Panama Cost of Living Report – October 2014

What does it cost to live in Panama? The answer can vary widely depending on where and how you live. I can tell you though what it cost us to live in David, Chiriqui, for the month of October.

Fixed expenses Rent $385
Cable (TV/internet) $60.49
Car insurance, monthly (2 cars) $50
Food $395.63
Other Gas for the kitchen (a can lasts at least a month) $5.12
Electricity (it is usually around $40 but we were gone for part of the billing period) $27.07
Gas for the cars $65
Minutes for phone $16.05
Medicine (the Nicaragua bug) $14.49
Optional and/or one time expenses Eating out $44.03
Pricesmart membership (for a year) $37.45
Bike repair $14.75
Car repair $232
Gift $23.53
Pedicure $10
Charitable donation $173.50
Beer / alcohol $98.60

The grand total is $1652.71.  But, this is the first major car repair we have had in almost two years. The charitable donation is optional, of course. And, the total would also be lower if we hadn’t just gone to Pricesmart and stocked up on some food and household items, as well as enough beer/alcohol to last for quite a while.

If you subtract the car repair and charitable donation the total is $1247.21, which I think is a more realistic representation of what we usually spend in a month. Of course this is for basic living expenses. There will always be something additional like the car, travel plans, or something else.

Our biggest expenses are rent and food. We are very fortunate to have found an affordable house in a nice neighborhood of mostly professionals, business owners, teachers, and some retired people. Housing costs will vary greatly depending on where you live.

Food is another variable. We eat mostly local food and buy all our produce from the local markets. We eat very little imported and/or processed food because it is expensive and we don’t like it as well. We also never eat out unless it is a social thing with friends.

If we are home in November I’ll track our expenses again. It is interesting for us also to see what we spend and where.


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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22 Responses to Panama Cost of Living Report – October 2014

  1. Thanks for posting! I enjoy seeing how much you spend to see if my goals are realistic :). Hope you’re having a great weekend!


  2. Linda says:

    Thanks so much for sharing Kris! x


  3. schuttzie says:

    Sounds very doable for us. I appreciate you sharing all your wisdom and cost breakdowns!


  4. Kris, I must have missed your post about the Nicaragua bug! Oh no! I knew you weren’t feeling well, but I’m glad your $14.49 was spent on recovering. Was it a parasite? It never fails! When we travel we always pick up something, too. Also, glad to see your car was fixed and cheaply. I wonder how much that would have cost in the states? I like exploring the cost of living in different countries. You have it down to the penny. 🙂


  5. Steve M says:

    Thanks for posting this Kris. Hope you are feeling better.


  6. celson21 says:

    Hi Kris,

    I am going to Panama in January 2015 with my wife and 4 kids with the intention of seeing if it’s a safe and affordable place to live for our family. I have looked at some rental properties online in David and my wife is concerned that in the David district which is more country like, it might not be as safe as in Panama city which looks more modern and has gated communities. What is crime and violence like in David district? Would it be a safe place to raise a young family?

    Any info would be helpful.



    • We feel safer here than we did in the US. To my knowledge, violence is very rare. The little crime that happens is likely to be someone who sees an opportunity to take something small enough to fit in a backpack. I would prefer raising a family in David over Panama City. It’s much less expensive, less hectic, more green spaces, and the kids I see here seem happy and relaxed. It will be interesting to hear how it feels to you. No place is totally crime free but I think David is a good place to be.


      • Cliff says:

        Thank you very much for your insight. I’ve been reading that purchasing a one way ticket might get us denied from boarding the plane. Do you know if this is true or what is your experience with flying into Panama with a one way ticket?


        • You need a return ticket to the country of your passport within 180 days unless you are a legal resident here. It is rare that they don’t check so I wouldn’t count on it. You can buy a return ticket right before you leave and cancel it within 24 hours if you don’t plan on returning. I have heard about quite a few people doing this.


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