How You Can Live BETTER for LESS in Panama

Can you really live better for less in Panama? Well, it depends on how you live, where you live in Panama, and where you’re coming from. For most people, it is possible to live for less in Panama.

Some people reevaluate their priorities when they move to Panama. Instead of the 3000sf house with a big yard, they had back home, they downsized to a comfortable 1500sf house in Panama. You can reduce your costs by moving into a smaller house in Panama. With less to take care of, they say they live better!

Other people go from a 1500SF house back home to a 5000SF house on an estate in Panama. A bigger house will always cost more to maintain and take more time to manage.

I know people who live in Panama for $1,000 a month, including rent. They live in a modest one-bedroom home. They don’t have a dishwasher or granite countertops, but their Panamanian-style house is completely comfortable and has everything needed

Another couple lives comfortably on $4000 a month in a 2,500-square-foot house. They eat out just about every day and travel internationally several times a year. They have a large property, so they have the additional expense of a full-time groundskeeper.

You Have Choices in Panama!

Many expats are living WELL in Panama on a fixed income of less than $1500 per month. You can too!

So, Live Better and Live for Less are subjective. But as you can see from the information below, no matter where or how you live in Panama, you can live for less in many different ways. If you forego the big house with the big property, you will certainly reduce your costs.

Sure, some things will cost more in Panama. But there are many ways you can live better and live for less… much less.. in Panama. No matter what size home you live in, whether you rent or buy, you can live for less in Panama in many ways. See details below…


In Texas, I usually had a $350+ electric bill. In the highlands of Panama, I don’t need an air conditioner or heater running 24/7 like I did in Texas. My electricity bill in Panama is usually less than $25 per month.

In Texas, I paid $70 per month for metered water. In Panama, I pay $100 a year for unlimited water use.

I get an additional 25% Pensinado discount off all utility costs because I’m over 55 and have a residency visa.

Just these two items alone save me over $3000 per year.


If you moved from New York, California, London or Dubai, you’ll think Panama prices are a bargain. But if you move from Texas, Oklahoma, Florida or Arizona, (areas most popular with retirees) the house prices in Panama could be about the same or even higher if you move into a gated community in Panama. But there are some great bargains on real estate in Panama.

Not long ago, a guy from my tour bought a 1800sf house on an acre for $35,000 in Caldera. I got a call last week about a house for sale in Volcan for only $95,000. It’s a 1600sf house fully furnished with a detached two-car garage on 1 1/2 acre with a stream at the back of the property. So there are great “deals” out there but they are not usually advertised or listed with real estate agents.

The acquisition cost of the house is not the only thing you need to consider. Buying a house is a one-time expense. You also have to consider the monthly or annual expenses of Panama vs. where you live now.

I paid about $3500 a year for property taxes for my house in Texas. I pay ZERO property taxes because I bought my house for less than $120,000.  Houses built before 2012 got a 20-year tax exemption (no property taxes).

Even if I had to pay property taxes they would be less than $600 a year. Property taxes are another way you can live for less in Panama.

House insurance in Texas costs me $1500 a year. In Panama, I pay $205 per year.

You can buy a brand new home for as little as $60,000 in Panama.

Buying a house may not be the best way to go!

I recommend waiting at least 12 months before making a buying decision. This will give you time to make sure you like living in Panama. And it will give you time to learn the market so you know what the right price is to pay if you do decide to buy.

Renting is much more affordable in Panama than in other countries, including the United States. In Texas, you’ll pay $1200 a month for a $125,000 house. That is unfurnished and does not include any utilities. A $125,000 house in Panama, fully furnished and all bills paid, will rent for $750. The Panama house will probably include a weekly or bi-weekly gardener, too. Plus, you don’t have to deal with the upkeep and maintenance when you rent.

If you buy a house priced at over $250,000 in Panama, it could take many years to sell it. You can’t move on with your life and other plans if you are stuck trying to sell a house.

Instead of investing in buying a house, you could put the money into a savings account in Panama and earn 2.5%+ interest.

It’s hard to put a price on the FREEDOM to move when you want to!

It’s not just what you pay for rent or buying a house …. you have to consider QUALITY of life too.

Read how Debbie explains how she lives better for less in Panama.

