3. The Cost of Living in Panama

There has been so much interest in our cost of living reports that I decided to give this subject its own page.

What does it cost to live in Panama? Can you really live on $2000/month? $1000/month? $500/month? Yes you can. I just depends on how and where you want to live, and what makes you happy. If you live in Panama City, it’s going to be more expensive. If you want to live on less you can choose a more rural area, a smaller house, public transportation, and only local food. Entire Panamanian families often live on less than $1000/month.

We live in David, the second largest city. Our basic monthly expenses are around $1200/month – rent, food, utilities, etc. This does not include travel, medical/dental expenses, or other one time expenses. For a detailed accounting of how we live and what it costs, see the posts below.

February, 2013
April, 2013
June, 2013
July 2013
September 2013

January 2014
October 2014
November 2014

August 2015

July 2016

January 2017

I will  continue to write occasional cost of living reports so stay tuned. We understand how important this information is to many people. It was very important to us as well when we were making the decision to move here.

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81 Responses to 3. The Cost of Living in Panama

  1. Pingback: Our Cost of Living in Panama – July 2013 | The Panama Adventure

  2. Davd says:

    Some really interesting insects!!!!! I love your blog,, one question I need info on hotels,, around 30 to 50 dollars night,, I intend to be there on vacation for 3 weeks ,, I want to explore and find my paradise. I’d like to see the mountains first ,, then the beach . And maybe some in between like not too far from city and markets and hospitals. If I could find a hotel not too expensive I’d be happy. Thanks in advance,, and keep up the good work ,, excellent work with the blog. David.


    • Kris says:

      Hmmm… I don’t have a lot of experience with hotels here. David is the main place for markets and hospitals. There is none of that at the beach, and not too much in the mountains though there are communities with basic necessities. When we visited we did the inexpensive thing too and stayed in hostels which worked out great for us. We met fun people, and also saved by using the community kitchen to cook rather than eating out all the time. http://www.chambresenville.info/english/index.html and http://www.bambuhostel.com/ are the ones we stayed at, but certainly not the only ones in the area.


  3. Wow…that’s amazing. I live in Belize…and I’d say my cost of living…just me is at least double that. Thanks for the info…I like it.


    • I’ve heard Belize is more expensive, maybe because expats have been moving there for a long time? I hope you are enjoying your life there though. Even here, you could spend a lot more if you want to, or less if you want to live a more simple life.


  4. Deborah says:

    Hi Kris! I just wanted to let you know how much my husband and I enjoy reading about you and your hubby’s life in Panama. My husband retired in 2010 and we’ve been thinking about moving out of country for the last 2 years. We’re planning our first trip to Panama next fall. Do you do any email correspondence? OMG….how could I forget. Your pictures are AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dana Jones says:

    Hi, I have found your blog to be very interesting. I’m wondering if you have posted about the climate and crime in Panama, or if not, if you have any comments on both.
    We thought of Panama when we decided to leave the US, but chose Costa Rica instead. We live in the mountains as we found the coast to be too hot in the ‘dry’ season (Dec-May).
    As for crime, there are many parts of Costa Rica where houses don’t have bars or “decorative” grills on the windows, is it the same in Panama?

    Thanks, Dana

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, glad you enjoy the blog 🙂
      The climate at sea level is warm and humid (average low 75- high 88 degrees, sometimes more in dry season). We like it but many find it too hot. The higher you go in the mountains the cooler it is, but sometimes it is more humid with more rain, and maybe more wind. It’s tricky to find the right spot up there because one side of the mountain can be quite different from another.
      As for crime, we feel safer here than we did in the US. Of course there are problem areas to avoid and you have to use common sense like anywhere, but there seem to be few problems. Most of the crime is petty, crimes of opportunity, theft, etc. Most people have security covers on windows and doors, and gates around the property (keeps out the neighbor’s dogs and roosters). You will see armed security people everywhere, at banks, doors of businesses, in parking lots, on street corners, etc. At first this felt upsetting but I soon realized that very little happens because there is so much security everywhere. I think there were enough violent problems in the recent past, well remembered by many, and people now do NOT want any problems!
      We feel especially lucky because we are in a nice quiet neighborhood with only one way in, and we have friendly relationships with our neighbors, some of whom are retired and home a lot. If you come here the dogs will all go nuts, the neighbors will notice you, and if you stop someone will ask you what you are doing here.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Trish Chanda says:

    I really can’t wait to retire in June. I plan on moving to David in July. I’ve already started selling my big furniture and my house. I’m just moving with what will fit in my suitcases. Thanks for all the useful information. It helps me feel better about moving by myself.


