Popular Pacific Coast Towns: Costs of Living in 2024

Panama stands out as a top destination for expatriates seeking a change in lifestyle without sacrificing modern conveniences. Among the pearls in Panama’s Pacific coastline are Coronado, Gorgona, San Carlos, and Playa Blanca—all of which present an alluring mix of affordability and picturesque surroundings.

The cost of living in these areas is significantly lower than many cities in North America and Europe, providing a financially viable option for those considering relocating for retirement or remote work.

Often called the “Gold Coast,” the Pacific Coast towns of Coronado, Gorgona, San Carlos, and Playa Blanca are popular places to live for those who love warm weather.

Many people fantasize about retiring or simply living by the coast. And, if you can have a lower cost of living, even better, right?!

When you move to Panama, living near the beach could become your reality.

Panama boasts a strategic location that merges the convenience of urban living with the serenity of tropical paradises. Individuals considering a move to Panama find themselves drawn to its stable economy and use of the US dollar, which simplifies financial transitions for expatriates.

Panama’s Pacific coast is home to some of the country’s most beautiful—and affordable—beach towns: Coronado, Gorgona, San Carlos, and Playa Blanca.

While the “Gold Coast” is more expensive than other beach towns in Panama, it’s still a bargain compared to beach towns in other countries. (The Azuero beach towns are more affordable)

Panama has attracted the attention of retirees and those just looking for a different lifestyle. While there are plenty of places to settle down within Panama, many choose to make their home on the beautiful Pacific coast. With beautiful ocean views and beaches, you’re sure to fall in love. However, the town you settle in will play a significant role in the life you lead there, not only in terms of the cost of living but also in general lifestyle, culture, and amenities.

This article will explore the characteristics and living costs in four beach towns on Panama’s Pacific Coast. Of course, living costs depend on where you live, how you live, and your lifestyle. The budgets below show that they can be significantly different even when living in the same town or area.

Some people live in modest homes; others live in luxury oceanfront condos. Some eat out often and do a lot of online shopping, while others mostly cook at home and prefer to buy locally.

living in coronado
You could be here, in Panama!

Coronado: A Beachside Haven

Coronado offers a blend of beautiful beaches, luxury amenities, and a welcoming expat community, making it a top choice for those considering a move to Panama.

Coronado, often considered the hub of the beach communities west of Panama City, offers an expat-friendly atmosphere with a well-established infrastructure. It has a variety of shopping centers, medical facilities, and entertainment venues.

Residents can enjoy tropical weather and oceanfront living year-round.

A popular option on the Pacific coast of Panama is Coronado. This town offers not only pristine beaches but also ample conveniences. While it’s always been a popular vacation spot among Panamanians, it’s also gained the interest of foreigners. While it is one of the most expensive options along the “Gold Coast,” it still offers ex-pats a lower cost of living compared to where they moved from usually.

Coronado Panama
Coronado Panama

While the cost of living is a large part of where you settle in Panama, so is the lifestyle.

Coronado has exploded in popularity because it offers many creature comforts you are used to. It’s one of the more developed beach towns on the Pacific coast. If you choose to live here, you’ll have access to large supermarkets, a country club, several shopping centers, great restaurants, and many more amenities–after all, it is technically a resort town. So, if you’re looking for luxuries and convenience, Coronado is a great choice.

Another reason Coronado is popular among expats is the weather. While you’re on the coast, there isn’t the suffocating, tropic humidity in many coastal towns. Daily temperatures are generally in the mid to high 80s Fahrenheit. If these temperatures seem high, remember there is a refreshing coastal breeze, and Coronado has very little rainfall (meaning it’s less sticky when you think of humidity). It’s located in a part of Panama known as the Arco Seco (Dry Arch) because this part of the coast receives less yearly rainfall.

In Coronado, residents enjoy a relaxed lifestyle with access to a variety of amenities. This beach town boasts several shopping centers, high-quality restaurants, and an active social scene, particularly for expats. Outdoor enthusiasts relish the community’s multiple golf courses, beach clubs, and water activities. Health facilities are readily available, including a full-scale hospital catering to both general and specialized medical needs.

