Cost of Living Report, December 2018

We haven’t done this in ages, so I thought it might be interesting to track expenses for a month. Maybe this will be useful if you are considering living in Panama, but keep in mind costs can vary widely depending on where and how you live.

We live in David, in a Panamanian upper middle class neighborhood. We don’t eat out, preferring home cooked food from scratch. We don’t shop much or drink much. We live a pretty simple life by some standards but don’t feel like we lack for anything or deny ourselves anything, and we buy whatever we want at the supermarket including some imported treats.

There are other reports and more information on the Cost of Living Page  I’m happy to say that even though prices seem to be rising everywhere, including in Panama, our costs don’t seem to be terribly different.

—fixed expenses
rent 385
cable/internet 43.69
phone 25 (2 $11/mo data plans and some pay as you go talk time)
gas 5.12 (replacement can for the kitchen)
car insurance 34 (liability only, includes the car that is for sale)
car gas 104.20

total 597.20

the produce guy 128
supermarket 322.23
pricesmart 244.77

total 695

grand total 1292.20

We also spent 103.29 at DoIt (like Home Depot) for paint and some odds and ends to repair band equipment.
We spent 200 on biannual car maintenance

Electricity usually runs about $35 but we are having problems with the meter at the moment. We don’t have health insurance, preferring to pay as we go with an emergency fund in reserve if needed.

The total might be a bit high since we bought enough at Pricesmart to see us through January (we have a deep freezer which is a great help). We also went to the supermarket (91.32) and filled up the car (50.39) on the last day of the month. Usually once a month for the car is enough but we have been to Boquete a lot for band gigs and rehearsals.

So, there ya go! Some say that Panama costs as much as the US but of course that depends on what you compare to what. Panama City vs a rural area in the Midwest? New York City vs rural Panama? For us, it has been a huge benefit to live so well for so little.


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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10 Responses to Cost of Living Report, December 2018

  1. Robert&Helen says:

    Yes you are to the point. That’s it. In Boquete we spend half of your electricity bill. No A/C or fans needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    1. Can you get the National Healthcare provided by Panama Govt?
    2. Wonder if healthcare providers take/accept US Medicare?


    • I don’t think you can get healthcare provided by the government. No, Medicare is not accepted here, though I have heard that you can get reimbursed for emergency care outside the US (never tried it though). But, health care here is so much less expensive, less than the 20% out of pocket you’d have to pay with Medicare (with standard Medicare).


  3. Felipe says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It really helps those of us pondering a move like you’ve made. I’m more used to Mexico (Mexico City and Oaxaca) as I’ve been in and out of there most of my life. We did like Panama when we visited two years ago but did notice food seemed more expensive than I thought. But I sure loved how clean and safe Panama seemed, and being able to drink the water was really nice. That being said, we just bought a ticket for Guadalajara – an area I’ve never explored. Your budget sure helps me compare. Thank you and happy new year.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Kris very useful.


  5. Iowa Life says:

    WordPress wouldn’t let me hit the ‘Like’ button, but thanks for the very valuable information.


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