Panama’s Cost Of Living Comparison

July 6, 2010 by:
Panama’s Cost Of Living Comparison

IT seems that many people are promoting to North Americans and Europeans, Panama as a cheap place to live. It’s touted as one of the best “cheap” countries in Latin America, and even the world. It’s created such a buzz, that it’s typically the first question receive from foreigners.

“What’s the cost of living like down there (Panama)?”
Follow by “Is it more affordable than here (US, Canada, Europe, etc)?”


My response is “Well,… kinda”. To clarify, Panama is much more inexpensive to other parts of the world. Even, more inexpensive than many parts of Latin America, like; Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica and Brazil. Yet, in some other ways, Panama is MORE expensive than North America or Europe.

On a recent trip to GringoLandia (United States of America), I’ve documented the pricing of certain items. Rather than oversimplifying Panama as “cheap”, my intention is to give a realistic comparison of real life living items, comforts, and services. Take a look:

Where Panama is cheaper:

Movies at a modern movie theater
States: $10.00
PTY (Panama City) $4.50

Cell phone service
Basic Blackberry plan with data.
States: $45.00 minutes plus $30 unlimited data plan = $75.00 => upwards (Verizon)
PTY: $29.99 plus $10 unlimited data = $45.00 and upwards => (Digicel)

Bus tickets
4 hour roundtrip bus ride from Seattle to Portland: $68.00 (Greyhound)
7 hour roundtrip bus ride from Panama City to David: $30.00 (A nicer bus too)

Labor – In home maid
States: $60-$80 per day
Panama: $15-$25 per day

In-home 1 hour massage
States: $80
Panama: $30

Fresh Fruits and Vegs
Pineapple States: $3.50 – $4.50
Pineapple Panama: $1.00
Melons States: $3.50
Melons Panama: $1.00

Doctor Visit:
States: $150 => upwards
PTY: $60 =>

Inner city taxi:
States: $8-$15
PTY: $2-$5

Where Panama kinda cheaper, kinda not.   Where Panama is NOT cheaper.

Evan Terry Forbes

Evan Forbes 122 post in this blog.

Evan Terry Forbes is an Author, Entrepreneur and Hall of Fame Traveler. He writes entertaining books about how travel has changed his life. In so many beautiful ways. Currently, Evan is traveling with his retired mother for 1 year through Europe and Asia. This book will be called, Travels With My Mother - How Travel Transformed A Mother-Son Relationship. Read his books here.

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3 Comments on "Panama’s Cost Of Living Comparison"

  1. Wynter Rosen on Sun, 25th Jul 2010 5:32 pm 

    Dentists for a cleaning for children in Canada 75$
    Adults 150-170$
    Panama- Children 25$ Adults 30-40$

    Taxi in Canada starts at 4.50$ Panama almost anywhere for less than 10$

    Schools, this is a big one as the International School of Panama is excellent so my comparison is to the York School in Toronto, Toronto’s IBS school.
    Canada 20 000 for enrollment, plus, plus…….

    Panama 10 000 with the after school programs a bigger variety of after school programs and the plus plus is less.

  2. Matteo on Tue, 27th Jul 2010 12:38 pm 

    Here are some comparisons on the flipside:
    - Quinoa, good lettuce, mushrooms, nice olive oil…etc: any imported food product (almost always more expensive in Panama than USA).
    - Short domestic flights such as Bocas del Toro: +/- $200 (Equivalent distance in the USA: +/- $100)
    - Rentals (boats, vacation houses, jetskis): almost always more expensive in Panama. In fact, I would heavily contest the pricing difference between rent in Panama City versus rent in an equally developed (or, if you prefer, undeveloped) American city assuming the apartment is of equal quality.

  3. Parking Tickets – Culture – Successful Gringo Part 2 on Tue, 3rd May 2011 6:37 pm 

    [...] Panama advertise itself to retirees from high transparent countries as a low cost of living place to live.  It wants retirees to bring their fixed pension and social security incomes to Panama. [...]

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