A Coder’s Paradise in the Mountains of Boquete, Panama

By Calvin Froedge

TLDR: If you want to stay in a sick hacker house in a country with a territorial tax system (meaning you don’t pay taxes on remote work), you can 1) fill out the application form 2) send me a message on WhatsApp +507 6934 2704 3) check out our Instagram, ejecutivo_boquete 4) email casaejecutivaboquete@gmail.com

In the days when I was running hackathons, active in user groups, starting and attending meetups, I always had a dream — to create a property where coders would live together, maybe sometimes work together, learn from each other, and have fun together.

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself in the hospitality industry, trying to find a fit for an investment I’d made — a house much too big for just me. After six months of construction remodeling the place, I had four apartments ready to go.

I began renting them on Airbnb, Booking.com, and Expedia, and over the next year earned high ratings, an average of 4.9/5 on Airbnb with nearly 200 reviews, a 9.5/10 on Booking.com, and a 4.6/5 on Expedia, among the highest in my town. In Airbnb I frequently occupied the top couple search results.

There were a few problems, though. The platforms wouldn’t allow me to enforce my house rules without being penalized. So when a guest tried to sleep with the manager, or smoked in the room, or tried to throw a party, I couldn’t say anything without risking a bad review. After numerous warnings to the platforms I decided to de-platform myself and refocus on an old dream: a hacker house. So why is my place so uniquely suited to be a haven for coders?

A little known fact: Panama happens to be the perfect place for remote work

I originally came to Panama because I am an American citizen and between Panama’s territorial tax system and the US Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, I found I could seriously reduce my taxable obligation. The FEIE says that as an American, you can earn just over $100k/yr without paying income tax on it. If you are working for a foreign company, you don’t even have to pay medicare and social security. Panama is one of the few countries in the world with a territorial tax system, meaning they don’t tax incomes earned from abroad at all. A few of my other coder friends who lived here found this place for the same reason. An Australian is paying no taxes. A German is paying no taxes. And I, an American, am paying no income tax on a good chunk of my income.

Panama also has great internet speeds — among the fastest in Latin America. In Panama City you can find up to 1gb/s connections, and here in my little mountain town, 100mb/s.

Panama also uses the dollar and because of the Panama canal has one of the most stable economies on the planet. Panama is the ONLY way to get goods between the Atlantic and the Pacific without a much longer journey, and as long as food and goods keep getting shipped across the planet, Panama will have a source of stability.

In addition, Panama has one of the easiest residency schemes in the world. With a deposit of just $5,000 you can have permanent residency in just a few months.

There is also very little internet business activity in Panama. This means tons of opportunities. Take any idea implemented in Europe, North America, or Asia in the past few decades and do it here. Nobody else has. There are virtually no internet companies currently in Panama — a paradox for a country with such mature internet infrastructure.

Why I chose Boquete

In a few words, weather, nature, and amenities. Nestled in a mountain valley at around 3900 feet (1200 meters), Boquete is basically 55–75F (13–24C) year round. It was also founded by Europeans and has been an expat community and tourism hotspot for years, meaning there are tons of great options for food, shopping, and recreation. There are trails, hot spring, waterfalls, great places to mountain bike. It is an outdoor paradise.

What I’m offering

As a hotel, I could gross a few thousand per room, per month, on average…but I’m not comfortable with that. I don’t want to be a slave to the platforms, and I don’t want to accommodate guests that stay for a few days and move on. I want to build a community. I want to bring like-minded people here. I want silicon jungle. That’s why I’m offering apartments in my house exclusively to programmers (and related disciplines) for an average cost of $500/mo. Here’s what kind of places you get:

I currently have five studio and one bedroom apartments available (I built a few more over the past year), with another on the way, as well as a large apartment with a great area for coworking which I will be living in myself.

The property has a 100mb/s connection (sometimes it’s slower, but that’s what I pay for), a generator to power the whole property during power outages, well distributed wifi and routers along with UPS systems for each router, backup water, filtration systems, and on demand hot water. Every room has a spectacular view and a place to work, and my intention is to turn the largest area into a coworking space complete with all the amenities you’d expect: beer on tap, smoothies, espressos, etc.

Cleaning service is provided. Food and grocery delivery are available (and there’s the opportunity to build an app for this as one does not exist in this province of 400,000 people). There will be weekly excursions at additional cost to waterfalls, islands, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, hot springs, etc. I go rock climbing myself nearly every weekend.

I want to build a really awesome community

My goal is to bring people here that allow us to grow and learn from each other, in an environment conducive to the type of work that we do. It’s quiet, it’s convenient, and has all the amenities needed. The cost is low, taxes are non-existent for non Americans and much lower for Americans, and man, it’s really an awesome place. I can guarantee you that you won’t find a deal this good for developers anywhere on the planet. Seriously, where can you get all of this for $500/mo?

If you’re interested in getting involved, please respond via:

Application form: https://goo.gl/forms/Uccbxol0f6zJkqah2

Instagram: ejecutivo_boquete

WhatsApp: +507 6934 2704

Email: casaejecutivaboquete@gmail.com

Sorry, no website yet. Maybe you can help on that for a free stay.

About me: I played with my first command interface when I was five on the DOS machine my mom bought for me. I’ve been freelancing since I was 14 and have coded in JavaScript, C++, Python, Clojure, and PHP to name a few. I am currently working mostly in full stack development with React front ends and backends built on AWS stack. When I’m not programming I’m usually hiking, drinking craft beer, or exploring something new.