Articles Related to Panama

Did you have any other criteria that contributed to your settling on Panama?

Yes. I wanted to be within a day's travel of home—preferably less than six hours away—so I could leave in the morning and be back in Toronto the same afternoon or early evening.

Another of my main criteria was government stability—no coups in recent times anyway. I discovered that Panama uses the U.S. dollar and that it seemed to be much more Second World (as opposed to Third World) than I imagined.

I found that Panama ticked most of the boxes. I came here seven times before deciding to give it a try on a more permanent basis.

Why Pedasi specifically?

One of my loves is sailing. Pedasi is a fishing and coastal town with nice beaches and a boating culture. The focus, though, in Pedasi, I've found, is sports fishing. Sailing is actually in its infancy along this country's Pacific coast. It's much more popular on the Caribbean side in Colon and Bocas del Toro. There are so many islands and archipelagos off Panama's Caribbean coast that offer wonderful opportunities for sailing.

Did you come here with the intention of working?

Not specifically, but I am very sociable and active. Can't stand being sedentary. I can fly planes. I had two restaurants in Sarnia and enjoyed that business, so I thought about starting a small hotel. Having had experience in the catering and hospitality business, it was a natural first step.

Everything I do is considered, so I looked at what was missing in Pedasi. I came up with a shortlist of businesses: a fresh food market, a bakery, and a fish market. Pedasi is too far from the main sources for daily produce deliveries, and I am not sure I could handle the fish market smell every day. I found there were quite a lot of small hotels in the town already.

That left me with the bakery idea. There is nowhere like the shop I've opened in town—healthy breads and US$5 lunches!

Business is good and getting better every day. My clientele is 90% expats and 10% locals, but this side of the business is growing.

I do what's called the second rising and have a range of healthy, German-style breads—multigrain, several cereals, light and dark rye. I cook all the pastries, cakes, and dulces (sweets) myself.

What was your main barrier to entry?

Really, it was skepticism among fellow expats and suppliers. For example, my supplier of bread mixes is German. His only outlet outside Panama City is in Coronado, which is getting very populated now. He was downbeat and unsure of Pedasi and my plans, but I said, "You have to come and see the community down here." He came. He saw. He agreed. I ordered.

Now, I look forward to every day with too much to do. My chocolate cake is popular, made from 100% cocoa. I also do a mean carrot and orange cake and cinnamon bun.

One of the most popular things I do is a US$5 dollar lunch package. Locals and expats love these, as they do my breakfast muffin with pepper jack cheese, bacon, and egg.

Has Pedasi changed since you arrived?

Yes it has. There are many more restaurants and hotel rooms. I supply a few of them. One of Panama City's most colorful Spanish restaurateurs, Manolo Caracol, has just opened an organic place here.

Do you miss anything living in Pedasi?

I have a grown-up daughter and two grandchildren. Of course I miss them a lot. I get back about two or three times every year.

As I mentioned, I am a very sociable person, and I miss the parties I would throw back in Toronto. There's no comparison down here I am afraid. Although one of the reasons I chose Pedasi was for its tranquility, that sleepy coastal town feel. As it turns out, the community here is very vibrant, and I have made some great friends.

I am an avid theater-goer, so I do miss that.

How did you settle into the local community?

I rented a place for three months to orientate myself. Then an opportunity presented itself to buy my home from the Canadian couple who owned it, so I took it.

Really the local and expat community has been so kind and welcoming. I like to get involved in things, and we do things like organized litter pickups. I am surprised and pleased to see that many more Panamanians are joining in.

If you had to name a worst part of living in Panama, what would it be?

The terrible discourtesy of driving here. Even if you show them another way, they won't do it. There is no system of priority. "It's all about me" is the only driving code of conduct in Panama.

Bureaucracy is a pain, and it's irritating that it's all geared toward the government being able to squeeze a little more money out of us. Police corruption is also difficult to deal with, but it's a lot less prevalent now, and I know this is a focus of the new administration. I am involved with a "vigilante" group (neighborhood watch) trying to make a difference to community security. The local police has been nothing but supportive to the community.

Then there's the garbage problem. It's endemic everywhere, up and down all the highways. People never seem to learn that their actions are having a direct effect on other people's lives and health. We are trying to educate, and it is finally beginning to get through.

What's the best thing about living here?

I would not have stayed if it were not for the people here in Pedasi. They have been so helpful to me. The Panamanians have been incredibly welcoming.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of doing what you did?

Plenty of people said, "A bakery in Pedasi? How stupid can you be?"

Actually, I hadn't asked for their opinions. My attitude was always build it and they will come. I did it, and they are coming.

