It seems like yesterday that Santa Catalina was this super off the beaten track place that was so disconnected, communication wise, from the rest of the world, that people literally had to dump nickels, dimes and quarters into the only public phone in the middle of the village, just to make phone calls back to the big city or abroad. The locals and tourists would gather around this blue Cable & Wireless phone booth waiting in line, baking in the hot sun. It was like living in the flint stone ages. To call someone in Santa Catalina, you would dial the public phone booth phone number (507) 998-9488 and whoever was standing around would answer the phone, take a message, and then tell someone to run over to Chicho’s house to inform them that Pepe was calling on the public phone. Chicho would run over to the phone, and wait for Pepe to call them back.
When cellular phone (mobile) technology arrived, it transformed Santa Catalina. People began making calls from their homes, fishing boats, and farms. Then internet data came, and social media quickly caught on with the locals who have become much more educated as a result – many have learned English thanks to their access to internet.
Well friends, times have changed. Thanks to advancements in Internet technology, Santa Catalina now offers High Speed, Fiber Optic Internet Service… that’s right, High Speed Internet in Santa Catalina Panama. So all you snow birds can now spend a lot of time working abroad in sunny Santa Catalina. Surf your brains out at the point, then put in a few hours of work, from the comfort of your hotel room. Go on a scuba tour and pet the sharks, then download spreadsheets from the pool side while sipping on an ice cold margarita.
As a life-long surfer, I’ve travelled to a lot of very remote places in search of the next wave, but now in my 40’s, with a family, and a demanding career, it is increasingly difficult to disconnect for long periods of time. I love getting away from it all and escaping to places with amazing natural beauty, but these days reliable high-speed Internet is an absolute necessity for people like me. It doesn’t hurt that Santa Catalina is relatively inexpensive and there is a decent amount of English-speaking digital nomads in the community. I tend to avoid the Ibiza type party scene destinations, as I am not really a big drinker or partier, so I go to places like Santa Catalina where I can enjoy surfing, diving, and fishing, meet like-minded nature lover expats, exchange interesting stories, and get my work done all at the same time.
It is surprising to me how so many people have the wrong idea about the costs of travel and living abroad. It is pretty hard to spend much in Santa Catalina with only 2 small convenience stores and a few surf shops. Long term rentals in Santa Catalina are pretty inexpensive, and you can live for a fraction of the cost of living in Europe or North America. Plus, when you work in a tropical paradise from the comfort of your laptop on Wi-Fi, you tend to disconnect from the corporate rat race, or the debt and consumer crazy world – it really is so much less stressful. Quality of life is so important, yet so few realize how easily accessible it is by just being a little creative.
If you are looking for a great place to live abroad in a tropical paradise, for a fraction of what you are used to, while still maintaining a productive work life (working online of course), Santa Catalina is a great place to do it. Panama also offers some great residency options for those who wish to reside here permanently. Panama does not levy income taxes for foreign (non-Panamanian) earned income, local or foreign bank interest, or foreign (non-Panamanian) investment trading gains or dividends. Retirees make out like bandits with the Panama Pensioner Visa that offers incredible discounts on everything from utility bills to transportation and pharmaceuticals. The Panama Friendly Nations visa offers citizens from 50 nations the ability to get residency and work permit by just opening a personal savings account at a Panamanian bank and depositing $5000.
See http://www.panama-offshore-services.com/immigration_visas.htm for details.