The home I purchased in Panama is probably at least half of what a similar home in an oceanfront community in the USA would have cost me. Not to mention, my utility bill last month was under $40 for everything – electric, water, trash included. I don’t need AC here, but in Arizona we were rarely under $200, even in the winter, and near $400/month in the summer – just for electric! Another plus to my monthly budget are the local Farmer’s Markets. Again, I pay about 1/2 the price I paid at Farmer’s Markets in the states for wonderful, fresh, and organic produce in Panama.

Veggies – Panama $2/large bag organic greens vs US $4-6/ bag of mixed organic greens

I also have about 30 Amazon Parrots, a couple of large iguanas, and a cute turtle that visit my yard regularly. I call them my free “wild pets” because they take care of themselves!

chitre panama town square
Chitre Town Square


Healthcare costs are big savings in Panama. If I stayed in the United States, my husband and I would pay about $15,000 a year for insurance until we qualified for Medicare.  It would have a very high deductible, which would not be as good as the health insurance I have in Panama.

Even with Medicare, insurance costs about $380 a month for us both, but it does not cover 100% of the cost. If you have the right Medicare Advantage plan, it covers medical emergencies in Panama.

In Panama, I pay $117 per month for health insurance that covers me in Panama. But honestly, I rarely use my insurance because it’s only $15 to see a doctor, without using insurance.

Yesterday, I was talking to a couple who went to the public clinic in Boquete. The doctor spoke English, French, and Spanish. Their total bill was 50 cents!

Medical costs are a way to save BIG in Panama.

Because it is so affordable to see a doctor, many people decide not to get insurance and put the money into a savings account for medical expenses.

In Panama, a doctor’s visit costs $15 to $20, and a specialist’s visit costs $40 to $60. These prices are without insurance!

The doctors in Panama put the CARE back into Health Care. They will spend as much time as necessary evaluating your situation, carefully explaining your options, and even giving you their cell phone number so you can call them quickly if you are not better.

A few years ago I had to go to the emergency room at Hospital Chiriqui in Panama. I was in so much pain I forgot to give them my insurance card. After two IVs, pain medications, blood tests, other lab work, and a great doctor who spoke perfect English, my emergency room visit was less than $50 without insurance.

Try getting that price at an emergency room in the USA!

A few years ago, a tour client had a stroke a few months after moving to Panama. Without insurance, he paid $75 a day for a hospital stay. His total costs for the stroke with three doctors, CAT Scams, MRI’s, medications, and several days in the hospital was less than $4000.


I paid $225 monthly in Texas for my ATT cell phone use, including data. In Panama, I pay $35 a month which includes international calling.

My internet in Texas was $80 a month.  In Panama, I pay $40 a month for 500mbps fiber options, cable TV, and a landline. More ways to Live for Less in Panama!

I was in Texas last year and hired a maid service to clean my AirBnb. It was $135! I pay $30 in Panama to get someone to clean my house every other week.

Gardeners are also about $30-$40 a day in Panama, depending on the size of your yard.

A 7-hour bus ride to Panama City is $12.60 with a Pensionado discount. It’s a double-decker Mercedes bus with reclining seats. I don’t know what it would cost for the 8-hour bus ride to anywhere in North America, but I bet it would be more than $12.60!

double decker bus panama
Double Decker Bus has a bathroom on each level

Electronics and appliances cost about the same in Panama as they did in Texas.

Furniture prices are the same if you buy them in a store. But you can have high-quality furniture custom made for a fraction of what you’d pay in the store… and be giving work to a Panamanian too.

If you have a residency visa and you are a woman 55+ or a man 60+, you will get these Pensionado discounts:

50% off entertainment (movies, theaters, concerts, sporting events)
30% off bus, boat, and train fares
25% off airline tickets to anywhere in the world
25% off monthly electric bills
30% to 50% off hotel stays
15% off hospital bills
10% off prescription medicines (most pharmacies will give you 20%)
20% off medical consultations
15% off dental and eye exams
20% off professional and technical services
50% off closing costs for home loans, and more…

Last year, I flew to Mexico. I looked up the nonstop flight I wanted on the Copa Airlines website. It was $710. Then I sent the flight information to my travel agent in Boquete. She got the Pensionado discount for me, so I only paid $521. More savings!


If you buy many imported items at the grocery store in Panama, you will pay more for your groceries. But if you buy local produce and local brands, you will save money. A huge variety of fruits and vegetables is readily available at farmer’s markets and at the grocery store.

Even produce that is not grown in Panama, like apples and pears, are readily available.

