Today, there are various reasons that people are moving away from their own countries. Some are entrepreneurs that want to invest, other people decide to spend their retirement in new horizons, or they are simply looking for a better place to live. Panama has become one of the most popular countries to invest in the last few years, so it’s not a surprise that many people are thinking about establishing roots here.
We want to give you a clearer idea of what you will face in Panama before you take the big decision of moving to this beautiful country!
Shopping in Panama costs about the same as the U.S.
Sometimes when people move to Panama or visit from the U.S. they think that products will be cheaper, but they usually cost the same and sometimes more than you will find back home. Panama only uses the U.S. dollar so you don’t get any benefits with an exchange rate and import taxes can cause the products to sometimes cost more. However, name brand items tend to be much cheaper than you will find in neighboring countries. Panama even started its own “Black Friday” tradition six years ago.
The price of a rent may vary a lot according to the zone
Like any other country, it will depend on the type of accommodation and the area you want to live. For example, if you decide to live in the Azuero’s peninsula, rent could cost $600 for a modest house. However, living in the city is not cheap. If you choose a modern apartment in the center of the city it could be $1,500. Or renting an old apartment in the city center can be $800 – $1,000. However, you’re looking for top of line luxury accommodation, prepare to spend approximately $4,000 for rent.
If you want to get a more detailed comparison about the cost of the life of your current country and compare it to Panama, check out the “Numbeo” platform.
Will you need a car?
Will you be commuting to work every day or working from home? Or do you plan to do road trips outside of the city every weekend? Or will you be living somewhere rural instead of the city? These are factors to take into account when deciding if you need to get a car. Getting around Panama City without a car is easy and affordable thanks to Uber and it’s better than trying to find a nonexistent parking spot. Plus Panamanians drive very aggressively so most foreigners prefer not to drive in the city. But if you’re living outside the city or need to commute somewhere every day, a car might be the way to go.
There are different types of visas to enter Panamá
Tourist Visa: The tourist visa is automatic and it’s just the stamp in your passport that they give you at the airport. For Americans, Canadians, and most foreigners you are allowed to stay in the country for 6 months. For Colombians and Nicaraguans, it’s only 3 months.
Students Visa: The student visa is dedicated for foreigners who plan to study full-time in an educational institution recognized by Panama’s Ministry of Education, whether it’s public or private. However, you won’t be able to work unless you do a professional practice requested by the educational center.
Investor’s Visa: The investor’s visa is for foreigners planning to invest at least $300,000 either under the purchase of a property with no mortgage or through a certificate of deposit in a Panama bank. It can also be for a combination of the two reasons. If the applicant wants to include someone under a dependency relationship (family), you must invest $2,000 for each one.
A work offer can provide you with temporary residency
If you receive an offer to work in Panama this is another way to receive temporary residency. Multinational companies and offices based in the City of Knowledge have a special visa that foreigners can apply for, but you must have a work offer first.
You might qualify for permanent residency in Panama
One of the most popular routes for permanent residency in Panama is through the “Friendly Nations Visa”. To qualify for this visa you basically have to either buy real estate, start a business, or provide a work offer letter. This visa must be handled by a Panamanian lawyer.
The other popular visa for foreigners is the retirement visa. Retired foreigners who obtain a minimum monthly pension of $1,000 are qualified for this visa and you will also want to have a Panamanian lawyer take care of this for you.
Some professions are only allowed for Panamanians
According to the law, immigrants cannot practice the following professions in Panama:
Pharmacy, dental care, dentistry, nursing, clinical laboratory analysis, nutrition, medicine, chiropractic, physiotherapy, radiology, medical assistance, medical visitor, phono audiology, chemistry, psychology , social assistance, social work, sociology, law, journalism, economics, accounting, public relations, agricultural sciences, veterinary science, barbering, cosmetology, and architecture. Engineering: civil, forestry, petrochemical and chemical. Education: civics, history, and geography.
There is a high demand of the following professions
Construction, commerce, logistics, agriculture, industry, and tourism.
Knowing English and having professional experience is the best combination
If you speak, read, and write English well and have professional experience, you will have more opportunities to find work at multinationals that offer the best salaries in the country. However, it is recommended to have a job lined up before arriving in Panama.
There is a variable minimum wage
The minimum wage in Panama is calculated according to the region and the type of work that is carried out, but it can be said that the average is $550 to $700 per month. However, some employers pay more and it all depends on the company that hires you, your legal situation, and the type of work you do. You’ll notice minimum wage is less than the average apartment rental in the city so for the best salaries you should look into working at a multinational company, starting your own business, working online as a digital nomad, or teach English at a local international school.
Panama stands out among the countries with the best economic projections. Undoubtedly, this Central American nation is one of the most attractive places in the region for foreigners seeking to improve their quality of life!
This was a guest post by Alex Garridos, a Real Estate Investment Advisor based in Panama with no BS advice on properties and opportunities to make your income increase. Contact Alex for real estate advice by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.