Thinking of retiring? Need or want an investment in real estate? Forget Costa Rica. Forget Mexico and Nicaragua. Panama is the gemstone of the Western Hemisphere for retirees, for real estate investing, for privacy, for asset protection, for safety. Panama is considered to be the safest country in the Western Hemisphere. Its inflation rate is the lowest in the world, its growth rate among the highest. In part this is owing to the fact that its currency is the U.S. dollar. And you thought that Panama was simply some Central American banana republic. Well, you couldn’t have been more wrong.
When a visitor first sets sight on Panama City the response is virtually always the same: WOW. Panama real estate boasts some of the most beautiful and innovative architecture in the world. It has soaring skyscrapers set on a bay overlooking the entrance to the Panama Canal. Donald Trump has found his way to Panama with the construction of the Trump Ocean Club, a $220 million real estate development on the bay overlooking the entrance to the Canal.
One can retire in Panama for a fraction of what it would cost in the U.S., Canada, Europe or Australia. Boquete, which is near the Costa Rican border, has been selected by the AARP as one of the four best places in the world for Americans to retire. And get this; the climate is so mild that the people there do not have air conditioners or heaters. One can have a full time maid for as little as $200 per month.
Panama is now considered to be one of the world’s best financial centers, with more than 140 banks, more than 130 of them major international banks, such as HSBC, Bank of Tokyo, First National Bank of Chicago, BNP, American Express Bank, Deutsche Sudamerikanische Bank, Banco do Brasil and many others.
Panama is a true asset protection and tax haven. It has no tax treaties with any other nation and does not impose a tax on foreign-earned income. Funds of a non-criminal origin placed in a Panamanian private foundation are secure from creditors. Foreign judgments are not recognized in Panama. Panama has a tax-free free trade manufacturing zone. Many Fortune 500 companies have their corporate offices in Panama. Panama’s bandwidth capability is the same as that of New York City; however, NYC uses 70% of its bandwidth capability while Panama uses only 3%.
Foreigners are protected in their persons and property the same as Panamanians. Almost all real estate is owned in the name of a Panamanian international business company (IBC), thereby providing privacy and asset protection to the owner. Panama has made a concerted effort to attract Americans (and others) to retire in Panama with a retiree visa that permits permanent residence and steep discounts on such things as medical and dental services, airline fares, restaurant bills, and so on.
Leisure time activities include golf, bird watching, hiking, deep sea fishing, sun bathing, dining and more. In the final analysis, if you want safety, security, peace of mind, affordable living, excellent real estate values, Panama will be difficult to beat, whether for retirement or for investment, or both.
Richard Sutherland is a 1973 graduate of Harvard Law School and the CEO of Worldwide Privacy, Inc., a Panama corporation. Mona Sutherland is Richard’s daughter and the manager of Worldwide Privacy, Inc.
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Mona Sutherland and Richard Sutherland, J.D.