“Kathleen, your delightful tales of driving in Panama City brought up fond (and recent) memories of driving in Cairo. Crazy…”
–Lucinda M., United States
“Kathleen, I found information about you on Yahoo News and thought I’d write to you. I have a couple of questions which may seem ridiculous but which beg to be answered anyway.
“My wife and I, together, make about US$2,400 a month from retirement, and I also have a home-based computer business. Would we be able to find a suitable home in Panama, for example in Las Tablas (read about it in your Yahoo News article)?
“I also do small cap investments of American and some foreign penny stocks. Would the Internet access there in Panama allow me to continue doing this type of investing?
“How do the people in Panama treat Americans who want to live there? In other words, would we need to stay close to a tourist area that is more accepting, or is the entire country pretty much a safe place for Americans?
“Finally, what is the income tax and property tax structure in Panama?
“I know you’re busy, but if you would be able to answer these questions, I’d be very grateful. Would also love to receive your free newsletter (e-mail).”
–Lewis F., United States
Yes, your retirement income would be enough to support a comfortable life anywhere in Panama, including in Panama City, the most expensive place to live in the country. In Las Tablas, you could live on half your monthly income and save the rest for investments, travel, whatever.
Yes, the Internet in Panama City would be stable and fast enough for you to continue your day-trading. Probably in Las Tablas and elsewhere outside Panama City, too, but, in more remote regions, you might lose your connection from time to time.
Here’s a good general resource on taxation in Panama. Proceeds from your day-trading activities would not be taxable in Panama if you’re using a U.S. trading account, but those profits would be taxable in the United States. Remember, as an American abroad, you have two tax liabilities to consider (one in the country where you relocate and the other back home with Uncle Sam).
Finally, how would the Panamanians treat you? Treat them well, and they’ll treat you the same way.
Panamanians are very accustomed to Americans among them. We’ve been a big presence here since the building of the Panama Canal. We’re a long-accepted part of the landscape. And, no, not only in the “tourist” zones. You’d be welcome everywhere.
You’d also be safe. Don’t wander around inebriated with a fancy watch on your wrist in certain downtown neighborhoods in the wee hours. Use common sense. Don’t go looking for trouble. And you won’t find it.