If you want to join an active expat community, Coronado is also a great place to settle! Because of its many modern conveniences and affordable price, there is a large expat community that you can join. Another important offering that Coronado has is the San Fernando Clinic and other health providers. With many retirees prioritizing access to healthcare, living in Colorado provides them with the medical attention they’ll need without traveling to Panama City.

Coronado panama view
Coronado Panama

Cost of Living in Coronado

Coronado’s cost of living balances luxury and affordability. While utilities and groceries can be higher than in other parts of Panama, affordable domestic services offset the overall expenses.

So, let’s look at the cost of living in Coronado. This is the actual monthly budget of a single lady living in Coronado:

Rent-$1600 (includes internet, water and trash collection)
Medical- $200
Groceries/Eat-Out $500
Clothes, shopping, haircuts -$100
Pet Food & Vet – $50
Cell phones $25
Electricity $100
Car, gas, insurance & maintenance $100
Amazon & Shipping charges-$100
Misc: travel, massage, mani-pedi $200
Misc subscriptions: Netflix, Amazon, Nord $50

Gorgona: A Tranquil Retreat

Gorgona, Panama, beckons those seeking a serene lifestyle by the sea. Tailored for tranquility and local culture, Gorgona offers a unique blend of affordable living and beachside charm.

Gorgona is located just a 5-10-minute drive east of Coronado. It is often referred to as Nueva Gorgona. While you’ll get the same type of white sand and pristine beaches in Gorgona as Coronado, the town has a much different cost of living as well as lifestyle. While Coronado is a beach resort city, Gorgona certainly is not. Although, that doesn’t mean that life here isn’t comfortable. It just simply has slightly fewer amenities than its larger neighbor.

Of course, if you’re looking for comfortable and affordable housing, you’ll still have some great options in Gorgona. There are plenty of condos with ocean views. You may even luck into one with an ocean and mountain view to enjoy most of your surroundings. And, the cost of buying or renting in Gorgona is about 20% less than in Coronado.

The population of Gorgona is approximately 5,000, and the residents are mainly Panamanians. However, you’ll find an expat community in these coastal towns if you’re looking for one! And if not, you’ll have plenty of locals to make friends with, too! Since Gorgona is such a small community, you’ll get to know it quickly. The laid-back lifestyle here attracts expats of all kinds: retirees, families, singles, etc.

Royal Palm in Gorgona

Cost of Living in Gorgona

The following cost of living is for a person who owns a condo. If you rent the same condo, the rent would be about $1300 a month, with the HOA and water included.

HOA $294
Electric $30
Water $5.68
Internet $30
Cellphone $25
Entertainment/Hobbies $100
Food and Groceries $600
Car insurance $20.41
House insurance $30
Medicare $125
Nord VPN $7
Haircut $10
Shipping costs $10
NetFlix $11.99
Amazon Prime $12.66
Exercise (water aerobics) $80
Massages (2 a month) $90
TOTAL $1518.21 with extras included ( add $1000 if renting)

If you’re looking for a slower pace of life, beautiful beaches, and proximity to the mountains, then Gorgona could be for you. Since there are many locals, it’s also a wonderful place to learn Spanish and truly get to know the culture of your new home country. And, most importantly, living here is quite affordable.

Panama Gorgona Bahia
Bahia in Gorgona

San Carlos: The Heart of Panamanian Tradition

San Carlos is another option on the Pacific coast. This town offers its residents a laid-back atmosphere with beautiful surroundings.

Living in San Carlos offers two choices: living in the older part of town, primarily single-family homes, or living in the area where modern high-rise condos have been built.

San Carlos is a small town similar to Gorgona in size. The weather is the same as its neighbors’: comfortably warm, and the yearly rainfall is minimal—a surprising fact when considering how green the surrounding mountains are. You’ll find friendly locals and expats in this small community.

