Editor’s Note: Welcome to the “Escape the Chaos: Best of Sovereign Investor Daily” series. All this week we are highlighting some of our best articles that focus on key tips and tricks for moving offshore, information on countries that support your expatriation and wealth protection goals, and much more.
My advice for moving overseas? Americans who are skeptical of government plotting and economic collapse should always be on the lookout for locales that could serve as a refuge someday. There are plenty of Latin American countries that fit the bill, but there are two specifically in Central America that I find very attractive.
I’ll never forget the first time I visited Central America. I had meetings in San José, Costa Rica, on a Friday and a Monday. So I did what any intrepid traveler would do — I hired a car and drove to the Pacific coast for the weekend.
I chose to stay in the picturesque nature reserve of Manuel Antonio. The drive there was stunningly beautiful … and interesting in other ways. Costa Rica disbanded its military in the late 1940s, and my theory is that the army had been responsible for road signage, so the lack of an army created a significant shortage of road signs. But I had a GPS smartphone, and found my way to the coast without too much trouble.
The change from mountainous interior to tropical coast was breathtaking. Once there, I discovered a world I’d been dreaming about since I was a kid. Palm trees, exotic wildlife, warm Pacific waves and secluded beaches. There were bars and restaurants aplenty. I was in heaven. Ever since then, I’ve jumped at any chance to return to Central America. Now, I have my sights set on Panama…
My father, Bob Bauman, has been to Panama so many times that I feel as if I’ve been there myself, even though our upcoming Total Wealth Symposium will be my first visit. He always speaks glowingly about the place, its people and above all, its respect for personal and financial privacy. He’s even mildly embarrassed that he had doubts about Panama’s ability to run its eponymous canal back in the 1970s, when it was transferred from U.S. control.
As regular readers know, I tend to be pessimistic about the U.S. and its prospects … so much so that I offer a special advice for moving overseas: The Plan B Club is for people interested in learning how to move abroad with minimum stress and maximum chances of success.
But as I stress in my course materials, an offshore lifestyle is about both “push” and “pull” factors. Civil liberties violations, rampant inequality and economic stagnation, political disarray, the threat of U.S. wealth confiscation — these are the “push” to go abroad. And they’re getting pushier by the day.
But the “pull” is equally important. There’s no point in going somewhere that would be just as bad as the U.S., and most of us would never do that. You should aspire to more than that. Look for someplace that is not only respectful of liberties, property and privacy, but is also welcoming and a pleasant place to live.
Panama as Your Plan B to Escape From America
Panama certainly meets the “liberties, property and privacy” condition. Its strong economy is based on its service sector, such as Panama Canal operations and logistics, the Colón Free Trade Zone (second only to Hong Kong in trade volume), insurance, container ports, flagship registry, tourism and, of course, international finance. My dad considers Panama to be “a major offshore financial center for excellent asset protection, including trust and family foundations.”
As far as “welcoming” goes, two years ago Panama created a new category of “Immediate Permanent Resident” aimed at attracting foreign nationals. This fast-track program targets professionals, managers and business entrepreneurs. I wrote about it in Offshore Confidential back in May. I interviewed a long-time Sovereign Society member who told me about the ease with which he established Panama as a second home.
I’m sorely tempted to do that myself, although it would actually be my third “home,” including the U.S. and South Africa.
But what about “a pleasant place to live?” By all accounts, Panama is one of the best in the Western Hemisphere. Most amenities are indistinguishable from those in the U.S., but the topography, climate and leisure resources are stunning. I’m a beach and watersports guy, and I also love tropical landscapes. Panama has all that and more.
But is Panama for me? Is it for you? I’m about to find out, when I pay my first visit as part of the Total Wealth Symposium in a few weeks. And I’ll be sure to report my unfiltered findings to you as soon as I get back…
Offshore and Asset Protection Editor