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Panama Cost of Living in 2019

What does it cost to live in Panama? That’s the question I get asked most often. The answer is… it depends on where you live and how you live.

Some areas of Panama are much more affordable than others. If you live near Coronado or Panama City, your cost of living could be more than where you live now.  But if you live in other areas in Panama your cost of living could be substantially less than where you live now.

I live in the highlands of Panama in Boquete.  It’s not the most affordable place to live in Panama, but it is much more affordable than living in Texas where I moved from.  Other places in Panama are even more affordable than Boquete.

I’ve been tracking my living expenses ever since I moved to Boquete so I thought I’d share them to give you a realistic picture of what it costs to live in Boquete in 2019. Keep in mind that I live a modest lifestyle. My house is about 1000sf on a large property with a lot of flowers and a vegetable garden.  I don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.

HOUSING

zengardenrentals.com in Panama

Housing is usually your biggest expense, but it does not have to be in Panama.

In Boquete, like all other places, your cost of living will depend on your lifestyle choices. If you want to live in Valle Escondido or any of the other gated community, your costs will be much higher than other areas.

You can rent a house for $200 a month or spend $4000 a month.

Boquete has a huge variety of rental prices, like most areas in Panama. Only you can determine if the price you are willing to pay is in an area you like. You probably will not need to spend as much as you think for a house you really like.

Terri Rental in Panama

During the tour, we sometimes visit with a couple who lives in a fantastic furnished 2 bedroom on one acre with the Pacific Ocean right out their front yard – all for only $400 a month. See it in the photo to the right. We also see fancy high rise Ocean front condos which rent for $1200 to $1800 a month.  There’s something for everyone, in every budget, in Panama.

Affordable living is available in Panama if you know where to look! (we show you where during a Panama Relocation Tour)

I recommend that you rent for at least 6-12 months before you buy anything. That’s the only way you can really get to know an area.

Many people make the decision to only rent when they move offshore. Renting gives you a lot more flexibility. Rent is so affordable, it really does not make a lot of sense to buy. In Panama, it is easy to buy but it could take many years to sell. The other big advantage of renting is that you can easily move to a different location in Panama if you don’t like the weather or the neighbors where you are.

zengardenrentals.com panama

When I moved to Panama, I paid $600 per month rent for a fully furnished 2-bedroom, 1.5 bath house on an acre with 100 banana plants, coffee plants, exotic flowers and a spectacular view. I could pay more.. but why? I had everything I need at an affordable price.

After living in Panama a few years, I purchased the house for $120,000 so I don’t have a rent payment anymore. And I don’t have any property taxes – every! My house insurance is less than $200 a year.

Now ten years later, that same furnished house would rent for $695 to $795 today including includes all utilities.

FOOD

Panama Relocation Tours Coronado

You can eat at a Panamanian style restaurant for $4 – $5 per person. It’s hardly worth it to cook at home with those prices. Most high-end or expat-owned restaurants have prices similar to North America though.  In some areas in Panama, you’re only choice is a Panamanian style restaurant.

I buy most produce at the Mercado (farmers market) or grow my own in my greenhouse. Produce prices are much cheaper than the United States and the quality is better too. For example, I recently bought 2 large sweet pineapples for $1.50. You can buy 4 Hass avocado for $2. I can buy 50 pounds of carrots for $6 or 100 oranges for $4.

Jackie's Organic Garden in Panama

Bananas are free… I get them on my property.

In 2019, I spent an average of $400 per month on food including eating out. Some of this expense is for cat food.

PHONE

I only use a cell phone in Panama. My data/talk plan is $32 a month. This is a huge savings over what I paid in Texas. With my Panama cell phone, I can make international calls at no additional costs!

I use Skype to make calls to friends and family all over the world at $0 expense. I have a dedicated Skype number so anyone call dial that number and it rings at my house in Panama. I pay $50 a year for my dedicated Skype phone number.

SHIPPING AND POSTAGE

Panama does not have mail delivery service to your house. I use a mail forwarding company in Boquete to get mail delivered from the United States to Panama. It’s expensive at about $3 a pound to get Amazon orders delivered so I try to buy everything I need in Panama to save money. There are in-country courier services available too.

MEDICAL

Hospital Chirqui David Panama

It’s only $12 for a general doctor visit and about $30 – $40 for a specialist. With these kind of prices, some people decide to self-insure – meaning they do not buy health insurance in Panama.

I previously paid  $2500 a year for international health insurance with United Healthcare which covers me any where in the world.

