Cost of Living, January 2020

Once in a while, now usually once a year, I track expenses just to see where we are at, and to share the info with you all who want to know the actual costs for one couple living in David, Panama. For past cost of living reports, look here

Rent $385 – 3 bedroom/2 bath (unfurnished, which means bring your own appliances) in a comfortable middle class neighborhood. Our neighbors are teachers, lawyers, blue collar professionals, and medical professionals. It would probably be $450 now but the landlords haven’t raised the rent in 7+ years.

Our house in Oct 2012

Food $431.98 – $126.65 for fruits and vegetables, $72.39 at the supermarket, $232.94 at Pricesmart (our version of Costco)  It might be a bit lower than  average because we started with a well stocked freezer. We buy anything we want including imported food and treats in the freezer. This includes local beer that we enjoy with dinner, and an occasional bottle of local rum. We could lower this quite a bit if we stuck with local foods.

Gas for the car $43 – again could be more, but we started the month with a fairly full tank.

Gas for the kitchen $5.12 – household gas is a tank like you usually see on a BBQ. Tanks are subsidized by the government so very economical. One tank lasts us about a month.

Electricity $40 – with a fridge, freezer, and AC during the hotter afternoons

Cable $46.21 – CableOnda package deal for TV and internet, though we only use the internet

car insurance $27 – monthly for two older cars, liability only. You can only get full coverage on cars less than 10 years old. Even then though, we’ve found it considerably less than in the USA (think it was around $28/month for the one car, before it got too old)

Netflix – $8.99

Phone – $0 – I didn’t put any money on my phone this month. I usually add $10 when my balance gets below $10 and that lasts me for months. Most communication is done by WhatsApp and actual phone calls are unusual.

Books $84.40 – this is high, but they had this sale I couldn’t resist.

Arocha $60.88 – miscellaneous things from the pharmacy, case for my phone, greeting card, can’t remember exactly what else.

Website/blog hosting $10 – or $119.88 paid yearly

Total – $1142.58   This seems to be about the same for every year I’ve tracked it since we arrived in 2012. If anything, we are spending more because we feel we can afford imported food treats, and one of our cars is a large, thirsty beast (though perfect for those drives up the mountain loaded with band equipment).

This does not include travel, eating our (which we almost never do), clothes and other shopping (also rare), and other “non essential” costs. We don’t have health insurance. Since we are both healthy and take no medications, we have decided to keep money in the bank to cover emergencies and pay as we go.

I’ve probably forgotten a detail or two but this will give you a general idea. If we really needed to cut costs we could find a good house for half the price in a smaller, nearby town, and we could cut food costs by staying with only local foods.

We are SO fortunate! To be able to live comfortably, live well and want for nothing on the income we have without worry, its a HUGE gift and we appreciate it each and every day. My heart goes out to all the struggling seniors in the US who can’t afford even their necessities and have few to no options to change their situation. We are so fortunate that we were able to make this change in our lives, and it has been a success.



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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6 Responses to Cost of Living, January 2020

  1. Charlotte Summers says:

    You are fortunate that your rent hasn’t been raised in 7 years. About 15 months ago I checked into rents in David and couldn’t find anything under $500 for a small 1 bdrm 1 bath place in a less secure neighborhood. I own my own home in Boquete and have no house nor car payments, but even without these costs, I couldn’t make it on $1200 a month. I congratulate you on being able to do so, but people considering expatriation should definitely investigate for themselves. Saludos.


    • Absolutely, anyone should do their own research on the area they plan to make their new home. Nothing under $500 in David though? Wow, where were you looking? There was a nice 3/2 house in our neighborhood that went for $400 (unfurnished) just a few months ago, and there is another bigger one for $500 that is vacant for months because everyone says the price is too high. I’ve seen very decent houses, maybe 2 bedroom 1 bath for $250. A friend has a small house in Boqueron for $150. Boquete however, of course, is a different thing and prices are higher there.


  2. LEESA says:

    Kris, I have been following you for years and enjoy reading about your adventurous life in Panama. I hope someday to have my own out of country adventure once my husband and I retire. I do have a question, what is your plan if one of you loses your health? Will you stay in Panama or come back to the states? Just curious because you have been in Panama so long and it seems your life is so full.


    • Thanks for the kind words about the blog 🙂 Yes, loss of heath is a concern. I would very much prefer to stay here. Medical care is good and affordable, and in home care is much less money and good quality, especially in this culture of high respect for the elderly. If we were mentally unable to manage ourselves however, we would probably have to go back to the US with family since it would be very hard for them to manage us from afar.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rebecca says:

    Hi Kris — Is there an Electric Bike shop in or near Boquete?? Or even in David?


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