Our Cost of Living in Panama – July 2013

July is 4 days short since we left for the US on the 27th, but I think this month’s accounting is useful enough to be worth posting. If we were still in Panama we would have only bought a few more dollars of produce. For more information on where and how we live, check the cost of living page. The February 2013 report has the most background with photos of the house and more detailed information.

The accounting for July is as follows:

TOTAL $1014.24

Food $285.91  Last month was high at $533.61 but we had a lot in the freezer and other bulk items on hand at the end of the month. If you average the two months it’s about $409/mo, which seems fairly on target to me.

Basics – $539.17
Rent is fixed at $385
I spent $21.40 to recharge Joel’s phone with minutes.
Cable was $59.06
Electricity was $73.71  This is higher because we bought a dehumidifier and ran it quite a bit. We are now going to limit our use of this and see if we can bring our bill down closer to $40 where it should be.

Misc – $189.16
Few misc things for the house – 27.71
gas for the car $45
Car tags and inspection – $46.50
liquor – $39.95
lunch out $30.00

Not counted in the above was a couple trips we took for a total of $288.
Las Olas beach resort, one night –  $49/hotel, $55/food
Boca Chica resort, two nights – $134/hotel, $50/food (we took a cooler and only paid for one dinner. Breakfast was included)

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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22 Responses to Our Cost of Living in Panama – July 2013

  1. John Jones says:

    These are very useful to us, as we´re looking to make the jump sometime in 2014. As can be expected, our situation is a bit different. Our next trip (January) is to look at different areas in town. How did you find your rental? The ads on Encuentra24 seem overpriced, especially when we see your place. Craigslist seems like a weak selection. One of our friends there says to visit the Chinese markets and ask them, as many rentals are not advertised for fear of vandals. What is your advice? Also, what areas of David should we explore for rentals, and what areas should we avoid? Not that I´m expecting you to be a real estate agent, but to frame the question… our requirements… broadband, secure, little to no yard (a patio for wifey´s plants is a requirement if no yard), convenient to supermarket. Also as a side question… which farmer´s market do you visit for your produce?

    • Kris says:

      Eduardo Horna helped me find our house. http://findingmyselfinpanama.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/need-help-finding-a-rental-in-davidboquete-meet-eduardo-horna-via-video/ You can also ask friends and check the bulletin boards at supermarkets. We prefer the north side of David rather than the areas more south, but there are also good areas west. I think when you visit in January and see different areas in person, you’ll get a feel for what will work for you, and Eduardo knows the area far better and can advise you well. We live north of El Rey and Terronal area, so we usually go to the little stand on Via Boquete a couple blocks north of the PanAmerican highway. There is a big market behind the downtown municipal building also, and another just a few blocks northwest of there. Anything that looks like a shack by the road though, or a farmer selling out of his truck will probably get you good produce at good prices.

      • John Jones says:

        Thanks for the tips. While we’re not ready to rent just yet, we may hire Eduardo (if he’s interested) to draw on a map and show us areas we should explore further. We don’t want to spend time unknowingly looking in red zone areas.

        Last time at a roadside market on our way back from Volcan, we picked up a 3′ tall bag of mixed fresh veggies for $5. Awesome stuff. Think of the money we’ll save if I can learn to like veggies :o)

        • Kris says:

          I’ve seen those bags for sale. The veggies are cheap and excellent, so if you can eat like a Panamanian you can eat very well for not a lot of money.

  2. jim and nena says:

    Hi Kris and Joel,
    We have been very remiss in thanking you and Joel for the enjoyment Nena and I get from reading the blogs. Nena was born in Boquete (Arosemena had just been “elected” president), and spent much of her growing up years with aunts and primas in David. She especially likes the cost-of-living posts as providing real numbers for those thinking of moving to Panama.
    jim and nena
    fort worth, tx

    • Kris says:

      Not at all, and I’m glad you find my posts helpful :) Do you think you might come here? Please thanks Nena for her beautiful country and lovely people that we enjoy so much!

      • jim and nena says:

        We visit every year to see family. We try to manage a dozen or so primos, hermanos, etc during each visit. We are trying to visit for months instead of weeks but the grandkids keep pulling us back. :-) We’ll give y’all a holler before the next trip down.

  3. Alyce Rodriguez says:

    Hi, thanks for your blog posts about the cost of living! This is really good info. I was wondering if you might have info on the cost of private/international schooling? My husband is originally from La Chorrera, but moved to the US in 1999. We are very likely moving to Panama in the next 2 months or so and I am feverishly looking for information. We have 3 school age children, but they (shamefully) don’t speak Spanish, so we would need an English-speaking school. Also, my husband works in HVAC here, so would you have any idea about the demand for jobs in this field? Thankfully, we can hunker down with the in-laws for a while, so we don’t have to worry about lodging yet. I’m sorry to dump these questions on you, but would sincerely appreciate any feedback that you might have.