In 2019, I switched to a Panama only health insurance plan which will cost me $1200 a year with a $0 deductible.  I’m so busy with tours that I don’t have time to travel much so there’s really not a need to pay for international health insurance.   If I do travel, I can purchase travelers insurance. I also signed up for Medicare in the United States just in case I want to go to the US for treatments and if you don’t sign up for Medicare when you turn 65, there is a big penalty to get it later.

Health care costs and health insurance costs are a HUGE savings over what it would cost me in the United States.

Other…

I do have a miscellaneous category in my budget for travel, buying furniture, clothes, plants for my yard, Amazon Prime or other expenses that come up.  Many of these are optional expenses which could be avoided.

I rarely watch TV, I much prefer to watch movies, so I plan to drop cable TV and use an Amazon Firestick to get access to movies, news and television shows.

Below I will post two scenarios The first will be my actual monthly expenses for 2019 (note, I pay two gardeners to come twice a week to take care of a large property)
and the second will be what your estimated expenses would be if you were renting a fully furnished two bedroom house with utilities and gardening included.

Rent($0) & House Insurance & gardener$20  + $240
Food & Eating Out & Pet Food$400
Netflix$10
Internet & Cell Phone$60 + $32
Electricity & Gas$30
Water and Trash Collection$10
Transportation (gas, insurance, maintenance)$60
Medical$100 Panama + $60 US
Postage and Shipping$50
Clothes, Travel, Flowers/Plants and Haircare, weekly massage, Mani-Pedi, Misc$200
TOTAL$1,272 ($15,264 per year)

 

This second scenario is what your estimated expenses would be if you were renting a house for $695Of course, if your rent is less or more you’d need to adjust the figures. If you rent in an area close to the coast where you will need air conditioning, your electricity is usually NOT included in your rent.  So you’ll need to add $80-$150 a month for electricity if you live in a coastal area.

Rent$695 (gardener included in rent)
Food & Eating Out$400
CableTV & Internet$0 (included in rent)
Cell Phone$32
Electricity & Gas$5 for gas (electric included in rent)
Water and Trash Collection$0 (included in rent)
Transportation (gas, insurance, maintenance)$60
Medical$20 without insurance
Postage and Shipping$50
Clothes, Travel, Flowers/Plants and Haircare, weekly massage, Mani-Pedi, Misc$100 (could be a lot less)
TOTAL$1362 ($16,344 per year)

Yes, You Really Can Live for Less in Panama

Valle Escondido Boquete Panama

If you were renting a house for $700 a month, your monthly costs would be less than $2,000 a month (keep in mind that your internet, electricity, gardener, water and cable TV are usually included in your rent!). Many Panama Relocation Tours Alumni live comfortably on $1500 a month Social Security which includes rent. And I know people who pay $2400 a month just in rent for a large 3-bedroom house in a gated community. There are a lot of choices in all different price points.

Some places in Panama are more affordable than Boquete. And some places in Panama are much more expensive.

During a Panama Relocation Tour, I’ll show you a variety of different areas in a variety of different price points. Plus, you’ll get to meet people who live in each of these areas. Panama has a perfect place for you regardless of what your monthly budget is.   In our new ONLINE Complete Panama Relocation Guide we also include detailed information about many different places to live in Panama and discuss the pros and cons of each.

IS IT MORE AFFORDABLE AND EASIER TO JUST RENT?

Only you can decide if renting is better for you!  We strongly recommend that you rent for at least 6-12 months before you make a buying decision. This gives you plenty of time to experience both seasons in Panama, make sure you like living in Panama and that you like the area you have selected.  The nice thing about renting is that you’re not responsible for repairs, insurance or arranging for gardeners and utilities.  It’s nice to not have any surprise expenses especially when you are living on a fixed income!  Plus, when you rent, you can quickly and easily move to a different location in Panama anytime you want.  If you buy real estate in Panama, it could take years, many years, to sell a property in Panama so that will hold you down.

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

Comments

  1. Karl Eric Peterson says

    This is the BEST info I’ve rec’d. I am only waiting for a hip replacement to make the move.
    Jackie, you have convinced me…

    • Jackie Lange says

      Karl. Thanks! Glad you enjoy the information at Panama Relocation Tours!

  2. Chuck & Debbi says

    Thank you, Jackie, for getting down to the nitty gritty listing each and every monthly expense we should expect. Just one question. I thought Medicare taken directly out of a Social Security benefit is a flat $135 per month? Or maybe they only charge you $60 a month since you live outside of the USA?

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Chuck

      My medicare advisor was able to get a special policy for me that is $40 a month plus $20 for the drug plan. Aaetna picks up part of the expense and I pay the rest. Living outside of the US helped to get the rate down too. Several developers in Panama are working with the Embassy to try to get it approved for medicare to be accepted in Panama. There is nothing definite on that yet but at least they are working on it.

