Cost of Living, August 2015

Once in a while I do a cost of living report so we can see how we are doing. Also, many others want to know what it costs to live here and are very interested in our numbers. Of course, this is just us. Others may live in different places, have different lifestyles, and their spending could look quite different.

Basic/monthly expenses –
Rent $385
Electricity $41.46 (this is a pretty typical monthly bill. We have AC but rarely use it)
Cable (TV/internet) $63.29
Internet plan for two iPads – $22
Insurance for two cars (one full coverage, other liability only) $61.35
Gas for the cars $44
Phone $10.70  (I have a pay as you go phone. This should last around a month, and Joel talks less and rarely needs to buy time)
Skype $12 (we both have plans that allow unlimited calls to the USA)
Food $284.72

Total $924.53

If we had needed to refill a gas tank for the kitchen it would have been $5.12, but it usually lasts more than a month so we didn’t have to refill it this month.

Water and trash is included in our rent, but if we had to pay it would be $5.25/month for water, and $4.80 for trash pickup (twice a week).

Then, there are always a few extra things, many of them optional. I think the list this month was a bit higher than usual –

Beer and liquor $37.97
Printer cartridges $37
Bike repairs $17 (new axle, new stem – I think it’s called, for the handlebars, and new brake cables, parts and labor)
Painting class $50/month
Painting supplies $47 (should last me 3 months or so)
We took a quick trip to Panama City to pick up our cedulas. That cost us $129.76 ($42.40 for 2 round trip bus tickets, $56.67 for hotel, $11 for taxis, and $19.69 for the lunch stops – 4 meals)
Joel also spent around $130 for guitar parts – tuners and other things to rehab a guitar.
All of these extras added up to $318.73

Grand total $1243.26

Other cost of living reports can be found HERE.

Considering it cost us about $3000/month to live in Sarasota, Florida when we left in 2012, just the house, electricity, food, phones, etc, just the basics, I think we are doing much better here. We have seen some costs rise as they have everywhere, but we are still able to live well within our means. And, the bonus we didn’t expect, it is such a good life. If money was no consideration whatsoever, I would still want to live here. We came for economic reasons but the benefits have exceeded our expectations in many other ways.


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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14 Responses to Cost of Living, August 2015

  1. ron o says:

    Great information. Thanks Kris. What I don’t see is health insurance and meds. Any input in this? Thanks again.


    • Ahh yes, I did not mention that. We have chosen to pay as we go without insurance. Thankfully we are both healthy and don’t take medications. I have insurance in the US and my husband has VA care so if we need something big and can make it back to US soil, we are covered. Otherwise we will get care here, which we have found to be good quality and affordable.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for cost of living list. Just a question, on your food costs does that ever include going out to a restaurant, or is it just buying groceries. Big differance from when you lived in Florida.


    • We generally don’t eat out, just once in a while for a social occasion. We didn’t eat out in August except for the lunch stops on our bus trip. We both cook well and have great ingredients to work with, so eating out is something we don’t mind doing without.
      But, if you are wondering about the cost of eating out there is a wide range. The locals eat at little places found all over town for maybe $3-4 plate. There are fancy restaurants where a couple can easily spend $80 for dinner. There are quite a few options in David. The blogger who writes c talks about restaurants quite a bit and is a good source of information on the subject.


  3. Len says:

    What about toilteries; soap, toothpaste, cleaning supplies,shampoo, etc.?


  4. Gary Boyd says:

    Thanks for this Kris, I have forwarded on Facebook to my curious friends.


  5. Nice breakdown, thank you for taking the time to keep track and post it here!


  6. Thank you once again 🙂


  7. Mariah Edgington says:

    Hola Chris,
    My husband and I lived on Kauai, Hawaii for 3 years and moved to Ohio to care for his terminally ill father. We did miss the big water, the hiking, the temperate weather but certainly not the cost of living. I began talking about expatting a few years ago and became serious the winter of 2013! With much internet research we feel Panama is very similar to Hawaii.
    It’s so helpful to ‘virtually’ see what life would/will be like in Panama. Your thorough account, especially of expenses, makes me want to live there now. I haven’t read all of your blog yet, do you have pictures of your home? Are you a part of an expat community?
    Mariah & Byron Edgington
    Columbus Ohio USA


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