  7. Trish says:

    That would be nice to meet in person 🙂


  8. Pingback: Cost of Living – David, Panama, January 2014 | The Panama Adventure

  9. Laurie says:

    Love reading your blogs. My husband and I are in the process of getting ready for early retirement in 5 years. Panama is my top pick so far. I’ve looked at others and will visit them. My concern is medical care. I’ve suffered a massive heart attack and I just turned 50. Is there high quality care in Panama for someone like me? I’ve seen a lot of different countries claim good medical care but claiming and actually having it is a difference that could kill. At some point, I’m sure I’ll have to have bypass. Really appreciate any info that you may have or heard of.


    • Thanks for the kind words about my blog 🙂 Of course you have to make your own decisions about health care, but in my opinion I’d rather have care here than in the US. There is state of the art care available in Panama City. We’re in David where I have been very impressed with what I have seen. My husband’s mother was here for the first 6 months and saw a number of doctors. She was treated with kindness, respect, and all the time she needed and was helped with a few issues that she had been unable to resolve in years in the US. I would suggest you come and visit and go see some doctors for consultations and see how it feels to you. Tell them your history and ask them how they would take care of you. Another consideration – medicare will not cover you here. Care here is much less costly but still, with a complicated history you might want to research insurance options.


  10. Hi Kris! I have so enjoyed reading your posts! Yours is the first one I’ve read that makes me feel “at home”! What I mean is, you sound like a regular person, enjoying life, and getting the most out of it that you can. My husband and I are hoping to visit Panama soon, and would like to see David, with the thought of a possible retirement here in future. I would love to meet with you if possible. You have inspired me to feel good about the world again – life has been a little rough lately! Please feel free to email me. I would love to “visit”!


  11. Michelle says:

    Hello Kris,

    I enjoyed reading your blog and the plethora of information and details. I have been thinking of moving to Panama for a couple of years now. I have been living the expat life for about 5 years now living in Europe, The Caribbean, and The Middle East. I have enjoyed it all but I am looking for a more laid back and affordable lifestyle for me and my children. I am actually retired from the US military and receive a pension so I know that I can apply for the retirement VISA from all the research I have conducted. Panama is definitely my number one choice. Is there anything else you could tell me about moving there with my children. Maybe some links or contacts so that I maybe can start researching rentals and prices. Thank you so much


  12. Linda Y says:

    Such help information.
    Thank you so much!


  13. Anonymous says:

    My wife and I will be visiting Panama in about 2 weeks. I have a good friend that lives in Coronado, but after seeing your pictures and reading your blog we have decided to start our retirement research in the David/Boquete area. My wife loves the beach, but I prefer higher ground and prefer to “visit” the beach.

    Thanks for all the great info and exuberance.


    • Oh wow, I hope I have changed your mind in the right direction. When you visit though, you’ll know how it feels to you. It’s an interesting country because there are so many different options. The whole country is beautiful but I think Chiriqui province is the most beautiful of all. If you want to get together for a chat while you’re here just let me know 🙂


  14. J.P. Blount says:

    Hi Kris –
    Am enjoying your blog very much. You provide the basic information I think most of us want & need about visiting Panama. My wife & I visited about 3 years ago for three weeks. Hope to return next May. We previously thought about living there but now would prefer to split our time with May-Oct in the Pacific NW & winters down there. Perhaps you have said elsewhere, but how long can we stay in country on a visit’s visa, 90 days? Could we cross border to Costa Rica and then return to Panama?
    We enjoyed El Valle (nice locals & expats) as well as Boquette. From what I am reading, perhaps David weather & temps might be a good fit. Will see on next visit. Thanks again for your work of love on your blog. We can certainly tell that you are very happy in Panama.


    • Thank you! I am glad you enjoy the blog.
      You can stay for 180 days as a tourist, but if you drive your license is good for 90 days. Yes you can go to Costa Rica, get your passport stamped and you are good for another 180 or 90 days. I have written a blog post about crossing the border so if you do this check it out and also find out the latest info (requirements tend to change without notice sometimes). People do this all the time so if you have what you need with you, you should be fine.


  15. J.P. Blount says:

    Yes I discovered your discussion of your trip to border After I sent message! Sounded like another opportunity to “go with flow” & be patient. I keep reading your blog & some of those you link regularly & find them very helpful. Again enjoy your trip.



