• Abel Gomez Tomiczek

Costs of Living in Panama: How much money do you need?


Good management of your personal finances is an important factor before considering to move abroad or invest overseas. Especially in challenging times. The prices of everyday products have increased continuously in the last few years. Some products and/or services in Panama have the same price level as in Europe (baby items, imported food and beverages, private medical care, etc.), others are well below prices in Europe (car and gasoline, labor, household appliances, public transportation, locally produced food and beverages, etc.).


How much money does it take to live in Panama?

Before answering this question there are several important factors to consider: It depends on the location and your standard of living in Panama. Or as an American client once told me: "Location is everything". The rural areas with their small towns will be much cheaper than the exclusive areas in Panama City or popular expat towns. Aside from the cost of housing (whether renting or buying), one must take into account one's personal tastes and preferences. If you prefer local food, enjoy participating in free activities like the locals and do not require private health care or insurance your living costs will be much lower. To obtain permanent residency in Panama under the "Jubilado Pensionado" Visa in Panama the legislator asks for a minimum monthly pension of $1,000 (single person) and $1,250 for a married couple.


In recent years, Panama has become a powerful regional hub. The country is much more developed than most visitors expect. As an international banking metropolis (US dollars) and logistics center, Panama also has several ports, the Tocumen International Airport as important connectivity point of the region, as well as the Colon Free Trade Zone (among other special economic zones). All the services one could wish for are available.


Depending on your personal preferences or budget, Panama offers several options for every budget:


Below we have compiled an example of a monthly budget for two people:


WATER AND GARBAGE COLLECTION

USD$12.00 - USD$25.00

Annual payment in January, at the Municipal Authority of the place of residence.


FOOD

USD$400.00 - USD$500.00

Monthly purchase of food and general household items.

RENTAL OF TWO-BEDROOM APARTMENT OR HOUSE

USD$900.00 - USD$1,700.00 Monthly lease in Boquete or Panama City ("American standard").

USD$180.00 - USD$800.00 Monthly rent in Dolega, Bugaba, David or Veraguas Province.


ELECTRICITY

USD$35.00 - USD$150.00

This will depend on the frequency of usage of air conditioning as well as other electronic devices or appliances.


ENTERTAINMENT FOR TWO

USD$150.00 - USD$400.00

Cinema or movies including refreshments (twice a month) and restaurants (four times a month)

HAIRDRESSER AND SPA

USD$12.00 - USD$60.00

Haircuts, body waxing, nails (manicure and pedicure).


GAS

USD$8.00 - USD$15.00

For cooking, water heater and dryer.


GASOLINE OR DIESEL/ MAINTENANCE OWN CAR

USD$80.00 - USD$250.00

It will depend a lot on the milage and the type of car.


INTERNET

USD$30.00 - USD$80.00

Monthly internet service contract, the prices vary according to the contracted speed. Generally, internet providers offer packages that also include cable TV and landline telephone.


LANDLINE TELEPHONE

USD$15.00 - USD$30.00

There are a number of landline telephone service providers (usually offering bundled packages with other services such as internet).


MOBILE PHONE

USD$15.00 and more

Data, minutes for calls and messages.


CABLE TELEVISION

USD$30.00 - USD$80.00

Cable TV plans with Panamanian and international channels.


CAR INSURANCE

USD$60.00 - USD$80.00

Bodily injuries to other vehicles, damage to third parties (to other people's property), medical expenses, (fire, lightning, theft, earthquake, collapse, damage by mischief, volcanic eruption, explosion, windstorm, tornado), collision or overturn (damage to the car due to collision with another vehicle or any object or overturn of a vehicle), road assistance, legal assistance, coverage for trips to Costa Rica.


NATIONAL MEDICAL INSURANCE (Couple 55 years)

USD$165.00 - USD$280.00

Hospitalization, catastrophic illness, emergency (accidental, detailed critical illness, detailed non-critical illness), outpatient surgery (hospital, medical fees), maternity.


INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL INSURANCE (Couple 55 years)

USD$325.00 - USD$530.00

Emergencies, Outpatient surgery, Physician consultations, Dialysis, Travel assistance, Executive checkup, hospitalization, cancer treatment, medications prescribed abroad, physical therapies, diagnostic studies, prostheses and implants during surgery.


MINIMUM WAGE full-time MAID

USD$275 and more

The hiring of a full-time domestic maid requires formal registration with the Social Security of Panama and payment of all benefits established by the law (thirteenth month, vacations, social security, etc.).


Photo: www.pixabay.com // Steve Buissinne

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