  3. Todd Schrauf says

    Very useful information Jackie! Thanks so much for sharing this.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Thanks Todd. Glad you enjoyed the information.

  4. Jackie Lange says

    HI Chuck

    My medicare advisor was able to get a special policy for me that is $40 a month plus $20 for the drug plan. Aaetna picks up part of the expense and I pay the rest. Living outside of the US helped to get the rate down too. Several developers in Panama are working with the Embassy to try to get it approved for medicare to be accepted in Panama. There is nothing definite on that yet but at least they are working on it.

  5. George says

    Thank you for this really great information. Panama is one of the places I am considering for retirement but it will be in a few more years before I am ready.

    I’m wondering how reliable is the internet service there. I would need the internet for some part time work.

    • Jackie Lange says

      George The internet is more reliable in some areas than others. And you can get a much faster speed in some areas but not in others. So, if fast and reliable internet speeds are important picking the right place to live in Panama is really important. We have details about how to find the areas with the fastest internet speeds in our hew ONLINE Complete Panama Relocation Guide at https://panamarelocationtours.com/guide

  6. Ron W McDowell says

    Thanks Jackie.
    Are there 1 bedrooms in Volcan that are nice? I am single, on social security but active and healthy and working, but would not be working there
    Ron

    • Jackie Lange says

      Yes, there are one bedrooms available throughout Panama. In Boquete, my videographer rents a furnished one bedroom for $200 a month which includes utilities. In Volcan, a friend rents a furnished one bedroom for $175 which includes utilities and in Las Tablas a friend rents a furnished one bedroom for $87 in town. I also know of a really nice large furnished one bedroom next to the Ocean for $325! You really can live better for less in Panama!

  7. Nonie says

    Thanks Jackie for all the information. Hope to be there next year.

    • Jackie Lange says

      You’re welcome Nonie. We look forward to meeting you during a Panama Relocation Tour next year.

  8. Guenter Hauser says

    The afore mentioned Medicare deduction of $135 (Part B) is $144.60 for 2020

    • Jackie Lange says

      not for me. For Medicare, I have a special policy that is $40 a month for Part B plus $20 a month for a drug policy. I got this special policy because I live overseas full time.

  9. Mike Carlson says

    👍 Great, Panama seems to have great variety for any reasonable income and lifestyle; accomodative, welcoming place. Cool Change.

    Thanks for sharing Your savvy research, experience Miss Jackie!I

    Diego.

  10. Jackie says

    Hi Jackie. Is the $1200 health insurance cost for one person or for a couple?

    • Jackie Lange says

      The $1200 health insurance cost is for one person. You can use the public health care system which has no monthly fee. And there are other Panama health insurance options available if you want to pay a higher deductible.

  11. Charlene says

    This is great information, thanks!
    If I move to Panama, I would have a very low income. Do you think this budget is doable?
    Rent $100
    Cell $30
    Food $200 (I live on 250 – 300 per month now)
    Transportation $20 (I ride my bike so I wouldn’t need a car)
    Other/Emergencies $300
    Total $650 per month
    I would “self insure” for health insurance, and have an emergency fund with 10k for that.

    I would want to live somewhere with spring-like weather, not near the beaches.
    Do you think this is doable?

    • Jackie Lange says

      This budget would be very tight and the housing may not be what you would feel comfortable with. And more importantly, you would not be able to get a permanent residency Visa unless you can prove a lifetime income of at least $1000 a montn

  12. George says

    Thanks Jackie. I appreciate you’re quick response and all the information you’re providing.

  13. Charlene says

    $1000 per month is for the pensionado visa right? What about the Friendly Nations Visa?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Minimum $1000 a month lifetime income is required for 1 person to get a Pensionado Visa. Add $250 for each additional dependent. For the Friendly Nations Visa, there is no requirement to prove any income. For the Friendly Nations Visa you do need to put $5000 in a Panama bank account. The day you get your Visa you can start spending the money.

  14. Mark P Koontz says

    Very interesting to hear that about medicare (there). I was planning on just signing up for part A (as it’s no cost) and just self insuring in Panama. I knew part B was $135, but I couldn’t imagine flying back for medical care, and paying all that time for nothing.
    I’m wondering if your “deal” is one of the medicare advantage plans? And I never heard of any discount for living “out of the country.”

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Mark. I struggled with the idea of getting Medicare since I have no plans to move back to the US. But you never know what the future holds so I decided I’d get Medicare. I don’t think it is an advantage plan. It’s through Aaetna. Several developers are working with the US Embassy in Panama to try to get it approved to use Medicare in Panama. It’s not approved yet but I think it might happen. Already veterans can use their VA benefits in Panama so it’s not a stretch to allow Medicare use too!

