If you’re looking for inexpensive cosmopolitan living—but with many of the conveniences you’d expect in New York, Miami, or any other major First-World city—you owe it to yourself to take a serious look at Panama City.

Panama City boasts a skyline of skyscrapers, modern office buildings, condo complexes and hotels of shining glass and steel, with world-class views of the Bay of Panama. The city is a major international commerce and banking hub, home to more than 80 of the world’s largest banks, scores of international non-profits, and giant multi-nationals such as Federal Express, Dell, 3M, and many more.

In the city and the surrounding communities, your international phone calls go through the first time, every time. High-speed Internet is the norm, rather than the exception. Power and water service are reliable and every amenity you could possibly want is within easy grasp.

Panama City is also fast becoming one of the world’s leading culinary destinations with eateries of every variety offering high-quality, fresh fare for much less than it would cost stateside.

Expats are attracted here thanks to its first-class health care and thriving property market that lends to a viable yet luxurious way of life in Panama City.

Cost Of Living In Panama City

Cost Of Living In Panama City

While it’s the most expensive part of Panama, no matter what your taste or budget, you’ll find that the cost of living in Panama City offers plenty of high-quality options, so in some cases the below costs come in ranges.

You may not want a car if you decide to live in Panama City (or even outside the city). Taxis are inexpensive, often no more than $5, even for an hour-long ride through rush-hour downtown traffic. In rural areas and small towns and cities, $2 fares are common. A tip: If you order a taxi from your hotel in Panama City, you’ll pay more than if you just hailed one yourself across the street. And getting a taxi in Panama City is no problem at all…they’re everywhere. Just walk out onto a main road and hail one. Tell them where you’re going and ask the price before getting in.

As Panama City is at sea-level, it is known to be very warm. Temperatures usually reach the high 70s F in the mornings and evenings, and high 80s F during peak sunlight hours. Because of this, most expats rely on air conditioning to keep down the heat—leading to higher electricity usage, resulting in higher bills.

Like many expats, you may find it difficult to resist having a maid. It’s easy to find help in Panama City, and a good employee can greatly improve your quality of life. A full-time, live-in maid can cost you as little as $250 a month. Many capitalinos (residents of the capital) have part-time maids who they’ll pay $15 per visit. This usually includes cleaning, laundry (no ironing), and can include cooking and babysitting, too.

Movie tickets in Panama City are $6 and pensionados pay 50% less. On Wednesdays, many theaters are half price for all moviegoers. A popcorn, nachos, and soda combo will cost you about $5. And in case you’re wondering, Panama gets a wide-array of first-run and blockbuster movies. Most films are played in the original language with Spanish subtitles.

Here is a sample budget detailing what you might expect to spend each month to live comfortably in Panama City (two-person household):

ExpensesU.S. $
Rent (two-bedroom apartment)$900 to $1,500
Transportation (taxi or fuel/maintenance on a compact car)$75 to $200
Electricity (depending on air conditioning use)$60 to $150
Water (bundled with trash pickup)$12 to $25
Gas for cooking, water heaters, dryer, etc.$0 to $10
Supermarket (food/household, mix of local and imported items)$400 to $500
Entertainment for two (movies twice a month, including snacks/drinks, and dinner four times a month)$150 to $400
Phone (land line, mostly local use)$13 to $20
High speed internet$20 to $35
Cable or satellite television$35 to $50
Monthly total for a First-World lifestyle in the big city:Approx. $1,665 to $2,890

 

Panama City: A Luxury Lifestyle in the “Hub of the Americas”

Panama City—Central America’s true First-World capital—offers the perfect mix of old and new, modern and traditional. Here you can eat in a gourmet restaurant, attend a jazz festival, watch a movie (in English)…do just about anything you would be able to do in many of the First-World cities that we all love. But in Panama City, you can do it all for less. A luxury lifestyle in the “Hub of the Americas” is easy.

In Panama City you’ll find a rich textural tapestry due to a fascinating history. Culture abounds in Panama from the colonial buildings in Casco Viejo to the many festivals that take place in the city throughout the year.

High-speed internet… modern infrastructure… excellent roads… all feature in Panama City. And it is also one of the safest capitals in the Latin American region.

Looking for an escape from the city? Beaches and mountains are both at your beck and call in Panama City. The beach town of Coronado is just an hour’s drive away and Cerro Azul, with its stunning mountain views, is slightly east of the capital.

