Here’s my list of things that have been really expensive for me since moving in Panama:

1. Rent: Renting a two bedroom apt in a central area of the city that’s just a few years old and comes with all appliances and AC comes at a minimum cost of $1,000 (and that’s hard to find). There are almost no cheap studio or 1 bedroom apartments so unless you can afford $1,000 by yourself you will need room mates.  There are some cheaper rents in some of the older buildings but they aren’t easy to find.

2. Groceries: I’ve had to give up a lot of the American brand foods that I was used to because they are too expensive here.  I’ve also noticed the food prices of basic things like milk and eggs go up (last year milk was usually $1.20 and now it’s around $1.60).  I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables than I used to since I can afford those.

3. Cover Charges: Panama bars love their cover charges! In Kentucky most places don’t charge cover and if they do it’s like $5.  In Panama I have had to get used to paying $10- $20 to go into places.  Luckily I have managed to find a few favorite spots that don’t charge covers.

4. Electronics: Laptops, phones, TVs, etc are all a little bit more expensive here.  One of my friends had me buy the new iPhone 5s in the states for them while I was home for Christmas because it cost $1,000 to buy it in Panama.

5. Furnishings: I really hope Ikea invades Panama someday because it’s extremely hard to find affordable furniture that looks nice and doesn’t break. There’s plenty of expensive furniture stores here though.

6. Electricity: I have become an electricity natzi in order to combat high electricity costs here.  My electric bill was always around $50 in Kentucky and I had my AC on all the time and here it’s usually $100 (once it was $30 when I didn’t use AC for an entire month but it was too hot).

7. Cars: In the states you can usually buy a decent used car just a few years old under $8,000. In Panama a used car that price is probably going to be pretty old and not in good condition. There’s also no car history reports so that’s a risk as well. Most people advise to buy new and you’ll notice very high prices on those compared to the states.

Do you agree or disagree with my list? What have been some of the biggest expenses for you?  Also check out my article, 7 Things That Are Cheap In Panama.

Author

I'm from Louisville, Kentucky and moved to Panama in 2011 to finish a degree in International Business. I enjoyed the hot tropical weather and the lifestyle on offer in Panama City so much that I decided to make it my permanent residence. Follow @JoeyBonura on Twitter and Instagram for more updates on my life in Panama.

52 Comments

  1. # 3. I dont find this to be accurate, all but maybe 2 bars in Casco Viejo charge cover, Same for Calle Uruguay and El cangrejo. Clubs do charge covers just like anywhere in the world.

    #4. Not all electronic are more expensive, in fact the prices are very close to the one in the U.S. you might pay 20% more here on Apple products and Brand names, but theres a huge range of other brands not known in the US where you can get the same quality and better price.

    #7. Panama has a population of 3.5 Million and the U.S. 318 Million. Our car prices for our small market are considered cheap for latin America, where as in Colombia or Costa Rica cars cost almost double the price as here.

    But you are absolutley right Rent, Groceries and Furnishings are ridiculous. Ikea would be a Blessing in Panama.

  2. Hey, to start I’m Panamanian, and i disagree with Rent & Groceries, I had to live in the US (FL) for 9 months for studies, besides I’ve been to WC, NY and GA and the rent for places that are ehm not so good is really expensive.

    Rent, can't never be cheaper in the U.S than here, if you are paying $1,000 for rent then you live in the City, and i mean Ave. Balboa, Calle 50, places like that and for $1,000 you should be getting a descent size apartment.
    I have a lot of foreign friends that live here and rent for about $500 – $700/month with a roommate so it's they split rent (El cangrejo, Via Argentina, Tumba Muerto etc..) If you go outside the city you'll find cheaper apartments in good conditions. the one i rent in Via España is just $350.

    Groceries, well don't do U.S brands and still the difference isn't that much, go to pricesmart in Tumba Muerto it's like a smaller Wallmart, most of it is U.S brands for a descent price.
    There are a lot of cheaper products in the U.S and at the same time a lot of cheaper products here, so comparing what i use to pay on the U.S for groceries for what i pay here i can say they are about the same (Doing U.S brands, if you do local brands it's cheaper)

    I like your page and I'm glad you enjoy it living here.

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