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Cost of Living in Panama

The cost of living in Panama is less than in North America or Europe. The cost of living is also slowly and steadily increasing in Panama. Foreign retirees can still live comfortably in Panama, especially with the “jubilado” or retiree discounts on virtually everything.


Panama is the land bridge that connects North and South America and home of the Panama Canal. This country has a democratic government and what business publications describe as a "first world infrastructure." The Balboa is tied 1:1 to the US dollar and, in fact, paper currency here is the dollar. You do not have to change currency at the airport or work out exchange rates in your head while buying groceries in Panama.

No Hurricanes in the Tropics in Panama

There has never been a major hurricane to hit Panama and there are no recorded earthquakes. The Caribbean and Pacific Coasts of Panama are blessed with beautiful tropical weather, surfing, world class sport fishing, and scuba diving. The highlands of the Panama interior are cooler than the coastal areas and areas of unspoiled natural beauty.

Cost of Living in Panama

Many retirees have already discovered the beauty and low cost of living in Panama. Gaining residency here is reasonable simple and inexpensive. Panama property is still substantially less than in the USA, Europe, or the Caribbean islands.

The natural beauty of Panama and its low cost of living have made Panama the premier retirement destination in the Americas.

Cost of Living – Groceries in Panama

You can buy your groceries at the corner store or at supermarkets with English and Spanish signs over the aisles. The local store is a little more expensive but saves time and cost of gasoline or a taxi. Anything grown or produced in Panama will be half to two-thirds the cost in the USA. Imported items will always be more than in the country or origin unless Panama has a free trade agreement with that country.

Cost of Living – Transportation in Panama

Gasoline is currently $4.50 a gallon while the price the Midwestern United States has slid back to $3.50 a gallon.

Taxi prices are set to go up in Panama City due to the rise in gasoline price. The taxis do not have meters. You are currently charged a dollar plus more depending upon how many neighborhoods or barrios you cross to get to your destination. A two mile ride along Via España costs $1.75. If you are going to a hotel they charge you more and if you are a Norte Americano who never asks how much (cuanto es? or cuanto vale?) you are likely to be charged $5 or more for a $2 taxi ride.

Buses are crowded, loud, and cheap. You pay when you get off based upon how far you ride. A typical in-town Panama City fare is 35 cents.

Cost of Living – Television, Internet in Panama

Yes, they have cable TV in Panama. $28 a month will currently get you a good selection of local and Colombian channels, all in Spanish. In addition you will get Fox and CNN in English as well as CNN in Spanish. Note that channels like Hallmark and TNN have English language movies with Spanish subtitles. A set of rabbit ears will get you 1950’s reception, all in Spanish.

You can currently get a 1 MB internet connection for $23 a month from (British) Cable and Wireless in Panama City. However, you will need to sign up for phone service first and as a foreigner pay a $100 one time deposit.

Cost of Living and Telephones in Panama

After you pay the $100 deposit receiving phones calls with Cable and Wireless is free. The caller pays. For international service you can buy a “Telechip” card for $5 and pay 5 cents a minute to the USA. Skype, through your internet connection, is 2.1 cents a minute to the USA.

Cell phones are plentiful and range from $30 to as much as you want for the bells and whistles. A “Mas Movil” $5 card costs $5.25 at the tienda or supermarket. NOTE: Only buy when they are offering 4 for 1 which is cuadruplica. Then the 40 cents a minute works out to 10 cents a minute.

Cost of Living in Panama including Property

The above discussion does not touch on Panama property, highland, Pacific Coast, or Caribbean. Follow these links for more information or contact ABPanama. We do business throughout the country and are always please to help.

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