  4. Christina says:

    Hi Kris and Joel,
    Thanks for the info, your doing a very good job with the blog… you actually gave me a very good idea about the living expenses.
    I’m from Greece but my mother is from David- Chiriqui. And I decided on making the big step and return to David (Panama) it was a bit of drag to purchase the plane ticket. From Panama city to Enrique Malek. Due to the fact that i will arrive @ Tocumen inter airport and will have to take a taxi or bus to Albrook airport. To catch the flight to David.
    Anyways, thanks for your info, and keep up the good work. ;-)

    • Kris says:

      Thanks, glad you find the blog helpful :)
      Yes, it is a hassle changing airports in Panama City. They are on opposite sides of the city. Maybe someday they will change that.

  5. Michael says:

    Alyce…here’s some info found on ChiriquiChatter for schools in Chiriqui.


    I wrote the small piece in the comments section (above web page) about AIB where my children (11 & 12) attend. This next year, AIB will be opening their new facility halfway between Boquete and David…about 25KMs north of David. AIB is the fastest growing bilingual school in Chiriqui.

    This is the 4th year for my kids to attend AIB. Did not know Spanish when they arrived in Panama back in 2010 (even though mama is Panamanian). Both of them can now communicate very well in Spanish with their Spanish-speaking classmates. Mama now speaks to them in Spanish. The language will be a challenge for them (i.e., a technical subject like math is taught in Spanish)…but they will make it.

    Also…be aware of the school year differences. Panama’s school year runs from the end of February to middle of December. We were able to get an early release from a school in Texas (end of March) and a late start in April with AIB in 2010. AIB was the only school willing to work with us on a late start. 2010 for their first year of operation. The boys left the 2nd grade…and were in the 3rd grade about 2 weeks later (smile…not much of a summer vacation). If we had waited to start school, the boys would have been out of school for almost a whole year…not acceptable. You might need to reconsider synchronizing your move to Panama with the school year.

    Check the requirements for school records that you’ll need. You need several weeks to take care of that before you leave.

    Hope this helps…regards

    • Kris says:

      Excellent information! Thanks so much, and I’ll be sure it gets passed along to Alyce

      • You never gave us the General location of the house you rented. Can you give us the location. We would like to search for a house in this are. My wife is Panamanian and I am
        from Texas. This would be most helpful for us. We have a 4 year old girl

        thank you

        • Kris says:

          There is a large shopping area on the PanAmerican Highway called Terronal. We are about 5 minutes north of there, just inside the city limits. Probably anywhere in this general area on the north side of the city would be nice. Contact Eduardo Horna, and he should be able to help you more than I can. There is a post about him linked to my website. let me know if you can’t find it.

  6. Your blogs have really been a big help. Thank you for your generosity and the great photos.


  7. Marlene Barnes says:

    Hi Kris:
    I am going back through your blog again. I just realized there are current comments, etc. which I have also found helpful. Just getting up to speed on this blogging stuff (lol). You have no idea how much your blog means to me. I will be visiting in the next few months to the David area. I have a friend who just moved to Volcan. However, I think I might want to seriously consider David because I would like to use public transportation. Honestly, Kris, I do not want to drive anymore. I am a senior, 65, in pretty good shape, with no desire to prosper materially. I am on a fixed income, around $1,100 a month. When I look at your cost of living for 2, I feel I can definitely live on that for one persons. Thank you so much and I will continue to check in weekly.

    • Kris says:

      I’m happy that my blog is helpful to you! Let me know when you are in the area and maybe we can get together for a chat :)
      If you comment on a post, check the little box that says you will get an email to notify you of future comments. I think it’s easier to keep up that way.

      • Bob Vogel says:

        Hi, I also find your posts very informative, I am 65 yo retired widower thinking very much about moving to Panama, I wrote to (ED) and mentioned to him that I would probably like the area near Pedasi and the water, as I’m from so Florida, and close to the ocean, anyway, if you know someone who wouldn’t mind emailing back and forth about daily life there on the Azeuro Penn. I would love to talk with them. thanx for your time. Bob

        • Hi Bob! Check your email, I sent you a note and also replied to your other comment with the addresses of a couple bloggers in Pedasi that may interest you. Interesting, we lived in Sarasota FL before coming here.

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