Cost of Living in Panama — Food Costs

One of the attractions of living in Panama is the low cost of living. Many retirees on a fixed income seek a place where they can live comfortably within a limited budget. Since food is one of the things everyone must have, let’s take a look at actual, current food costs.

If you buy locally grown, fresh produce or fish, you will pay significantly less than the United States of Canada.  If you buy the name brands you are used to back home ( yes they are available here), you will pay more than you did in North America.  So, to save money, buy locally grown produce and products.

I was pleasantly surprised to find juicy sweet pineapples priced at 50 cents each in Panama.  I paid at least $3.50 for pineapples in the United States and those have very little, if any, flavor.  A local favorite is to put pineapple chunks in a blender with water or milk, blend well to enjoy a pineapple smoothie.   You can also add locally grown bananas or mangos too.  I’m lucky to have 70 banana trees on my property so I always have a good supply of free bananas.

Carrots are huge yet tender and flavorful.   They are $1,50 a pound at the grocery store but you can buy them for 50-75 cents a pound from a local farmer’s market.

Coffee is grown in the highland regions of Panama.  There are many coffee farms near Boquete.  So the coffee you buy is fresh and tastes much better than anything you can buy in North America.

Here’s a sample of basic food items and their costs in US dollars at local grocery stores in Chiriquí province, where Boquete and David are located. Because prices vary among stores, in most cases a price range is shown. For produce, prices are for in season, locally grown items.

One pound of gourmet roast, locally grown coffee beans                                5.49 to 6.79

Box of 100 teabags                                                                                                        1.99

One pound of ground beef, lean                                                                                2.69 to 3.15

One pound of pork chops                                                                                              1.97 to 2.39

One pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs                                                        3.09

One pound fresh sea bass ( corvina)                                                                          1.50
or red snapper

One pound of fresh Tuna filet                                                                                       2.00

One gallon of whole milk, in plastic jug                                                                     3.50 to 4.49

One pound of salted butter                                                                                          4.49 to 5.59

One pound of sharp cheddar cheese                                                                        4.25

One dozen large brown eggs                                                                                        0.79


Five pound bag of all purpose flour                                                                            2.59

Five pound bag of sugar                                                                                                1.59

One quart of canola or olive oil                                                                                    5.49 to 6.49


One large fresh pineapple                                                                                             0.35

One pound of fresh tomatoes                                                                                        .50

One pound of fresh onions or potatoes                                                                      .50

One pound of fresh lettuce, romaine or leaf                                                         1.15 to 1.39

Three medium size mangos                                                                                          1.00

Six small to medium size limes                                                                                     0.50


Six pack of cans of Coke, Pepsi, Canada Dry                                                           3.20 to 3. 59

One can diced tomatoes                                                                                                   .85 to .99

One small can sliced mushrooms                                                                                  .89

One quart jar of mayonnaise                                                                                        2.99 to 3.59


As you can see, it is better to AVOID items shipped in from North America and stick with locally grown items.

You can compare this list with the cost of groceries where you live. We’ll investigate other expenses here in the future.  The big savings are with utility costs and health insurance… more details coming soon


Spanish lesson: Greetings

Buenos días means good morning

Buenas tardes means good afternoon

Buenas noches means good night


Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

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