For me there is no grey area. One of my mottos is, "Because I can and I want to." So I suppose my advice would be to follow your passion. There is a very good book called "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway." Anyone thinking of making a move like I've made should read it.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. We're finalizing the program for our next Live and Invest in Panama Conference, scheduled for April 13–15, 2015. It will include many expats like Valerie who've reinvented their lives and rescued their retirements by relocating to Panama.

In addition, we'll introduce you to entrepreneurs taking advantage of this country's pro-business climate, along with every resource, expert, and professional you should know if you're considering the idea of investing time or money in this country.

After more than 15 years investing and doing business in Panama ourselves and more than 6 years living here full-time, we know Panama like nobody else. And we're more bullish on what this little country at such a turning point in its history has to offer than ever.

Come, let us show you what we're so excited about. Let us show you Panama.

We'll begin taking registrations for this, the only Panama country event on our 2015 calendar, within the week. Meantime, you have a brief window to get your name on the list for VIP perks. Do that here now.

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The trouble from an investor's point of view is that trendy is transient.

Manzanillo, Mexico, became hot after the movie "10" was filmed there (remember Bo Derek?). The movie brought great interest to an otherwise obscure stretch of Mexico's Pacific coastline, but the attention was fleeting. Some jet-setters and A-listers built big houses overlooking the ocean, but the place didn't catch on long term. A decade later, those big houses were crumbling, and Manzanillo had reverted to its nowhere status.

Another film, "The Night of the Iguana," is credited with launching another stretch of Mexico's Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta. In the decades since Taylor and Burton introduced Americans to PV and the sexy, sultry Bay of Banderas, this region has grown into a well-established tourist and expat destination.

What's the difference? Why did Manzanillo flash then fizzle, while Puerto Vallarta has evolved and developed into one of the world's most solid long-term coastal investment choices? Access and infrastructure. What's conventionally referred to as "progress." And what constitutes, I believe, one of the most important indictors an investor can look for.

The Caribbean coast of Panama is another interesting example. Lots of beautiful, pristine miles of white sand here, but hardly any of it developed. Why? Access and infrastructure. In this case, historically, sorely lacking.

Most all coastal development investment in Panama to date has been focused on the country's Pacific coast. Historically, most of the Caribbean coast has been largely inaccessible. Now, though, the path of this country's progress is beginning to expand to include some spots on its Caribbean coast. Specifically, the Caribbean coast around Colon and Portobelo is being targeted for potential development...the realization of which is supported by an expanded and paved highway between Colon and Panama City. Speculators are moving in.

What's the point? I don't recommend trend investing. Trying to identify the next trendy hot spot ahead of the crowd and then timing your exit before prices fall again, as they often do, is too much work and too much risk. Don't try to invest ahead of a trend. Invest ahead of the path of progress. Look to the edges of the established markets...and for the directions the natural extensions of places where people are currently spending time and buying property will likely lead.

Look at Panama today, and you notice the extension of historic and current focus to include particular spots on the Caribbean. In Puerto Vallarta, you notice the edges of Nueva Vallarta...

Lief Simon

P.S. At my Global Property Summit in March 2015, we'll cover the best current property investment opportunities from around the world...from crisis markets ripe with bargains to emerging markets where you can position yourself ahead of the curve. You can learn more about the event I'll be hosting here.

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While continuing with the planting of the trees, the developer's team is also installing the necessary plantation infrastructure. Miles of internal roads have been cut, and miles of fencing have been positioned. The onsite office is up and running, as is the fertilizer factory out back. Lagoons and ponds are being built to provide reservoirs of water. Rocks are being collected from around the property and placed to help protect the trees and to hold in the layers of mulch each tree receives.

As I said, the operation is impressive.

As the early investors are seeing their trees planted, the risk for new investors is being reduced week by week, even day by day. This work of clearing and planting will continue regardless of the rate of sales of future hectares. The developer is moving full steam ahead on all fronts.

One of those fronts is the plan for intercropping among the mango trees. After considering various options, the developer has begun planting certain grasses. This intercropping will provide additional long-term revenue for investors; moreover, it will bring cash flows forward.

The intercropping revenue is a bonus. The main revenue from the plantation, of course, will come from the mangos. The cash flow projections over 20 years are for an IRR of 17.04% per year. That's an excellent annualized return by any account.

Those return projections are based on current, local mango prices in Panama. If the developer is able to open up his export market into North America, the returns will likely be much better than the projections.

Implementation risk is the big one for any undertaking like this. In my mind, that risk has been all but eliminated. Of course, there are other risks, including, as with any agricultural project, pests, fire, and drought.

The pest risk in this case is mitigated by the type of mango the trees being planted will grow. It's a proprietary cultivar with a thicker skin and slightly less sweet pulp. The thick skin makes it more difficult for insects to get to the meat of the fruit. As well, though, insects don't really try to get at these mangos; they just aren't as interested in this mango fruit as they are in other readily available options.

