Brits in Panama

Hi all

We are from the midlands in England.

We have visited Panama 3 times in the last 12months 9most recently returning on 11 April 2009). We are kicking ourselves that we didn't take the plunge and buy a property the 1st or 2nd time we visited. We have noticed that prices have risen alot and we are now in danger of being priced out of the market for the type of property we would like. We are now looking at renting in Clayton.

We will be starting a business in Panama. We already have a business in England which has been established for 8 years. Our business in England carries out drain unblocking/repairs and pest control. We were considering this as a business option in Panama. However, since travelling back and forth over the past year it struck us that there are lots and lots of windows and the only windows we ever see getting washed are the ones on my rental car. (whenever I stop in traffic someone is gladly wanting to wash my windscreen) We have never seen them being cleaned at hotels and the skyscrapper banks etc. Are we not looking hard enough or do they just not clean the windows on the buildings in the city?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated because at the minute we are setting ourselves up to come to Panama to clean windows the european way (abseiling, but would prefer to keep my feet on the ground).

We want to rent in Clayton whilst we see how things develop......window cleaning, pest control and drain unblocking, does anyone on here think we have a viablebusiness model, offering these services sucsesfully.

We have everything is in place in Panama, bank accounts, company formation etc. The next step will be to go to freezone and purchase equipment.

We are also eager to meet other expats that are willing to meet with us.

We will be back over to Panama in May for around 3 weeks.

Thank you

Welcome on Peakdale,

you will find british expats in Panama in the expat network panama (have a look to the nationalities section)

Hi Midlanders,

Well, indeed, you should have bought a long time ago but, the prices, at least rentals, even in Clayton, are falling again.

Check to get an impression.  I would rent and wait to see what's going to happen.  Apartments will get cheaper although Clayton will always be a premium location due to the limited availability.

As to the window cleaning business, I have no clue about the potential.  People/companies may not wash their windows because they simply don't care too much. 

It seems that a business like this has a very low barrier of entry for the locals.  With a year of starting, some former employees will start their own businesss and offer their service for half the price.

And my big question is: do you speak Spanish fluently? You'll be dealing with low-wage people and they won't speak Spanish.  Pest control; there's at least 4 franchises out there. I don't think that's uncovered territory although there may be room for more.  After all, it's a never ending fight. Same with drain unblocking.

I'd look into a business model where reliability, planning, integrity, customer service and quality control are key features. Then you won't have competition of Panamanians :-).

Thorwald Westmaas


•    Panama has a stable government and a growing economy
•    The US dollar is the legal tender. Panama has a stable economy that has been based upon

the U.S. Dollar.
•    Aliens do not pay taxes on foreign earned income
•    Foreigners can buy and own property in Panama with the same rights and protections as

Panamanians citizens.
•    “Pensionado” Program (retiree incentive program), the best in the world, is not

necessarily age related and the benefits are considerable
•    Tourism investments have exemptions from import duties, construction materials and

equipment, income, real estate taxes, etc.
•    Property tax exemptions apply to all new construction on a sliding scale according to

•    English is widely spoken and in business matters 100% English.
•    The US presence in the country for many years has lead to a US style infrastructure with

a number of familiar names and businesses
•    Panama has a number of US standard health care facilities and services with many US

trained English speaking doctors available.
•    Panama has a reliable communications system with fiber optic telephone lines and much of

the country has wireless-satellite internet.
•    Panama is one of the best offshore havens in the world

Do you want business in Panama? Contact me:
[no free ads]

Whenever these 'Panama rocks' posts show up I feel obliged to put things a little bit in perspective.

Stable government and growing economy:

Indeed, the last government were crooks; the new one is even worse. So that part is stable and growing. The economy is growing too and so its the public debt.   According to this government, the growth will never end, not even when the canal expansion is finished.

the US Dollar:
Yes, very convenient.  Of course, aliens never pay tax anywhere. They are aliens after all.  Paying tax is an alien thing to them.

Foreigners can buy the same kind of property: mostly true.  Not within 10 km of border, however.  Also note that the Panamanian legal system is very weak, very slow and favors crooked insiders and/or powerful locals.  Get a very good lawyer.  Do your homework.

Pensionado program is good indeed.

Tourism investment:
There are certainly important incentives but keep in mind the government favors BIG project.  Don't expect much support and lots of red tape for any project under $ 3 million.

English language widely spoken:
The biggest myth of Panama and a huge challenge for tourism development. There are simply not nearly enough qualified English speakers.  And note that the concept of customer service is alien to the Panamanian idiosyncracy.

Healthcare: it's good and affordable, particularly in Panama City, compared to US standards at least.

Wireless satellite Internet??
Where, when?  Internet is provided by 3 cartel members.  It's overpriced and slow compared to modern standards.  Most wifi spots are very slow and not public.  Internet by phone is extremly slow.  Only a few carriers offer 3G but only on very selected locations in the city and hopelessly oversold.  3G in Panama is about 140 kbs. to give you an idea.  Data traffic is limited  mostly to 1 GB per month and speed goes down even more after reaching your limit.

Panama is not for the fainth of heart.  Take your time to look around. Get opinions from other long time expats, don't believe all the hype and invest in learning Spanish.

hello everyone
I am confused about this 10 km law was looking at punta burica
which is within 10 km of costa rica,if it is illegal to own here why are there so many forigners owning and still buying property here am really confused
thank you

Hello mbhutt,

Please note that this is a very old thread ( 2009 )

I suggest you to create a new topic on the Panama forum and to ask your questions, you will receive more updated responses from the members. :)

Thank you,

Priscilla team

New topic