Aug 22, 2019

Dream of living on the ocean coast? Give an eye to Panama!

As things stand now, the immigration programs in effect in Panama allow acquiring legal residence in the country quite rapidly and quite effortlessly. If you are looking to find a second place of abode abroad, you should know that Panama is the country where your dream to live on the ocean shore can come true.

Why is Panama considered the best country for residence?

Different international magazines and NGO’s declare Panama the best Latin American country where foreign nationals can relocate. Panama also consistently ranks first or second as the best country to retire to.

Panama’s ties with the United Stated of America are long-standing and well established. This Central American country has been able to borrow the essential elements of political democracy and economic freedom, which have brought prosperity to Panama.

During the last few decades, the annual growth of Panama GDP is stable at 5% to 6%. The country has managed to attract a large amount of foreign investment and a great number of international business companies many of which has set up their headquarters in Panama City.

Today Panama has a very reliable healthcare system with many doctors holding US medical school diplomas. There are also private schools in the country providing the level of education quite comparable to that in European and North American private schools.

A large portion of international financial resources is kept in Panama. There are around a hundred banks that have opened their branch offices in the country.

In addition to that, top-class residential property is available in Panama at the prices much lower than those of similar property in the First-World countries. Foreigners purchase houses and apartments both on the shores of the two oceans and in the cooler mountain areas in Panama.

As far as the crime rates are concerned, they are the lowest in Latin America. This is conditioned by the fact that there are no serious social, political, or financial problems in Panama. (Unlike in Europe, by the way.)

The taxation policies are based on the territorial principle in Panama. This principle presumes that international incomes obtained by Panama citizens and legal residents are not taxed. Only if the income is obtained within Panama’s geographical borders, it is subject to taxation. This is why many investors come to Panama with the intention to lessen their tax burden and protect their financial interests at the same time.

Why did the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal occur?

The attractiveness of Panama for international businesses is an irritating factor for many First-World countries. They certainly dislike seeing capital flowing out of their jurisdictions and into Panama. Thus, a mud-slinging campaign was initiated by some mass media in 2016 that was called ‘Panama Papers’.  

The corporate server of the Panamanian Mossack Fonseca legal company had been hacked, and a large part of internal documents, including personal correspondence, was published in newspapers and magazines. This information attack was targeted at Panama with the intention to discredit the country in the eyes of the international community. It has to be stressed that not a single fact of a breach of law was proved. However, Panama’s image did suffer to some degree.  

At the same time, proving anything was not the campaign instigators’ goal. It was only a reason to start redistributing international money flows. Another intention of the large and powerful economies was to tighten control over the capital that many wealthy businesspersons and investors redirected to offshore jurisdictions.

Well-developed countries are reluctant to lower their taxes. Instead, they want to restrict the rights of their wealthy citizens to legitimately use the international laws that allow lessening the taxes with the help of other countries.

The anti-Panama propaganda in the mass media was meant to frighten foreign investors and businesses away from Panama.

Notwithstanding all the accusations of catering to ‘tax evaders’, Panama has been able to stand up for its national interests even though the country, like many other offshore jurisdictions, has had to come to terms with the European Union and OECD. 

Panama has fulfilled the requirements that the EU and OECD put forward. The latest monitoring from European experts showed that Panamanian legislation now meets all the EU standards. After the inspection, Panama was taken off the ‘grey list’ that includes countries with minor discrepancies in their legislations with the European ones.

Panama has been able to stand against the international pressure thanks to the close ties with the United States, its strategic Panama Canal, and the strong banking sector. Many US and Latin American citizens keep huge sums of money in Panamanian banks and this is a very important factor.

It is believed that Panama holds the second largest volume of capital after Switzerland. Many European and American banks are truly impressed by the capitalization of banks in Panama. Bank accounts are seldom frozen in Panama and if they are, this happens only when the criminal origin of the capital has been conclusively proven.

Thus, on a par with Switzerland, Panama is the depositary of the world capital today. The saying goes that ‘Money loves silence’, so the rich people who keep their money in Panama and Switzerland will never allow collapse of these countries financial systems as that would mean losing their riches.

It is worth remembering how Switzerland felt during the Second World War. Not a single Swiss bank was robbed by fascists. Thanks to its nonalignment policies, Switzerland has always managed to go through great revolutions and world wars without incurring many losses. Without doubt, today Panama is one of the safest places in the world to keep your financial assets.

How can you acquire residency in Panama?

Panama has numerous state visa programs that grant the right of abode to foreign nationals. These programs are accessible to many people and if you want to acquire a Panamanian permanent residence permit, you should be able to choose the immigration program that suites you best.

Compared to the immigration programs of such European states as Malta or Cyprus, for example, Panama offers the same at a much lower price. Dissimilar to other countries, Panamanian authorities do not require that a foreign resident spend a fixed amount of time in Panama. It is enough to come to the country once every two years and stay there for about ten days in order to retain the permanent resident status.

