Expat living in Panama City for under $1800 a month

Jan 26, 2021

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By LP Wirth

They refer to Panama as the “Jewel of Central America”. It’s true for Panama City, a popular expat choice.

Panama is a developing country. Some areas are the envy of Central America, such as Panama City. Others lag and are underdeveloped in infrastructure and quality of living. In this article, I am focusing on expat living costs in Panama City.

If you’re interested in Boquete, another popular Panamanian place with expats, check out this article to find out how you can live there for only $500 a month.

Panama City has a well-developed infrastructure. Highways, a dependable, low-cost public transport system, modern housing,  along with access to first-class health care and shopping malls, make the metropolis an expat destination worth considering.

Restaurant Choices in Panama City

Dunkin Donuts Restaurant in Panama City. by LP Wirth

Dunkin Donuts Restaurant in Panama City By LP

The eating-out choices are as colorful as in any multi-cultural metropolis. Anyone can get virtually anything—for a price. Living in Panama City is not for those who look for low-cost living. Still, Panama City, Panama is more affordable than in Panama City, Florida.

The American Dream Lifestyle in Panama City

If you want a semi-US-American lifestyle, Panama City could be the right place for you. Sprinkled generously throughout the town are many American-brand restaurants. From Taco Bell to Chucky Cheese, from TGI Friday’s to Applebee’s, the typical North American feels at home here easily.

Apartment Rental for Expats in Panama City

Housing is comparably cheap. A quality 2-3 bedroom apartment in excellent areas of

My Home Office In Apartment in Panama City by LP Wirth

My Home Office in Apartment in Panama City By LP

town will cost from $800-$3000. Most apartment buildings offer private security, well-maintained swimming pools, and gyms on-site. The rent for my modern 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment is $1,000 per month. It’s a high-rise, and I live on the 21st level in Punta Pacifica, a safe neighborhood with many amenities. Just below the tower is a school. Five minutes away, a supermarket. It’s perfect!

You could lower your expenses by sharing an apartment. A trusted expat friend from Australia does exactly that. She lives in a luxurious apartment with a sea-front view on Balboa Avenue, paying $500 for her share.

Utility Cost and Internet Services in Panama City

For only $60 per month, I enjoy reliable fiber optic internet at 500 Mb, including VOIP telephone service.

Gas and electricity cost between $40 and $140 per month, depending on my air condition use. I tend to use fans, which do just fine. Water and garbage collection are only $20 PCM.  The cellphone bill with unlimited data runs at about $20.00. Still, all these costs are below UK, Germany, and USA prices.

I can’t complain! True though, food prices in supermarkets and restaurants are higher than those in the US and Europe. I enjoy an occasional takeout, delivered swiftly via Uber Eats or PedidosYa, previously Appetito24.

Healthcare in Panama City

LP in Hospital in Panama City. by LP Wirth

LP in Hospital in Panama City By LP

Yep, that’s me there to the left. I can’t talk to healthcare plans because they depend on your personal circumstances. I know one thing, though: a private hospital visit will cost a lot less here than it does in the US. In 2018, I walked into the emergency room of a modern private hospital just across the street. They took me in right away, ran a series of tests, replenished me with intravenous drips for three hours, and prescribed excellent medicine. My bill? $324 for a three-and-a-half-hour stay. No waiting time. The US-trained doctors spoke English.

Transport in Panama City

I decided not to get a car. Why? I don’t need it. I work from home. Everything I need is within walking distance. If I need to venture further out, I use Uber, a cab, or public transport. Hence, my transport costs are low.

Living in Panamá City can be more affordable than a comparable lifestyle in the US or in Europe. The quality of lower cost-housing may not be up to the standard you’re looking for. Always check with a Transition Concierge International Alliance expert for valuable advice.

Here then is my living-cost list:

My Monthly Budget in Panama City

Item USD per Month
Rent 1000
Utilities 100
Transport 50
Food & Entertainment 550
Internet & Cellphone 80
Total 1,780

Places further west may be less costly. But if you like the buzz of a vibrant city, then this is the place to be in Panama.

Editor’s Note:  TCI is a full-service provider of expat education and transition services. Our private platform allows our global expat community and our Expat Alliance of in-country expats and experts to interact so that all can successfully embrace the expat experience. Learn More…