Panama opens new horizons for digital nomad Keeon Minors
Keeon Minors always thought that he would retire to Panama City, Panama.
On vacation there, Mr Minors loved the low cost of living and the modern infrastructure of the Central American city of 36,000 people.
Then, a few years ago, digital nomadism became much more of an option.
“I figured I would come here now,” he said.
So four years ago, he moved from Bermuda to Panama City and started his own full-service digital marketing company, Lead X Designs. His typical clients are small businesses and start-ups and entrepreneurs who are trying to get going.
“I have a few big businesses, but the majority of my business is small to medium-sized businesses,” he said.
Working in the digital marketing sphere represented a career shift for Mr Minors. Previously he worked in the information technology sphere.
“It is a big switch from what I was doing before,” he said. “I originally went to school for a Bachelor of Arts. After that I got a degree in computer science. Then my career was computer science IT. But I always had the desire to get back into the arts and create and design. So while I was doing IT, I was always doing creative stuff on the side.”
Lead X Designs is a global company incorporated in the United States.
He has teams in Bermuda, Colombia and Panama and is looking to expand to Canada.
“For Bermudians, there are not a lot of hoops to move to Panama,” Mr Minors said.
He said that under the Friendly Nations Visa plan in Panama, British citizens can take up residence fairly easily.
The Friendly Nations Visa was first introduced in Panama in 2012. It gives the holder a two-year provisional residence permit. In the past there was automatic permanent residency but that is no longer the case. The visa scheme is now going through an overhaul with parameters tightening up.
“I recently got my residency card,” Mr Minors said. “It took a while. Before that I was not able to work here, so all my business for Lead X Designs was coming from overseas, mainly Bermuda. Now I can legally work here.”
When he first moved to Panama City, he was surprised at how modern the city was.
“The infrastructure here is very good for business,” he said. “It has the high-speed internet I need to operate, and there is a big expat community. It has a modern train system and good transportation, lots of taxis and Ubers. There is also free wi-fi in a lot of places.”
Also, he said, the advertising business is big in Latin America, generally.
One of the things he likes about Panama City is that it is a gateway to South America, and the United States. He has been able to visit Columbia, Mexico and Costa Rica.
“It is very convenient,” Mr Minors said.
“Colombia is another developing country,” he said. “It is growing rapidly. There is another big expat community there. You meet business owners there.
“Start-up businesses are going there. The cost of living is even better there than in Panama. You get a lot more for your dollar.”
Mr Minors is still working on his Spanish through language learning apps and with the help of his Panamanian friends.
“But most of my business is in English,” he said.
He has met a few Bermudians in Panama City.
“There are a few that live here and a few that travel here on vacation,” he said. “There seems to be a trend happening. I think the cost of living in Bermuda is a major factor.”
He said that Panama City has the highest rents in the country but rents there are still about half of what they are in Bermuda.
One of the disadvantages of doing business there is that sometimes overseas banks do not trust Panama.
“The Panama Papers made Panama look bad,” Mr Minors said.
His advice to people moving to Panama is to find a good lawyer and a good real estate agent to help with residency and housing.
“Make sure you have enough money to come, at least a year’s worth,” Mr Minors said. “It might take a long time to get your residency to start working.”
He said that it is also good if you are open to learning Spanish, the official language.
For more information, go to leadxdesign.co