You have to realize, however, that with the economic progress Panama is making, it is reasonable to expect that the immigration rules will soon be toughened. The immigration programs that the country currently offers are not laws that the Parliament has passed. They are only government degrees that can be easily repealed.

Thus, if you are thinking of changing your domicile and relocating abroad, Panama is a very good option to consider. It is welcoming to foreigners but this is not going to last forever. So please make up your mind as soon as possible while there are inviting chances to move to Panama.

We will not consider all the existing Panama immigration programs here but rather dwell briefly on those of them that look most attractive to a middle-class European or North American citizen.

Economic Investor immigration program

This visa program is available to citizens of any country of the world. The central requirement that this program has is the obligation to invest minimum US$ 300,000 into Panama. There are three ways to make the investment:

  1. Open a bank account in Panama and put at least US$ 300,000 there. It has to be a fixed-term account for three years.
  2. Purchase real estate in Panama that is worth at least US$ 300,000.
  3. Purchase real estate that costs less than the sum specified above and put enough money into the bank to meet the required total investment sum of US$ 300,000.

The foreign Economic Investor visa will lead to permanent residence permit after you do one of the things described above. After you have lived in Panama for five years, you are eligible to apply for full citizenship of Panama.

If you click here, you can read more about this immigration program.

Pensionado immigration program

Though the name of this program sounds as if it was intended for pensioners, as a matter of fact, any person over 18 from any country of the world is entitled to apply. The central requirement of this program is that the applicant should be able to prove having a stable guaranteed income of minimum US$ 1,000 a month. Normally, a Western European or a North American pension will provide this kind of guaranteed monthly income, and this is why the program is called Pensionado.

Besides, this visa program has an interesting variation. If you buy real estate in Panama that costs US$ 100,000 or more, you will have to show that your guaranteed monthly income is not less than US$ 750.

Please follow this link to find out more about this immigration program.

Friendly Nations immigration program

This program is not for everybody. It is only especially attractive for the citizens of fifty national states that Panama considers its friendly nations. Generally, all developed countries are on this list. The citizens of these countries have the easiest and fastest access to Panama. All they have to do is put US$ 5,000 in the bank and engage themselves in some sort of economic activity in the country (find a job or open a business). But they do not even have to do the latter if they buy real property in Panama for US$ 100,000 or more. 

If you follow this link, you will find the list of the fifty Friendly Nations and some additional information about this enticing immigration program.

What these immigration programs have in common is the possibility to obtain Panama legal residence on the condition of purchasing real estate in the country.

We can assist you in choosing the piece of real property to buy in Panama. We have a back office in Panama City and our on-site realtors know the local real estate market very well. Besides, we are in close cooperation with a licensed Panamanian lawyer who will ascertain that the purchase deal is 100% secure and legal.

Finally, here is one more fact of Panamanian reality that should make you want to move there as soon as you can. The new Law “On Family Real Property Tax” that came into force on January 1, 2019, makes purchasing real estate in Panama even more lucrative. This Law has raised the worth of untaxable real property from US$ 30,000 to US$ 120,000. That is, you will pay no property tax on the first US$ 120,000 of the price of your residential accommodation. If you buy a house in the rural regions of Panama or a small apartment in a large city, you will not have to pay the property tax at all. 

An apartment on the ocean shore in Punta Pacifica district, Panama City

Even though there are apartments in Panama that cost US$ 120,000 or less, here we are going to offer you something fancier. Punta Pacifica is an upscale city district located in the very center of Panama City and it has some breathtaking sceneries. All you need for comfortable living, rest, and entertainment is within a walking distance there. If you want to dine out, you will be pleasantly surprised by the wide choice of bars and restaurants to be found in this district. There are also numerous shops and boutiques nearby including the famous Multiplaza trade center as well as cinemas and casinos.

The apartment that we are offering is in one of the many high-rise buildings of Punta Pacifica. This ‘soft loft’ style apartment has two levels, or two floors. The building sits right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.

  • The total are of the loft is 225 square meters (almost 270 sq. yards). There are
  • Two bedrooms;
  • Two and a half bathrooms;
  • A living room;
  • A kitchen dining room;
  • Two car parks in the parking lot underneath the building.

As you can see in the photographs, the apartment is fully furnished and is equipped with all the necessary home appliances. The price of this loft is US$ 650 000.

If you are looking for a nice place to live with your family, if you want to change your tax residence in order to make your tax burden lighter, Panama has it all. The combination of the country’s advantages makes Panama the best country to move to.  

If you want to relocate your business to Panama or start a new company there, we can also help you find a good office. In case you are bringing your school-aged children with you, we can recommend the best private schools in Panama City.

To start with, we suggest that you request a free consultation with us on relocating to Panama. Please contact us via e-mail [email protected], and our experts will answer all your queries. We will make the relocation process as easy for you as possible.