Updated: October 22, 2021 at 7:48 AM
Keeon Minors enjoying life in Panama City (Photo provided)
Keeon Minors always thought he would retire in Panama City, Panama.
While on vacation there, Minors loved the low cost of living and 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 thought 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. Its typical clients are small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs trying to get started.
“I have a few large businesses, but the majority of my business is small and medium,” he said.
Working in digital marketing was a career change for Mr. Minors. Previously, he worked in the field of information technology.
“It’s a big change from what I did before,” he said. “I originally went to school for a Bachelor of Arts degree. After that, I got a degree in computer science. Then my career was computer science. But I have always had the desire to return to the arts, to create and to 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.
It has teams in Bermuda, Colombia and Panama and is looking to expand into Canada.
“For Bermudans, there aren’t many barriers to moving to Panama,” Minors said.
He said that under the friendly nations visa plan in Panama, British citizens can settle down quite easily.
The Friendly Nations visa was first introduced in Panama in 2012. It gives the holder a two-year temporary residence permit. In the past, permanent residence was automatic, but this is no longer the case. The visa regime is currently undergoing an overhaul with more stringent parameters.
“I recently got my residence permit,” Minors said. “It took a while. Before that I couldn’t work here, so all of my business for Lead X Designs came from overseas, mostly Bermuda. Now I can legally work here.
When he first moved to Panama City, he was surprised at the modernity of the city.
“The infrastructure here is very good for business,” he said. “It has the high speed internet that I need to operate, and there is a large expat community. It has a modern rail system and good transport, plenty of taxis and Ubers. There is also free wi-fi in a lot of places.
Also, he said, the advertising industry is important in Latin America, in general.
One of the things he loves about Panama City is that it’s a gateway to South America and the United States. He was able to visit Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica.
“It’s very convenient,” Minors said.
“Colombia is another developing country,” he said. “He’s growing fast. There is another great expat community there. You meet entrepreneurs there.
“The start-ups 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 his Spanish through language learning apps and with the help of his Panamanian friends.
“But most of my stuff is in English,” he said.
He met some Bermudans in Panama City.
“There are a few who live here and a few who travel here on vacation,” he said. “There seems to be a trend. I think the cost of living in Bermuda is a major factor.
He said 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 downsides of doing business there is that sometimes foreign banks don’t trust Panama.
“The Panama Papers gave Panama a bad image,” Minors said.
His advice for people moving to Panama is to find a good lawyer and a good real estate agent to help with residency and accommodation.
“Make sure you have enough money to come, at least for a year,” Minors said. “It can take a long time for your residence to start operating. “
He said it is also good that you are open to learning Spanish, the official language.
For more information, visit leadxdesign.co