Cost of living in Panama

David Dell

By David Dell

Welcome to Panama, a charming destination that beckons expats and retirees with its tropical allure and vibrant culture. But what does it really cost to embrace life in this Central American paradise? Let’s dive into a realistic view of the cost of living in Panama.

Housing and Accommodation

Panama offers a diverse range of housing options to suit different budgets. In bustling Panama City or the upscale area of Coronado, you can expect to pay between $1,000 to $4,000 for rent. For those seeking tranquility, the highlands of Boquete or the serene town of Volcan offer more economical choices, with rents as low as $350. Gated communities, while offering enhanced security and amenities, also command higher rental prices


One of the perks of living in Panama’s highlands is the negligible cost of utilities. The temperate climate eliminates the need for air conditioning or heating, leading to substantial savings. In urban areas, utilities are reasonable, and retirees benefit from additional discounts. Expect to pay around $25-$50 per month for electricity in the highlands, with costs rising in coastal areas due to air conditioning usage.

Water is around $5 a month. Phone and internet are $30 a month, you will be billed extra for local calls, cell calls and long distance.

If you have a retirement visa or are at retirement age, you are entitled to your discount on the following: electric, water and phone.

Fruit stand

Groceries and Dining

Panama’s markets are a treasure trove of affordability, especially when purchasing local goods in the local markets. Imported items carry a higher price tag, so embracing local shopping can lead to significant savings. Dining out in Panama can also be a delight to your palate and your wallet. Local eateries, like the quaint “Coca Cola” restaurant in Volcan, offer hearty meals for less than $1.50.

Grocery store


Whether you choose to own a car or use public transport, transportation costs in Panama are manageable. Car-related expenses, including insurance and maintenance, are a consideration, but for those residing in urban areas, ride share apps or taxis are convenient and affordable.

Personal Expenses

Living in Panama allows for indulgences like housekeeping and gardening services without breaking the bank, thanks to the affordable cost of labor it costs about $30 to $40 a day.


This is another area where Panama shines, offering quality services at a fraction of the cost compared to North America. Medical expenses are very affordable, with doctor visits costing around $15 to $20, and specialist visits at $40 to $50. Health insurance is also affordable, though availability may depend on age and health conditions.


Additional Considerations

Some of the grocery stores will give you a 5% discount if you are retired but most of them do not.

Weights and measures are done in the following: lbs, grams, kilos, gallons, feet, yards and meters.

North American style stores are here such as Pricesmart and they have an excellent selection of fresh meats, fish and produce.

One thing you can say for certain, all the grocery items you want and need are here and the prices are most probably lower than back home.