  16. Pingback: Cost of Living in Panama - Panama For Beginners

  17. Thank you for this article…..very interesting for me. I´m thinking of living in Panama….just me and 17yo daughter. I would like to ask you, is it a safe country for single women? Which areas are safe and which are no go areas? I´d love to hear your reply when you have time during your travels! thanks!


    • Hi and thanks for visiting my blog. Yes, I think Panama is safe. Of course like anywhere in the world it depends on how and where you live. Colon is generally considered a less safe area, as are some parts of Panama City. Thee are more specific recommendations depending on where exactly you end up. It helps a lot if you speak some Spanish and make friends with your neighbors because they will look out for you and advise you better than anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Cost of Living in Panama -

  19. Mary Smithersteen says:

    How much Spanish does a person need to get by? High School Spanish? I’m almost a senior now but am going to invest in Rosetta Stone, I think.


    • A lot depends on where you are. If you are in Coronado, Boquete, Panama City, etc where there are lots of expats you can get by with very little. Other places it will be more difficult. I think at the minimum you need to be able to ask directions, questions, know your numbers for money transactions, etc. But there more you know, the more you can develop relationships with the locals which IMO is the most rewarding part of being here.


  20. Mary Smithersteen says:

    There is a service that Amazon has. It’s called Amazon prime instant video. And the particular video that I’ve watched showing Panama is called “Seasoned Traveler – Panama”. Is there anyway you could watch on Amazon prime instant video this video and give me your opinion as to the its authenticity?


  21. Anonymous says:

    Hi Chris I also love your blog it’s very informative,, I haven’t heard anyone speaking of the cost of air line tickets,, prices compared to those of usa,, if I lived in panama and wanted to fly to Hong Kong or the phillippines , would the ticket be cheaper in panama or about the same?? The reason I ask is I met a lady in the phillippines. But I don’t want to retire there ,, it’s affordable but it is wayyyyyyyyy to far from usa,,


    • Thanks, glad you enjoy the blog. I’m sorry I can’t help you with airline ticket prices though since I have only flown between here and the US. There must be info in the internet though. Google seems to find pretty much anything you ask.


  22. Pingback: Cost of Living Report – November 2014 | The Panama Adventure

  23. ronbillock says:

    great posts and information. So many different types of questions/answers which make this even more beneficial. So my question is this. My wife is concerned that if we relocate to Panama that she may not be able to continue her Artisan hobby doing mosaics. She mostly uses old cups, plates and colored tile to create designs on pots/planters, table tops, stepping stones. Have you seen other people that do mosaics or areas where there are active artisans?


    • Hi and thanks, glad you find the blog useful.
      I haven’t looked into making or selling anything here so I don’t know much. I know there is a Tuesday Market in Boquete where locals and expats sell various things, many of them things like your wife’s work. We also happened upon a market in Coronado when we visited there, so I have a feeling this sort of thing goes on in a number of areas. You might ask on the Facebook group or some of the forums listed on my website http://www.thepanamaadventure.com/links.html#Facebook


  24. Pingback: panamadude.com – 8 Blogs About Panama You Should Read

  25. Ross Blankert says:

    I live near Boquete Panama in the mountains of Chiriqui Province. The people are mostly friendly and helpful. If you speak even a little Spanish, they will try to help you. Big smiles from most folks. Lots of very poor people but they have family and faith and this is what is important to them. I rent a house which is relatively small with 2 bedroom, 2 bath, furnished, with hot water(not necessarily in houses here) for 450 a month.


  26. tiger62 says:

    As an American, living here in Panama going on 18yrs and as a retired person
    my stay here is very enjoyable and relaxing. I would tell anyone that plans on
    moving here to try and learn the basics of Spanish as this is the principal language
    here. Yes they do have english speaking persons in local banks, and business’s
    but they are few.
    My wife is Panamanien, and she learned english from me and I learned spanish
    from her so we communicate with the community very well.
    Living here in the outskirts of David Chiriqui, San Pable Viejo to be exact, Bus stops
    in front of the homes here and the trip to David is about 20 minutes at a cost of
    70 cents one way, and that is pretty cheap. A taxi costs about 7dlrs.
    Study about Panama before coming to live, visit and get familiar with the area in
    which you want to live, and enjoy.


    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I so agree. It is really important to learn Spanish so you can communicate.
      I know where San Pablo is. I have biked out that way occasionally. Nice area
      Very good advice for everyone, thanks 🙂


  27. Anonymous says:

    Great blog post! I noticed you stopped doing the monthly cost reports. Have you noticed a change over the last year?


