The Real Cost Of Living In Panama | Explained

Panama is a beautiful country. It’s best known for its vibrant culture, lush landscapes, and high standards of living. But there’s another reason why so many people are drawn to Panama. It’s a safe and affordable place to live. This really makes it an attractive option for many expats and home buyers from abroad. Especially when compared to the US and Europe, the cost of living in Panama is much lower! The cost of living in Panama depends on a few things though. Where you live, how you live, and what you like to do in your spare time can all affect the cost of living. But, overall, your money can go a very long way in Panama. In this guide, we’ll talk about the real cost of living in Panama in 2023 and focus in-depth on different areas of the country. We’ll cover Panama City, Bocas del Toro, Boquete & David, as well as Coronado. This guide is perfect for expats or families thinking about moving to Panama, and we’ll do our best to help you understand what the cost of living in Panama could be for you! Let’s dive right in:


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Factors Influencing Cost of Living In Panama

When it comes to living in Panama, there are several factors that can affect how much it can cost you. Let’s talk about the three main factors first, before we explore the different areas of Panama:


Cost Of Housing In Panama
 The first thing to consider is housing. In Panama, where you choose to live can make a big cost difference. For example, a fancy Apartment in Panama City will cost you more than a cozy Mountain Home in Boquete. And buying a Beach Property in Bocas del Toro is a different story altogether.  The cost of housing in Panama City can vary a lot as well. Depending on exact location, age of the building, floor level etc., there are some big differences showing up. More on that later on in the article!


Groceries & Utilities

Next, you’ll need to think about groceries and utilities. The price of food can vary, depending on whether you shop at local food stores or upscale gourmet markets. As for utilities, they’re generally quite affordable, but can go up if you’re living in a larger home or if you use a lot of electricity.  When it comes to transportation, hard-to-access areas can be more expensive in the long run. Living in areas with good roads and public infrastructure is key. You don’t necessarily want to rely on a boat or helicopter!


Recreational Activities

Lastly, what you do for fun can really affect your cost of living. If you enjoy dining out, attending concerts or going on trips, this will increase your monthly expenses. But don’t worry, Panama offers a variety of recreational activities that can fit any budget.

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Cost Of Living Panama: Recent Data From 2023

When compared to the US or Europe, the cost of living in Panama is refreshingly low. While Panama’s cost of living has been increasing for the past decades, it is still a fraction of what it’s like in most western countries. And as economic development increases local wages and attracts foreign capital inflow, this development is totally natural. In the following, we will have a look at some of the main expenses you’ll have to factor in when calculating the cost of life in Panama:

  • Average Purchase Price per M2 in the City: $1,200 – $3,400
  • Average Rent for 1-Bedroom City Apartment: $600 – $1,500
  • Average Cost for Groceries per Month: $150 – $400
  • Average Cost for Utilities per Month: $50 – $150
  • Average Cost for Recreation per Month: $100 – $400

These figures are averages across all areas and can vary depending on specific locations within Panama. It’s always a good idea for to research specific neighborhoods to get a more precise understanding of different living costs!


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Panama Cost Of Living: Location Matters

As touched on before, location really matters. The cost of living in Panama can vary a lot, depending on where you choose to stay. So, let’s have a look at Panama’s main expat regions: Panama City, Bocas del Toro, Coronado, Boquete & David.


The Costs Of Housing

Starting with Panama City, the capital’s real estate and rental market is the most costly. This reflects its status as the country’s business and cultural hub, as well as by-far the largest metropolis in Panama. One-bedroom apartments in the city center range from $600 to $1,500 monthly, and provide easy access to a wealth of amenities and transport links. In contrast: Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro offers a more laid-back lifestyle and a more affordable cost of living. A similar apartment could cost as little as $450, a stark contrast to Panama City. Coronado sits somewhere in the middle, with one-bedroom apartments costing $700-$1,200. The coastal town offers a comfortable blend of city amenities with a relaxed beach vibe and is a popular retirement destination. Also, Coronado is just 1.5 hours away from Panama City, making it perfect for a vacation home or weekend retreat! Boquete & David stand out as the most affordable of all, with one-bedroom apartments starting as low as $350. The serene and scenic surroundings really make these two towns an attractive option for nature lovers. Also, they are among the most popular among expats from the US and Europe, as they offer a milder climate than the rest of Panama.


Groceries & Utilities Across Panama

In terms of groceries, Panama City again sits at the higher end of the spectrum, with the monthly cost ranging from $200 – $450. Bocas del Toro can offer a slight reprieve, with a monthly cost ranging from $150 – $350. Coronado, Boquete & David’s grocery costs lie in the middle, at about $180 – $380 and $150 – $300 respectively. For utilities, the costs across these areas do not differ as much, ranging between $50 – $150 per month. This is a testament to Panama’s commitment to providing essential services at a fair price, regardless of your location.  Again, these numbers rely on averages and do not factor in lifestyles of extreme luxury or self-sufficiency!


Recreational Activities

Moving on to recreational activities. Each area of Panama offers unique experiences to be made and enjoyed. Panama City is abundant in fine dining, nightclubs, and various cultural experiences. Dining at a high-end restaurant will cost you about $50 each (filet-steaks and fine Italian wine taken out of that equation). More affordable places will charge you about $5-15 per meal. Bocas del Toro and Coronado are both famous for their stunning beaches and marine activities. They are also known for their vibrant expat community & upscale beachside living. They both have recreational costs sitting somewhere between $100 – $400 a month. If you’d like to ride Jetski everyday, this number will be significantly higher, though! Boquete & David, with their mild climate and many outdoor activities, offer a similar cost for leisure. They are perfect for those seeking peace of mind and a strong connection with nature. Each region in Panama has its unique charm and cost of living. From the city life of Panama City to the more relaxed lifestyle of Boquete & David, Panama satisfies a large number of preferences and budgets. Make sure to consider your lifestyle choices, budget, and personal preferences when choosing a location!

