Unlike many countries in Central and South America
that depend on raw materials for their revenue, exotic minerals and other raw materials play only a small role in Panama’s economy making the country relatively insulated from
;nancial disruptions. Due to its wide-ranging business
sectors and broad commercial and ;nancial ventures,
Panama has shown its ability to serve as a secure place
to ride out the economic storms of the rest of the world.
At the Paci;c end of the canal sits Panama City. It is a
teeming business hub of worldwide importance that deserves a place among the planet’s best cities for the lux-ury-level lifestyle it provides. Panama City o;ers a way
of life comparable to San Diego or Miami at a fraction
of the cost. Even though living expenses are lower, the
city is a boom town with more skyscrapers than any other
city in the Western Hemisphere, aside from New York and
Chicago. Of the 25 tallest buildings in Latin America, 16
are in Panama City, all built in the last six years. Modern,
comfortable, and tolerant, the country may be most famous for its canal, but it’s the ease of living that draws
visitors, expatriates, and skilled workers alike.
An excellent value for your dollar is one thing, but
how about other considerations for a move to Panama? In
terms of retiree bene;ts, Panama’s Pensionado program
is one of the world’s best. If you have a pension of $1,000
per month or more, it o;ers rapid residency, which can be
pooled with a spouse. A vast array of senior discounts are
also available on everything from air travel to restaurants
and utilities. In the area of health care, it is important to
know that many Panamanian doctors are U.S.-trained and
the standards at the top city hospitals compare very favor-
ably with those in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Private
health insurance is available and is much less expensive
than insurance in the U.S. Doctor’s fees and hospital vis-
its are also much cheaper. ;at is partially due to the fact
that malpractice insurance is very low since regulations
do not allow for frivolous lawsuits. Also, since the aver-
age Panamanian income is around $400 a month, many
Panamanians pay for health care out-of-pocket. Prices for
prescription drugs are low as well, because pharmaceuti-
cal manufacturers price them for the local market. Many
drugs that require a prescription elsewhere are available
over the counter in Panama. As an added inducement,
Johns Hopkins Punta Paci;ca Hospital is the most techno-
logically advanced medical center in all of Latin America.
Tax implications are also very favorable. Personal income tax in;Panama;is based on a sliding scale, ranging
from a minimum of seven percent to a maximum rate of
27 percent. But, regardless of your residency status, income tax is only applied to Panamanian-sourced income.
More good news is that deductions may be made on all
medical expenses incurred in Panama, all donations made
to charities, interest paid on home mortgages, education
expenses, and loans for home improvements.
;In addition to its light tax burden, qualifying for;Pan-ama’s Pensionado program;entitles a person to a one-time
exemption of duties on the importation of household
goods (up to $10,000), plus the importation or local purchase of a car.
As you can see, Panama’s attractive investment laws are
not just for big business. With a minimum investment of
$50,000 anywhere in Panama’s interior, you can bene;t
from a 20-year exemption of import taxes. ;ere is also
a 20-year exemption on;real estate;taxes and accelerated
depreciation for real estate assets of 10 percent per year.
However, the investment amount does not include the
price of the land. For projects in the metropolitan area,
the minimum investment requirement is $300,000.
As rules and regulations frequently change, it would
be wise to check with government sources before taking
To add to these favorable factors, consider the warm,
welcoming Panamanian people, a large expat community, a stable government, an economy that is booming,
the U.S. dollar as its currency, a modern infrastructure,
ease of travel to North and South America, and a year-round tropical climate.
Many other Latin American countries o;er good ben-
When we think of Panama, we visualize the miracle of an enormous canal, a 50-mile pathway from the Atlantic to the Paci;c Ocean, a transitway that put this otherwise sleepy, tropical
country on the world map. Making a short link between Europe, the U.S., and Asia, the canal has
become the backbone of the economic miracle that today we call the Republic of Panama.
Just the name, ;e Panama Canal, evokes adventure and tropical mystery. But the canal also
became a key link in world commerce. From the time we were school children and read about the
daring French attempt and failure to conquer the almost insurmountable challenges of jungle, heat,
disease, and hostile geography, to the present day widening of the canal in order to accommodate
super tankers, the Panama Canal has been a fascinating subject of universal appeal.