“You have reminders of Paris all around,” our friend born and raised in that city remarked over dinner at our house in Panama City during his recent visit.
“I noticed the books and paintings in your office today,” Vincent continued, “and I see more books about Paris on the bookshelves here in your living room, too.
“You seem very attached to that city,” he concluded.
“Yes, we are big fans of the City of Light,” I told him. “We look forward to every chance to spend time there and would spend more time there if we didn’t have so much going on that requires our attention in Panama.”
“But what do you like about the place so much?” our French friend wanted to know, trying, unsuccessfully, to hide his dismay.
Why Vincent And His Family Moved From Paris To Brussels
Vincent and his wife moved with their five children from Paris to Brussels several years ago. Part of their decision had to do with cost of living. They determined that Brussels would be more budget-friendly for their family of seven.
Vincent and his wife had other reasons for leaving Paris, though.
Like most French, they’re very engaged in local politics, and, like many French, they’re increasingly unhappy with not only the political but also the economic and social developments in their hometown, as they perceive them.
“Paris is not the city it was 30 years ago,” Vincent explained.
“When we were growing up in Paris, it was common for our parents, for all parents, to allow their children to come and go on their own on the Metro, for example.
“Today if you allow your 8- or 10-year-old child to travel around the city on the Metro on his own, he likely will be picked up by the police. They’ll show up at your door with him to ask what is the matter with you. How could you be so foolish and careless as to allow your child to wander alone on the streets of Paris?
“Everyone would agree that would be unsafe.
“There are signs of unrest everywhere—graffiti on the walls, cars being burned, constant protests…”
“Yes, yes, we understand that all of those things are true,” I replied. “But that is not our experience of Paris.
“For us, Paris is its parks and gardens, chateaux and museums, architecture and art, food and wine. No city in the world compares in those regards, and those are the things we appreciate.”
“Well, yes, of course, Paris is those things, as well,” Vincent conceded. “But it is a miserable place to try to be in business. The entrepreneur does not stand a chance in this city.”
“Ah, well, on that score, certainly, we agree,” I said.
Doing Business: Paris vs. Panama City
“That’s why Lief and I moved from Paris when we did… because we wanted to start our new business. We’d had enough business experience in France by that time to know that there are better choices for the would-be entrepreneur.”
Including and especially Panama, where the government is seriously pro-investment and it can be possible to live and operate a business tax-free.
That’s why, for us, 14 years ago, when we looked at the world map considering options for where to base our next venture, Panama stood out.
In the years since we made the move from Paris to Panama City, many have questioned that decision.
“Come on,” some have said. “From Paris to Panama City? Who would make that choice? What gives?”
Vincent is the first to wonder in the reverse… to question why we ever wanted to live in the City of Light in the first place.
Perspective. We’ve each got our own.
Founding Publisher, Overseas Opportunity Letter