The Real Cost of Retiring in Panama: Budget for a lifestyle that fits you

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Panama is a world-class retirement destination, and its reputation as such is only increasing with time. But as we all know, planning your retirement isn’t always easy, and it’s important to budget correctly before you choose a place to settle down. Many North Americans choose Panama as a retirement destination because of the climate, proximity to the US, and cost of living. While the cost of living in Panama tends to be lower than most of the US, there are some exceptions, and lots of options for every budget. Here’s a quick run-down on what the cost of living is in Panama, and what your options are, depending on your budget.

Living in Panama City

Like anywhere else in the world, Panama has its expensive areas, cheap areas, and everything in between. For starters, living in the city is probably the most expensive choice, when looking at home rental or purchase, as well as daily expenses, and medical care. That being said, in most instances you get what you pay for. Panama city condos tend to have all of the modern amenities you can ask for (pool, gym, sauna, indoor parking, BBQ area, security). There’s also great access to top of the line medical care, shopping, and restaurants. And most likely, you won’t need a car, as taxis and private driving services are abundant and cheap. The drawbacks are that it can be loud, noisy, and crowded, which can be a deterrent for many retirees.

Typical Monthly Costs for 2 People:

  • Rent: $1,000-$1,800+ for a 1-2bdr
  • Groceries: $500-$600 for 2 people
  • Entertainment/Restaurants (4-6 times per month): $250-$350
  • Transportation (no car): $100-$200


Living at the Beach

retire in PanamaBeach retirement destinations are very popular, and Panama is known for its gorgeous coastlines, islands, and seaside communities. While the cost of living varies, depending on the town, there are a few areas, which specifically cater to international retirees. The most popular area is called Coronado. In Coronado, you can expect to pay city prices, and even higher in some instances, for housing, food, and transportation. However, in Coronado, the quality of life is as high as it gets in Panama. English is spoken in many businesses, the beach is clean and not crowded, and homes tend to be very well maintained and spacious. Coronado is luxury living, and a cheaper price than the US, but at a higher price standard for Panama.

If you’re looking for something more low-key, and less expensive, there are many options as well (Gorgona, San Carlos, Pedasi). However, these places tend to be less developed, and more remote. No matter which beach town you decide to retire in, a car is almost a must, as public transportation is sparse, and taxis aren’t that abundant.

Typical Monthly Costs for 2 People:

  •  Rent: $900-$1,500 for a 1-2 bdr
  • Groceries: $400-$500 for 2 people
  • Entertainment/Restaurants (4-6 times per month): $250-$350
  • Transportation (no car): $250-$350


Mountain Living

Panama’s most popular retirement location is nestled in the heart of the western sierras, about a 6-hour drive from the capital. Towns like Boquete are well known retirement spots for foreigners, and a lot of that has to do with the cost of living. In Boquete, and other western mountain towns, renting or buying a house is very cheap; often, as much as 70% less than their equivalent in the city or beaches. Food is similarly priced in the markets, however standard restaurants cost about half of what they do in the capital.

The cost of living here is one of the lowest in Panama, and the climate is dry and cool, which attracts many retirees. There are also a number of luxuries, such as gourmet restaurants, art galleries, and deluxe homes that cater to the large number of foreign retirees. This makes it easier to adjust to, and is a big convenience. The drawback is that it’s remote. Quality hospitals are not very near, and you often have to travel some distance for services and to run errands. A car is a must, even in town, as it is very spread out, and public transportation is not frequent, or inconvenient.

Typical Monthly Costs for 2 People:

  • Rent: $400-$800 for a 1-2 bdr
  • Groceries: $300-$400 for 2 people
  • Entertainment/Restaurants (4-6 times per month): $100-$200
  • Transportation (car): $200-$350 for gas, maintenance, and insurance.


Learn more about the Panama retirement visa.

About Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, POLS Attorneys offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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