What Does It Cost to Move to Panama?

No matter where you move to, there will always be upfront moving expenses. Even if you just move across town or move within the same state/province, there will be moving expenses.

Though you can reduce your cost of living when you move to Panama, there will be significant upfront costs when you move to a different country. Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce these costs, which we’ll talk about later in the article.

One of the biggest upfront costs when moving to Panama is getting a residency Visa and renting a place to live. See the chart below with estimated moving expenses for a couple to move to Panama based on renting a house or apartment for $900. The costs would be less for a single person.

Airfare to Move to Panama (est $700 each)$1400
Pet Relocation$600
Pensionado Visa$1500
Panama Driver’s License$140
First Month’s Rent & Security Deposit ($900 rental)$1800
Stock Up on groceries$300
Eating Out Expenses$200

As you can see, the upfront costs will be about $6000 for a couple to move to Panama, get a visa, rent an apartment for $900, and get their pet to Panama.

These upfront costs assume you move to Panama with a few suitcases each.


Buying a car could cost an additional $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the car you select. Full coverage insurance for a $20,000 car will cost about $600 a year, but you can opt to pay monthly.

Shipping household goods or a car to Panama can add $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the container size and which moving company you use. If you only have 10 or 30 boxes to ship, you may be able to ship a pallet for less than $2,000.

If you have not made a trip to Panama to pick out a rental before your move, it is advised to stay in an airbnb or hotel for a few weeks to visit a rental before signing a lease. You should never rent a property without seeing it first.

If you get any visa other than a Pensionado Visa, you can add $100,000 – $200,000 or more to your cost to move to Panama. Unfortunately, any Visa besides the Pensionado Visa will require $200,000 in real estate, a deposit into a Panama 3-year bank CD, or a business in Panama. A reforestation visa requires about $100,000 investment in five hectares of teak or products that qualify for the reforestation visa.

If you pick the wrong immigration attorney or the wrong real estate company, it would substantially increase your costs. Some lawyers and real estate companies pad the price… a lot! We have reliable recommendations in our Complete Panama Relocation Guide.

If you don’t have pets, you can remove that expense from the chart above. But if you have more than one pet or a large pet that needs to go in cargo, the expense could be substantially more than $600. The $600 is the estimate for vet visits to get shots, an international health certificate, authentications, pet airfare for in-cabin, and help to get your pet into Panama. If your pet is too large to fit in the cargo of a commercial plane, you may need to get a charter flight, which could add $10,000 to $25,000 to the upfront costs. See the chart below for the maximum sizes for pet crates in cargo and the costs.

In the first month you move to Panama, you’ll be more likely to eat out more often to try different restaurants, so I added in $200 for eating out expenses.


To reduce the costs of moving to Panama, you should wait to get your visa until after you move to Panama. If you get the Visa before you move to Panama, you’ll have the extra expense of airfare to Panama two times ($2800) plus hotel and meal expenses for about ten days ( $100/day x 10 – $1000) SAVE $3800 if you get your Visa after you move to Panama.

If you rent for less than $900 per month, that can reduce your upfront moving expenses, but if you rent for more than $900 a month, it will increase your upfront moving expenses. Ideally, you should find a furnished rental that includes all utilities so you don’t have any other upfront rental expenses like electricity or internet. It is not customary to pay the first and last months’ rent in Panama, so avoid agents who ask for that. Never push your budget to the limit.

Some areas of Panama are much more affordable than others. See our RENTALS page for samples of rentals in different areas in Panama.

We advise that you only rent a furnished rental; otherwise, you’ll also have the expense of buying furniture, which could double your upfront expenses. See what a $700 per month furnished rentals looks like below. Save $5000-$6000.

highlands of panama zen
View from a $700 rental in Boquete
panama rental david
$700 Furnished Two Bedroom Two Bath in David Panama

An affordable place to buy furniture, bedspreads, curtains, kitchen appliances, and more in Panama is Conway. It’s similar to a Target store. SEE FURNITURE PRICES ON THEIR WEBSITE HERE.

Buying Panama health insurance will add another $117 per person if you are 60-69. International Health insurance could be an additional $250- $500 per month per person. You can also self-insure with no fixed monthly expenses. Self-insure means that you’ll pay for a doctor’s visit as you need them. It’s $2-$20 to see a doctor in Panama, depending on where you go.

good healthcare in panama

You should get a Panama cell phone number when you move to Panama. You can swap the SIM card if your cell phone is unlocked. A SIM or eSIM will cost less than $10. Panama cell phone plans are available for about $25 a month. There is a way to keep your current cell number without paying the high monthly fee. We have information about this in the Online Panama Relocation Guide.

We recommend that you come TO visit Panama before you decide to move to Panama. As much as we love living in Panama, we know it’s not right for everyone.

Use our recommended immigration lawyers in the Online Guide to avoid paying too much for a Visa. Our most affordable attorney charges $1500 for a couple to get a Pensionado Visa. Another attorney, who we do NOT recommend, charges $7500 for the same visa! You can SAVE money and avoid costly mistakes with the Online Complete Panama Relocation Guide.

