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- Los Cuatro Tulipanes is Matt's apartment rentals in the historic district of Casco Viejo
- Las Clementinas is Matt's recommended 6-room boutique hotel in Panama City, Panama
- The Canal House is Matt's favorite restored guesthouse in the historic district of Panama City, Panama
- Panama Vacation Rentals is Matt's go-to place to find rentals in Panama
- United Country - Panama is Matt’s favorite agency to find premier properties all over Panama
I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of foreigners that moved to Panama in search of a better life. A large majority of them weren’t born with four aces and thus, need to work to survive. And a large majority of those who work in Panama do so for themselves: running their own business or operating small companies. Of course, every living environment has it’s benefits and its drawbacks, but what really speaks volumes about a destination is what people say about it in retrospect.
Flipping condos in 2005, demystifying Panama's labor laws...what are your biggest Panama regrets?
Following are six of the most common regrets that Panama’s veterans – those who have been living and working here for a number of years – have about the country they love and call home.
1. I wish I understood Panamanian labor laws: One of the biggest challenges to foreigners looking to do business in Panama is understanding labor laws, which, to many, create a bubble of defense around the employee and a series of hurdles for the first-time employer. The process of gaining a full grasp on hiring, firing, compensation, and legal obligations can take years (and lots of patience) to master.
2. I wish I had flipped condos in 2005: Investing in Panama City condos from 2005 to 2008 was not unlike a charity bikini show – it benefited everyone involved. One common regret of foreigners is having missed the opportunity to make tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars during this time, simply purchasing a condo, doing absolutely nothing, then selling it for a giant profit.
3. I wish I explored more of the interior: Let’s not kid ourselves. Most entrepreneurs that have relocated to Panama consider lifestyle to be one of the top variables in their equation. But many of those same foreigners are also workaholics: often trading the opportunity to go explore Santa Catalina or Coiba or San Blas for the all-nighter workfest to get a leg up on their competition.
4. I wish I considered families for staffing: One thing every Panama veteran knows is that hiring can be a nightmare. A lack of skilled, multi-lingual, motivated labor (and service-oriented individuals) means that almost everyone goes through a gamut of employees that don’t work out. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in Panama have solved this problem, after learning over time, by searching within trustworthy families for new employees.
5. I wish I didn’t listen to so many “experts”: As in any gold rush, people in Panama tend to crawl out of the woodwork to sell you vacations, real estate, legal services…etc. One major regret of a lot of Panama’s expat veterans is taking the advice of just anyone – assuming that expert-sounding people really do know what they’re talking about and using their advice without a second opinion. Accepting the status quo (or the Panamanian way of doing things) is one major regret echoed over and over again. Oppositely, doing it your way tends to produce good results and/or teach good lessons.
6. I wish I got here sooner: No matter how successful they have been, many foreigners in Panama regret one thing and that is not having arrived in Panama sooner. While Panama was (and still is) undergoing something of a social and entrepreneurial revolution, getting in the game earlier would have meant even more opportunities. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.
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