Cost of Living in Panama 2023: Essential Guide for Expats and Retirees

The cost of living in Panama has become a topic of interest for many expats and travelers considering this Central American country as their next destination.

The cost of living in Panama has become a topic of interest for many expats and travelers considering this Central American country as their next destination. As 2023 unfolds, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of current living expenses to make well-informed decisions. Panama’s geographical diversity, vibrant culture, and growing economy have contributed to the country’s popularity, making an assessment of living costs an indispensable tool.

In 2023, Panama offers a range of living expenses, varying from its bustling capital city, Panama City, to smaller towns and coastal areas. While it might be more expensive than some other Latin American countries, Panama’s cost of living remains relatively affordable in comparison to many places worldwide. Key factors that influence living costs include housing, transportation, utilities, and groceries.

It’s critical to note that individual lifestyle choices can significantly impact overall living expenses in Panama. Budget-conscious individuals may be able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for around $1500 per month. Those looking for more luxury or additional services, such as hiring full-time domestic help, may see their expenses increase accordingly. Regardless of one’s preferences, understanding Panama’s cost of living landscape in 2023 is crucial for anyone considering a move or an extended stay in this captivating country.

Cost of Living Overview

Panama City

Panama City, the capital and largest city in Panama, is known for its modern skyline, vibrant culture, and a higher standard of living. The cost of living in Panama City is more expensive than in 54% of countries in the world, with a single person estimated monthly cost of 1,721 B/. Utilities, transportation, and groceries are affordable but housing costs tend to be higher in this urban center. Eating out and entertainment options are available at reasonable prices, making it an attractive place for expats and locals alike.


Boquete, a small town in the highlands of Panama, has a lower cost of living compared to Panama City. Known for its cooler temperatures and scenic landscapes, it attracts retirees and expats who are looking for a more relaxed lifestyle. The cost of living here includes affordable housing options, accessible healthcare, and reasonably priced groceries. Boquete also offers a variety of outdoor activities and a close-knit expat community.


Coronado, a popular beach town near Panama City, is known for its upscale neighborhoods, beach access, and numerous amenities. The cost of living here is higher compared to other towns in Panama, with a focus on luxury housing and high-quality services. Despite the higher costs, Coronado has a growing expat community that enjoys the beach lifestyle, shopping, and various leisure activities.


David, the capital of Chiriqui province, offers a more affordable cost of living in comparison to Panama City and Coronado. Monthly expenses average at $711.3 without rent for a single person. With a mix of urban and rural options, David provides a diverse lifestyle opportunity for its residents. The city has a variety of affordable housing, accessible healthcare options, and reasonably priced groceries and amenities.

Bocas Del Toro

Bocas Del Toro, an archipelago known for its beautiful beaches and biodiversity, is a popular tourist destination and home to a growing expat community. The cost of living in Bocas Del Toro can be higher compared to other parts of Panama, particularly due to transportation challenges and limited availability of goods and services. However, the natural beauty and relaxed lifestyle make Bocas Del Toro an attractive option for those willing to manage the additional costs.

Las Tablas

Las Tablas, a small city on the Azuero Peninsula, offers a low cost of living and a laid-back lifestyle. The city is known for its strong cultural heritage and traditional festivals. With affordable housing, low-cost groceries, and reasonable healthcare options, Las Tablas presents an appealing option for those seeking a more authentic Panamanian experience.

Housing and Rent

When considering the cost of living in Panama in 2023, housing and rent expenses play an important role. The cost of renting or buying a property in Panama varies significantly depending on the location. Similar to many other countries, living in a city is generally more expensive than living in a smaller town or rural area.

In Panama City, rental prices are relatively higher compared to other parts of the country. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center could cost around $1,000 per month, while a similar apartment outside the city center may be around $700 per month. For larger, three-bedroom apartments, the prices can range from $1,500 to $2,500 per month. The real estate market in Panama City offers a variety of housing options with varying prices, tailored to different budgets and preferences.

