Cost of Living – David, Panama, January 2014

This is what it cost us to live here in January. For other cost of living reports see the link above. Keep in mind – This is what it cost us. Your costs may be quite different depending on where you live and your buying habits.

Rent – $385 (water – $7 and trash – $4 are included)
Food – $345.71 (more detail below)
Electricity – $49.00 (we have an air conditioner but rarely use it. Our usage is mainly the fridge, computers, lights, etc)
Cable – $59.00 (TV and internet)
Gas for the car – $32.00
Gas for the kitchen stove – $5.12
Netflix – $7.99
Phone – $5.35 (I have a pay as you go plan)
Tunnel Bear – $3.33 (VPN for the computer/TV on a year plan)
TOTAL – $892.50

Those above are our more or less fixed expenses.
I did not include beer/wine/liquor (like the $24 for 2 cases of beer from PriceMart)
or eating out (one dinner – $20)
A dolly Joel bought from DoIt Center ($26.74) ($22.95 for my addiction to audio books)
or the used dryer ($200) and a regulator for it ($13.90)
I did not include any travel expenses such as our tickets to the US, or the recent stay at Boquete Tree Trek.

More about the food expenses – we buy mostly local food but don’t deprive ourselves of a few treats like a bottle of diet coke, bar of cheese, or package of bacon. In January we spent-
Fish – $30 for a 16 pound amberjack which was enough for 10 dinners and a very large pot of soup. We buy directly from the fishermen in Pedrigal for around $2-2.25/lb for the best fish – more for fillets, less if you buy the whole fish (which they will clean and fillet for you for a dollar or two tip)  Smaller bonier fish can be bought for even $1/lb.
Chicken and eggs – $30.56 from Canasta Basica. Chicken is usually $1.15-$1.35/pound depending on what cuts you buy.
Su Carne – $13 (when you just have to have some good beef – this was two good size ribeye steaks $4.50/lb and enough stew meat for two batches)
Produce – $79.50  (an example – we buy all our produce from the vegetable shack, locally grown, fresh, inexpensive, and delicious)
Supermarket – $206.65 (everything else – milk, cereal, coffee, paper goods, laundry soap, etc etc)

Yes you can definitely live for less and live very well. We do not feel the least bit deprived on this budget. But, this is David. If you live in Panama City your costs will definitely be higher. It also costs more to live in areas known for expats like Boquete, Coronado, or Pedasi. All the familiar food from back home is also generally available here but you will pay back home prices and then some. Other treats are often cheaper here like eating out, wine and liquor, and general shopping but they will still have a big impact on your budget.

I also know people who live on considerably less than us.  A few months ago we asked our Panamanian neighbor what it would cost for a family of four to make it in David. He told us $750, but no private school! There are yard workers making it on $10/day.

It all depends on what you need and the choices you make. This is what we do and this is what it costs us.


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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31 Responses to Cost of Living – David, Panama, January 2014

  1. allison says:

    Thanks again, Kris, for putting it all out there. It helps a great many people know, not only the monthly cost, but also how to go about attaining that budget. It really does first depend on location, doesn’t it?


    • Yes, housing is a big part of the budget so where you live can make a big difference. I think it’s that, how you spend your food money, and optional things like eating out and going shopping a lot. Our house is actually considered expensive by many of the locals here.


  2. lordjamil says:

    Wow, thanks for this information. My wife doesn’t believe it is possible to live anywhere for that price. This is going to be one of the few times I have ever been right!


  3. oldsalt1942 says:

    I am always amazed when people say they spend $49 + a month on electricity. I have a/c, too, which I rarely use and my electric bills, averaged out over a year run about $11 a month. I’ve had them as low as $8 and change and never over $20.


    • I don’t know. Maybe it’s the computers that are on most of the time, or fans that run most of the time, or a fridge that’s less than efficient? Maybe I need to see what you are doing! I think we need to evaluate the fridge too. It’s a pretty basic one that has trouble maintaining the proper temperature so it could be sucking power. But still we’re thankful that it’s so much less than it was in the US.