For example, imported Del Monte tomatoes are $1.69 a can at Romero. But a Panama brand of canned tomatoes is only 69 cents. Or, buy fresh tomatoes at the farmer’s market to get much better quality for even less.

If you avoid anything that comes in a can, bag, or box, you will save money and be much healthier. You may even be able to stop all those expensive medications!

In Texas, I paid $150 – $200 weekly for groceries. In Panama, I pay right around $50 – $80 per week.

Just like in North America, you will save by buying produce when it is in season. In Panama, you can buy 100 Panama oranges in season for $5 a bag. You can also get 50 pounds of carrots for $6. If you buy imported oranges, they are $1.45 a pound. I don’t know what they cost in the USA now.

The sweetest pineapple you have ever tasted is 75 cents to $1 each, depending on the size. Pineapple is available year-round in Panama.

If you buy locally grown produce from the farmer’s market (not the grocery store), you will get better quality food at cheaper prices.

farmers market in panama


When you eat at Panamanian restaurants for $4-$5, you get a full plate of one meat, rice with beans, and a salad. There is almost always a sweet plantain, too.

Or, you can eat at an upscale restaurant for $25 a meal. There are plenty of restaurants with prices in the middle, too. One of my favorite restaurants in Panama City is a Greek restaurant, where the meal is about $10, including beverages.

A few years ago, in Las Vegas, I paid $20 for two eggs, one piece of bacon, a piece of cold toast, orange juice, and nasty-tasting coffee. In Boquete, I can get that same breakfast, with great coffee, for less than $5.

I love Taco Tuesday at the various restaurants – $1.50 for a HUGE taco .. fish, chicken, beef, or vegetarian.

$5 meal at Panama fonda


A men’s haircut is $4-$5 in Boquete. My husband paid $20 in Texas

I get high lights, low lights, and a haircut for $80 in Panama. This cost me $200 plus a tip in Texas.

A manicure and pedicure are $20-$25 (for both) in Boquete. It was $65 in Texas

In Panama, I get a massage every week because a really good one-hour deep tissue massage costs only $35. In Texas, I paid $65-75 per hour for a massage.

With these kinds of prices, you can splurge on life’s little luxuries more often.


In many towns in Panama, you can leave your windows wide open to get fresh air every day. Spectacular views of lush green mountains and flowers everywhere surround me. It’s good for your soul.

Nature is all around you in Panama. It’s up close and personal.

Panama is like having three countries in one—and you can drive to all of them in a day. There’s the Pacific Ocean to the south, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and a huge mountain range in the middle. There are 1500 islands surrounding Panama. Plus, I have ready access to Panama City with a 40-minute flight. And I’m less than a 1 1/2-hour drive to Costa Rica.

There are often specials at an all-inclusive resort next to the Pacific Ocean, such as $89 a night, which includes food and adult beverages.

You can visit primitive Indian tribes or monkey sanctuaries, see sloths and beautiful blue butterflies. Or go to Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean Sea for a weekend of swimming in turquoise blue water, lively music, and dancing. I love their rock-n-roll concerts.

Every day I hear birds singing and see hummingbirds.

It removes the stress when you don’t have to work so hard to keep up with all the expenses in North America or Europe. Less stress = better health. You really can live better for less!

The list goes on and on about how you can live a better life for less in Panama.


The United States taxes citizens and residents on their worldwide income. Citizens and residents living and working outside the U.S. may be entitled to a foreign-earned income exclusion that reduces taxable income. The exclusion is available only for wages or self-employment income earned for services outside the U.S.

If you are a US citizen living overseas at least 330 days a year, you could qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exemption. The income must be active income. Passive income does not qualify.

In 2024, you can deduct $126,500 in income from your taxes. If you and your spouse both live and work that is $253,000 in tax-free income.

If you’re not selling products or services to people in Panama, you pay ZERO taxes in Panama!

You can significantly reduce the amount of income taxes you pay!


With all the violence and constant threats going on around the world, it is refreshing to live in Panama, where it’s safe! Safety and security are PRICELESS!


With all these savings, you can see why so many people are moving to Panama!

A little savings here and a little savings there … all add up to BIG savings when you live in Panama.

In Panama, just like everywhere else, prices have increased in the last ten years. But for the most part, prices have increased much less in Panama than in North America.

Sure, you might pay more for a few things but overall, you will save money in Panama

You really can live for less in Panama! And it is much safer, too!

