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David is the capital of Chiriqui province which is in far western Panama, next to Costa Rica. It usually ties for the second largest city in Panama with a population of about 170,000.
David has a developed infrastructure yet a much lower cost of living than other places in Panama. Tour clients are renting furnished houses or condos in the $350 to $650 range in David. You can buy a new small house for as low as $50,000 in David
David has an international airport and a major bus terminal with connections throughout Central America. You can even catch a bus from David to the Caribbean side of Panama. With your Pensionado discount, it is only $10.60 to take a bus from David all the way to Panama City (a 7 hour drive) or go to San Jose Costa Rica.
There are two large private hospitals in David plus a large modern public hospital. Every specialist is available in David, including cardiologists. You are never more than 15 minutes away from a 24-hour hospital in David.
The city has several shopping centers and malls. In early 2020, the Federal Mall with 400 stores will open. There are two movie theaters with movies in both English and in Spanish (about $2 for a movie).
There are also countless restaurants (with air conditioning), bars and casinos around the city. American fast food restaurants are readily available in David too.
You’ll never be far from a 24-hour grocery store. There’s a daily farmers market with fresh fruits and vegetables. And there is an amazing fish market with fish that was just caught that morning. David has car dealerships, furniture stores, clothes stores, electronic stores, wine stores, gyms, office supplies, fabric stores and much more. [Read more…]
Gringo pricing is when you are charged more for something just because you are a foreigner living in or visiting Panama. It can happen. It has happened to me a few times too. But there are things you can do to avoid being gringo priced.
Gringo pricing is more likely to happen when you use a taxi. If you get in a taxi then tell them where you want to go without asking the price in advance, you may be in for a surprise when you arrive. Here’s an example:
One time a friend and I grabbed a taxi to go to a grocery store in Panama City. We are both blondes so even with perfect Spanish, the taxi driver knew we were “gringos”. I did not ask the price before I got in the cab because I had taken that trip before and knew the “right price” was $3. But when we arrived at the grocery store, the drive wanted $10 EACH. We said no way and gave him $5 then got out of the cab. If I had asked how much (cuanto cuesta) before I got in the cab, this situation could have been avoided.
There are two solutions to avoid gringo pricing with a taxi: (1) use Uber where available because you will know the price before the driver arrives and the fee is charged to your credit card so no change is necessary, (2) when using a taxi always… ALWAYS.. ask for the price before getting in the cab. If you don’t like the price, use a different taxi or an Uber.
DON’T LOOK LIKE A TOURIST
The more you look like a tourist, the bigger chance you could be charged a gringo price. If you wear a flowery shirt, have a fanny pack, always have a backpack with you or have a big camera around your neck, you scream tourist (aka stick out like a sore thumb). Tourist are much more likely to experience gringo pricing than other foreigners living in Panama.
Sometimes it is gringo pricing and sometimes a company is just more expensive.
A few weeks ago, I got 3 bids for getting a new septic system installed at my house. The company most recommended by other expats wanted $2400. I paid $700 by using a company recommended by my Panamanian friends instead. The company who wanted $2400 spoke prefect English. The company I hired charged me $700. They spoke some English. I got another bid for $800 but they did now show up when they told me they would to give me a bid (24 hours late) so I marked them off the list. When you need to get a project completed, it pays to get bids. You can always hire a translator if you need help communicating with contractors.
If I was getting a septic system installed in Texas, there would be a big variety in pricing too. It is gringo pricing then? No, not necessarily, it’s just that some companies charge more than others. [Read more…]
Are you worried that you may not ever be able to retire because your cost of living is so high?
Would you like to retire early but know it’s not possible if you stay where you live now?
My husband and I were in the same situation 12 years ago.
Even with income from investment properties, and eventually Social Security and a good pension, we realized that living in Texas was just going to keep getting more expensive. We were concerned about what our cost of living would be like in 10, 20 or 30 years so we weren’t sure if we would ever be able to retire and maintain a quality lifestyle.
So, one summer, when we had 100+ degree weather for 90 days straight and $400+ monthly electric bills, we decided that it was time to look for some place with a lower cost of living where we could afford to retire on just our pension or just Social Security. We were also looking for a place where we’d never need air conditioning or a heater again.
After almost two years of research and exploring several countries, we discovered Panama. Panama ticked all the boxes for what we were looking for.
My husband and I were able to retire 10 years sooner than most Baby Boomers because of the lower cost of living when we moved to Panama in 2010. We actually could have retired 20 years sooner but unfortunately Panama was not even on our radar then.
Moving to Panama was the best decision we ever made. We significantly reduced our cost of living and were able to live well on less than $2,000 a month including rent. [Read more…]