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Panama Cost Of Living – Tips For Expats

Living in Panama can be an exciting adventure. But adjusting to a new cost of living requires thoughtful planning. Here are some practical tips to help you keep your cost of living low:

Embrace Local Food

Panama’s fresh, local produce is not only healthier than pre-fabricated foods, but it’s also more cost-effective. Visit local markets or roadside stands where you can buy directly from farmers. Cooking at home instead of dining out will also save serious money in the long run. 4.2. Use Public Transportation  Panama has an efficient and inexpensive public transportation system. You can save money by using buses and Metro in Panama City, instead of having to rely on your own vehicle. Taxi and Uber might also be a good choice for short to medium commutes or your evening dinner out. 4.3. Live Like A Local  Adapt to the local lifestyle, which can mean living in a less touristic area, using local services, or adopting the local way of doing things. This could save you a significant amount of money over time.


Choose Your Location Wisely

Consider living in smaller towns like Boquete and David, which offer lower housing costs than Panama City for example. Proximity to public services and amenities can also save on transportation costs.

Negotiate Rental Agreements

Don’t be afraid to negotiate the cost of your rent. It’s a common practice in Panama and could end up saving you a significant amount in the long term. Remember, the key to keeping living costs low in Panama, or anywhere, lies in understanding the local economy and adapting your lifestyle accordingly. But, make sure to also enjoy life in Panama and not think about saving money every minute of the day. Balance is key!

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The Real Cost Of Living In Panama – Conclusion

In conclusion, the cost of living in Panama varies greatly depending on your lifestyle and the region you choose. Whether it’s the cityscape of Panama City or the tranquil beach life of Bocas Del Toro, there’s something to suit everyone’s preferences and budget. When compared to North America and Europe, Panama presents an attractive proposition. The cost of housing, groceries, utilities, and recreational activities are considerably lower here. Also, Panama offers a quality of life that rivals these regions. With its beautiful culture & landscapes, welcoming locals and great business opportunities, Panama is a true paradise for expats! Remember to consider your lifestyle preferences, income, and personal circumstances to find the area that best suits your needs! With some planning and thoughtful choices, you can enjoy an excellent life and lower your cost of living in Panama even further. For people interested in retiring in Panama, the Pensionado Program will offer you additional discounts on many public services and events.
Liked this article about Panama Cost Of Living? Then feel free to check out our other articles about immigration to Panama, real estate and more! Also stay tuned for future articles looking at the differences of cost of living in Panama vs. US, Mexico, Costa Rica and others. For questions on other topics, feel free to contact us anytime.



What Monthly Budget Should I Plan For In Panama?

Your monthly budget in Panama will depend greatly on your lifestyle, location, and personal choices. For a single person, a budget of $1,000 to $2,000 per month will likely cover the basic expenses in most parts of Panama, including housing, food, transportation, and basic utilities. However, if you choose to live in more upscale neighborhoods, go to restaurants frequently, or engage in a lot of paid recreational activities, your costs might be higher.

Can I Retire In Panama On $1,000 A Month?

Although $1,000 isn’t much, there is certainly a way to live in Panama for $1,000 a month. Living in a small apartment in David or Boquete may cost you about $400. This leaves enough money left for food and basic activities.
As a retiree, the Pensionado Program should be something to think about. If you can prove an income of $1,000 a month into a Panamanian bank account, you are eligible for the Program. This grants you discounts on many public services like transportation and others. For more on that, contact us anytime!

What’s The Gas Price In Panama?

Gas prices in Panama are really affordable. Usually always below $1 per liter, and as of mid 2023, they are somewhere around 90 Cents per liter.
This may vary slightly depending on the area you find yourself in.

Is Public Transport Affordable In Panama?

Yes, public transportation in Panama is quite affordable. A one-way ticket on local transport typically costs around $0.25 to $0.75. If you plan to commute frequently, you can opt for a monthly pass, which ranges from $20.00 to $40.00. For longer distances, inter-city buses offer good service at reasonable prices as well.

How Much Does A New Apartment In Panama Cost Me?

Depending on the location you choose and the floor level of your apartment, prices per M2 fluctuate between $1,200 and $3,400. Areas like Punta Pacifica or Costa del Este for example, are on the upper end of that spectrum.

What’s The Cost For A Familiy Home In Boquete Panama?

Property prices in the Boquete area can vary depending on the exact location, age and condition of the property, size of the plot, and proximity to amenities. As a rule of thumb, an average house in Boquete will come at around $2,000 per M2 living space.

What Costs Come With A Property Purchase In Panama?

In Panama, the property buying process involves several fees. These include a 2% transfer tax on the updated registered value of the property, notary fees (usually 1% of the purchase price), and registration fees (around 0.5% of the purchase price). Legal fees can also apply, typically around $1000 to $1500, and may vary based on the property value and how much help you need.

What’s The Cheapest City To Live In Panama?

When comparing Panama’s larger population centers, David and Boquete stand out as the most affordable places to stay.

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