“No Work Permit Needed”
Want to earn some extra income while living in Panama? Do you need to bridge the gap between early retirement and when your pension kicks in?
Are you dreaming of living in Panama but don’t have enough cash tucked away to retire fully? You’re not alone.
The good news is that many foreigners who move to Panama find ways to earn a living. And the increasing shift toward remote work is creating opportunities for geographic freedom. An online job may be the best solution!
Why not get a job in Panama?
Finding a job in Panama is not impossible. But you’ll have to clear some hurdles:
You need a work permit to get a local job or start a business catering to people within the country. But first, you must have a permanent visa that allows you to work in Panama. This entire process could take up to a year! And if you hold a Retirement Visa (Visa Pensionado), you don’t qualify for a work permit.
Companies in Panama must maintain a 90% Panamanian workforce, making it harder for foreigners to get jobs. But some multinational companies have permission to hire more foreigners. To learn more about getting a job in Panama, read my article: Getting a Job in Panama.
Next, keep in mind that Panama’s wages, in general, are lower than in the U.S. or Canada, with an average annual salary of around USD$25,000 but the minimum wage is less than $3 an hour! While people get jobs with much higher salaries, including six-figure incomes, it isn’t the norm. And most jobs will expect Spanish fluency.
So, the most convenient way to earn a living is to get an online job or start an online business. You don’t need a work permit for either option unless your business sells to people in Panama. This is especially ideal if you want to retire in Panama on a Visa Pensionado.
Benefits of working online in Panama
You can avoid the expense of getting a work permit and the time constraints. Let’s look at some other advantages:
You can work from anywhere in Panama as a digital worker and move around freely. If you’re freelancing, you can also choose your hours. In fact, you can work from anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection.
This flexibility allows you to work while enjoying everything Panama has to offer, whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply want a relaxed lifestyle.
Here’s what I love about living in Panama.
Good infrastructure for digital workers
Panama offers great connectivity to remote work from different areas. You will usually get Fiber Optic internet with a 100-600 Mbps download speed. I have 250 Mbps speed at my house in Boquete , a small town in a valley with just 25,000 people.
If you’re a fan of coworking spaces, there’s plenty to choose from, although most are in Panama City. Coworking spaces are opening up in other towns too. Coworking is popular among digital nomads and other remote workers who prefer not to work at home.
The country has an efficient and reliable banking and financial system. So, you can usually handle money matters smoothly.
Foreign income is tax-free
Disclaimer: I’m not an accountant. Always get professional tax advice because each person’s situation is unique.
Panama has a territorial taxing system which means that you only pay taxes in Panama if you sell products or services to people in Panama. If you select an online job that does not have clients in Panama, you will owe no taxes in Panama.
If you’re a United States citizen living in Panama, you could take advantage of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, which is approximately $112,000 a year for an individual as of 2022. If you qualify, you will only pay taxes on earned income over $112,000. But you may still pay U.S. state taxes unless you’ve established residency in a state without state taxes.
If you’re from a country where you don’t have to pay taxes after establishing residency overseas, your earnings might be completely tax-free. Make sure to check with your accountant.
Lower cost of living
The cost of living in Panama is cheaper than in the U.S., Canada, and many other countries. But it’s also not the cheapest place to live. See my article about the Realistic Cost of Living in Panama to understand how much you’ll typically need for day-to-day expenses. Some places in Panama are much more affordable than others.
If you earn U.S. or Canadian wages in Panama, you’ll have the advantage of earning more and spending less. So, you can save more and fast-track your journey to fully retiring in Panama.
How to get an online job to work in Panama?
First, ask yourself these questions:
• Do you prefer to work full-time, part-time, or as a freelancer?
• What are your ideal jobs based on your skills?
• What training and learning do you need? This is a given when starting any new job or career.
Consider the following options to get an online job:
Work remotely for your current employer
Don’t write off speaking to your employer about remote working from Panama. Many companies are open to letting their employees work from home or even another country.
The time zone in Panama makes it easier for you to work for companies in the U.S. or Canada during their regular business hours. By working for the same employer, you can enjoy your home country’s wages and skip the job search.
If your employer won’t let you remote work from Panama, here are some ways to look for online jobs:
Check job boards and freelance websites
A Google search will show you many platforms to look for jobs and freelance gigs. Some examples are: Indeed, Monster, Upwork, and Toptal. Certain platforms like We Work Remotely, and Remote.co focus on remote opportunities.
Shortlist the platforms based on the jobs you’re after (E.g., finance, writing, data entry, etc.) and sign-up. Next, spend some time every day searching and applying for ideal jobs.
Keep in mind that some jobs and freelance gigs may offer low rates. But don’t get discouraged. Once you have more experience with remote work, you can earn more.
Get active on LinkedIn and social platforms
Many companies post their job vacancies on LinkedIn. And you can reach out to recruiters through the platform.
The first step is to create a complete profile. Don’t forget to ask for some recommendations from your former employers.
Creating regular content on LinkedIn is a great way to showcase your skills and get attention from potential employers and clients. Once you build a presence on the platform, you may also start getting inquiries about your services.
Spend time connecting with your target employers and clients and expanding your network.
Check other social media platforms. For example, find Facebook groups relevant to your job or industry and join them. You can find valuable information in some groups.
Approach potential employers or clients
Reach out to them via email or through other platforms. This way, you can get your resume and profile in front of them.
Sometimes your ideal employers and clients may be within your existing network. So, keep your eyes open!
You’ll need to make some adjustments to remote work while living in Panama. But that’s a small price to pay to live in paradise!
Get our Complete Panama Relocation Guide to learn all about relocating to Panama and make a smooth transition to your new life!