A month ago I posted an add looking for a marketing director. The person I had in mind had to be a “Jack of all trades”, with experience and hopefully with a young eye and with the flexibility to relocate to Panama. I was amazed at the number of interested and interesting people who not only contacted, but called and even travelled for the job. But maybe I shouldn´t have been so surprised.
As I paid attention, I suddenly looked around… and while Panama five years ago was marketed one of the best destinations for retirees, it has now become, almost accidentally a destination that is being considered seriously by a far younger crowd.
Alone or in couples; professional, entrepreneurial and young, they are exploring the country for far more than just a summer vacation. Attracted by exactly the same things retirees where attracted to: affordable health insurance and lifestyle, but with the added component of a world of niche business opportunities, Panama might just be the place where they can “wait it out”. Be what they always wanted to be, at least for two years while things get ready.
Most of them are coming with a concrete objective: a one or two year plan, where they can cut their living expense considerably, try new businesses that would be cost- prohibitive in the States and just enjoy Panama´s huge outdoors diversity (mountain, beach, two oceans, everything reachable in a long weekend). Some are choosing to live in the modern part of Panama City, but for those with a taste for authenticity and an eye for tourism related businesses (or just those who can work from home) the upcoming historic city of Casco Antiguo (or Casco Viejo) is where they are setting their headquarters.
This year the “young invasion” of Casco Viejo entrepreneurs include Americans, Venezuelans, Italians, French, British and Deutch among others. Running anything and everything from a pizzeria to soups & salad restaurant to property management services, Casco Antiguo is the perfect playground as it enjoys a revitalization momentum and the privilege of being Panama City´s second tourism attraction.
Casco Antiguo has currently only one hotel (Canal House Panama) and several short term rental apartments where you can stay per night, week or month. It also has, however, at least another two hotels currently under construction, another one starting this year. As hotels get built and open, more opportunities become available. And “opportunity” seem to be the young public´s middle name, and frankly, today´s most valuable asset.