Fire is a risk for any trees. In this case, the distance between the trees creates a natural fire break. Additionally, humidity levels in Panama don't support high fire risk most of the year. I'd rate the fire risk in this case as negligible. 

Water, of course, is important to any agricultural undertaking. Panama is a tropical location that gets plenty of rain. Still, during the trees' early years, ample water supply is critical. I mentioned the lagoons and ponds being established on the property. In addition, the plantation is bordered by a river that runs year-round, and other smaller seasonal rivers run throughout it. Water supply isn't a concern, and mango tree roots go deep, meaning that, once a tree is full grown, the risk from drought is virtually eliminated.

Country and currency risk are low in Panama. This is a stable democracy that uses the U.S. dollar. You're making the investment in dollars, and your returns will be paid out in dollars. You have currency risk only if your home currency isn't the dollar. 

Another benefit of Panama is the tax incentives it offers for agricultural activities. A plantation with gross annual revenues of less than US$300,000 operates tax-free. Invest to keep the size of your plantation(s) under that figure, and Panama taxes aren't a concern.

While implementation of the plantation is well under way and most of the risk has been eliminated, the cost of investing remains low. A 1-hectare investment costs US$36,500. 

Again the IRR projections are for 17.04% per year. Intercropping revenue starts in year two, but the real cash returns come from the mangos, which should begin producing after four years. The trees should reach full production levels in year five.

If you've been watching this opportunity from the sidelines, I'd say that this is the ideal time to get in. Price increases surely must be on the horizon.

You can get in touch for more information here.

Lief Simon 

P.S. At our 2015 Global Property Summit, taking place March 18–20, 2015, we'll be looking at more than 15 specific profit opportunities. This particular mango opportunity will be one of them. You can read all the details of this once-a-year event here. Or, if you've got questions, Conference DirectorLauren Williamson is standing by to help you out. 



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Argentina

Argentina thrives on crisis, and it can seem that this country is always entering or exiting a financial meltdown, making it hard to know when to get in or out. 

The most recent crisis here has been building for some time. Argentine contacts on the ground tell me that 2015 will begin the window of buying opportunity. As one puts it, "Argentina is right now walking into a new investment phase."

Another says: "The time to be putting money into Argentina will begin May 2015..."

I timed Argentina's last major crisis, in 2001, and helped investors who took my advice to as much as double their money in two years (myself included). I'm looking forward to the next buying opportunity in this country, and you should be, too.

Growth Markets

Panama City

I've been recommending Panama City for rental investment for 10 years. In that time, I've earned cash flow of 15% per year net and more myself and have helped many, many other investors do the same.

Post-2008, pundits who claimed they knew proclaimed that this market, like so many other markets around the world at the time, would collapse. I ignored them and continued recommending Panama City for rental property investment.

Though the market softened, no collapse came, and I, as well as those who took my advice, continued earning excellent annual yields.

What do I think of Panama City for rental investment today? I'm more bullish on this proven market than ever and am looking to invest further myself. This market offers some of the most stable rental yields available anywhere in the world thanks to its unique flexibility. You can rent short-term or long-term...to business men, retirees, or tourists...to expats or locals. 

The key is buying in the right part of town depending on which market you want to target. At the Global Property Summit in March, I will show you what and where to buy to generate the greatest possible yields while at the same time positioning yourself for what I predict is going to be excellent capital appreciation over the coming 5 to 10 years.

Medellin

Medellin, Colombia, has been one of my favorite rental investment markets for the past six years and here, again, I'm more bullish on this market's prospects looking ahead to 2015 than ever. 

In addition, I have identified an emerging neighborhood of this city that is poised to offer better-than-ever returns. This area is a focus of the local city planners, who are investing in important infrastructure improvements, and, as a result, is drawing increased attention from foreign investors, travelers, and property buyers. What began as the initiative of a few local entrepreneurs is expanding into one of the world's best rental investment opportunities today.

Meantime, the U.S. dollar is at a five-year high against the Colombia peso. The time to act in this market is right now. My Colombia contacts have the details for where and how at my March 2015 Global Property Summit.

Istanbul

An exploding local demand is fueling a housing boom in this beautiful and historic megacity. Half the population of Turkey is younger than 30 years old, and the country sees 350,000 weddings a year. All these new couples want places of their own to live, and, thanks to the strong and expanding economy, more of these young couples than ever can afford places of their own.

Still, right now, the starting market price in Istanbul is US$1,000 a square meter, making this city a global bargain. You can get into a rental with as little as US$50,000, and less than US$25,000 down buys you pre-construction yields of up to 15% per year.

My Istanbul contacts will be in Panama with me for the 2015 Global Property Summit to share all the details.

