Things Seem More “Normal”

Last week, a big yellow DHL plane landed at Tocumen International Airport and rapidly began unloading 12,840 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer. Four of the deep-cold freezers had been installed across Panama, ensuring the supply was kept safe, potent and readily available. By the end of that first day, 641 doses had been administered to front-line healthcare personnel. Throughout Panama, it seemed as if everyone sort of let out a collective breath, knowing things were about to get better.

The initial delivery of vaccine for the COVID-19 virus reached Panama on January 20 and the doses were almost immediately given to individuals working on the front line including healthcare workers and ambulance drivers.

 

Today, a clinic has been set up at Tocumen International Airport providing COVID-19 testing to accommodate individuals requiring a negative test for reentry into a second country. Over 12,000 vaccines have been given to date and men and women are no longer restricted as to when they are shopping. 

 

A Generous Number of Vaccine Clinics

The Panamanian Government has established a total of 1,101 sites where vaccines are being administered and the goal is to inoculate 70% of individuals living in Panama to reach herd immunity. The vaccine sites are located mainly in schools and colleges and staffing the centers has utilized retired physicians and registered nurses, as well as current healthcare providers. Individuals do not need to be Panamanian to receive the vaccine as this program is open to everyone currently in Panama, but it is a phased program addressing initially the needs of the elderly, front-line workers and those with chronic conditions.

While Pfizer says there are five doses of the vaccine in each container, Panamanian healthcare workers are getting a minimum of six doses and sometimes up to seven, which is helping extend the number of individuals who can access the vaccine.

With the vaccine, the airport remaining open to international flights and the pandemic slowing, people are beginning to once again actively consider moving abroad or seeking alternative places for investment. While the stock market in the United States has been reporting explosive growth, things may change with the new administration.

With the economic recovery in mind, Panama has been aggressively developing programs that encourage foreign growth including a rapid path to residency. Currently, there are three new ways to gain permanent residency within 30 days with the most popular being the investment in real estate at a minimum of $300,000. Others include a direct deposit of $500,000 in a Panamanian bank or $750,000 in the local stock market.

 

Let Us Handle The Legal Work

Going through the legal process of obtaining permanent residency requires reams of paperwork in Panama and a local attorney. With a residential property purchase of $300,000 or more, it may include everything required for residency within 30-days–with the exception of having your photo taken!

Currently being offered by one of the country’s most respected developers, Empresas Bern, are residential units in Casa Bonita priced just above the $300,000 level. Included in the package is a long list of amenities at Casa Bonita, such as exclusive access to the private Pearl Club, an infinity pool overlooking the Panama Canal, sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, on-site property management, social areas and the ability to utilize everything at the adjoining five-star Playa Bonita Westin Resort. There is, however, one unusual amenity now being offered with a Casa Bonita residence and that is legal representation, including all paperwork and court appearances needed to gain permanent residency. Think “turn-key” moving to stunning Panama! Arrangements can even be made for having your crockery delivered to your kitchen!

Only a few years ago, individuals could attempt to DIY (do it yourself) the legal process to residency, but now a Panamanian attorney is required. Generally, that has made what used to be a chaotic and difficult situation, efficient and well organized. With legal representation, individuals applying for permanent residency need only appear when it is time to have their photo taken and then handed a new identification card.

 

Investment Units With Legal Representation

The residences of Royal Palm sit directly on the Pacific Ocean and offer a wide variety of options including combining units or purchasing one of the few-remaining condominiums with wrap-around balconies and sweeping waterfront views.

Bern will extend the legal representation package to other residential projects including the ocean-facing Royal Palm resort complex located in the Gorgona-Coronado area. The sale price must meet the qualification of a $300,000 real estate investment, but it does not need to be limited to a single residential unit. The larger units at Royal Palm with wrap-around balconies overlooking the Pacific Ocean generally qualify for the package, but the smaller units are well below the $300,000 price. Smaller units have been the most popular as investment properties to be rented on a weekly, monthly or long-term basis. Often, the purchase of more than one unit is a well-suited investment or the platform for combining the units into a more grand residence for a family.

There are even some remaining units in the well-established Coronado Golf tower that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the Tom Fazio designed golf course. Additional residential units to consider can be found in the Coronado Bay complex which sits directly on the ocean.

 

Rebuilding The Economy

In an effort to restart the economy after the pandemic slowdown, the Panamanian government has also instituted programs that offer long-term tax abatements on real estate. In addition to the gold-standard pensionado program offered to retirees in Panama, the government has programs that do not tax income earned outside Panama. This makes Panama a perfect place for digital nomads and others who want to manage their business online while living a more luxurious lifestyle for less. It is also interesting to note that Panama has some of the highest-rated and fastest internet connectivity in the world.

 

Cash Is King

The new-to-market concept in Costa del Este is Casa Bianca which is designed as townhomes in a British Colonial style with gardens, lavish outdoor spaces and playgrounds for families while being well-positioned next door to specialty grocery stores, retail and entertainment venues. Purchasing real estate in Casa Bianca qualifies for cash discounts and fast-track residency representation.

Another attractive option for individuals looking to move from their home country or to invest in the hottest economy in Latin America is to realize serious discounts for paying cash. Any or all of these Panama-only programs can be combined into a tailored package, but if an investor is paying cash or arranging the financing through a source other than builder financing, a discount of up to 18% can be realized.

There are also a number of wonderful residential options available in the booming business area of Costa del Este. From smaller spaces in the 50-story Parkside building that is designed for the young professionals or retiring couples looking to downsize, to the sweeping 4,000 square foot luxury homes in Matisse, think about your goals for easy living or turn-key investing.

 

Turning The Pandemic Into Opportunity

 

No one wants to ever endure another episode like COVID-19, but if possible it can be profitable to capitalize on the presented opportunities. It seems unlikely that programs such as fast-track residency or large scale tax abatements will be offered long-term. But, if studied, a tailored package may be just the right option for a new residence or investment in a stable country that elects a new president every five years and enjoys a live and let live attitude toward all its citizens and visitors.

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