The cost of living reports are always in the top ten list in my blog stats, so I know there is a lot of interest in this information.
The figures for June are now in, and go as follows:
Food – $533.61
Rent – $385.00
Electricity – $38.41 (we do not have air conditioning)
Cable (TV and internet) – $59.06
Eating out – $36.38
Blockbuster – $3.95 (we rented a movie)
Misc $38.95 (El Rey is having a promotion, so I replaced my worn suitcase)
Pricemart $123.79 (beer, wine, liquor, household supplies)
Gas for the car $34
This month’s food costs came out higher than usual. Maybe it’s because we came home on June 1st to an empty kitchen. Now, we have a freezer full of fish, chicken and other things, and the kitchen is fairly well stocked with other items. Next month we won’t do any stocking up because we’ll be out of town after that, so we’ll see if the July total is less.
A bit of background information – we are in David, Panama, about 45 minutes from the Costa Rica border. David is a city of maybe 90K people. We live in a quiet neighborhood in a good part of town, close to some very upscale neighborhoods. Our neighbors are teachers, other professionals, and tradesmen. This is our house – 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, probably around 1000 square feet. We rent it unfurnished (which means no appliances either). Next to the house is the woods, and beyond that is the river. It is a comfortable house, and considered quite upscale by a lot of Panamanians.
About food – we try to limit our imported and processed food. We buy all our produce fresh from the vegetable and fruit markets. We go down to Pedregal for fish. The sign is still the same, but I noticed some of our favorite fish like pargo (red snapper) and corniva (sea bass) is now $2.50/lb, and shrimp is $5/lb (about 30 shrimp to the pound). We get chicken and eggs at Canasta Basica. Chicken is usually $1.30/lb, but they have been having a sale for quite a while at $1/lb. We buy the rest of our food at whatever supermarket we are in the mood for at the time. If you eat like a Panamanian you can have delicious and healthy food without spending a lot of money.
We save a lot by not having air conditioning. We have fans and except for the hottest, driest time in March/April, we have been quite comfortable (but keep in mind that we prefer warm weather. Many others find it too hot here).
We don’t need a lot of entertainment, and eating out is an occasional social thing. We do not feel deprived.
Cable and internet is a requirement. We have the most basic cable plan, and a mid range internet speed.
We could give up the Balboa beer with dinner but we like it, and it’s nice to have a rum and coke when the mood strikes. These are optional costs we are willing to include. The car is also an optional cost we are willing to pay for. This month we will need to renew the tags and replace the front brakes. There is an excellent and inexpensive public transportation and a lot of taxis for anyone who wants to forgo the car.
I think that’s about all my comments on the subject for today. People have different requirements and different tastes so their costs will reflect that. We asked our neighbor what he thought it would cost for a family of four to be OK here. He thought for a moment and said $750 – but no private school. There are other people near here who obviously spend way more than that. Costs in Panama City are much higher than in this area, and costs in more rural areas are quite a bit less. So, it all depends on what you want and what you can afford. For us, this is working very well and we are happy.