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)
Audible.com ($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.