To reduce your costs to come to check out Panama, you could buy the Online Complete Panama Relocation Guide for only $595 to learn all the things you need to know to have a hassle-free move to Panama.

You could do a 2-day Private Tour in the area you are most interested in for $250 per day or do a self-guided tour with our tips. The Online Complete Panama Relocation Guide recommends reliable and affordable immigration lawyers and honest property managers, where to buy affordable health insurance, how to find a rental and much more. The Online Guide also has a list of Private Tour guides throughout Panama.

The Complete Panama Relocation Guide will SAVE you money and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Panama Relocation Guide

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. Chris Pursley says

    Thanks for the good info. Is it common or reasonable to consider driving down to Panama from the US?

    • Jackie Lange says

      pre-covid driving from the USA to Panama was possible but not advised. Now, with Covid, it would be impossible because many land borders are still closed and each country has different rules for Covid tests before you can enter the country.

    • peter kolvig says

      When getting a pensionata visa, is it required to put $1000 in a Panama
      bank account monthly?

      • Jackie Lange says

        to get a Pensionado Visa, you do NOT need to deposit money into a Panama bank account. They just want to see proof that you have that income.

  2. Marci Camenisch says

    I was planning on applying for Pensianado a couple months before our PRT tour next August, then finalizing it during our August trip. But above it states that the cost will be less if we apply after we come to Panama. The quote I have from immigration attorney is $2800 for me and my spouse/dependent. Will it be less if I wait and apply from Panama?

    • Jackie Lange says

      The immigration lawyers we work with charge LESS, much less!

      You can certainly apply before or after your tour but you’ll have the added expense of hotels and eating out.

      You can save money if you use one of the lawyers we recommend and if you wait until you move to Panama to apply

  3. Lyle stephens says

    Is there someone that I can get to help me do this I’m not to educate I can pay for some help to do all the paperwork I’m 57 an wanting to move to Panama an retire I have 4000. A month come in .thanks

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello Lyle

      YES! We have people to help with the entire process of moving to Panama. We list all the contact in our Complete Panama Relocation Guide https://panamarelocationtours.com/guide

      There are companies who can help you gather the documents you need, immigration lawyers who will help you get a visa, honest real estate agents who will help find a rental, where to buy health insurance, etc etc. Everything you need to know AND the reliable contact to help you move to Panama.


  4. Donald Schleicher says

    Even if I’m unable to obtain a pensionado visa, I’d love to come down for a month or more; ( I know i’m limited to 6 months as a tourist ). Two questions ; #1, is it possible to rent a house, apt. or condo month to month ? I plan to buy the relocation guide depending on what I hear from one of your recommended lawyers.
    #2 ; Do you think if I email a recommended lawyer there documents showing I served a year diversion for a DV charge, due to being a veteran, and the courts dismissal paperwork, ( no conviction), that they could at least give me the odds of obtaining a successful bueno vista , so I could pursue a pensionado visa while there ? Thanks so much !

    • Jackie Lange says

      You can email your criminal report to a Panama immigration attorney to determine if you’d be able to get approved for a Buena Vista. The best place to find a month-to-month rental is Airbnb.com

  5. Márk says

    Dear Jackie,

    Thank you for the detailed guidance
    According to the table above:
    “Amount of the first month’s rent and Security deposit” payable at the start of the rental period
    Below it says: “In Panama it is not customary to pay the first and last month’s rent, so avoid agents who ask for this”.
    Please help me, what exactly does this mean?
    If I want to rent an apartment, when do I have to pay the first month’s rent and the security deposit?

    • Jackie Lange says

      first months rent and a security deposit is common before you move in

      first months, last month, and a security deposit is NOT common

  6. Xenia Vergara says

    What do you think about bringing all your stuff when moving to Panamá? I mean, we are planning to move there, but we don’t want to sell our furniture and the rest of our stuff, what could you recommend us?

  7. Paul Johnston says

    Hi Jackie
    How long can you rent in Panama, is there a time stipulation where you would need to purchase a home?

    • Jackie Lange says

      There is no limit to how long you can rent. Many have been living in Panama for 15-20 years and still prefer to rent.

  8. Sharon Hill says

    I would love to visit Panama to get a good feel of all its beauty. Could I do this with just a 6 month Visa? L

    • Jackie Lange says

      Tourists from North America can stay in Panama for 180 days

  9. Pamela Graham says

    Hi Jackie. I’m thinking about retiring in Panama. My daughter is 26 and lives with me. She works but she’s not attending college. Will she be able to move with me to Panama?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello Pamela. Your daughter could certainly move to Panama with you but she would need to qualify for her own visa. You cannot add her as a dependent to your visa. These are some other visa options:

      She should know that getting a job is Panama is very difficult and would require that she is fluent in Spanish. So she may want to check out online job opportunities at UpWork.com

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