Come See How You Can LIVE BETTER for LESS in Panama!

Join us for a 7-night, a 6-day all-inclusive Panama Relocation Tour to see how you can LIVE BETTER for LESS in Panama too!

During the tour, you’ll visit many different areas in Panama in a variety of price ranges. There is a place in Panama to fit any budget.

You’ll meet immigration lawyers, honest real estate agents, other experts and expats, plus get all the information you need for a hassle-free move during this rolling seminar!

Or get the Online Panama Relocation Guide to learn all the things you need to know to relocate to Panama the hassle-free way!

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.

Reader Interactions


  1. Betty Gall says

    We would like to come for two months in January and live like an ex pat. We love golf and blue ocean equally. We enjoy discovering big city and all that it offers but probably not live there. Need nearby restaurants and would not have a car. Rent around 1,000 per mth with something more up to date and hot water thru out the house.
    I see golf areas that look new and seem to have plenty of vacation but are they too remote for dinner and drinks out in the evening.
    Need good internet connectivity, cell and cable.
    Can you recommend where we mite focus a search.

    • Panama Relocation Tours says

      January is HIGH season and it will be very hard to find what you are looking for last minute. You need to reserve a place ASAP (like this month) Gorgona or Coronado will have exactly what you are looking for but you will need to up your budget to closer to $1500 a month for a short term rental. I friend is renting an ocean front condo in Gorgona for $950 but he has a 1 year lease. For short term leases, you always pay much more. Contact Cat Mandel or Denise McDonald at January may already be booked for 2016. A taxi is an affordable way to get to restaurants if there is not one within walking distance to you.

  2. Bob ODonnell says

    I was intrigued by your comments regarding your daughter’s decision to get worldwide insurance coverage instead of Obamacare. Who might we contact to investigate that same possibility for my wife’s coverage.

    • Panama Relocation Tours says

      You have to live overseas most of the time to get the coverage. You can’t live in the United States.

  3. robert Wymenga says

    My wife and I are avid Harley riders. I have heard that it it costly (or impossible) to import a motorcycle in to Panama. Can you fill me in on the details, as that would be a deal breaker if we could not move there without our Harleys.

    • Panama Relocation Tours says

      Several of our tour clients moved their Harley’s down to Panama. One of them is writing an article which will be out soon. There is also a Harley dealership in Panama City where you could avoid the hassles of shipping them down – buy in Panama.

  4. Linda Rutherford says

    when and what is the Panama relocation tour?

    • Dustin Lange says

      Hi Linda, You can find our tour dates on this page and you can learn more about our tour dates on this page.

  5. Mark Solomon says

    A question. US citizen. I will be 64 in November. I would like to retire in January 2021. I have a couple million in investments, and two pensions in Nov. 2021, and Social Security in January. Does IRS tax my investments, and would I pay Panamanian tax

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Mark

      As a US citizen, you are required to pay taxes on your income regardless of where you live in the world. But in Panama, you won’t owe any taxes on income that is make outside of Panama.

  6. Brian Swanson says

    Hi Jackie is Panama still pushing the booster shot in order to get in we are staying in Costa Rica we have to make a boarder run we wanted to fly down to check out Panama if you have to have the booster we will take Panama off our list, since both of us had side effects from our double vax. Not taking any more shite in our arms.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Panama is still encouraging people to get a booster. To enter Panama, you only need a negative covid test OR two Covid vaccines. If a restaurant wants to go to 100% capacity, they can only let in people who have had 3 covid vaccines.

      see entry details at

  7. D Stone says

    Hi! Which expat communities have a higher percentage of retired single/divorced/widowed people?

    • Jackie Lange says

      The Coronado area has more singles.

  8. Tony says

    Hi we are looking for 2-3 months in the winter so from Jan-Mar in our retirement years

    We prefer staying close to the best beach in Panama which I don’t know where that is,
    Where do you recommend in Panama for the best beach and EX pat communities in Panama and what should I budget for per month apprx.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hi Tony

      Everyone has a different idea of what the best beach is in Panama. If you’re in the Coronado area, budget at least $1500 for a rental (plus electricity), if you’re in the beach communities in the Azuero, budget $700 per month plus electricity, if you’re in Bocas del Tor (Caribbean side) budget $700 a month, if you’re in Bocas Chica, Las Lajas, o rLas Olas budget $1600 per month.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *