car, and mitigating your customs duty).
Plus, at our February Live & Invest in Panama event, we'll also introduce you to the people behind the most appealing property developments on offer in the most appealing regions of this beautiful country.
One problem with Panama is that you're spoiled for choice. Panama City's, especially, is a mature real estate market. How do you choose among all the options for city living?
And which beach developments make most sense for you given your personal preferences, priorities, and budget?
We've been scouting, researching, and performing due diligence on real estate development projects in this country for more than a dozen years. We know who's doing what...and who's doing something he shouldn't be doing.
"Thank you for all your hard work. You have made a lot of people dream and a lot of dreams come true. I enjoy all the e-mails from all your staff living all over the world. I am always telling people about you and how you started your publications years ago. In fact, I just today told my banker about how honest and smart you are, letting us know where to go. Wish I had listened to you more years ago..."
-- Marlene M., Alaska
We know who is building dream homes by the beach and who's the subject of serial horror stories.
For our February 2010 Live & Invest in Panama Conference, we've identified the top five developers operating right now in this country. I'm not exaggerating when I say that dozens of local developers have asked to be able to participate in this event. They're all willing to pay advertising or sponsorship fees. That's not the issue.
The issue is: Who do we want to recommend?
We understand that, when you're in the room with us over these two-and-a-half days, every speaker and exhibitor we introduce to you comes with our implied endorsement.
Heck...he (or she) comes with our explicit endorsement.
We don't take that lightly. Our reputation is everything. We want you to be wowed by the quality of this event...so that you might think about coming to another event somewhere sometime down the road.
We're in this for the long haul.
The same can't be said for all the real estate developers in this part of the world. We're careful, because we've learned you've got to be. That's why, for this event, we're inviting but a handful of developers. These are the guys we want you to know, for theirs are the development projects worth your attention...and your investment.
Who else do we want you to know? Others just like you who've already made the move:
Expats already living, investing, or doing business in this country.
In fact, these introductions...and your chance to mingle one-on-one, during cocktail receptions and over poolside lunches, with these folks...these alone are worth the price of admission. They could be the most important benefit of the entire event.
I'm not counting myself as part of this crew. Yes, I'm an expat living, investing, and doing business in Panama...but I understand if you'd like to hear about Panama from someone other than me for a change.
These people have no agenda. They've agreed to participate in the event for no reason other than they'd like to help out fellow expats considering following in their footsteps. They receive nothing in return...have no ties to anyone (including me or Live and Invest Overseas)...and are hindered by no conflict of interest.
Our only request of them is that they tell it like it is. What you hear from these Panama expats won't be all good. Maybe it won't even be mostly good. But it will be the real deal.
"I particularly appreciated your information today about the joys (?) of international rental property. What I admire is your honest, tell-it-like-it-is approach. A lot of people have been hurt by nothing but glowing reports about offshore living from various sources. Your honest, direct approach is a real service."
-- Arlean K., United States
No place is perfect, and we understand that a rose-colored view does you no favors.
There's a reason these folks (and Lief and I) are in Panama. We're fans. But we're not fools. We know the good, the bad, and the ugly of day-to-day life and of trying to do day-to-day business in this place. We're enjoying the advantages...and we're reconciled to the downsides.
An important part of our agenda during our February 2010 event is to show you these downsides...so you can decide whether you can live with them, too.
To this end, we've invited three expats who chose Panama. One is running a business...one has invested in real estate with near-disastrous results (he'll tell you all about it when you meet him)...and each one is excited to share his (or her) story with you.
And, of course, I'll be there, too. You hear from me every day...but perhaps this would be a good time for a more formal introduction.
"This was a 10! Great event. Awesome job by the Live and Invest Overseas team!"
-- Edward T., United States
My name is Kathleen Peddicord. For more than 23 years, I was Editor and Publisher of International Living.
In 2007, I decided to take a break, during which I did two things.
First, I began work to launch this new publishing group, Live and Invest Overseas, and the new free e-letter service, the Overseas Opportunity Letter.
In addition, my husband, Lief Simon (yes, the guy I introduced to you above), and I made an important geographic decision. We decided to make a third international move with our family and my new business, from Paris to Panama City.
In other words, I've been covering this beat, researching, writing, speaking, and presenting on the opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas, for more than a quarter-century.
I have moved children, staff, enterprises, household goods, and pets from the East Coast of the United States first to Waterford, Ireland...then, five years ago, to Paris, France...and, most recently, last summer, to Panama City.
I have traveled to more than 50 countries, invested in real estate in 18, established businesses in 7, and renovated properties in 6. I've written books, reports, and essays on why and how you might want to do the same...and I've appeared at conferences and on television and radio...everything from the AARP National Convention to the Regis Philbin Show...detailing opportunities for living, retiring, and investing all around the world.
Panama Air Travel Tips
As of this writing, you can fly from the East Coast of the States (Newark) to Panama City on Continental
over the dates of our Feb. 24-26 event for only US$332.
From Europe, KLM flies direct from Amsterdam.
I look forward to sharing details of our long experience in this little country with such an abundance of upside.
More than that, I look forward to the chance to meet you face-to-face and one-on-one. For me, this is one of the best parts of these live events.
"The level of experience, knowledge, and competence is top-shelf. Primarily, I appreciated the sincere and honest approach of the organizers and all the presenters, as well as the obvious desire to give participants complete, accurate, timely, and appropriate information and to answer questions thoroughly."
-- Andrew F., United States
This will be a high-energy, full-throttle two-and-a-half days. But we'll do everything we can to make sure it's also a whole lot of fun. We're building in cocktail receptions, lunches, open-air parties, and other special events to give you as much opportunity as possible to mingle and mix with your fellow attendees and your Live and Invest Overseas panel of experts.
You never know where these cocktail and poolside conversations might lead. Over the years, we've known readers who've met business partners...roommates...equity investors...language tutors...and, certainly, great friends at our conferences.
We've even known some conference introductions that have led to much more than friendship. You know...Lief and I met, a dozen years ago, at a conference in Ireland...
Publisher, Live and Invest Overseas
P.S. From my vantage point here in the center of Panama City's banking district, I can tell you that this is a moment of opportunity in this country that, more than ever, qualifies as the world's top retirement, investment, business, tax, and offshore haven.
The market has softened. Not dramatically, but real estate sales and prices are down. It's a window of calm between one bull run and what I predict will be another.
I don't mean to pretend that Panama has been completely unaffected by the global financial meltdown, but the effects have been marginal and, from where I sit, welcome. The Panama City market, especially, both for sales and rentals, was running on overdrive. It's settled down now, creating a window of opportunity for both the retiree and the investor.
The better acquainted I become with this country, the more convinced I am that this is the place to be (as a retiree, an investor, and an entrepreneur) for the coming decade. Here's your chance to stake your claim here while prices are down and sellers are more negotiable than they've been in a half-dozen years.
P.P.S. Of course, Panama Circle Members attend free this Live & Invest in Panama event free...as do their spouses, significant others, or guests. In addition, we'd like to invite Overseas Retirement Letter subscribers to join us at a special discounted price.
Other important discounts are available. See below for full program and cost details.
Live & Invest in Panama
Feb. 24-26, 2010
Program Details, Costs, & Special Discounts
Your Live & Invest in Panama admission includes all seminars, breakout sessions, workshops, lunches, cocktail parties, entrance to the sponsor hall, participation in the farewell reception, plus printed materials and your Live & Invest in Panama Binder Kit.
The cost of admission is only US$1,095 per person, only US$1,595 per couple. (That's right...the second half of a couple attends for less than half-price.)
Take advantage of Early Bird Registration and save US$250. Reserve your place at the event before Dec. 15, 2009, and you pay only US$845 per person, only US$1,095 per couple. (Yes, both members of the couple enjoy the full Early Bird savings!)
We're holding our event at the centrally located Four Points Sheraton Hotel
, where we've negotiated a very special rate for our attendees, including both full breakfast and free wireless Internet. If you've researched the cost of international-standard hotels in this town, you appreciate what a bargain this is. Internet alone can cost you US$30 a day at some hotels!