When it comes to amenities, your basic needs are met here. You can find affordable groceries and produce. There is a public hospital in San Carlos. And if you’re looking for supermarkets with products similar to those you’d find in the U.S., you can take a short drive to Coronado, Playa Blanca, or Penonome.

Cost of Living in San Carlos:

The cost of living in San Carlos will be similar to that of Gorgona—maybe even cheaper, depending on your housing situation. Again, like anywhere in Panama, you could live on a shoestring budget or splurge on luxury. This is why it’s important to understand your finances and monthly budget to accommodate your needs and preferences.

You can rent a lovely house in San Carlos for $700-$900 per month. But if you live in a luxury oceanfront condo complex, you can expect to pay $1200 to $1800 monthly rent or more.

Your personal lifestyle can also significantly affect your budget. However, there are options for everyone! Two couples shared their budget for San Carlos.

This couple lives in a single-family house near the downtown area in San Carlos:

Rent-$900 (includes internet, water, and gardener)
Restaurants- $100
Medical -$50 (no insurance)
Clothes, Misc. $100
Cell phones $50 (two phone and two phone plans)
Electricity -$80
Subscriptions $50 (NetFlix, Amazon, etc)

san carlos panama

This couple’s monthly budget living in an upscale condo in San Carlos.

Gardener- $30
Medical- $200
Restaurants- $300
Household goods, clothes, shopping $1100
Water aerobics $80
Vet – $45
Cable fiber optics- $40
Cell phones $44
Electricity -$100
Fast box shipping charges-$124

Ensenada in San Carlos, Panama

Playa Blanca: Tropical Luxury Living

The most affordable option farther west down the coast is Playa Blanca. It’s located just a 30-minute drive from Coronado, which gives you easy access to the city’s amenities; however, it’s far enough away to see quite a decent drop in prices in the area.

Playa Blanca also has all the necessary amenities to meet your daily needs. You’ll find fresh produce, grocery stores, and fun activities. For example, it’s home to the largest saltwater pool in Central America. Of course, if you prefer the salt of the ocean, you can find it right at your doorstep, too!

There are many social activities in the Playa Blanca community.

Playa Blanca, nestled on Panama’s Pacific coast, offers residents a permanent vacation vibe with its pristine beaches and luxury residences. Residents have access to all-inclusive resorts, private pools, and wellness facilities that embody a resort-like experience. Entertainment options are abundant, with beach clubs and water sports readily available for enthusiasts looking to indulge in the seaside way of life.

playa blanca panama
Playa Blanca Salt Water Pool

Costs of Living in Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca should catch your eye if you are looking for more affordable beachfront living. Your biggest cost will be housing, and your needs and preferences will largely affect what you pay. However, to understand what it costs to live in Playa Blanca let’s look to someone who’s actually doing it.

Here’s a monthly budget for someone currently living in Playa Blanca:

Rent-$850 includes water, WiFi, cable TV & trash collection
Restaurants- $100
Household goods, clothes, shopping-$100
Car insurance, gas, and maintenance – $100
Electricity – $140
Cell phones $25
Medical and medications- $100
Amazon orders and shipping- $50 (art supplies)

Living on the Pacific Coasts of Panama

Many expats choose to make these beach towns their homes. Whether you’re a retiree or simply looking for a change, the area’s laid-back lifestyle and diverse nature make it a popular choice.

There are subtle differences between the life you’d lead in Coronado, Gorgona, San Carlos, and Playa Blanca. However, a top priority is probably affordability. One of the best things about living in Panama is that you can pick a location that fits your budget.

While the budgets we’ve provided for each of these coastal towns give you an idea of what life there will cost. We urge you to visit all of them to get a better feel for what your life there would look like. Visiting a place for an extended period will give you the best picture of the culture, lifestyle, and cost of living.

We visit these areas during an all-inclusive 6-day, 7-night Panama Relocation Tour. You’ll get to see rentals and meet expats who live in the area. We spend one night at this beachfront resort:

Bijao Resort

If you’re interested in moving to Panama, check out our Online Complete Panama Relocation Guide, which will give you some insider tips and outline everything you need to know! When you’re ready to visit, consider one of our tours. We offer both group and private relocation tours.