    • I should do another cost of living report. It helps us know what we are doing too. First though, I have to stay put for a month 😀 Prices are always going up everywhere but I haven’t noticed anything dramatic here. Cable is up a couple dollars but other fixed expenses are the same. Food prices maybe be up a bit here and there but nothing major. I’d say if there are changes they are minor and life here is still very affordable for us.


      • Kim says:

        Thanks for responding! You mentioned that you have a 5mb internet plan, is there a faster plan? Also, I’m concerned with safety for same sex partners, what are your thoughts on this?


        • Ours is the mid range of three plans, if my memory serves. You might check http://www.chiriquichatter.net he is very tech savvy and talks about Cable Onda now and then, the internet provider we both use.
          I think same sex couples are well accepted here. No couples are affectionate in public, but if you behave with the usual decorum you should be fine. People here are much more accepting Of differences of color, religion, personal preferences, etc., all those things we get judged on so much in the US. This was a very pleasant surprise to me, and I feel more accepted here than I did in the US.


          • Ross Blankert says:

               Honestly, I know that folks are always polite and think gringos are crazy.  I am married to a lady and have been for 41 years plus some.  I think usual decorum for you would be fine.  I don’t like to express an opinion here as I am also polite.  I believe sex outside of marriage is immoral and it is indeed dangerous in this world.  I think that what you are talking about is best left in the closet and is unacceptable to me.  Gay sex is sick and sinful. But I accept people the way they are and hope they can manage their way through life uneventful. 


      • Benjamin says:

        Hi Cris… thanks for your very helpful & informative blog. Am tasked with retirement planning for my sister in Glendora,CA. My top recommendation is Panama. We are both past 63 yrs old. She is a U.S citizen & I am not. She is receiving a monthly pension of 2K+. She insist that I will join her in Panama if ever. I am not a U.S citizen (Asian presently working & based in the Middle East). I am curious if she could include me to move & avail with a “pensionada” program?


  28. Pingback: Can You Afford the Cost of Living in Panama? - PanamaDude

  29. Pingback: Can You Afford the Cost of Living in Panama? | Panama Expats News

  30. Pingback: Cost of Living, August 2015 | The Panama Adventure

  31. Benjamin says:

    Dear Cris, Thanks for your usual informative & prompt reply. Anyway, my Sister and myself agreed that your place is an ideal quiet retirement location. As an option, we are looking to buy a house with a max budget of US$ 150K (in your area – Chiriqui). Is this amount suitable for a 2-bedroom house? A 15 year old house is acceptable to us. Also, may I know the updated rent prices in your area? Is it acceptable for a house owner to lease the house for a short term of say 6 months?


  32. Ron says:

    Is there a recommended hotel on the beach near David? maybe $75 a nite?


    • The nearest beach is La Barqueta and the resort there is Las Olas. I’m sure you can find them on google and check prices. There is another resort at Las Lajas beach. The only other area you are likely to find something is Boca Chica, but that is more islands than beach. Prices are likely to be higher now during tourist season, and lower during “green season” aka rainy season.


  33. Edgar U says:


    Thanks for providing updates on your blog! Quick question though, what are the requirements for buying a house in Panama? I currently live in Miami, FL. I have always though about buying something in my Native Nicaragua and know the requirements but for Panama I’m clueless…hehehe. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    ~ Edgar U


  34. Edgar U says:


    Thanks for the quick reply! I will continue reading your blog and thanks for the timely updates.


  35. Charles Areson says:

    Hi Kris, My name is Charles Areson and my wife Inna and I are here at the Little Italy B&B out on the way from David to Conception. We will be returning to the U.K. next Tues. – 22 Nov. Would like to talk & meet with you if possible. We went to David today by bus, saw the park (in the rain) & had a good lunch at a local restaurant. We do have a phone now so can make connection that way if appropriate. Hope to hear from you quickly. Thanks and shalom.


  36. Pingback: Cost of Living Report, Jan 2017 | The Panama Adventure

  37. JON says:

    I am enjoying your blog very much. Jon in NYC

    Trying to decide if I would need to be married to enjoy your lifestyle down there or not.


    • Hey Jon in NYC, that’s where I’m from, though I haven’t lived there for a long time. Thanks, glad you enjoy the blog.
      I don’t think you would need to be married. There are a lot of single expats. And, if you are interested in dating the Panamanian women are absolutely beautiful.


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