More and more people are immigrating to Panama to take advantage of all this beautiful country has to offer. How do they move to Panama? In fact, Expats in Panama use a variety of Panamanian Residency and Citizenship programs (including the attractive Panama Citizenship by Investment program) to move to Panama.
But why move to Panama? In reality, Panama has become a favourite destination for Expats, and it is no surprise.
Panama has an exceptionally low cost of living, with expenses of less than half of what you’d expect in a major US city. While prices vary by region and by area, groceries, eating out, entertainment, rent, and transport are all outstanding value. Also, the cost of labour is low, so a gardener or housekeeper could cost as little as $20/day, freeing you up to do the things that you love. So, if you are thinking about immigrating to Panama or retiring in Panama, your money going much further should play a part in that choice.
Another critical point is that Panama uses the US dollar as its official currency for the purpose of keeping exchange rates stable and inflation within targets. Because of this, Panama is not likely to experience the hyperinflation that other countries in the region have suffered.
Retirees are also eligible for a range of discounts that can include 50% off on entertainment like the cinema, theatre, and concerts tickets, to name a few. Further, travel is made even more attractive with a 30% discount on bus, boat, and train fares, and 25% off on domestic and international airfares. Government hospital bills are subject to a 15% discount (see below for more on health costs).
In brief, healthcare in Panama is excellent. In fact, there are many English-speaking doctors trained in the US. Indeed, facilities in Panama City offer a full range of services that rival any other city in the region. And all this at a fraction of the cost you would pay elsewhere in the developed world. To this end, Panama has significantly invested in its health care sector both as a service to the country, and to encourage health tourism. For that reason, the public system is continuously improving. At present, a thriving private medical system supported by remarkably cheap health insurance ($45 - $120 per month). This system has arisen in large part to service the growing Expat community. In the final analysis, if you are planning to immigrate to Panama, or to retire to Panama, high-quality health care is a big incentive.
To illustrate the diversity of the country, from the same spot on the top of the 3,475m Volcán Barú, you can famously see the sunrise over the Caribbean and sunset over the Pacific from the same place! In effect, two beautiful coastlines are separated by a mountain range. Without reservation, we can say that whatever your preference, you’ll be able to find the ideal location to live in Panama for you. In particular, this is a country of large areas of unspoiled natural beauty, from the rain forests of the North to the tropical islands dotted along the coasts. Because of that fishing, walking, birdwatching, scuba diving, cycling, sailing, boating, and much more are all activities that are available to the adventurous. What’s more, all this is within a country that you can drive from top to bottom in around 8 hours!
In conclusion, year-round warm weather, and sunshine, with a refreshing mountain cool down just a short drive away, is on offer. Obviously, the best place to live in Panama will, therefore, depend on which climate, population centre, and geography suit you best.
Yup, the Panamanian government will not apply any tax to income you earn outside of Panama. For instance, as a digital nomad, you can choose the tax resident country for your business, and accordingly, the Panamanian government will let you keep 100% of your earnings.
Here are some of the ways to access Panamanian Residency, and live in Panama:
Panama introduced this exceptional visa in 2012. Foreigners from 47 Nations (click here for the full list) can qualify for immediate permanent residency in Panama along with a Panama work permit. Indeed, it is quite easy to qualify. To clarify, you need to deposit $5,000 into a local bank account plus USD$2,000 for each dependent. In addition, you also need to have professional ties to the country. Examples of this could include starting a new business, purchasing an existing business, or being hired in a professional capacity by a Panamanian company. In fact, you could qualify by simply setting up an offshore company in Panama. Indeed, if you are self-employed, having your company set up in Panama may be an excellent option with possible tax benefits. What’s more, after five years, you can apply for Panamanian citizenship, nationality, and a passport.
If you can show, you have a monthly income for life of $1,000 (or $750 if you purchase a Panamanian property of more than $100,000) you’re eligible for Panama permanent residency. Additionally, after five years, you are eligible for full Panamanian citizenship, nationality, and passport.
If you have more than USD$170,000 to deposit on a five-year certificate of deposit with the National Bank of Panama, you may obtain a retiree visa. Basically, it will yield approximately $750 a month for living expenses. That shows the Panamanian government that you can support yourself, given that this is the amount the government uses as standard.
Generally, if your spouse is a citizen or permanent resident of Panama, you are eligible for temporary residency, and after one year, you can apply for permanent residency. Significantly, you can apply for citizenship after three years of residency in Panama. It must be remembered that Panama must recognise your status as a spouse in Panama (given that the definition of what constitutes a spouse varies by country.)
Significantly, Panamanian citizens enjoy visa-free access to 140 countries and territories (including the European Union). Undoubtedly this makes the Panamanian passport one of the world’s best (as a matter of fact, it was ranked the 34th most powerful passport in a 2019 survey).
Generally, after between three and five years of permanent residency, achieved through any of the visas discussed on the Residency and Investment Visa page, you will be eligible for Panamanian naturalisation. Explicitly, this includes full Panamanian citizenship and a Panamanian passport.
It is important to realise that any children that are born in Panama are eligible for unconditional Panamanian citizenship. In this case, it is because of Panama’s “right of the soil” or jus soli policy that explicitly applies to children born in the country, regardless of the legal standing of their parents.
The passport for Panama allows you to travel to 122 countries without a visa.
Its global rank is 71.