In contrast, renting or buying a property in a smaller town can be significantly more affordable. For example, in Penonomé, a growing city in the Coclé Province, the cost of renting a property can be around 60% lower than in Panama City. This makes it an attractive option for people looking for a more peaceful living environment while still having access to essential facilities and services nearby.

For those interested in beachfront properties, Panama offers numerous coastal areas with beautiful beaches. Playa Venao is a popular beach destination located on the Pacific Coast of the Azuero Peninsula. Beachfront properties in Playa Venao can be more affordable compared to those in Panama City, providing a relaxed and picturesque setting for a vacation home or permanent residence.

Overall, the housing and rental costs in Panama largely depend on the specific location and the type of property one is interested in. While city living can be pricier, it provides more job opportunities and a vibrant lifestyle, whereas smaller towns and beachfront locations offer affordability and a more relaxed environment. When looking to invest in real estate in Panama, it is crucial to research and compare different areas and property types to find the option that best suits individual preferences and budgets.

Utilities and Bills

In Panama, utilities and bills are an essential part of the cost of living. The expenses generally include electricity, water, gas, heating, and high-speed internet services.

Electricity prices in Panama can vary depending on usage; heavy air conditioning usage can result in power bills over $100 per month. It is essential to be mindful of energy consumption to keep costs low. The tropical climate in Panama usually does not require heating systems. However, it is vital to remember that the electricity costs already include cooling costs throughout the year.

See also  Living the Digital Nomad Dream: A Guide to Thriving in Panama in 2024

Water and gas costs in Panama tend to be relatively affordable. Many households use bottled gas for cooking purposes, which can be cheaper than relying on a centralized gas supply. Water rates will depend on the neighborhood and consumption, so it is crucial to conserve water to avoid high bills.

High-speed internet is widely available in Panama, with prices typically ranging between $30 and $60 per month. The quality of the internet service largely depends on the location, with urban areas having better access to reliable and fast internet connections.

In summary, utilities and bills in Panama are a necessary expense for residents. By being conscious of energy and water usage, it is possible to manage these costs effectively and maintain a comfortable standard of living within the country.

Food and Groceries

When living in Panama, the cost of food and groceries is an important component of the overall cost of living. A variety of items are typically found in local markets and supermarkets. Residents can expect to find affordable prices on most products, while still enjoying a good quality of life.

In Panama, staple foods such as rice and bread are commonly found at reasonable prices. A 1kg bag of rice typically costs around $1.30, while a loaf of bread is typically priced at $1.40. Other basic grocery items include potatoes, which can be bought for around $1.30 per kilogram, and eggs, which cost approximately $1.80 per dozen.

Fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, apples, and tomatoes, are also reasonably priced in Panama. A kilogram of apples costs around $2.80, while a kilogram of tomatoes is priced at $2.20. Local cheese is another favorite in Panama, and a kilogram usually costs around $6.

For those who enjoy dining out, Panama offers a wide range of restaurants, from affordable eateries to upscale dining establishments. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs around $8, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is priced at approximately $45. Domestic beer can be purchased at restaurants for around $2 per 0.5-liter bottle.

In summary, the cost of food and groceries in Panama is generally affordable, with a variety of markets and supermarkets offering a range of products at competitive prices. Residents can expect to find items such as rice, bread, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products at reasonable costs, while also enjoying a selection of dining options in local restaurants. Keeping these prices in mind, one can maintain a comfortable lifestyle while living in Panama in 2023.

Transportation and Mobility

Panama offers a variety of transportation options for residents and visitors alike. The public transport system is a popular choice for many people, providing efficient travel throughout the country. Panama’s metro system, inaugurated in 2014, is one of the most modern and reliable ways to get around the city. Currently, it has two lines in operation, with plans to expand in the future.

Buses are another popular mode of public transport available, connecting various cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Panama’s bus system is affordable and reliable, allowing people to travel conveniently. For shorter distances, there are also shared taxi services known as “colectivos” that offer more flexibility in terms of routes and timings.

