Best places to work remotely – but forgot the best one

Here’s what NomadList found the best ones:

Chian Mai, Thailand – Prague, Czech Rep. – Bangkok, Thailand – Hoi An, Vietnam – Belgrade, Serbia – Riga, Latvia – Davao, Philippines – Zagreb, Croatia – Sofia, Bulgaria – Ubud, Indonesia.

Interesting. Half of them are in Asia, half of them are in Eastern Europe. I happen to know some of them and this list makes me laugh.

Of course, personal preferences are different and here’s why I would have Panama City, Panama ranked first.

pty_skyline_amador_anuvito_3

My criteria are very simple ones and there are 0, 1 and 2 points given

1. Quality of living

  • weather: 2
  • people: 2
  • nature: 2
  • safety: 2

2. Business environment

  • solid growth: 2
  • infrastructure: 2
  • bureaucrazy: 2
  • taxes: 2
  • immigration: 2

Details:

  • Weather: You can’t beat a country that close to the Equator, surrounded by 2 oceans. Don’t even try.
  • People: Super-friendly, good looking, competently running the Panama Canal, world’s largest ship register, a banking system without bad banks etc.
  • Nature: a rainforest within city limits, and 50% of the country is rainforest, more than 2,500 km coastline, Pacific and Caribbean, hundreds of islands, a silent volcano, 3,500 m high.
  • Safety: Only risk is in the drug trafficking business for those involved. Stay away,
  • Infrastructure: Impressive how fast things are being done here. Look at skyline and airports and metro and ports and the Pan-American Highway
  • Bureaucrazy: For self-imployed pros or those who do their business offshore, not a big deal. For the others, settle in one of 3 Special Economic Zones.
  • Taxes: See bureaucrazy. No income taxes for offshore business
  • Immigration: with 4% unemployment, the country welcomes foreign professionals and investments. Some easy ways to immigrate.

So Panama City is getting my 18 out of 18 points, but check with your own preferences.

Real estate prices SFO vs. PTY

Read a story these days where a couple bought a small house of 70 m² in San Francisco for $1.2 mio. Shocking. And what did Mark Twain say about the summers there?

Even for well-paid IT people, this is a lot of money for not a lot of living space.

How about this one instead? Just one example. 

Light-flooded 240 m² living area in one of the best and most expensive locations in Panama’s capital, for $995,000. One can get it for half of this along the coast, out of the city.

A penthouse with 3 bed/3bath at the entrance of the Panama Canal, 15 minutes from downtown and with stunning views of the skyline and historic quarter of Panama City, Panama.  

 

IMG_2928

Warm weather all year long. Numerous restaurants, yacht club in walking distance.

Nearby ferries going to the islands

Jogging and biking tracks along the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal.  

hanjin

Do the math yourself. And it’s much more about quality of life then about money.  

TexMex and CalPan

TechCrunch yesterday had an interesting article about how “Mexico’s Ressources Fuel The Texas Startup Economy”. Quite impressive.

There is a solid trend to consider Texas’ (and others’) neighbour country before China or India. Mexico appears to become the better place for manufacturing jobs. Labour may still be higher but transport costs and flexibility are superior, compared with Asia. Mexico and Central America will most likely become the new workbench for U.S. companies.

How does Panama fit into the picture?

 

PTY Downtown

 

Well, Panama has no surplus in workforce, nor does it have any track record in manufacturing. Panama is much more of a service than a manufacturing economy. Think of the vessel registrations, the solid financial sector, the offshore business industry. And how multinationals are moving their global or LatAm headquarters and callcenters to this country.

What Mexico is and will become for outsourced manufacturing, this should Panama be for California’s IT and VC firms. Fueling growth and profitability.

Preferrable business, tax and immigration rules, constantly growing economy, US currency, first world infrastructure, very affordable living costs, excellent investment opportunities,  and a tropical lifestyle.

 

Island

 

Think about it.

Coincidence

Funny. Few days after starting this blog I ran into an article today in AllThingsDigital.

Judson Moore writes about “How to Achieve Silicon Valley Anywhere”. Here’s the link.

It describes their view of what it takes to begin building something similar. Their example is the Brazos Tech District, downtown Austin, Texas. Good job.

brazos

 

However, the Panama approach is different. Come back soon to learn how.

And if you like the topic, share it. A blog has to be read, you know, or as we Germans are saying: A beer that is not drunk has missed its determination.

 

 

Panama – Building a global workforce

Panama has a population of 3.6 mio and 44.7% of them are age of 24 and younger. (USA 33.1)

 

PM_popgraph 2014

This makes for a perfect population pyramid, as shown. Life expectancy is 78 years. (USA 79.5)

Despite the USA’s unemployment rate of 7.3%, Panama has 4.6% what in reality means a lack of qualified workforce. Therefore the immigration rules have become much easier through the last years and is now kind of inviting for 44 so-called friendly connected nations. (Source)

Bringing these relaxed immigration rules into a mix with Panama’s tropical lifestyle, excellent business environment and investment opportunities,  it is easy to attract talent from everywhere to staff hightech businesses with global reach. And this way to offer many opportunities for young Panamanians too.

 

js_2928

canal_entrance_bridge

 

This picture shows the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal with the Bridge of the Americas, kind of connecting North and South America, crossing the Panama Canal, which connects Atlantic and Pacific.

There is a marina on the left, where ferries and yachts are leaving to and arriving from the numerous islands in the Gulf of Panama, a general aviation airport is 10 minutes away by car. Along the coast there are many surf spots and year-round, nobody wears a neopren suit. Here’s why not:

 

Playa-Venao

 

Conclusion: There’s no better place to attract, motivate and keep talent.

 

 

Panama – The business environment

Before even thinking about extending the Valley to Panama, there have to be criteria defined and considered. Panama today is already a first class logistics and financial hub:

The famous Panama Canal, extended by another set of locks, doubling capacity in early 2016. (www.pancanal.com)

The Port of Balboa on the Pacific entrance of the canal and Port of Colon on the Atlantic side, and the Pacific Canal Railway, connecting both.

The Colon Free Zone, second largest in the world. (www.colonfreeezone.com)

City of Knowledge, Special Economic Zone, a technology hub, connected to four major communication cables. (www.ciudaddelsaber.org)

Panama Pacifico, Special Economic Zone and quarters for up to population of 60,000. Center of manufacturing and logistics. (www.panamapacifico.com) All these zones offer favourable tax rules for their companies.

Tocumen International Airport, a hub connecting the Americas and the Caribbean, and direct flights to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Madrid and Paris.

Panama has more than 50 airports and airstrips, a paradise for private pilots.

Financial industry: Panama’s currency is named Balboa, but there are no Balboa bills, only coins. Balboa means US Dollar. The country has more than 50 banks and none of them crashed during the US financial crisies. Panama is a safe heaven for many foreigners when their countries and currencies go South. Venezuela is a recent example.

Investment opportunities. Taking a look at the capitol, the beaches and islands, there is no question about investment opportunities. Real estate prices are still a bargain compared with the U.S. or Europe. How about oceanfront appartments at $2,000 per m²?

Establishing a corporation. Panama is famous for having the majority of vessels under their flag. And there are numerous foundations and holding companies. Easy to set up and maintain. Same for operational businesses.

Taxes. Foreign income is generally excempted from tax. So imagine the average Google employee, not a U.S. citizen, living in Panama, paid by the mother company – legally no income tax. And VAT is 7% only.

Conclusion: Panama has an outstanding and inviting business environment.