Overall, Panama City offers the best of urban living in the country and the region. Great healthcare, a close proximity to the U.S., and an attractive lifestyle all make Panama City the expat haven it is today.

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Panama City is full of many different nationalities and religions so you’ll never feel like an outsider. Its diversity means that you may see a cathedral, like the Catedral Metropolitana pictured here in the same area as a synagogue or a mosque.

From the Archives of Panama City

Live in Pine-Clad Mountains Close to Panama City

Live in Pine-Clad Mountains Close to Panama City

Daily Postcard
By |
January 26, 2015

On the balcony of a Swiss-style cottage in Cerro Azul, I'm looking out over the mountains. The air is damp and cool—about 70 F—and there are thin wisps of mist around the hilltops. The land is densely populated with trees, most of them evergreens. It's surprising, since I've just come from Panama City, where you'll find tropical palms. So far I've seen hummingbirds and owl butterflies, smelled resinous pine and exotic jasmine, and heard the roar of howler monkeys in the distance. It couldn't be more different from the sea-level city just under an hour's drive from here. In fact, I'm reminded of where I grew up, in Oregon.

Dolega: One of Panama’s Most Affordable Retirement Towns

Dolega: One of Panama’s Most Affordable Retirement Towns

Daily Postcard
By |
January 1, 2015

There are many low-cost places to retire to in Panama. For those who enjoy the slower pace of rural living, Chiriquí Province, where I live, offers a delightful climate, easy convenience, and a quality lifestyle in an affordable retirement destination. While the city of David offers all the amenities of a good-sized city and the town of Boquete is a favored expat haven, some of the smaller towns in the area combine access to these desirable features with a lower cost of living. Dolega is one such small town in Chiriquí Province in western Panama. The four-lane highway that runs north and south between David and Boquete runs right through Dolega, so it’s easy to find. A new pedestrian overpass marks the main turnoff into town, at the Municipal Palace, shaded by a gigantic mango tree. Dolega is the administrative seat of the district of the same name, which encompasses a total of nine towns such as Los Anastacios, Dos Rios, Los Algarrobos and Potrerillos.

They Give Retirees More in Panama

They Give Retirees More in Panama

Daily Postcard
By |
October 14, 2014

Ten years ago, I left the U.S. in search of a new adventure with my husband, Al—a decision that led us to the city of David in the province of Chiriquí, Panama. Al and I have spent time in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras since leaving the U.S. but, for many reasons, Panama won out as our retirement destination. Chiriquí Province is beautiful. It's the country's farming province, all rolling hills lined with fields where you'll find pineapples, papaya, rice, coffee plantations, and orange groves.

“This Part of Panama City Is Perfect”

“This Part of Panama City Is Perfect”

Daily Postcard
By |
October 13, 2014

“We spent about five years researching good retirement destinations before actually moving to Panama,” says Bill Hamilton who moved with his wife Mieke to the country’s capital city. “I’m the type of person to look up every single thing…crime rates, politics, cost of living, real estate, health care…and Panama City kept popping up in my research as the best option across the board.” Though in their 60s and already retired from previous careers, the Hamiltons made the decision to move in order to take a stab at running the Balboa Inn, a nine-room B&B in Panama City.

The Best Beach Community in Panama

The Best Beach Community in Panama

“We were frustrated with extremely long, cold winters, high Canadian taxes, and we were weary of the rat race.” So says Denise Patrick, who—along with her husband Neil—moved to the beach community of Coronado—just 90 minutes from Panama City. The couple first fell in love with Coronado when they spent a vacation there in November 2010—so much so, in fact, that they decided on the flight home to sell their house and belongings.

Traveling South America $5-$10 at a Time

Traveling South America $5-$10 at a Time

My wife and I moved to Ecuador in 2006 to enjoy the more laid-back atmosphere and travel extensively. The problem was that our taste for lazing around on sandy beaches and spending money in out-of-the-way Quechua village markets was starting to eat into our retirement funds. We needed to develop a new income...one that wouldn't cut into our relaxed evenings watching gurgling mountain streams from our resort deck.

Winter Has Finally Hit Panama City…

Winter Has Finally Hit Panama City…

Mangoes are falling, ripe, to the ground. A light breeze flutters through the fruit-laden trees, and a yellow tanager takes flight. A couple passes me, wearing tank tops and shorts. I'm at one of Panama City's many parks, thinking life just doesn't get much better than this. It's warm, the sun is shining, and everything around me is dripping in rainforest green.

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