If you’re like many Baby Boomers, the thought of twiddling your thumbs for a 20 or 30 year retirement sounds about as fun as an extended commercial.
You’ve worked hard throughout your career, and perhaps you are ready to move on. And yet, you know you’ve got a lot of spunk left- and you’re not about to let it go to waste.
That’s the story for countless individuals moving to Panama. Though officially or semi-retired, many still feel in their professional prime. They’re sharp, wise, and experienced- and ready to pursue passions their youth left behind.
They’re ready for their encore. And Panama is cheering them on.
So, Why Choose Panama for Your Encore Career?
If you’ve had your ear to the ground, you’re well aware of how much momentum Panama’s economy has gained- and how fast.
The middle and upper classes are expanding, as are the expat and tourist populations. Increasingly more consumers enjoy deepening pockets and higher discretionary funds- an ideal recipe for any business.
Why stack the odds against yourself by working within a faltering economy? Panama boasts an average GDP growth rate more than triple that of North America.* Choose a stage that fosters growth rather than impairs it.
(*2012 GDP Growth Rates: Panama 10.7%, U.S 2.2%, Canada 1.7%. Source: World Bank.)
Lower Start-Up Costs
I refuse to misrepresent the cost of living in Panama. While some sources will boast of “first world living at third world prices,” (yes, people actually say that) – the truth is, many expenses in Panama are similar to prices in other modern countries.
However, this isn’t the case with the overhead costs of running a business. Things like insurance, labor, and even real estate (depending on the area) remain considerably cheaper in Panama. The money you save in operational costs really adds up- giving you a higher profit margin and better bottom line.
Panama makes it relatively easy for foreigners to conduct business. That’s because, quite frankly, they want us here. They know that foreigner-run businesses have a positive influence on the economy, so they make it as easy and as fair as possible for foreigners to invest.
Importantly, the Foreign Investment Protection law grants equal rights to foreigners as it does to nationals- thus safeguarding your investments.
Ample Residential Growth
Residential communities in Panama are growing so rapidly, their commercial counterparts can barely keep up. Locals and foreigners are snatching up properties, and towns once amongst the tumbleweeds have become residential hotspots.
And what better place to open up shop than somewhere with a growing client pool and little to no competition?
Take Coronado, for example. Once game-changing developments like Coronado Golf and Coronado Bay put the area on the map, it went from a no-mans land to the most buzzing epicenter on the beach. Residents flooded in- and shops and restaurants were soon to follow.
Now, the same thing is happening elsewhere in Panama. Up the road from Coronado, for example, Playa Gorgona is undergoing a similar transformation. With the highly anticipated Royal Palm resort-style development underway, the area is becoming a petri dish for businesses looking to serve the incoming residents.
Panama’s private institutions are internationally competitive and advanced. Sadly, the same cannot yet be said for the public school system. For those that do attend university, it’s not uncommon to spend 2 years abroad while finishing their degree.
Panama, then, is left with several gaps when compared to North America’s highly specialized fields of expertise. This gives anyone with formal training or experience a serious professional advantage in Panama.
Customer service in Panama cannot compare to the level that North Americans are accustomed with. For the most part, it doesn’t try- “customer service” in the traditional western sense is simply not a cultural priority.
This is a common frustration for consumers, both Panamanians and especially foreigners who are used to “service with a smile.”
The upside, of course, is that businesses that do understand the importance of customer service will find themselves racking up a loyal customer following faster than they can say “Have a nice da-“
Think about how you feel sitting in a nursing home, verses sitting at a dinner table of enthusiastic professionals. The difference is night and day, isn’t it?
The former makes you feel despondent, futile, whereas the latter has you feeling engaged, inspired, and motivated. This is the difference between much of North America and your average Panama expat community.
People don’t move to Panama to sit around, complain, point fingers, and make excuses. They move to Panama to feel alive again, to reinvent themselves, to be part of a community that is both passionate and inspiring.
You’re not going to find the stereotypical retiree here, shaking his fists at the neighborhood kids to get off his petunias.
You’re going to find active, vibrant, encore careerists- who have only just gotten started, and who inspire you to do the same.