Building in Panama

Cost of Living in Panama | Complete 2024 Guide


¡Hola! Welcome to the complete 2024 guide to the cost of living in Panama. I’m here to share all you need to know about navigating the financial aspect of Panamanian life.

Is it Expensive to Live in Panama?

Beach - Cost of Living in Panama

Generally, the cost of living in Panama is lower than in many Western countries, roughly 40 – 50% lower than in the United States, and similar to other countries in Latin America like Ecuador & Guatemala.

It depends on your lifestyle and where in Panama you choose to reside. However, like any other place, living in upscale neighborhoods and indulging in high-end restaurants and activities will drive your costs up.

Cost of Living in Panama Breakdown

To better understand the cost of living in Panama, let’s break it down.

Accommodation Cost in Panama

RENT: In the heart of Panama City, you can rent a luxurious condo with ocean views for around $2,000 USD per month. However, apartments in less trendy neighborhoods can be found for as low as $600.

SHORT-TERM: A decent apartment on Airbnb in Panama City typically starts around $40 per night. In more rural or less touristy areas, you can find Airbnb rentals for as low as $15 per night. You can find much cheaper deals with 1-month bookings.

Hostels are also plentiful in Panama, making it a great destination for budget travelers. A bed in a hostel dorm room will generally cost you between $10-$15 per night, while a private room is usually around $25-$40 per night. Hostels are a great way to meet fellow travelers.

Take a look at some of the best-rated and cheapest accommodations in Panama Here.

Food & Drinks Cost in Panama

Local food - Cost of Living in Panama

LOCAL MARKETS 🍌: These are abundant with fresh produce, meats, and seafood at a fraction of what you would pay in the US. You can prepare a hearty meal at home for around $5.

LOCAL RESTAURANT 🍔: A meal at a local restaurant will cost between $3-$7, while a meal at a more upscale restaurant might set you back $20-$50.

DRINKS 🍸: As for drinks, a local beer typically costs $1-$2, and a good bottle of wine starts around $8.

Entertainment Cost in Panama

When it comes to entertainment, the cost varies. A movie ticket goes for about $6, and a night out at a nice bar or club in Panama City can cost you around $30-$50, drinks included.

Outdoor activities are plentiful and often free or inexpensive, and Panama’s stunning beaches and national parks are well worth exploring.

Transportation Cost in Panama

Public transportation in Panama is incredibly affordable. A one-way ticket on a local bus or Metro in Panama City is $0.35. Taxis and Uber are also reasonably priced, with a typical ride within the city costing around $5. If you plan on owning a car, gas costs about $0.80 per liter.

Healthcare Cost in Panama

Healthcare is one area where the cost of living in Panama shines. Medical procedures can cost up to 50% less than they would in the US, and the quality of healthcare is excellent, particularly in Panama City. Health insurance for a couple is about $150 per month.

The best health care for travelers in Panam is EKTA travel insurance. They offer the best prices while still giving you all of the coverage you need. Click Here to get a 37% discount on your EKTA travel insurance.

Education Cost in Panama

Education in public schools is free for residents, but if you’re considering international schools for your children, fees can range from $4,000 to $10,000 USD per year.

Click Here to have a look at the best flight deals available to Panama right now!

How Much Does it Cost to Live Comfortably in Panama?

City - Cost of Living in Panama

In general, Panama offers a lifestyle that’s affordable yet high in quality. A couple can live a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle for around $1,500 to $2,500 per month.

This estimate allows for living in a safe, well-appointed apartment in a good neighborhood, enjoying local cuisine as well as occasional meals at high-end restaurants, participating in regular entertainment and recreational activities, and covering transportation and healthcare expenses.