For a more personal transportation option, many residents of Panama opt for private vehicles, such as the trustworthy Volkswagen Golf, a common sight on Panamanian roads. As a compact hatchback, the Golf is a practical choice for navigating the often narrow and crowded streets of Panama’s urban centers.

In addition to the transportation options mentioned, Panama also has a flourishing community of ride-sharing and taxi services, providing convenient access to transportation when public transport is not available or suitable for specific needs.

Regarding costs, the 2023 Prices for transportation in Panama are quite reasonable. Metro fares start at around B/.0.35, while bus rides typically cost around B/.0.25 to B/.1.50, depending on the distance traveled. Taxi fares, on the other hand, are generally affordable, with a starting rate of around B/.1.50 and an increase of B/.0.50 per kilometer.

It is advisable to invest in a rechargeable transit card (RapiPass) to use for public transportation. The RapiPass can be used in the metro and multiple bus services, making it a convenient and cost-effective way to pay for travel expenses.

Given the variety of transportation options, it’s clear that Panama provides residents and visitors with an accessible, efficient, and affordable means of getting around. Whether it’s by public transport or private vehicles, people in Panama can enjoy the freedom and flexibility they desire while navigating the beautiful country.

Entertainment and Leisure

Panama offers a wide variety of entertainment and leisure options, catering to the tastes of both locals and expats. From movies and dining out to enjoying a cappuccino at a local cafe, there’s something for everyone.

Cinemas in Panama showcase both local and international films, with tickets priced reasonably compared to other countries. Additionally, Panama is home to several film festivals, providing even more opportunities for movie enthusiasts to enjoy diverse cinema selections.

When it comes to enjoying a cold beer, Panama offers several local options as well as imported beers and craft selections. The prices for a drink in a bar or pub typically range from $1.50 to $4, depending on the location and brand. Another popular option is “happy hour” specials, where prices can be even more affordable.

The dining scene in Panama is quite diverse, with a selection of local and international cuisine available in various price ranges. A dinner out at a mid-range restaurant can cost between $20 and $25 per person, whereas you can enjoy a full meal in a more upscale venue for around $30 to $50 per person. Street food options, including local favorites called “fritangas,” offer delicious and affordable alternatives for those looking to taste the authentic flavors of Panama.

Cafes are a popular choice for both locals and expats to enjoy a delicious cappuccino or coffee. Prices for a cappuccino are generally around $2.50, making it an affordable option for relaxing or working in a cozy setting.

See also  How Does Patreon Work?

When it comes to activities, Panama certainly doesn’t disappoint. The country boasts beautiful beaches, lush parks, and world-class outdoor attractions. Hiking and exploring the national parks can be done with minimal costs, while a visit to the famous Panama Canal can be moderately priced. Museums, live performances, and cultural events are available to enjoy in various locations, with ticket prices varying based on the specific event and venue.

In conclusion, entertainment and leisure opportunities in Panama are diverse and reasonably priced, making it an attractive destination for both tourists and expats looking to maximize their quality of life without breaking the bank.

Healthcare and Medical Costs

Panama has a multi-tiered healthcare system that offers accessible medical services at various cost levels. The country is known for providing quality healthcare at affordable prices compared to the United States and other developed nations.

In general, healthcare costs in Panama depend on factors such as whether you choose a private or public facility, your insurance plan, and the type of medical service needed. Private healthcare facilities tend to be more expensive, but they usually offer higher quality services and shorter waiting times.

A visit to a general practitioner in Panama can cost between $20 and $60, while a consultation with a specialist may range from $40 to $100. Medical procedures and surgeries are also relatively inexpensive compared to other countries. For instance, a source lists the cost of an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) at around $425 and a root canal treatment for about $300.

Expats living in the country have several options when it comes to health insurance. Some choose to continue using their current insurance from their home country or purchase an international plan. Others opt for local health insurance providers, which offer more affordable rates but may have less comprehensive coverage.

It’s essential to consider Panama’s public healthcare system, known as Caja de Seguro Social (CSS). The CSS provides free or low-cost medical services to Panamanian citizens and legal residents who pay into the system. However, it is important to note that waiting times, availability of services, and quality of care might be lower in public hospitals compared to private facilities. For this reason, many expats prefer using private healthcare.