Profits From Agriculture

Productive land is the ultimate hard asset, with the potential for long-term even legacy yield. At my 2015 Global Property Summit, we'll look at:

Timber In Panama

Historically, timber has enjoyed the best risk-to-reward ratio of any investment sector, producing an annualized ROI of 12% to 15% per year every year since they started keeping records of investment risk versus return. It's the long-held secret of the world's wealthiest people.

I like Panama for timber. The country has some of the world's best zones for many kinds of timber, including teak. And, as this is the hub of the Americas, easy access to markets both north and south ensures outlets for your harvests. 

At my March 2015 Global Property Summit, I'll introduce you to the best current opportunities to position yourself for long-term growth from timber in Panama, including a chance to earn up to 11.62% from a hardwoods investment that also qualifies you for residency in Panama, one of the world's leading offshore and retirement havens. The best part of this opportunity is the buy-in cost, which is just US$15,200.

Agriculture In Panama

Panama also offers the opportunity right now to cash in on the globally exploding demand for one agricultural product in particular. I'm working with local contacts to prepare a special presentation on this opportunity specifically as it's one of the best agricultural investments I've identified in six years of searching.

Agriculture In Paraguay

Paraguay is the world's 10th-largest exporter of wheat, eighth-largest beef exporter, seventh-largest exporter of corn, sixth-largest producer of soy, fifth-largest exporter of chia and soy flour, and fourth-largest exporter of yucca flour and soy oil. 

This country has the third-largest barge fleet in the world (after the United States and China) and is the third-biggest exporter worldwide of yerba mate. It's the second-biggest stevia producer and exporter in the world and the world's #1 exporter of organic sugar.

GDP and GDP per capita are both expanding, and inflation is historically a one-digit number and has not surpassed 5% in recent years. 

Paraguay qualifies right now as a "blue ocean" market, an investment arena awash with opportunity, especially agricultural investment opportunity. My correspondents from the scene will have the details for March 2015 Global Property Summit attendees.

Farmland In Uruguay

Uruguay is a breadbasket country that is also the world's most turn-key market for productive farmland, the world's oldest asset class and one that is going to continue to become more attractive over the coming decade as the world's population continues to expand. We're looking at more than 9 billion people on this planet by the middle of this century, a sobering reality that is translating to a global race for farmland, with some countries (including Brazil, for example) imposing restrictions on foreign ownership of productive land.

Not so in Uruguay, which welcomes foreign investors. Nearly 95% of the land in this country is farmable. At the March 2015 Global Property Summit, my Uruguay investment pros will introduce you to current opportunities to position yourself to profit from an ultimate hard-asset investment in this market, including agricultural, cattle, sheep, forestry, and vineyard buys.

Isn't global property investing a jet-set strategy?

No.

I've identified six opportunities with buy-ins of US$50,000 or less to showcase at my 2015 Global Property Summit, including one double-digit yield opportunity for less than US$20,000 and another for US$25,000 that could earn you up to 22% per year.

Lief Simon

P.S. The first 25 who register are invited to accompany me on a private property-viewing tour in Panama City

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The other main attraction of life in this part of Panama is the market, where locally grown organic produce is available for a pennies on the dollar compared with U.S. prices and a bargain compared with costs in Panama City, too. Every day local farmers arrive before sunrise with their fruits and vegetables.

This is the only place in the country where you find a traditional farmer's market operating every day. You could shop for your organic produce at the market each morning, or you could arrange to have it delivered to your home. One such to-your-door supplier is the Biodiversity Corner run by Tomas Garcia and Michael Ducharme.

The hot springs and the organic produce market have contributed to El Valle's development as a healing center. Today there are spas and yoga and wellness centers around town, including Yoguini Spa, Crater Valley Adventure Spa, Cariguana Spa, and, best known, the spa at Los Mandarinos.

The most typical mode of transport in El Valle town is the bicycle. However, don't worry if the hilly terrain makes the idea of cycling intimidating. Consider instead a golf cart, which has become the preferred means of getting around among foreign retirees settling here.

When you want to travel farther, to the beach, for example, which is a half-hour away, or to Panama City for shopping or big-city distractions, you can take advantage of frequent, reliable, and affordable bus service. A one-way ticket to Panama City is US$4. You can't argue with the cost, but you must be careful when it comes to timetables. Arrival and departure times can be unpredictable and random. Sometimes buses turn up or leave when they are full, not according to any schedule. Best to ignore printed schedules, if you can find them, and rely on local advice.

Life in El Valle would not suit every retiree. This beautiful but remote enclave appeals to those interested in serene and healthy living as part of a predominately local (that is, not expat) community. You'd find many ways to spend your time and many opportunities for making friends, but you'd need to speak at least a little Spanish to take advantage of them.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. El Valle de Anton is the featured destination for this month's Panama Letter, in subscribers' e-mailboxes over the weekend.

If you're not yet a Panama Letter subscriber, get on board here now.

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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.

Read more here.

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