Over the years that I have been in Panama and working with other people who are considering moving here, one of the questions I’m frequently asked concerns the cost of living. Is it really cheaper to live in Panama?
Of course, the word “cheap” can have several different meanings. Cheap versus what? Is Panama cheap compared to California? Absolutely. Is it cheaper than New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, or any other US coastal city? Without question. Is it cheaper than the metropolitan cities of Canada and Europe? No doubt.
Whether you consider Panama “cheap” is largely based on where you come from and where you expect to live.
The costs of living in Panama City is now on par with most major cities in Latin America. However, as you move into the interior of the country things get much less expensive.
In my experience, the cost of living has two main components:
The cost of housing and;
The cost of maintaining your day-to-day lifestyle.
The cost of purchasing a home or living in a rental can vary widely depending on where you choose to live, the size and quality of the home and the services offered. As a rule of thumb, the closer you live to the center of an established community (say, for example Boquete or Coronado), the higher the cost of housing.
However, once you get over the housing costs, your day-to-day living expenses are actually quite low. There are little or no property taxes, health care costs are reasonable, food costs are low, service costs like car repair, housecleaning and gardening are very inexpensive and other living costs (like entertainment) are actually affordable. Food is economical, particularly if you eat locally produced goods. Things like fresh seafood, chicken, beef and pork, fresh fruits and vegetables are much less expensive in Panama than in the US, Canada or Europe.
As I talk to the people who have moved to Panama the message I get is clear and consistent. Their quality of life is much higher and their cost of living is much lower than what they used to pay in their former homes. In almost all cases, people tell me that they could never afford the lifestyle they enjoy here if they were still back home and the choices and options they have are much greater because of their decision to move to Panama.
One last point. Most people find that they simplify their lives once they move to Panama, embracing the slower pace of life here. And that’s hard to put a price on.
If you’ve been thinking about enjoying a new life in the warm and sunny tropics, contact Inside Panama and one of our lifestyle experts will help you make that dream come true.