General FAQ on Panama from our Investment Experts

FAQ on Panama


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INVESTMENT ORIENTED QUESTIONS

Benefits of Investing in Panama

Panama has been actively branding itself as a good country to do business in, and these marketing efforts, combined with policy changes on the finance and immigration side, have resulted in a sizeable amount of companies choosing to relocate or expand operations in Panama.

Individual people, families and multi national corporations choose Panama because of tax breaks, relocation incentives, and a stable climate for doing business. A wide range of multinational corporations have established regional headquarters in in Panama, including Heineken, Caterpillar, BMW and Bayer.

What are the price ranges for Rentals in the city (1 to 2 Bedroom furnished)?

Punta Pacifica $1,500-$3,500
Avenida Balboa $1,200-$3,200
San Francisco $1,100-$2,500
Obarrio $900-$2,000

 

What is the price range to purchase Condos (1 to 2 Bedroom)?

Punta pacifica $250,000 +
Avenida Balboa $200,000 +
San Francisco $150,000 +
Obarrio $150,000 +

 

What is the usual ROI that an investor could expect for their rental property?

With a stable real estate market within Panama City and the outlying areas, investing in Panama is relatively safe and reliable. Most of our clients experience an average return-on-investment (ROI) of 5-7%. Panama is able to produce these returns due to the property tax exemptions, low maintenance fees and strong rental demand in the market.

Do foreigners need any special documents to purchase property?

The simple answer is NO. Panama encourages foreign investment and they have structured the process to be conducive to transactions by foreigners. This is from the U.S. State Department website: “In 2013, the economy is expected to continue to be one of the fastest growing in the world with predicted growth of 7.5% following expansion of 10.6% in 2012, and 10.5% in 2011. In 2012, Moody’s raised Panama’s sovereign debt rating to Baa2 and improved their outlook for Panama from “stable” to “positive”. Panama’s sovereign debt has also been rated as investment grade by Fitch (BBB rating) and Standard and Poor’s (BBB rating).“

Is financing available for foreigners investing in Panama?

Yes, financing is available for foreigners. Rates tend to be higher then North America, currently in the range from 6.5%-7%. There are more than 100 banks in Panama and all are eager to get your business. Mortgages can vary in duration, but with a maximum of 25 years you are able to receive a maximum loan of up to 70% of the total value of the property. Thatsaid, the process can be time consuming (often two to three months) and the most attractive deals normally require large cash down payments.

Is it true there is NO property tax in Panama?

It is true for most condo buildings in the city. There is a 20-year exemption on any property from the date of occupancy. For example, a building that received its occupancy permit in 2011 would be exempt until 2031. The exemption does not apply to the value of the land for the condo building and on average there is a small annual tax to be paid of $150 to $250 per year per apartment

What kind of maintenance fees can I expect in a condo building?

The rates of maintenance fees vary from building to building, but they all run between $1.50 to $3.50 per square meter. In general, fees include water, gas, 24-hour security, insurance on the common grounds and common area cleaning.

Do I need to be physically present to purchase property in Panama?

No, you don’t need to physically be here to purchase property. Transactions are often done remotely and the structure of the deals are designed to make it easy for international buyers, which is easily accomplished with a simple power of attorney.

 

PERSONAL ORIENTED QUESTIONS

Why Panama and not another country? (Costa Rica and Australia have been popular “possible options”)

Panama is considered one of the safest countries in all of South and Central America. Panamanians are extremely friendly and welcoming people, and foreigners who live in Panama, will tell you that they feel very safe and that street crimes are uncommon.

In 2013, Panama saw its GDP rise 5.57 percent, a feat that will be repeated in 2014, according to Trading Economics. The predictions for 2015 and 2016, however, are much higher, at a little more than 9 percent.The International Monetary Fund is even more optimistic, calculating this year’s GDP growth at 6.9 percent, the highest in the whole of Latin America.

According to BBVA Research, the main driver of the economy will be investment, together with private consumption prompted by an all-time low unemployment, which was 2.9 percent both in 2013 and 2014, the lowest in the region.

What is the currency in Panama?

Across all of Panama the currency accepted and charged is U.S. Dollars. Many places will refer to the dollar as a Balboa, but they are equal in value.

What is the weather like in Panama?

Panama has two major seasons.tThe summer season consists of bright sun, cool breezes and very little rain, from mid December through mid-April. Afterwards, the rainy season begins slowly, bringing three to four rain showers per week. As the months progress, so does the rain. When you enter September you can count on rain almost everyday for some period of time during the day.

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How far is the airport from the City?

Tocumen International Airport is just 15-20 minutes from the center of Panama City.

What are the schools like?

