Panama Remains A Top Choice For All Expat Lifestyles

My Bold 1995 Prediction Sold This Country Short

You’d think this would be easier.

We host conferences in many cities. This week we’re hosting one in Panama City, our adopted home town. Our Live and Invest Overseas operation is based here, in El Cangrejo. Our core staff lives here. We couldn’t be more connected.

Preparing for this week’s Live and Invest in Panama Conference should be a piece of cake, right?

In fact, this is turning out to be one of the busiest and most demanding events in our history. Most of our office is involved in some way, many working on presentations through this weekend.

Perhaps it’s because we know this country so well. We want to share everything of importance with all the attendees flying into Panama City over the coming few days to join us for the conference that kicks off Wednesday morning.

I’ve been reporting on Panama as a top live and invest overseas option for more than20 years, and I’m more bullish on this little squiggle of a country with such an enviable geographic position right now than I’ve ever been.

I first recommended Panama as a top choice for retirees in 1995, making what was perceived at the time to be a bold prediction:

In not too many years, I said, Panama will be recognized as the world’s top retirement haven.

That prediction played out… and, indeed, Panama remains today a tempting choice for the retiree.

Today’s Panama, though, is also a top option for the investor, the entrepreneur, the millennial in search of opportunity, the digital nomad… really, anyone of any age seeking adventure, a new life, and opportunity for both fun and profit.

We’ve enjoyed a front-row seat these past eight years, watching from the inside as Panama has transformed itself in real time. This country wants a place on the world stage and has been working aggressively these past eight years toward achieving developed-world status.

When I identified Panama as a great place to think about retiring on a budget years ago, I was selling this powerhouse of a country short. I didn’t recognize at the time that this country was on the cusp of a dramatic reinvention.

After the United States turned management of the Panama Canal over to Panama, all the U.S. military who had been living in Panama City’s Canal Zone went home. The country fell overnight into recession. The world wondered how it’d recover. It had no economy to speak of.

So it created one.

Within a matter of a few years, Panama turned the Panama Canal into a profitable business. Today, 17 years later, it’s a booming business that generates an obscene amount of cash flow for a country this size.

That cash has been and continues to be reinvested in mammoth-scale infrastructure projects across the country.

Meantime, the business that is the Panama Canal is about to expand in a big way. Later this month, the new Cocolí and Agua Clara locks will debut, allowing passage of Neo-Panamax cargo ships for the first time.

This globally historic and significant event hasn’t come to pass without incident. There were battles between the Panama Canal Authority and the construction consortium behind the project… a series of construction delays… then a limitation on boat draft thanks to the worst El Nino since 1997, resulting in low flow from the watershed that supplies the Canal waterway.

In the scheme of things, though, these challenges are inconsequential. The Panama Canal expansion will bring fundamental change to global trade routes, with big-profit knock-on effects not only in Panama but in harbor towns from the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico to Colombia, Peru, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and beyond.

What else is going on in this country where we’ve been living and doing business full time for eight years?

You’ve read about the Panama Papers hullaballoo, I’m sure. What does this most recent scandal in the offshore world mean for you? We’ll discuss for the benefit of attendees at this week’s event.

We’ll also talk about banking in Panama. In this post-FATCA, anti-money-laundering, and now Panama Papers-tainted climate, banking in Panama is no easy thing. Again, we’ll detail what you need to know at this week’s conference, with the help of industry professionals.

Where should you think about investing in real estate? What kinds of business start-ups make the most sense in this entrepreneur’s playground?

More than three-dozen in-country experts, expats, friends, and colleagues will join Lief Simon and our entire Live and Invest Overseas team on stage this week to discuss.

We’ll also run through the best current residency options… how to get a work permit… and, very important, this country’s best lifestyle options beyond Panama City…

I’ve hosted at least two-dozen Panama conferences in my career. This is shaping up to be the best yet.

More later this week, live from the scene.

Kathleen Peddicord