5 Cheapest Places to Live in Panama

Beach Town - Cost of Living in Panama

Panama offers a diverse range of places to live that cater to every budget. If you’re looking for affordable locations, here are five of the cheapest places to live in Panama:

  • Las Tablas: Situated on the Azuero Peninsula, Las Tablas is known for its rich culture and festive carnivals. Despite being a smaller town, it has all the essential amenities and offers an affordable cost of living. Renting a home here can be as low as $500 per month.
  • Pedasi: Also located on the Azuero Peninsula, Pedasi is a charming, tranquil town with a strong sense of community. While it’s becoming more popular with expats, it’s still significantly cheaper than Panama City. You can find good quality rentals from $600 per month.
  • Santiago: Santiago is the capital of Veraguas province and offers city amenities at small-town prices. The cost of living in Panama’s Santiago remains low, with monthly rents often under $500.
  • Volcan: Nestled in the highlands of Chiriqui Province, Volcan is a scenic town known for its cooler climate. The cost of living here is surprisingly low considering its natural beauty, with rental prices often under $400 per month.
  • Bocas del Toro: If you’re dreaming of a Caribbean lifestyle, Bocas del Toro could be for you. This group of islands offers a laid-back lifestyle with plenty of beaches and water activities. While slightly more expensive than the other towns listed, you can still find rentals from around $700 per month.

Each of these towns provides an economical option for enjoying the diverse beauty and culture that Panama has to offer while keeping the cost of living in Panama reasonable and affordable.

7 Tips to Save Money in Panama

Local Market
  • Live Like a Local: Embrace the local lifestyle and you’ll save a significant amount of money. Local food, local markets, and local neighborhoods are cheaper than their tourist-centered or expat-centered counterparts.
  • Use Public Transportation: Public transportation in Panama is well-developed and cheap. Buses and metro services in Panama City are about $0.35.
  • Negotiate Your Rent: In Panama, rent prices are often not set in stone. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your landlord or real estate agent to get a better deal.
  • Shop at Local Markets: For groceries, skip the big supermarket chains and head to the local farmer’s markets. You’ll get fresher products at lower prices and help support local farmers.
  • Eat at Fondas: Fondas are local eateries that serve traditional Panamanian food at affordable prices. A meal at a fonda can cost just a few dollars.
  • Use Prepaid Mobile Plans: Instead of committing to a monthly mobile plan, opt for a prepaid plan where you can control your spending.
  • Consider Health Insurance: While healthcare in Panama is generally cheaper than in North America and Europe, it’s worth considering a good health insurance plan to cover any unexpected costs.

What’s the Expat Scene Like in Panama?

The expat scene in Panama is thriving. You’ll find a strong community of foreigners, particularly in Panama City, Boquete, and Coronado. Many are retirees attracted by the Pensionado program (one of the best retiree programs in the world), but there’s also a significant number of young professionals and digital nomads.

They’re drawn by the low cost of living in Panama, the comfortable lifestyle, and the country’s natural beauty. There are numerous social events, community groups, and resources to help expats feel at home. If you’re looking to make a move to Central America, check out the 13 Best Places to Live in Central America as an Expat.

Pros and Cons of Living in Panama

Panama Beach

Like anywhere else, living in Panama comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Here’s a balanced look at the pros and cons:


  • Affordability: The cost of living in Panama is relatively low, particularly when compared to North America and Europe. This includes everything from housing and healthcare to food and entertainment.
  • Weather: If you love tropical climates, Panama is for you. With its warm, balmy weather and beautiful beaches, it’s like being on a permanent vacation.
  • Friendly Locals: Panamanians are known for their hospitality and friendliness, making it easier for newcomers to feel welcomed and adjust to their new surroundings.
  • Expat-Friendly: Panama has a large and diverse expat community. Plus, the country’s programs, like the Pensionado visa program, are designed to make it easy for foreigners to move and live there.
  • Natural Beauty: From pristine beaches to lush rainforests, the country’s natural beauty is breathtaking and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.