      • Robert&Helen Berding says:

        Hi Kris. A LED tv of 19 inch uses only 25 watt. A proper fridge with à fan uses less than à simple one. An I Pad far less than à laptop. Energy savings bulbs too. On St. Lucia in
        the Caribbean we pay double your budget on food etc. Renting à home like yours 900.
        Cars are also 50% more expensive and gasoline 40%. Many thanks for your info.


        • Our fridge is pretty basic so we’re going to look into upgrading soon. Energy saving bulbs are the norm here, but I don’t think i can give up my laptop!
          You’re welcome, glad you found the info helpful.


  4. Judy gamble says:

    Thank you for great info! Do you have a contact in David who might assist us in finding a rental? We are hoping to spend the next 5-6 months there and in the neighboring areas and decide on a final place to stay. Thank you in advance!


  5. david says:

    Chris that is great to read your blog,, and its just what i need to know and need as far as info on the costs of living there .. my ss should cover all of that ,, but there is one thing im a little concerned about and kind of shy about stating it.. but here it goes,, im in my 60;s but i look much younger ,, more like 40;s and i plan on making the move there this year or 1st of 2015,,, i have checked many dating sites but could not find many for panama,, plus im thinking if im there i wont need to use a site but my question is how difficult will it be for me to meet nice ladies there for friendship and maybe a relationship ,, as they say no man is a island ,, ive been alone for a long time but i dont want to be alone there. Dave


    • I think you will be happy here. There are quite a few single expat ladies, and the Panamanian women are beautiful, sweet, friendly, and seem to like gringo men. It’s great you are learning Spanish. If you are friendly and outgoing it will be easy to make friends and from there, who knows. Life is much better when you can share it with someone.


  6. Carole says:

    Hello Kris, I love the cost of electricity there. Ours is $325 a month for a house, we don;t use AC and only occassionaly a ceiling Fan. That is one of the reasons we want to relocate to Panama. Our Monthly expenses here in the Caribbean is around $2000, I like yours much better.


    • Eeesh, that’s a lot for electricity especially when you hardly use any. Electricity in Panama is actually the same or a bit more than the US, but the climate helps because you can use minimal AC. Painting the roof white has also helped a lot.


  7. mommahi says:

    Reblogged this on A Baby Boomer's Guide and commented:
    I really like that Kris C is completely honest about what their monthly living expenses are. Experiences from boomers who tell you how they are living their retirement dream in a warm country are invaluable for those of us in the retirement planning lane. Thanks, Kris.


  8. Karen Ama Panama says:

    Big thank you Kris! Your cost of living reports are so helpful. I plan on doing this too when we move. We really loved going to the fruit/veg mercado and having papaya every day. It’s so fun to read other blogger’s experiences so thanks for sharing!


  9. John & Susan says:

    Again great info. Thanks for sharing and great details.
    What about your yearly medical and auto insurance cost? Do you not budget that monthly?
    See you soon!

    John & Susan


    • We have full coverage on one car for about $500 a year, and liability only on the older car for around $90/year. I guess it would make sense to add $50/mo to the budget to spread that over the year. We really haven’t had any medical costs, just an occasional few dollars for an over the counter medication.


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  11. John & Susan says:

    Wow. That is great! Our auto insurance cost us $200 a month for two cars. Jeezz!
    Enjoy Seattle. Try Elliott’s Oyster House for the best Seafood!


  12. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Kris


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  14. Gary W. Boyd says:

    Kris, thanks so much for the info. I was getting frustrated trying to find rental costs online because all you get is the real estate companies and all are way too high. I am planning a move to David in the next month or so and this info has been a great help. How did you find your house and could you give me any hints on contacts before I get there to maybe find an inexpensive but nice furnished 1-2 bdrm house or apartment? I want to be able to find a place fairly quickly and then come back to Costa Rica to complete the move. I don’t need anything fancy just comfortable and safe. Thanks for any info or ideas.


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