  15. Tom says

    We have our business for sale and have decided on one of two places. Cotacachi, Ecuador or Boquete, Panama. Do you have a comparison? We have visited Cotacachi but not Boquete yet. Thank you

    • Jackie Lange says

      I Have been to Cotacachi, Ecuador and Otavila but I have never lived in either place so I cannot compare the two except that the government in Panama is MUCH more stable and the economy in Panama is MUCH stronger. Both of the economy and government are things to take in to consideration. And as you can see, it seems that Panama is doing a MUCH better job with Covid because our death toll is 90% less than Ecuador.

  16. Mike Atassi says

    You are awesome Jackie.

  17. Karl Eric Peterson says

    Any idea as to gueśtimate?
    Also,vaccinations/innovations required?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Karl, I don’t understand your question. Guestimate of what???

      Vaccines are not required unless you come in from Brazil then you need a yellow fever vaccine.

  18. Deb Malas says

    Thank you so much. My husband and I are thinking of moving to either Panama or Costa Rica. Have you compared, what do you think?

    • Jackie Lange says

      I spent quit a bit of time in costa rico and marked it off the list because crime is such a problem there. The cost of living is much higher in CR too. See this video of a guy who has lived in Costa Rica for 16 years and can’t wait to get out and move to Panama. He can’t go anywhere without his concealed gun. I would not want to live like that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9tpe50UJTk&t=77s

  19. Deborah Quinette says

    Hi Jackie , this is really interesting. How do I get a Medicare advisor? Thank you in advance

    • Jackie Lange says

      To find a Medicare advisor in your state, just do a google search for Medicare consultant or medicare advisor. They are state specific.

  20. Deborah Quinette says

    Thank you Jackie

  21. Luisa Halenar says

    I am so glad I found this website. It answered me a lot of question I have in mind or at least give the orientation to find the right route. I have Medicare in USA and I was not sure at my 71 years old if been an expat I will find a Insurance that will cover me. I will continue reading about you and my alternative in how to become an expat in another country. Thanks!

    • Jackie Lange says

      Panama has to options which do not have an age restriction.

  22. Luisa Halenar says

    Thanks! I will continue reading at your articles…..they are so interesting and offer many alternative.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Luisa

      We’re so glad you enjoy the articles.

  23. Larry says

    JACKIE
    We just started to evaluate if Panama checks all of our boxes as to permanent retirement living. We’ve been to Panama several times on cruises, mainly on the Caribbean side, and were not overly impressed with that region. Panama City on the other hand is to the extreme. Exploring other areas you speak about in Panama seems to be more laid back, very favorable for numerous reasons. We intend to follow your advice and do our due diligence by scheduling one of your tours in the future. Just wanted to day ‘thanks’ for your insight and we look forward to learning more though your postings.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Thanks Larry. We’re so glad you like the information from Panama Relocation Tours. The Panama outside of Panama City is completely different!

  24. Deborah French says

    Jackie, I think that you might be talking about a Medicare Advantage plan. Is that correct?. Yet Medicare routinely takes $144.00 from my check (Social Security payment) that is mandated — in addition to any Medicare Advantage or supplement coverage.
    I pay $144.00 for Medicare and $160.00 for my supplement plus $26.00 for drug coverage. That’s each month!
    What I’m saying is that I don’t understand your saying that you pay so little. Could clarify a little further? Thanks

    • Jackie Lange says

      I do not have an advantage plan.

  25. Debbi Klappa says

    So do you pay the $144 a month (taken directly out of your SS benefit each month)?

    • Jackie Lange says

      no, I pay less than $80 a month which includes the drug supplement plan. I was paying directly. But now that I get social security, it is taken out or there.

  26. Mike says

    Well many of us never pay anything for SS supplements. We get it free Depend on the area. In CA Social Security supplements are free. SS Medicare premium starting January first is $148 per month for all. It is taking from the SS check. I talked to SS and they said everyone will pay $148 and no less if you live abroad or not. Only way to avoid it by cancelling your Medicare insurance. So Jackie I don’t know how you are doing it but SS said no way.

    • Jackie Lange says

      the insurance agent I worked with was able to sign me up with a company that pays the first $100 for Medicare since I live overseas. She said it is only available for those who lived in Texas. It’s not available in other states.

  27. Bruce Fox says

    could I live on 1800 dollars canadian as that is thegovernment pension plan

    • Jackie Lange says

      Yes, if you live away from Panama City or Coronado, you could live well on $1800 Canadian.

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