  • Language Barrier: While you can get by with English in some areas, many locals do not speak English. Learning Spanish can be essential for living and integrating into local life in Panama.
  • Traffic: Particularly in Panama City, traffic can be a challenge. Rush hour often leads to significant congestion.
  • Heat and Humidity: The tropical paradise comes with year-round heat and humidity, which can take some time to adapt to, particularly for those used to cooler climates.
  • Limited Job Market: If you’re not retiring or working remotely, finding a high-paying job in Panama can be challenging as wages are generally lower than in Western countries.
  • Bureaucracy: Dealing with paperwork and local bureaucracy can be a headache. Processes can be slow and often require patience.

FAQs Cost of Living in Panama

Does Panama Have a Digital Nomad Visa?

In May 2021, the government of Panama introduced the newly established Short-Term Visa for Remote Workers. With the implementation of this visa program, Panama aims to draw the attention of individuals embracing the digital nomad lifestyle and independent contractors, who can contribute to the economy through their spending and investments.

Can a US citizen live in Panama?

Absolutely, many US citizens choose to live in Panama, attracted by the country’s beauty, warm climate, and the affordable cost of living in Panama. The country has a variety of visa programs that make it relatively easy for U.S. citizens to relocate, including the popular Pensionado program.

How is the wifi in Panama?

In Panama City and other major towns and cities, you’ll find reliable, high-speed internet which is essential for digital nomads or those working remotely. In more remote areas, the internet can be slower and less reliable. It’s worth checking the internet situation if you’re planning to live outside major urban areas.

Stay connected from the moment you land in Panama with an eSIM. Airalo offers the cheapest data plans out of all eSIM companies. Check out the prices HERE.

Is Panama Safe?

Generally speaking, Panama is considered safe, especially when compared to other countries in the region. Like anywhere, there are areas that are safer than others, and standard precautions should be taken. Panama City, like any other large city, has neighborhoods that should be avoided.

Does Panama Have a Digital Nomad Visa?

In May 2021, the government of Panama introduced the newly established Short-Term Visa for Remote Workers.

Cost of Living in Panama vs USA

In general, the cost of living in Panama is 40 – 50% lower than in the USA. From housing to healthcare, groceries to dining out, you’ll likely find your dollars stretch further in Panama. Of course, lifestyle choices and location can affect costs.

Cost of Living in Panama vs Nicaragua

In general, the cost of living is similar in Panama and Nicaragua. Check out this blog for a more detailed dive into the cost of living in Nicaragua.

Average rent in Panama City

Rental costs in Panama City can vary greatly depending on the area and type of accommodation. In a high-end neighborhood, a modern one-bedroom apartment might cost around $1300-$2000 USD per month. In a less expensive area, you could find something as cheap as $600 USD.

Is it better to retire in Costa Rica or Panama?

Both Costa Rica and Panama offer excellent options for retirement, and the choice between the two often depends on personal preferences. Panama usually has a lower cost of living and more favorable retiree benefits through its Pensionado program.

Costa Rica, on the other hand, often ranks higher for environmental sustainability and has a slightly higher level of development. See more on the Cost of living in Costa Rica Here.

Do a lot of Americans retire in Panama?

Yes, Panama is a popular retirement destination for Americans. Its affordable cost of living, attractive retiree benefits, and proximity to the United States make it an appealing choice for those looking to enjoy their retirement years in a warm, tropical setting.

Conclusion: Cost of Living in Panama

In conclusion, Panama offers an enticing blend of affordability, natural beauty, and cultural richness that’s appealing to expats. The cost of living in Panama is generally lower than in many Western countries, providing opportunities for a comfortable lifestyle that doesn’t break the bank.

However, like any country, there are challenges to consider, like the language barrier and adjusting to a new culture and climate. But for those who embrace these aspects, the rewards can be plentiful, making Panama an exciting and viable option for those considering living abroad.

If you’re comparing other countries in Central America, Check out Costa Rica Blog Digital Nomad in Costa Rica: A Complete Guide (2024)

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