The Price of Living in Panama

My friends are writing a lot of posts that interest me lately! Today was The Price of Living in Boquete. My friend who lives in Boquete has seen two relocation tours come through town, and overheard what the people were being told in one restaurant. All of us bloggers in Panama have talked about this before – the sales hype, the half truths, the people who fall for the spiels.

Come live in paradise! This is not paradise. This is not eternal vacation at the resort. This is real life with floors to mop and electric bills to pay. We are happy here and think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages but that’s us. That doesn’t mean others will feel the same.

We all know the sites and the lines. Live well on $1200/month. OK yes, this is possible for us. But, not everyone would agree that we are living well. Maybe you don’t want to live in David, or eat like a Panamanian, or find your main entertainment is photographing bugs in the yard. (kidding here, a bit, but we are easier to entertain than many) Even with our relatively inexpensive lifestyle by expat standards, we are barely keeping under $1200/mo. If you think you are living in Panama City for that, forget it.

Panama is a good place to do business. The most unhappy expats I know tried to do business here. It’s hard enough in the US but here the customs, the laws, the requirements, the mentality, and the language are all different. I’m not so sure real estate is the great investment they say it is either, especially the preconstruction high rise gringo traps they often sell. You have to buy smart (again – laws, language, customs, etc) and wait and hope the prices go up like real estate anywhere. A lot of people have been badly burned with real estate.

Fund your life overseas by travel writing, photography, whatever. Uh huh, easy. Just sell your stuff, work part time, and the money will roll in enough to cover your expenses. How many people actually DO this, and how much expertise and time have they put into building their careers?

Anyway, the reality, where I meant to go with this before I got on that soap box again. The reality here is we do have hot water in the shower and the kitchen sink (I said HOT, not warm, and it’s so tricky to adjust it to warm I don’t bother and just use the cold water) But, no matter because we have had no water all day. This is not an uncommon thing, even in the rainy season. No one knows for sure what is going on. Maybe they are working on something? Maybe something broke? We’re better off than many who have had serious water problems and no water for days on end.

Here in David people do NOT speak English. You will find someone here and there, and others who know a few words but you can’t count on it. If you don’t speak some Spanish you are going to have a hard time. I studied very hard and I’ve been here almost a year, and I’m just now starting to feel like I can function more often than not in this new language. It’s easier in Boquete and I think Panama City without any Spanish but still, this is a Spanish speaking country.

I could go on, yes even more than I have already gone on. I’ve posted similar rants in the past and I’m not sure if I should even post this. But it’s my blog, so what the heck. Maybe someone will see it and think twice and start doing some proper homework before they decide to move here.

Just for fun….. compliments of Zemanta 😀

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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, expatriate, Panama and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The Price of Living in Panama

  1. Keep spreading reality, Kris! You SHOULD be posting this kind of information. Unhappy expats listen to all the hype and don’t last long.

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  2. aztours says:

    As usual…VERY WELL SAID! It is so important for folks to find this REAL info. It has helped me tremendously. I only hope to pass it on!

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    • Kris says:

      Thank you! I hate to see people taken advantage of and end up unhappy, so the more reality you can pass along the better. Better they hear it from the start rather than do things they will regret.

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  3. marica says:

    You area right about the every day life and reality here.
    Just recently I read somewhere where an individual questioned the monthly rent of a condo on the beach being $900. What they had in mind was more like $400 a month. I still believe it’s how one lives and spends makes a difference.

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    • Kris says:

      Oh yes, it makes a huge difference and rent is one thing you really can choose. But, you still have to pay for the lifestyle you choose. When the hype meets reality is when people get disillusioned.

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  4. oldsalt1942 says:

    Glad you hit the “send” button because you’re spot on with your very mild rant.

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    • Kris says:

      Thanks! Very mild rant? Oh no, don’t encourage me 😀 I don’t like to be a negative, ranting person, but if something sets me off and I can get going occasionally.