In summary, healthcare and medical costs in Panama are generally affordable, with various insurance options available to suit an individual’s needs. The multi-tiered healthcare system offers access to both private and public medical services, allowing expats to choose the most suitable option based on their preferences and budget.

Lifestyle and Cost of Living Comparison

When it comes to living in Panama, many people, especially expats, find it to be a comfortable and affordable option. The cost of living in Panama is, on average, 34.4% lower than in the United States. This makes Panama an attractive destination for those looking for a great value and appealing retirement climate.

As a popular destination for retirees and expats, Panama offers a mix of modern infrastructure and local charm. The country’s capital, Panama City, has a vibrant skyline that rivals Miami, showcasing its growth and development that appeals to people searching for a combination of comfort and cultural experiences.

The affordable cost of living in Panama extends to everyday expenses. For instance, prices for groceries and household items such as laundry detergent are generally lower than those found in the US and many European countries. Dining out and enjoying leisure activities also come at a reasonable cost, making it easier for residents to enjoy a high quality of life without straining their budget.

Safety is a major concern for many considering a move to a foreign country. Panama is considered a safe place to live, as locals and expats alike benefit from the country’s stable government and low crime rates. While no place can be completely crime-free, ongoing efforts are made to maintain a secure living environment.

Panama’s climate is another attractive factor for those considering a move. The country enjoys a tropical climate, with warm temperatures year-round and abundant natural beauty. This makes it an ideal destination for retirees and expats who are looking to escape harsh winter conditions or seeking an outdoor lifestyle.

In conclusion, Panama offers a unique blend of comfort, affordability, and a high quality of living. It is an attractive destination for expats, retirees, and those seeking a safe and enjoyable lifestyle in a tropical climate.

Personal Items, Clothing and Miscellaneous Expenses

When considering the cost of living in Panama in 2023, it’s essential to consider personal items, clothing, and miscellaneous expenses. Unique aspects of living in Panama affect the prices of these everyday necessities, from both local and international perspectives.

For example, the cost of fashionable clothing items such as jeans and summer dresses can vary depending on the brand and location of the purchase. A 1 pair of jeans typically costs around $60, whereas a 1 summer dress in a high-street store, like Zara or H&M, might set you back approximately $35. Of course, these prices might change according to the popularity or exclusivity of the specific brand.

When it comes to personal items and daily essentials, the prices in Panama remain relatively affordable. For instance, toiletries like toothpaste, shampoo, and soap can be purchased at local supermarkets or convenience stores at prices comparable to those found in other countries. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that imported goods may come with higher price tags due to transportation and tariff expenses.

In terms of miscellaneous expenses, many recreational activities and outings in Panama are still reasonably priced. Going to the movies or enjoying a meal at a restaurant remains accessible to most expats and locals alike. Additionally, the availability of low-cost hired help, such as a live-in housekeeper for as low as $500 per month, can free up more leisure time to explore the diverse culture and attractions of Panama.

Although the cost of living in Panama might be lower than that of many other countries, it’s crucial to factor in personal items, clothing, and miscellaneous expenses while planning your budget. By staying informed of local pricing trends and comparison shopping, it’s possible to maintain a comfortable lifestyle amidst the picturesque landscapes and exhilarating experiences that Panama has to offer in 2023 and beyond.

See also  10 Best Retirement Countries: Where to Spend Your Golden Years

Panama Visa and Residency

Panama offers a variety of permanent residency visas for expats who wish to live there permanently. Although the system may seem confusing, with over 20 different residency visas, many older visas have been replaced by newer, more relevant options.

Expats from various backgrounds and with diverse motivations can find suitable visas and residency programs. Those looking to retire, work, start a business, or invest can all consider living in Panama as a viable option.

One popular option is the Friendly Nations Visa, which allows citizens from specific countries to obtain permanent residency by demonstrating economic or professional ties to Panama. To qualify, applicants must open a local bank account with a minimum balance of $5,000 and either invest in real estate, establish a new business, or obtain a job offer in Panama.

