You make three decisions in life that matter. You choose what to do to support yourself. You choose who to come home to at night (or maybe you choose to come home to no one… fair enough). And you choose where to come home.
Lief and I made the first two decisions long ago, but we think about that last one all the time. For us, it’s a moving target. Right now, home is Panama.
Our choice for how to support ourselves is portable, so, in theory, we could be anywhere. Why, therefore, have we chosen, for the past fifteen years, to base ourselves in Panama?
For us, the answer to that question is straightforward: Panama is the best place on earth right now to operate an international business, and, right now, our focus is business.
Why is Panama the best choice in the world to do this? The biggest reason has to do with taxation. Panama is one of but a handful of countries in the world where we are able to operate tax-free. That’s a big deal.
However, note that I didn’t say Panama is the only place in the world where we (and others like us) can operate tax-free. From the short list of the world’s most tax-friendly jurisdictions, why, fifteen years ago, did we choose Panama when we looked around the globe for where to base Live And Invest Overseas?
In addition to the tax advantages, Panama offers the would-be entrepreneur many others… including:
- It’s in the same time zone as the United States (give or take an hour or two), meaning it’s easy for us to communicate with our customers (most of whom are in North America)…
- It’s a travel hub (we move around a lot)…
- Panama uses the U.S. dollar as its currency (so we have no exchange-rate risk… we earn our money in dollars and spend it in dollars, too)…
- This is an international banking center (don’t get me started on the hassles and frustrations associated with banking in Panama… on the other hand, the reality is, you have many options for banking in Panama)…
- The labor pool is big, growing, eclectic, well-educated, and English-speaking…
- The labor pool, again, is growing… In the early years of our business, this was thanks largely to former president Martinelli’s Executive Decree of 2012 inviting citizens of several dozen “friendly nations” to come, live, and get a job… (The Friendly Nations Visa is still in operation… although now applicants have to make a US$200,000 property investment in Panama—a commitment that didn’t exist before.)
To put it simply: Without Martinelli’s Executive Order making it easy for any national of any of the “friendly nations” on the list to acquire residency and a work permit in this country, we would not have been able to find and hire the English-speaking staff we’ve needed to build our business.
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- The cost of doing business is affordable. Fifteen years ago, when we set up shop here, the cost of doing business in Panama was downright cheap. This is no longer true. But it is true that Panama remains an appealingly affordable place to be in business in English. And, again, if your business is earning its revenues in dollars, this is a place where you can likewise spend those revenues to cover your costs, overheads, and salaries in dollars…
- Panama City is a developed and legitimate city. Our friend Jose Bern—one of the biggest real estate developers in the country—says that Panama offers “80% of what Miami offers, but for 50% the cost.” That’s about right… and not just when it comes to real estate. Panama City offers the resources that a business and the people running it need and want, from attorneys, accountants, and messenger services to restaurants, health clubs, and bars with regular happy hours…
We aren’t the only ones to notice all these advantages, of course. Dozens of major international companies (including Halliburton, Dell, Caterpillar, DHL, and Sinopec) have established headquarters in Panama.
And it’s not only big businesses that have noticed all that Panama has to offer. We’re not a big business. We started out, fifteen years ago, from nothing. Here we are, a decade-and-a-half later, with a solid team and a business that has grown and that continues to grow…
The success we’ve enjoyed is thanks to many things, we know (including, of course, your loyalty and custom… thank you), but near the top of that list would have to be all the support and advantages that Panama has provided us.
If you’re an entrepreneur… or an entrepreneur-in-the-making… I strongly recommend that you take a look at all that Panama has to offer you, too.
Until next time,
Founding Publisher, Overseas Opportunity Letter