Cost of Living, Retirement, Etc.

I’ve come across a few articles lately…

Places where it’s so cheap to live you up might not need to work! Well…. maybe you won’t need to work as much (unless you have another source of income).

It’s interesting that Panama is #1 on their list. Their main source seems to be International Living which we all know, as a for profit business, doesn’t tend to take off the rose colored glasses. Their definition of wonderful might not be yours. But our lives here cost about 1/3 of what they did in Florida and we are probably 3x happier.

This one is very sad!

Their statistics say if you retire at 55, you are likely to live to be 80, but if you retire at 65 you are likely to die at age 67. Yikes! I have had some anecdotal evidence of this – too many patients and stories of others who fell apart before they could realize their retirement dreams. A good friend had a heart attack the evening of his last day at work, and is only alive today because he got to the hospital in time to be rescued from a total cardiac arrest.

Myself, I was so fried at 60 when I retired! I don’t think there would have been much left of me if I had worked another 10 years, which would have been necessary to financially survive retirement in the US. We wake up every morning and give thanks for this affordable Panamanian life!

Then, there is this cost comparison between the USA and Panama.

Of course the USA is a huge country, and there are differences in costs depending on where you are. It’s the same in little Panama. You can expect a lot of things to be much more expensive in Panama City than they would be in the interior in a small town or rural area. But, here are some numbers which you all may find useful.

Don’t believe none of what you hear and half of what you see (from the song “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by CCR, and many others). These articles are interesting, but no substitute for doing your own homework. This expat life doesn’t work for everybody for a variety of reasons, but it also can be better than you ever imagined.


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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17 Responses to Cost of Living, Retirement, Etc.

  1. Robert&Helen says:

    You are fully right. I worked hard and saved sufficient money to stop working at 56. I invested quite well. At 65 I got my SS pension and 2 other pensions. Fortunately in Euros. My wife got her civil servant pension last year July. Panama is about 30% less expensive than most European countries. I am an expat for 31 years, Nigeria, Spain and St. Lucia (Caribbean). Travelled a lot for my work. Happy that I am trilingual and can also manage basic French and German. Panama is for me since 4 years a very affordable and friendly place to retire.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. cathrynharkey says:

    Hello Kris! I recently discovered your blog and I’m so happy that I did! My husband and I will be doing a scouting trip this Spring to decide which area is best suited to our needs. It’s been a long year of constant research but I feel at peace since we decided on Panama. Like you, I don’t believe I could have worked any longer and I retired at 62. Staying in the US (even in a rural TX town) won’t allow us to live as we are accustomed to once my hubby retires. It is truly sad that so many people are having to struggle after retirement here. We cannot wait to make our move to beautiful Portugal! Thank you for sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Texas would probably be our choice if we had to live in the US but yes, nothing is cheap any more. Panama or Portugal? I have heard that Portugal is wonderful too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cat says:

        Whoops- Panama! For sure! We looked at Portugal long and hard but the distance held us back. I love the idea of being able to return to TX easily and quickly should the need arise. Plus the cost of living is much less in Panama and better suits our budget. We had even started learning Portuguese and what a relief it is to be back on Spanish now.🤣


        • We also appreciate that Panama is closer to the US. Portuguese? I’ve heard some, very frustrating, sounds enough like Spanish that I should know what they are saying but I can’t understand anything! Spanish has been challenging enough, but it is spoken by so many of the world’s people I’m happy it’s my second language. Anyway.., happy travels, and I hope you are happy with Panama 😊


  3. david says:

    Hi Chris David here I haven’t posted in a long time I have visited Panama for three months I was in the town of Boquete and I loved it and I believe it is for me but I would like to know what is the comparison to a single man living and retiring in Panama and that of a couple man and wife I don’t want to be single for the rest of my life but that also doesn’t mean I’m ready for marriage again what are some of the roadblocks for a single male retiring in Panama.




      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey David! 😊 You were in Boquete? Did we meet? Did I forget?? 😮
      I don’t think costs of a single vs a couple are much different than anywhere. You’d share the costs of housing, utilities, etc but other costs would be more like food, maybe entertainment, etc. As for life in general there are many singles, both men and women who are doing fine. If you find someone and want to date, live together, whatever suits you I think people consider that a personal decision and won’t judge you. I don’t know if that answers your question…..


  4. Felipe says:

    I don’t believe most articles I read 100%. Your posts really help me to have accurate information to sift through the primary media outlets. We liked Panama in 2017 but are doing to Guadalajara in a few weeks to check out the area. I know Chapala is the expat magnet but I like cities and Guadalajara has always sounded like a nice one. But that Panama seafood sure can’t be beat. We’re not sure yet but keep saving our pennies. Early retirement here is doable but I’m not sure it’s worth the price. Healthcare costs are stupid here. Thanks for your posts.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kris, Hey speaking of have we met. I will be there the 14th of next month for a couple of weeks. Looking around David, Boquete and Pedisi, just want to take my time and see where I want to settle in. I can’t wait. I really hope you guys will be playing the weekend of the 16th. Would love to come listen and have some fun.


    • Excellent! Friday 15th we are at Palo Cortao (the bar at Hotel Ladera) 7:00-10:00. Saturday Mike’s Flobal Grill 7:30-10:00. Sunday the Boquete Brewing Company 6:30-9:30. See you there!


  6. Kristin Lyman says:

    Hi Kris, I know I have not posted in awhile been very busy following Panama Dave’s book and selling everything I own lol. I will be there the 15th of next month for a couple of weeks. I will be looking around David, Boquete and Pedisi and get a feel of where I want to settle in. I hope you guys have a gig scheduled the weekend of the 16th I would love to meet you and hear you guys play. I wish I could say I was just going to kick back and enjoy being back in Panama again but it’s going to be more of a fact finding mission for me and learning to use the buses there again. LOL I am very sure I will find the time to lay back on the beach in Pedisi and let the sand and the surf seep back into my soul for a day or two.


    • I remember those crazy times getting ready to move! It’s worth it when you finally get settled and are able to take a deep breath.
      We play Sat the 16th at Mike’s Global Grill 7:30-10:00 and Sunday 17th at the Boquete Brewing Company 6:30-9:30. Come on by and introduce yourself 😊


  7. Kristin Lyman says:

    Sorry I sent that twice but I realized I sent it Anonymous the first time. Yes things really are crazy and I swear after I get there and get my house all I’m going to do for the first couple of days is set up my hammock and live out of my suitcase until I let the slow life seep into my bones🌊🏖🏝. Manana o pasado manana (no clue where the special characters are on this keyboard) will be my new motto but for now it’s still life at 100 mph. Can’t wait to meet and hear the bass😎


    • Sitting in a hammock is not only recommended, it is required in Panama. I think everyone has to have a hammock and a machete to be really Panamanian 😀 Your day will get here.


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