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  5. Elvira Gottschalk says:

    Hello Kris, thanks for this new mail. Yes it is not paradise like people may think. So I think I will not move to Panama. I should stay in Dominican Republic, its very expensive here, I live in Cabarete, the North Coast of dom.rep. Sometimes it is more expensive than buying things at whole food in Florida. My budget only is 12-1300 US$ a month and I am a single woman.And I have a hard time to stay on this budget especial when I have to order from amazon things they don’t have here. At least I do have the chance to sell some properties because I am working together with a real estate broker here in Cabarete. But I would love to hear more about Panama. Thanks a lot Elvira http://www.caribbeandomrep.com

    Date: Fri, 6 Sep 2013 03:10:12 +0000 To: elvirgott@hotmail.com

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    • Kris says:

      Everyone has to decide what is best for themselves. Good luck with your real estate business! And I will keep writing about Panama too. 🙂

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  6. indacampo says:

    Reblogged this on In Da Campo and commented:
    I often share posts from my other blogging friends when I feel that they offer value to others who may read my blog. Yesterday, I left a fairly long winded comment on my blogging friend Cindy’s post on Chapter 3 – Retirement in Panama. Often times blog posts will create somewhat of a domino effect and this morning I share my blogging friend Kris’s post in response to Cindy’s post. Follow the links, read the comments and leave a comment either on this blog or there’s if you have any questions or feel you have anything to add. I’ll be posting something new later on today. But for now, enjoy the read! 🙂

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  7. Believe it or not, I like reading about the REAL Panama, warts and all. I don’t have the time or money to take extended vacation s to get the REAL feel, so these blogs help a lot. I also know that by the time we retire in 8 yrs. things could be very different. Keep posting and I’ll keep reading.

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    • Kris says:

      If you are thinking of living here, you will learn about the real Panama sooner or later. Much better before you move, than after and find it isn’t what you thought it was going to be! I will keep writing, and glad you enjoy reading 🙂

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  8. Marlene Marlene says:

    Kris:
    Thank you so much for your reality. I have been following your blog for a while and it is very helpful and informative. I did read where your husband was quite frugal and with that in mind you can make things work within reason. I have adjusted to living very frugal here in the States and feel I will be able to adapt to living in Panama. I have communicated with you in the past for your wonderful blog, so please keep it coming.

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    • Kris says:

      We’ve both had to work hard for our money and don’t want to waste it, and find it a lot easier to keep overhead down rather than try to increase income. And, it isn’t the stuff that makes you happy anyway. In Panama you can have any life you want and can afford, and these people are excellent examples of being happy without much material wealth.

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  9. Michael Rice says:

    Hey! I’ve been reading all morning! Thanx for levity on the subject of relocation. I am excited about coming to Panama next Tues. for a ‘research’ vacation [one month; my 3rd
    visit]. I am 65; not rich; speak & understand Spanish. Pls. give me your blog addy as
    I’d like to read it every day. Yours, Michael Rice, Bay Area, CA.

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  10. cicero says:

    A reality check before people move here will help them adjust after the move — if they still come. Developers here in the Azuero like to use the words “paradise in Panama.” Of course they’re hoping to find some gringos to buy their lots.

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    • Kris says:

      Yes, exactly. Any more whenever I see the word “paradise” all my red flags go up. People need a reality check so they can even make a good decision about coming here or not.

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      • Robert & Helen Berding says:

        Dear Kris. We are a Dutch couple. I lived for 3 years in Nigeria, 13 years in Spain and since 2003 on the beautiful island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. I speak fluently Spanish and can teach very well. We are presently selling our home in St. Lucia. The economy of our island has gone down a lot due to the world crises. A drop of 25% in tourist arrivals. We studied Panama and would like to live in the neighbourhood of David. Not in Gringo town Boquete. We love animals and nature. Simple healthy life.
        Could you send us by e-mail robesa1947@gmail.com the e-mail of the guy that found you a rental home in David. Thanks a lot in advance.

        Robert & Helen Berding (66 and 60 years young).
        Mount Layau lot 4
        Saint Lucia

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