For most people who move to Panama, the cost of living, and being able to enjoy more on a limited budget is a big part of the draw. Living on a fixed income in Panama is not only possible, it’s a reality for many expats, and one that still allows them to enjoy life to the fullest. In Panama, living on a budget is all about choices, and knowing how to navigate the lifestyle you want, in the setting provided for you here. Whether you choose to live in the city, on the beach, or up in the mountains, you will find what you need, and at the budget you choose. Here are some tips how.
Find affordable housing.
Many people who come to Panama without doing much research first will find that their first impression of the real estate market is that it’s expensive. That’s because in Panama, much like anywhere else, there is an enormous variety when it comes to housing type, prices, and whom places are marketed to. If you shop around, and do some thorough due diligence with trusted realtors, you will find some great deals for both rentals and purchases. Remember, the center of Panama City is largely more expensive than other, less central areas, so looking at places a few miles out of downtown will save you thousands over time.
Try to limit buying imported products.
Panama has tons of imports, for lots of industries and markets, and that’s a great thing for variety. However, many of the imports come at a steeper price, which (for some) can drive up the cost of living, especially when you’re on a budget. There’s a way around this, though: buy local goods. Buying local Panamanian foods, clothing, hardware, and services will save you lots of money, without too much difference in quality. Of course, buying imported products can still be a part of your lifestyle. However, if you create a balance, you’ll find that your fixed income will go much further with more local goods than not.
Cut down on your electric use.
Panama is a hot country, and because of this, many people love their A/C. But did you know that without heavy daily A/C use, and lots of lights going, you can reduce your total electric bill to under $40 a month in Panama? Most of Panama has a breeze strong enough to cool down your house significantly if you keep the windows and sliding doors open (with screens, of course). Plus, with such warm, tropical surroundings, you will need very little electric use during daylight hours, as you’ll be out enjoying all that great weather. You can easily lower your bill by $100 by simply limiting you’re A/C usage to 6-8 hours at night, while you sleep.
Take public transportation.
Public transportation is dirt cheap in Panama, and is the primary way most Panamanians get around. In the city, you’ve got clean air conditioned buses, as well as a subway to get you anywhere you need to go. In the countryside, you have smaller air-conditioned buses, with comfortable seats, and flexible routes, depending on how rural you are. The standard fare for public transportation is around 30-40 cents, and goes up by pennies the further away from your destination you are. If you opt out of taxis, and take public transportation 5 days a week, your total monthly transport bill will be around (or under) $15. Now, that’s a steal!
Do as the locals do.
One of the best ways to live on a limited budget in Panama is to live in the carefree, low cost style that many locals do. Panamanians typically make $800 or less per month, and live relatively comfortable for it. Panamanians are also some of the happiest, least stressed out people in the world. If you plan on living in Panama, use the Panamanians as a model for how to be happy without blowing the budget, and how to live life moment to moment for what it’s worth. Trust us, you’ll be better off for it, budget and all.