Our Cost of Living in Panama – June 2013

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 first report was in February. The next was in April. I did not post reports in months where we did a of traveling and the results wouldn’t be useful.

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

TOTAL $1253.53

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.

Our House

Our House

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.

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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.
This entry was posted in cost of living, expat, Panama and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Our Cost of Living in Panama – June 2013

  1. joeltc1 says:

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  2. Dan says:

    I’m reading your blog and watching the prices. Coming down soon to see about a rental condo for la esposa and me. I’d like to meet you both and the other 2 bloggers you introduced us to. I may pick your brain for the mechanic y’all use and where to buy a car. Keep it up, I read the blog first

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    • Kris says:

      Hi 🙂 Sure, if we’re around we’d be happy to meet you. As for a mechanic, I know one who a friend uses (but he talks fast and speaks no English). So far we have done our own work, sometimes with the help of our neighbor who is good at that sort of thing. What kind of car are you looking for? There are dealerships for many major brands here. Or, there is a guy who makes a business of finding good used cars for people. You can also find notes from individuals posted in the supermarkets, or ask around if you want something more basic.

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      • Miguel says:

        Hi,
        We are thinking of joining you in David Panama as a husband and wife couple soon and we have been trying really hard as we search for available places to rent to fingure out which areas are the nicer ones and which ones to stay away from, being that you currently live in David would you please shed some light on the good, bad, and ugly as far where to rent goes. We will be visiting/planning and have already researched such informtaion for Panama city, but David feels more our style and budget. Based on studying your figures it is right up our alley. Thanks for any insight you can provide.

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  3. Allison says:

    Thanks for your openness and frankness with your budget! Those of us in the States reading your blog appreciate it a lot.

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  4. Jerry Moellenkamp says:

    Amen to what Allison said. This is the stuff that those of us who are following you will need to plan our own trip. Thanks for being so transparent.

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    • Kris says:

      Oh yes for sure. It wasn’t that long ago that we were trying to figure out things too, so we understand how helpful this sort of information is.

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  5. Rob says:

    I am jealous of your monthly expenses, but I do not if Panama would be for me. Since I have been visiting your blog, I find this idea very intriguing.

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    • Kris says:

      You’d have to do your own homework and visit for a while, and see how you feel. It may be inexpensive, but you also have to be happy where you live.

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  6. Emma says:

    For those interested in comparisons… Rent for a fully furnished 3 bedroom apartment in the el Cangrejo neighborhood of Panama City is respectably more than their entire monthly expenses! I’ve got a roommate though and am not a retiree. 🙂

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  7. Eva Montalvo says:

    Kris, this is great! Your lifestyle sounds similar to what we would do so that will definitely be a good budget for us. We’re hoping to join you in about a year, as a matter of fact we’re getting ready to sell our house soon and pay off some debt. Then we’ll save up more emergency funds and start investigating the logistics of visas, etc. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Steve says:

    I am finding your blog to be FULL of USEFUL information, and a lot of fun to boot. I am learning A LOT!!!! Thank You

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  9. shyan says:

    Thanks Kris. Starting to work towards planning for retirement. Very useful info.

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  10. charlene charles says:

    Kris, I have written to you twice and have received no Reply. Are you not getting the emails?

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