This post was published before major changes were made to the Friendly Nations Visa (FNV) program. Find out if you are eligible to move to Panama.
In Panama, certain professions are protected for Panamanians only. Some examples are doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, veterinarians, counselors. Consult with your Panamanian attorney to find out if there are restrictions for your professions.
If your profession is one where you cannot work in “that field” in Panama, it does not mean that you cannot earn a good living working in Panama. You could wait until you get your Panama citizenship which will take 5-6 years. But instead of waiting, you need to learn how to reinvent yourself and think outside the box. Here are some examples:
Doctors and Nurses
If you’re a doctor or a nurse, you would be able to get a lot of clients operating a Home Health Care business. Many people who move to Panama are retirees and they sometimes need temporary or permanent home health care.
There is a huge need for assisted living facilities. If you buy or rent a large house, you can operate an assisted living facility charging about $1000 PER BED. An assisted living facility opened in Boquete and was full within a month. There are few assisted living facilities in Panama, yet there is an aging expat population who could certainly use this service.
Keep in mind that working in Panama does require a work permit which you can only get after you obtain a residency Visa. The Friendly Nations Visa is the easiest and most affordable. And if you are in a business where you have physical contact with customers, you will also need to get a health certificate which cost $20 a year.
Obviously you are a vet because you love animals. Even if you can’t be a veterinarian in Panama, an ideal business for you in Panama, and one that is very much needed, is pet boarding. You could include grooming services too. You can also volunteer at the monthly spay and neuter clinics which are offered in many cities throughout Panama.
If you are a lawyer, you can offer consulting services to Panama companies. Panama has the second largest free trade zone in the world. Many companies who operate in the Free Trade Zone are interested in doing business in other countries. As a consultant you can help them find customers, negotiate deals, and create contracts. The Free Trade Zone is larger than Manhattan!
Teachers can legally work in Panama but finding a good paying job is the challenge. Instead of working in the public school system, it would be better to contact International Schools. Or, there is a Florida State University campus in the City of Knowledge and Louisville Kentucky has a Fast-Track MBA program in Panama City. You can work online as a teacher. I know several people who are making $50 an hour teaching English online. Another way to make money in Panama is to start a business tutoring expat kids.
In Panama, you may need to reinvent yourself If you can’t find a job in the line of work you are most interested in or if your pay would be substantially less. Here are some additional examples:
If you have been making a good living working on cars, you will find that the pay is much less in Panama. A neighbor’s Montero got side-swipped while it was parked. There was a huge gash on one side of the car and even the side mirror got knocked off. He took it to a collison repair place in David. A week later, he got his car back and it looked like new – the total cost was only $320. That’s not much money for a week of work. It may be more profitable to open an auto parts store. If you deliver parts to auto mechanics, you will do very well. Or, you can be a car broker who helps expats buy used cars when they move to Panama. I know several people who are car brokers and making very good money helping new expats find cars.
Yoga Teachers & Massage Therapist
Yoga teachers and massage therapist are all over Panama. You’ll have a lot of competition and their prices are probably less than half what you usually charge. Instead, you could offer yoga retreats or organize yoga cruises. Or you could offer online training to new massage therapist about how to get their business up and running successfully.
You can also write an eBook about your experience in your profession. Your book could offer advice to people just getting in to that line of work. The e-book can be sold on Amazon – go to https://kdp.amazon.com to get set up as a seller… for free. A book could even lead to clients you could coach for extra revenue.
There is a big need for freelancers in a variety of fields at www.UpWorks.com. And, when you work online, you do not need a work permit in Panama nor do you have to pay taxes on your income in Panama.
Farmers and Agribusiness
Panama is keen on encouraging people to be farmers of any kind. There is special 2% financing available to help you get started or to expand your business and anyone in an agribusiness does not pay taxes on your income for the first 5-10 years you are in business. Panama also offers a lot of educational classes on farming. These are all good reasons to considering getting in to a farming business in Panama.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Instead of moving to Panama trying to find a job in the same profession you have been doing all your life, it may be a good time to reinvent yourself. Start thinking of other things you’ve always had an interest in doing in Panama. Or, think of ways you can take your current skills then apply then to a similar kind of work in Panama.
Keep in mind that if you are selling a product or a service in Panama, you will need to get a work permit. You can’t get a work permit until you receive your permanent resident Visa. Your immigration attorney can help you get a work permit. The cost is $500.
Moving to Panama could be the perfect time to start your own business with no boss telling you what to do. The opportunities are endless in Panama when you start thinking outside the box.
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