Updated Oct. 7th, 2010
To assist those who wish to have firsthand knowledge of the costs of living in Panama below is what one can expect
Please note that I am sure there are “deals” to be had but the following is what we have found to be the norm.
The prices shown are current in our area which is the Province of Chiriqui near the city of David. I wish to thank
Panama Realtor for their work on gathering the tax data.
RENTAL ACCOMMODATION (house not hotel)
A small, one bedroom, one bathroom home can be had for as little as $350 per month plus the utilities. This unit
however may or may not have –hot water, screened windows or doors, air conditioning, adequate cupboards or
closet space, decent sized fridge or stove or a minimal amount furniture. The furniture/bed may also be of
questionable quality. In the more upscale areas such as Boquete you can expect to pay considerably more ($500
per month plus utilities) for a similar unit.
Then you have the “gringo” pricing (and quality) which is all over the place. $650 ----$2,000 plus per month is not
uncommon. Our area, which is rural Panama outside of David towards the border with Costa Rica, you can rent a
new 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit with all of the bells and whistles (except A/C) for $450 per month plus utilities.
Now this one is difficult to pin down as the pricing is virtually anything you can possibly imagine. I won’t elaborate but
you can get great buys if you look hard and long enough---you can also be “taken to the cleaners” just as easily.
Electricity Based on a North American consumption but with no air conditioning you can expect to pay
approximately $75.00 per month.
Water On average you will pay about $7 to $10 per month.
Garbage Pick Up In the city of David they charge $4.50 per month.
Cooking Gas Propane is the norm and a 20 pound bottle costs about $5.50. A 20 pound bottle lasts a long
Internet At an Internet café you will pay $0.50 to $1.00 per hour. A connection in your home (optional) costs
about $45 per month.
T.V With an antenna it is free but limited to Spanish only and only a couple of channels. Cable TV is about $50
to $60 per month. Lots of Spanish, English, Portuguese etc channels.
Car Rental Again, all over the place depending on make and model but you can expect to pay at least $40 per
day for a small car. You had better have nerves of steel when you first start driving here. In David they have just
added a new stop light which brings the total to 3. It is amazing but the lack of signage and traffic lights actually
works quite well—once you know the “rules”.
Car Purchase What do you want? Everything is available. We bought a new (in 2008) Hyundai Sante Fe SUV.
It is a diesel, 7 passenger vehicle. It is fabulous and the price was $28,000 with tax. To finance a vehicle you will
need a minimum of 20 percent down and will probably suffer from “writer’s cramp” filling out the papers.
Car Insurance Our vehicle costs us $750 per year all inclusive.
Car Financing With 20% down payment we pay 7.5% and is the only thing we have ever financed here.
Home Insurance Our condominiums are insured for flood, fire, earthquake etc. to an amount of $70,000 and cost
us approximately $100 per year.
Medical Insurance Our policy costs us $70 per month (for both of us) but is co-pay. For example, a visit to
the doctor’s office costs us $10. For major claims the costs are on a sliding scale with our insurance paying only a
portion of the bill. Anything compared to free is expensive. This is always a major issue with everyone we talk to
except the US expats. Here (Panama) the medical costs are nothing when compared to the US. If your readers wish
I can get the latest hospital charges from our hospital administrator for various operations and/or procedures.
Gasoline/diesel Costs On average (as it changes by the minute) you can expect to pay just over $3.00 per US
gallon for gasoline and $2.85 for diesel.
Property Tax The first $30,000 is exempt and then you pay on a sliding scale. I have copied a report from a
local agency regarding the current tax on property.
Panama Real Estate Taxes
Thanks to Panama Realtor for this article.
Article 764 of the Panamanian Tax Code indicates which properties are exempt from property tax. These properties
1. Properties registered at a value of 30,000 USD or less including improvements to the land, i.e. construction
2. Land used exclusively for farming and registered with the Ministry of Agriculture and Development at less
than 150,000 USD.
The tax basis should be understood as being the value of the land plus the improvement. Article 766 of the Tax
Code goes on to establish the property tax table to be the following:
If you have a property valued at 100,000 USD you should pay the following in property taxes:
2.10% of 100,000 USD (0.00 USD for the 0 -30,000 bracket which is tax exempt) + (349.98 USD for the 30,001 -
50,000 bracket at a rate of 1.75%) + (487.48 USD for the 50,001-75,000 bracket at a rate of 1.95%) + (524.98 USD
for the 75,001 - 100,000 bracket at a rate of 2.1%) = a total of 1362.44 USD for annual property taxes.
Alternative Property Tax Calculation - following Appraisal
Under the recent real estate tax amendment of 2005, the following alternative tax rate is applicable to properties
whose property taxes are paid up to date and whose registered value in the public registry has been updated with a
sworn declaration of the estimated value of the property, duly signed by an appraiser:
So the same property under the alternative property tax calculation would be as follows:
1.0% of 100,000 USD (0.00 USD for the 0 -30,000 bracket which is tax exempt) + (139.99 USD for the 30,001 -
50,000 bracket at a rate of .70%) + (224.99 USD for the 50,001-75,000 bracket at a rate of .90%) + (249.99 USD for
the 75,001 - 100,000 bracket at a rate of 1.0%) = a total of $614.97 USD for annual property taxes.
Bread whole wheat $1.68 to $1.77
Milk 2 liters $2.24
Yogurt $ .70 for 180 grams
Chicken breast w/bone and skin $1.32/lb.
Chicken boneless/skinless $2.80/lb.
Chicken wings $1.39/lb.
Chicken whole $1.25/lb.
Hamburger $1.98 to $2.65/lb.
Pork Roast $2.40/lb.
Sausage $2.58 for 4 large
Salami $1.75 for 8 oz.
Bacon $4.00 /lb.
Cheese Cheddar $7.99 for 2 lbs.
Cheese Monterey Jack w/jalapenos $7.49 for 2 lbs.
Cereal Nestle Fitnesse $5.89 for large box
Lettuce Romaine $1.09/lb.
Onion $ .99/lb.
Potato $ .49/lb.
Carrots $ .95/lb.
Cucumber $ .46/lb.
Green pepper $ .99/lb.
Bananas $ .07 each
Pineapple $ .75 to $1.00
Limes $ .15 each
Tonic $3.65 for 6
Ginger Ale $6.59 for 12
Vegetable juice $2.75 for 64 oz.
Dill pickles $2.69 for large jar
Pizza Sauce $2.29 for small jar
Popcorn $ .55 for microwave
Tuna Canned $ .75 to $1.25 each can
Wine 1 liter boxed $2.00 per liter
Beer 24 bottles $8.25
Rum $10.69 for 1.75 liters
Vodka $13.89 for 1.75 liters
This can give you a good overview of your food costs. If there are any specific items you wish information on please
As you can see the cost of living here in Panama, especially in our end of the country is very reasonable.
Panama is EASY RETIREMENT LIVING!
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