The U.S. Isn’t the Only “Land of Opportunity”—

Coronado Panama

“I’m not talking just about our busy, bustling capital. Adventurous types come here and quickly realize that Panama still has many untapped areas. And for anyone in search of new opportunities, that’s very exciting.”

“Like so many others, I grew up thinking of the U.S. as the ‘Land of Opportunity,’ as if there were only one,” says Jessica Ramesch, IL Panama Editor who lives in Panama’s cosmopolitan capital, Panama City. “After 16 years in Panama, I know better. Panama is clearly a land of opportunity, too. Turns out, it’s one of the best out there. And many expats from the U.S., Canada, Europe, and beyond have found it’s easier to live and work in Panama than it was back home.

“I’m not talking just about our busy, bustling capital. Adventurous types come here and quickly realize that Panama still has many untapped areas. And for anyone in search of new opportunities, that’s very exciting.”

Consider Portobelo, located on Panama’s Caribbean side—one of the most desirable regions on the planet. Here, folks can live on a mere fraction of what it would cost in a famous Caribbean destination like The Bahamas. With rentals going for as little as $500 a month, single expats can live well on $1,250 a month. And unlike The Bahamas, Panama is in a hurricane-free zone and boasts a cosmopolitan world capital.

Located on a narrow isthmus between the Pacific and the Caribbean, Panama is warm and tropical, a place that welcomes new people and businesses. The home of the Panama Canal, this country is an international commerce hub.

“That’s an attractive combo that’s hard to find elsewhere,” notes Ramesch. “There are many warm, beautiful countries that make working or owning property prohibitive for foreigners. Panama welcomes business-minded expats and retirees.

“Sure, Panama has a few restrictions. These keep foreigners from doing certain things—like practicing medicine here. But there are still so many options open to potential expats. If you would like to work here as a freelancer or consultant, or open a brick-and-mortar business like a café or school, that’s fine. Be our guest, says Panama.”

The country has just unveiled a new extended-stay visa for digital-nomad types: The Temporary Telework Visa. It allows foreign nationals to come down and stay here—not for three months or even six, but for nine months. And that period can be extended for an additional nine months. That’s a generous total of 18 months, and the main requirements are simple: the applicant must have medical insurance and an external source of income (at least $3,000 a month).

In addition, Panama’s “Foreign Professionals” Visa has been around for over eight years and allows foreign nationals to work in Panama. The main requirements are simple: applicants need a university education and to have arranged for a job in Panama.

But Panama is most famous for its Pensionado or Pensioner’s Visa—a strong point that helps it claim first place in’s 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index for the 11th time.

“Many pension holders have moved here, meaning to retire and live the good life,” says Ramesch. “Sip ronconcolas on the beach, that’s what I want to do, they say. Problem is, they look around—and what do they see? Opportunity.

“Niches to fill and raw, natural destinations with inexpensive land. And thus, many of them rejoin the working masses, albeit on their own terms.”

There are quite a few more benefits to living and doing business here. If folks are from the States, they don’t have to worry about exchange rates; Panama started using the U.S. dollar as an official currency in 1904. Panama has a large international banking sector and banks here are famously liquid and stable. And then there are the attractive tax laws.

Panamanian income tax is due only on income earned in Panama. As a freelance writer for an international publication based outside of Panama, Ramesch says she pays zero income tax in Panama on that income. She works out of her home, and she isn’t required to set up any kind of corporation or pay for licenses or certificates…no business fees of any kind.

“Though I am not required to declare income, I do, every year,” she says. “I simply go to the country’s online ‘Etax’ website and list my ‘foreign sourced income.’ I don’t have to pay any taxes to Panama on it, but I’ve now got enough local income tax declarations to get a substantial home loan here. In fact, I’ve just submitted all the paperwork for one.

“The home I’ve chosen is one of many apartments here with property-tax exemptions. I’ll pay less than $25 a year on my property tax till 2030 (that’s not a typo). After 2030, property taxes on this property will kick in, but at just 0.5% a year, they won’t make much of a dent in my budget.

“My office will be my balcony overlooking the tropical Pacific. The building has a social area where I can work on my laptop or have drinks with my neighbors. There are also two pools, a gym, and a party room. I’ll continue to live on my current budget of around $2,600 a month, including mortgage payments. (And diversions like dinners out…one of my favorite places is owned by Italian expats.) In five years, I can sell with no penalty owed to the bank.

“I know it all sounds too good to be true. I’ve been here for 16 years and I’m pinching myself. But for me, and for so many others, Panama is ‘the one’…the perfect land of opportunity.”

More information on the opportunity available in Panama, can be found here: The U.S. Isn’t “The” Land of Opportunity

More information on Panama, the World’s Best Place to Retire 2022, and the other 24 countries that rank in the top spots for retirees, can be found, here: The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2022

Editor’s Note: Members of the media have permission to republish the article linked above once credit is given to

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