I first recommended Panama as a top choice for living, retiring, investing, and doing business overseas more than 15 years ago, and I’m more bullish on this country’s prospects and the opportunities it offers today than ever.
Why should you think about retiring or investing in Panama as opposed to the many other places around the world you might also be considering?
One reason could be because Panama’s economy has weathered the storm of the past seven years much better than most and stands today as the fastest growing not only in the region but in the hemisphere. This is important not only for the would-be investor but for the prospective retiree to this country, too.
In 2008, many began calling for the collapse of Panama’s property markets. I didn’t agree. I predicted that real estate values in this country, specifically in Panama City, would soften…fall a bit…but not collapse. I took this position with confidence recognizing that Panama’s property markets are not fully dependent on U.S. buying pools. Post-2008, U.S. buyers were thin on the ground in Panama, as they were elsewhere in this region. However, unlike elsewhere in this region, Panama continued to attract other buyers, from Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, etc.
Panama’s property markets did not crumble in the wake of the 2008 meltdown, and neither did its economy. Panama Canal revenues have surged these past six years, continuing to keep this country cash comfortable. In addition, Panama is enjoying growth in both its financial services and tourism sectors and has established itself as a top tourist shopping destination. Now, instead of flying up to Miami to eat, play, shop, and drop some cash, South Americans with money come to Panama, which is easier to get to and far easier to get into than the United States in this War On Terror age.
Panama’s healthy economic state translates to:
- Ongoing investment in developing the country’s infrastructure
- Job creation
- Appreciating real estate values
- Expanding foreign investment
- Overall stability
Those things in turn translate to a safe, stable, ever-improving option for where to think about investing not only your money but also your life in retirement.
Panama’s economy has expanded by double digits for four of the last eight years. Its current growth rate, estimated by the IMF to be as much as 6.6% for 2014, while not double digits, makes it the fastest-growing economy in the Western Hemisphere. Foreign direct investment continues up every year, and unemployment is low and falling (while unemployment is increasing in neighboring countries including Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica). In 2009, the World Economic Forum Competitiveness Index ranked Panama at 58; in 2013, it ranked Panama at 48.
Panama’s debt was 41.3% of domestic gross product in 2013, compared with 70% in 2004. This reduced debt burden has led to improved credit ratings.
The country’s former President…