We've reserved a block of rooms, but, when they're gone, we may not be able to get more. Frankly, we're expecting a great turnout, given the volume of pre-registration sign-ups we've been receiving. So, again, please, don't delay in making your reservation.
Important Discounts And Special Offers:
Remember, reserve your place during Early Bird Registration and save US$250 off the cost of admission. Register as a couple during the Early Bird window and save a full US$500.
If you're a Panama Circle Member
, we've got a seat at the conference with your name on it. Your admission is free. As is that of your spouse, significant other, or guest.
In addition, we'd like to extend a special discounted invitation to our Overseas Retirement Letter
subscribers. If you're an active ORL
reader, you save US$50.
Plus a special US$100 discount for every previous conference attendee. Note that you can combine this with your Overseas Retirement Letter
subscriber discount if you're eligible for both.
Please don't delay. Reserve your place now. Click on the Reserve My Place! Button below. Or get in touch with our Conference Coordinator Sofia Hogan
by e-mail: Events@liveandinvestoverseas.com
or by phone:
Remember to mention that you're a Panama Circle Member, an Overseas Retirement Letter
subscriber, or a previous conference attendee when you e-mail or call. Sofia will take care of everything from there.
On behalf of our entire Panama Team: We look forward to meeting you soon in sunny Panama City!
"I have to say that you seem to dig deeper into the feel of a particular place and to do comparative analysis between alternative places. Your approach is more sophisticated and thoughtful and therefore more useful than that of other information sources covering these same subjects."
-- John W., United States
More Reasons To Join Us In Panama City
Feb. 24-26, 2010
- To learn the secret to getting around Panama City by taxi...we'll introduce you to the new taxi fare zone chart...and we'll even show you how to read it! (Plus, we'll tell you the one thing never to say to a Panama City taxi driver.)
- To learn the secret to having mail delivered in this country (Hint: You don't rely on the Panama postal service...)
- To learn how to live in Panama tax-free...
- To understand the options for getting a job (Yes, there are some opportunities...and we'll detail them...)
- For a firsthand account of everything you need to know to start a business in this country. Panama is an entrepreneur's playground. How can you cash in? Our experts have real-world answers...
- To get to know Panama as a tourist. This country is a naturalist's dream come true and an eco-traveler's paradise. Come, let us introduce you to Panama beyond the tax and banking advantages, beyond the real estate investment upside, beyond the economic boom and the special benefits for foreign retirees...come discover the other Panama...
- To understand the particulars of the 20-year property tax exemption on all new construction (and, often, on resales, too!)...
- To meet like-minded folks who, just like you, are looking for a chance to live better, to retire well, and to invest safe and smart in the current climate...
- To mingle with expats who've already made the leap...to hear firsthand of their adventures, their discoveries, their accomplishments, and their horror stories...an evening chatting at the bar with these people is alone worth the price of admission...
We're Not The Only Ones Who Know
A Good Thing When We See It
Here's what others are saying about Panama...
- Trump Says: "Great Views, Prestige, Convenience, and Growth Potential"
"Donald Trump is participating [in the boom] ... developing Trump Ocean Club -- a 68-story mixed-use hotel and apartment tower in the Punta Pacifica district, which meets with his four key criteria: great views, prestige, convenience and growth potential."
-- New York Times
- Drawing Investors from Across the Region and the World
"The tiny Central American country is now one of the fastest-growing economies in the region ... the Latin American powerhouse. The economic boom comes amid efforts by the Panamanian government to market itself as a financial haven in an area of instability, drawing investors from across the region and the world."
-- National Public Radio
- A Secret the Rest of the Traveling World Has Yet to Discover
"Panama's charms include its stunning coastline of palm-fringed beaches, its astounding wildlife - boasting an incredible diversity of tropical birds - and its proud, vibrant indigenous peoples, such as the Kuna. While in Panama, you'll find it hard to shake the inescapable feeling that you're in on a secret the rest of the traveling world has yet to discover."
-- Lonely Planet