There are various national and international schools throughout Panama City. International or English-speaking schools include Balboa Academy, the Metropolitan School, Knightsbride International, the Boston School and the International School of Panama (ISP). Their curriculums vary and so do their admission processes, but all accept foreigners living in Panama as first candidates for admission. All of the schools also offer comprehensive after-school programs and sports programs for all ages.

Is it hard to get residency?

Panama, unlike many other countries, is encouraging foreigners to come to Panama and make it home. Like any other Latin American or Caribbean country, everything here with regards to paperwork takes time and patience. It helps to have a lawyer involved that knows the way around the bureaucracy. But it will still take time. There are eight main choices for residency, all with varying costs and requirements:

  • Retirement Visa
  • Friendly Nations Visa
  • Professional Employment Visa
  • Reforestation Investor Visa
  • Self-Economic Solvency Visa
  • Business Investor Visa
  • Married to Panamanian Citizen
  • Parents of a Child born in Panama Visa

What does it cost to live in Panama day to day?

Panama is remarkably affordable, compared to many countries. Here are a few examples of basic costs:

  • Yellow Taxi ride within the city $2-$5
  • App, Entrée, Dessert, and Drinks in a nice restaurant – $50.00 (p/p)
  • Glass of Grey Goose in a nice bar – $10.00
  • Good bottle of Wine in Supermarket – $15.00
  • Basics in the Supermarket (bread, juice, milk, vegetables, fruit, meat) – $45.00
  • Dry Cleaning Men’s Shirt – $3.00
  • Dry Cleaning Men’s Pants – $6.00
  • Monthly Maid – $500

Is it better to get a car or not get a car?

Driving is not for the faint of heart in Panama. There are normal rules and regulations on the road just like most other places of the world. We drive on the right side of the road (as in the U.S.) and signals and signage, if not in English, have the same shape and colors.The problem with driving in Panama is that the laws and regulations are not followed as tightly. You can expect people to cut you off, stop without warning, cut across lanes without a signal and pass through red lights if they don’t see police officers in the area. It takes some getting used to, but after a while you learn to take a defensive position in driving or go on the offensive and go with the flow.

Why should we choose the city over the beach?

This becomes a personal choice. Panama City is definitely hustle and bustle with more then a million people in it. The city boasts all of the positives and negatives of a major metropolitan area. The beach towns are much more relaxed and calmer.Necessities such as shopping and supermarkets may be a bit of a drive depending on your choice in location but everything is there as well. But Panama City offers the nightlife, restaurants, culture and health care that can’t always be found in small beach towns.

Pets

Pets are allowed in many of the buildings here in Panama. Some have restrictions on size but for the most part they are generally accepted. There are parks throughout the city that have dog walks and plenty of dogs in them through out the day.

Closest hospitals?

The newly built Hospital of Punta Pacifica,an affiliation with John Hopkins Medicine International, offers a first rate modern hospital with the highest quality, standard of care, security and technology; together with a system supported by one of the best hospital in the world, John Hopkins Medicine International. Along with providing a state-of-the-art diagnostic and clinical care facility, Panama’s physicians are almost all U.S. trained and are fully bi-lingual. Medical insurance is available for approximately $600-$800 a year per person (depending on individual characteristics and needs), and the average costs of common treatments are nearly 50% cheaper than in the U.S. Panama’s advanced healthcare system prides itself in offering the highest quality of medical care in the region.

All of these facilities are within the city limits and roughly 5 to15 minutes from anywhere in the city.

Paitilla – General Services

Punta Pacifica – John Hopkins Affiliated

Avenida Balboa – Children’s Specialty Hospital

Where can I dock my boat?

There are many marinas in and around Panama City, as well as through out the country. The main marinas within the city limits include the following options:

Avenida Balboa (in Cinta Costera)

Balboa Yacht Club (15 mins from city center)

Isla Perico (20 Mins from city center)

Amador Causeway (20 Mins from city center)

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What are the best areas to be surrounded by Americans?

Within the city there is a mix of Americans in many neighborhoods. Punta Pacifica, the community of towers on the waterfront, is an area with a large ex-pat community with residents and guests from all over the world. Living within the city allows for easy access to many Americans and other foreigners living here in Panama.

Where can I find domestic help for elders? 

Full time staff can be hired to live in or come every day for roughly $400 to$600 per month, depending on needs.

Is there a special service for elders for health emergencies?

There are private ambulance companies that can be hired that work within Panama City and respond to emergencies.

Is there good mobility for people with disabilities?

Full time drivers can be hired to help with mobility and disabilities.The cost for a driver per month is $400-$500 per month also based on needs, wants and hours.

Punta Pacifica Realty

Punta Pacifica Realty