Another option for expats is the Pensionado Visa, designed for retirees who have a lifetime pension or social security income of at least $1,000 per month. This visa provides a range of benefits, including discounts on utilities, transportation, and healthcare services.

For those interested in investing in Panama, the Reforestation Investor Visa could be attractive. Applicants must invest at least $80,000 in a reforestation project approved by the Panamanian government. This visa also grants the applicant’s family members residency, making it a suitable option for those looking to move with their loved ones.

Lastly, the Professional Residence Permit targets professionals who intend to work in Panama. Obtaining this permit requires proof of a valid employment contract with a Panamanian company and a degree in the relevant field. After two years of holding this permit, the applicant can apply for permanent residency.

In summary, Panama offers various visa and residency options that cater to a diverse range of expats. With suitable programs available for retirees, investors, and professionals, Panama is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for those looking to make a permanent move.


The cost of living in Panama in 2023 offers several advantages for expats and people looking to relocate. As a beautiful country with a vibrant culture and lush landscapes, Panama has a lot to offer residents.

One of the most attractive features of living in Panama is its affordability. A full-time, live-in maid can cost as little as $500 a month, while costs for part-time help average around $20 per visit. This allows residents to enjoy a higher standard of living with more free time to explore the country.

The overall cost of living in Panama is estimated to be around $1,500 per month, making it an affordable destination for many people. Prices for dining out and other recreational activities remain low, providing you with the opportunity to enjoy everything that Panama has to offer without breaking the bank.

Panama is also a culturally diverse country, with expats from all over the world calling it home. This melting pot of cultures creates a unique living experience, as you’ll encounter a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.

In terms of its overall cost of living, Panama City is 70% more expensive than Bogotá, 44% cheaper than Washington D.C., 18% more expensive than Moscow, and about the same as San Jose, Costa Rica. This makes it a competitive option for those looking to enjoy a high standard of living on a budget.

In conclusion, if you are considering a move to Panama in 2023, you can expect a high quality of life at an affordable price. With its diverse culture, low cost of living, and beautiful landscapes, Panama is an ideal destination for expats and those seeking a change of scenery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average monthly expense for an expat in Panama?

The average monthly living expenses for expats in Panama can range from $1,120 to $4,000, depending on factors such as location, lifestyle, and housing choices. These estimates generally cover costs for two people, but specific information for singles, couples, and families may vary.

How does the cost of living in Panama compare to the United States?

The cost of living in Panama is generally lower than in the United States. For example, living in Panama City is 48% cheaper than living in Boston, Massachusetts. This is true for many aspects of life, including housing, eating out, healthcare, and transportation.

Which are the most affordable cities to live in Panama?

Panama has various affordable cities that offer lower living costs. Some options include David, Las Tablas, and Bocas del Toro. These cities offer a more laid-back lifestyle and lower housing costs compared to Panama City, which has a higher cost of living.

What are the typical prices for groceries and utilities in Panama?

Grocery prices in Panama are generally lower than in the United States. For example, you can expect to pay about $2 for a dozen eggs and $1 for a liter of milk. As for utilities, expect to pay more for electricity if you use air conditioning frequently, with bills potentially above $100. Water, gas, and internet costs are generally affordable and comparable to other developing countries.

Are there any safety concerns to consider before moving to Panama?

Panama is generally considered a safe place to live, as it’s known for having a vibrant culture and high standards of living. However, as with any country, it’s essential to be cautious and aware of your surroundings, especially in urban areas with higher crime rates. Research your chosen city or town and choose a safe, well-established neighborhood.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of retiring in Panama?

Benefits of retiring in Panama include affordable living costs, a warm climate, and a high quality of life. Panama also offers various retiree-specific programs, such as the Pensionado program, which provides significant discounts and benefits for retirees. Drawbacks may include adjusting to a new culture, language barriers (if you don’t speak Spanish), and being away from family and friends in your home country.

you may like it

Related posts