Come See How You Can
LIVE BETTER for LESS in Panama

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. Daniel OBrien says

    Jackie-you couldn’t have timed this article any better for me?
    The goal of my trip was to explore the Azuero Peninsula for the month of May. Pedasi, Chitre, Las Tablas and finally Playa Blanka. My eyes popped wide open when I saw the cost-of-living in Playa Blanca. I already talked to a realtor and she had potentially quoted me 800 for a two bedroom condo, excluding electricity. Perfecto!! I can’t move until next year and I know things are fluid, but your article gave me great insight to what I’m looking for. I was raised where each summer was the white beaches and sand dunes (they are called condos now ha ha!) of Beach Haven, New Jersey. And there was the beautiful sand of Pensacola Fla when I was in Flight school.
    Thanks sooo much for this article
    Dan OBrien PRT 197

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Dan. I’m glad the Pacific Coast Costs of Living article was timely. It’s very affordable at Playa Blanca.

  2. Michael Angelovic says

    Great article. And yes, this is paraiso! I think the article was very accurate in describing the subtle differences in the beach communities, which are all gorgeous.

    That stated, I have no idea how these examples of expats and their budgets are working their magic and staying within these $ numbers. (shrug) Maybe renting and not owning is a major factor? But I own. ie, so it’s too late.

    I live a very conservative lifestyle, I don’t factor in things such as “beach toys” or trips abroad into my monthly budget. I shop at the cheapest stores, within reason. I rarely go out on the town… I’m single, no girlfriend… etc. I have zero debt, and I have meaningful money in the bank, plus I own my property outright as mentioned. And yet my monthly budget far exceeds what I read about in these and other PRT articles. (Side-note: I am a huge fan of PRT and find them to be a very credible organization. I’m not saying anyone is fudging.)

    So I’ve made my point, which I’m sure is debatable depending upon the person and personal expectations for retirement ‘quality of life.’ And I’ll continue to examine my expenditures over time and see where I might be able to tighten my belt.

    That said, and since the article mentions it, I have found the healthcare ‘qualifying process’ to be a nightmare, here. After 17 months, I am still on the public system. I’ve been denied. I’ve been “sticker shocked!”
    But the one thing I’m not, is unhealthy. I surf daily (that’s not an exaggeration). I am 55 and don’t smoke, don’t have heart disease or diabetes… ie, none of the “usual suspects” for HC coverage denial,… I lift weights frequently, eat only 2 meals a day, home-cooked with cheap ingredients yet still relatively healthy meals. Rarely drink alcohol.
    Yes, I have pre-existing conditions (most expats do), but mine don’t even need to be covered, here. – One of the main reasons I decided to retire in Panama’. And I’ve let the HC insurance agents know that. Yet I’ve recently been denied by one of the ‘big name’ health insurance companies in Panama’. One that has been listed in previous articles.

    When I was back in the USA just a short 17-months ago, I had zero problem securing healthcare self-insurance as a business owner. And the premium and coverages, when all factors were considered, was about the same price as what I’ve been quoted here in Panama’ for private insurance. But it’s a moot point when I can’t even get covered, here.

    Anyway… that’s my problem. I’ll find a solution. (I hope.)

    Keep up the great work, PRT! I continue to enjoy the articles and the online guide!

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hi Michael. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Renting does usually tend to be much MORE affordable than owning!

      Last year, I sold the property that I had owned for 12 years in Panama. Now, I’m just renting. I have a bigger house in a better location, and I’m saving at least $1000 a month by just renting!!!

      With any preexisting conditions, it’s very difficult to get health insurance in Panama. Thank God for the public hospitals!!

  3. Wendi F says

    Thank you Jackie. Just out of curiosity, do you have any sample budgets from Chame or Chame Point? We fell in love with that area as well as Gamboa when we visited last month and are now considering it.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Wendi, the budget in Chame would be similar. If you live in Caracol, it may be higher.

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