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Travel News Looking to Travel and Work Remotely? Try Panama.

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Looking to Travel and Work Remotely? Try Panama.

Panama is enticing both digital nomads and professionals who work remotely with extended stays and unique places to work and play.

Nestled between Colombia and Costa Rica, with gorgeous coasts on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Panama is often overlooked by those choosing to travel and work remotely. However, with a new short-term remote work visa and a reputation for both industry and natural beauty, Panama is steadily climbing the ranks of the best places for adventure seekers to combine travel and work.

Why travel and work remotely in Panama?

Endless work and play possibilities

If you want to spend your downtime enjoying the fruits of a thriving, big-city economy, Panama City will not leave you wanting. It has slew of cool neighborhoods, one of which — Casco Viejo — earned a spot on Forbes’ 12 Coolest Neighborhoods Around the World list. And, as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, this capital city is brimming with amazing restaurants, cafes, bars and shops.

Or seek out the charming town of Boquete along the Caldera River. After wrapping up a project in the clean, crisp air of the mountains, spend your off days discovering the Chiriquí Highlands, where the Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous communities still harvest coffee trees. Then zipline over a vast canopy of greenery, hike to secret waterfalls and pay homage to the magnificent Volcán Barú, enveloped in a halo of clouds.

The beach more your scene? Panama boasts more than 1,200 miles of coastline and hundreds of islands, like the ones that make up Bocas del Toro, which is an ideal destination for surfing, snorkeling, diving or working remotely while soft waves lap up against the shore. With coasts on both sides, it’s totally up to you whether you watch the sunrise over the Caribbean Sea or the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

A secret waterfall in the middle of Panama's jungle.
The Lost Waterfalls hike takes you through the jungle of Boquete to three stunning waterfalls.

Well-connected and compact

A small country, Panama has a strong transportation infrastructure, making traveling around easy and efficient. A quick domestic flight can take you to remote places such as the Comarca de Guna Yala and the Archipiélago de Las Perlas.

Less time spent traveling means you can visit more places, live like a local, learn the language, forge new friendships and better understand local communities and culture. Moreover, long-term travel is more sustainable. For its part, Panama is also committing to sustainable eco-tourism through its Green Tourism Plan of Panama initiative.

With hubs in Panama City, David and Santiago, traveling by bus is another great option. Taxis (land and water) are ubiquitous and inexpensive in Panama.

Should you venture beyond the country’s borders, Panama City offers flights into every major city across the continents.

A wooden pier stretches to one many palm tree covered islands in San Blas where you can put your work on hold.
Panama’s San Blas Islands are the perfect place to unplug.

It’s a place of contrasts

And contrasts make life and travel interesting. The high-rises dominating Panama City’s skyline are offset by the Chiriquí Highlands, where a prized coffee varietal — Geisha — is grown. While it’s Central America’s international finance capital, Panama is also home to several indigenous groups. And as various industries continue to boom in Panama, it is nature, however, that reigns. With more than 60% of the country covered in rainforest, it hosts a wide range of plants, mammals and bird species, many of which can only be seen in Panama.

Panama City's skyline and greenery make it a perfect place to travel and work remotely.
Panama is at the crossroads of two continents and two bodies of water. Its capital brings together industry, nature, culture and history.

Ready to travel and work remotely in Panama? Here’s what you need to know:

Visa and entry requirements

To enter Panama, you’ll need to complete an Electronic Health Affidavit and provide a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or antigen) taken within 72 hours of travel. Non-vaccinated individuals coming from a high-risk country may face quarantine, additional testing and other requirements. These are the requirements as of August 28, 2021, so be sure to check for the latest before booking travel.

U.S. citizens staying in Panama for up to 6 months do not need a visa.

More recently, to stimulate its economy and attract digital nomads, the Panamanian government has introduced a new “Short-Term Visa as Remote Worker.”  This visa is valid for up to 9 months, and renewable once for an additional 9 months.

You can apply in-country. You will need to:

  • Show that you either own, work or freelance for a company that operates outside of Panama.
  • Demonstrate a minimum annual income of $36,000 that comes from outside of Panama.
  • Provide proof of health insurance for the duration of your stay.
  • Present a clean criminal record certificate.
  • Pay application fees of around $300.

As long as you do not work or provide services within Panama, you won’t need an additional work permit/visa or company sponsorship. More importantly, since your income is foreign-earned, it is not subject to Panama’s income taxes.

A few last words on travel and work in Panama

Liberated from the traditional office, some of us are choosing to travel and work remotely. And, as the world opens up, Panama is one of several countries trying to attract this new generation of travelers/workers by offering them easy extended stays and a host of urban and remote places to work and find adventures.

Where can I go?

Making plans to get back out there? Find out which countries you can visit and check the quarantine regulations for them with our interactive global map. Sign up, and you’ll even receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.

FAQs

How much is rent in Panama?

According to International Living, a two-bedroom apartment in the center of Panama City starts around $1,000 per month. In places like Boquete, David, Santiago or Colón, those prices drop.

Do I need health insurance in Panama?

In an emergency, you can access Panama’s free healthcare system, but make sure to acquire a private healthcare insurance plan for your stay to cover any non-emergency visits.

Does Panama have good internet access?

There’s room for improvement, but for Central America, Panama’s internet access and speed are higher than average, especially around the larger cities and towns. And with one of Google’s undersea fiber-optic cables reaching Panama, the country is well on its way to becoming a digital destination.

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