Day To Day In Panama
In general, retirees or expats are able to live in Panama at a cost that is 30% to 50% less than what one would expect in the U.S. or Canada. Compared to some European countries, the savings can be even greater. While the cost of items such as utilities, cell phone service, and internet connectivity are on par and some case even slightly more expensive than in the U.S., other things like entertainment, travel, dining out, and household help (maids, cooks, nannies, and gardeners), and housing are often dramatically less in cost.
Building or Buying Your Home
Home purchase and building costs in Panama have traditionally been very reasonable. Although prices have risen in recent years due to the increasing popularity of Panama as a retirement and second home destination and general increases in the cost in building materials, such costs are moderating as world economies soften. Building costs for a typical one or two bedroom home might range from $55 - $65 per square foot, depending on the level of finishing and the number of middle men involved in the process. Costs can be considerably higher in Panama City, or in gated communities with golf courses and other expensive amenities. Building a 2,000 square foot dream home in the mountains, with additional outdoor space in the form of patios and decks is possible for well under $140,000. Elaborate designs and finishes can add to that cost.
Tax Relief and Lower Carry Costs
To encourage a continuing strong construction industry, Panama provides tax relief and tax exemptions on new home construction. The rules change from time to time, but builders of average homes can get a 15 - 20 year property tax exemption or reduction. Imagine not having to pay property taxes for up to twenty years! In addition, because there has never been a hurricane in Panama, property insurance is very reasonably priced. Assessed maintenance and homeowner fees in gated communities and condominium complexes also cost far less in Panama than in many other destinations. Taken all together, the carry costs (maintenance fees, insurance, and taxes, but excluding mortgage) on a typical property in Panama will total thousands of dollars less than on a comparable property in North America.
Your Own Maid or Gardener. Really?
Imagine hiring a live-in maid, nanny, or cook for around $200 per month, or $10 - $12 per day if you just need someone a couple of times a week. Now compare that to what it would cost in Canada or the U.S. Most other manual labor services can also be contracted for at bargain prices in Panama, including car repair (like getting a tire patch for $2), plumbing and electrical repair, gardening and landscaping services, painting, roofing, etc.
Dining Out and Entertainment
Dining out and entertainment also offer huge cost savings in Panama. For example, at an upscale Italian restaurant in Panama City (the kind with valet parking and waiters in formal wear), bruschetta, a bottle of red wine, two entrees, and shared desert can be had for an approximate whopping $35. Boquete and David are also home to numerous great restaurants with meals at very reasonable prices. Evening movies at the nicest theaters run around $4. VIP treatment, which includes seating in a plush leather recliner and a waiter to deliver popcorn, soda, nachos, and even hamburgers to your seat, might cost you an extra $2, in theaters where those services are available. A matinee might only cost $2 or so. The hottest night spots in Panama offer local beer for $2.50 per bottle, while a typical bodega serves a local brew for as low as 50 cents. A $300 night on the town for two in Miami can easily be had for a third of the price or less in Panama, and you will probably have more fun!
Whatever You Want or Need
The costs of electronic devices are generally on par with the U.S. or a bit lower, although computers still tend to be a bit more expensive. Cars will likewise run a bit more in Panama, but generous retirement visas allow many Panama relocates to import cars and other household goods duty free from the U.S. or elsewhere.
Health care costs much less in Panama, with many excellent medical facilities offering English speaking, U.S. educated doctors, all at much less than you would pay in the U.S.
For food and clothing, shopping at local markets and discount stores can offer amazing deals. Food shoppers can choose from lots of fresh and delicious locally raised and grown meats and produce. On the other hand, shopping in large supermarkets and designer stores in Panama’s nicest malls, featuring many imported products, offers prices on par (and sometimes exceeding) what you would find in the U.S. or Canada. Things may be a bit different in Panama from what you got used to ‘at home’ but look at what you will be gaining in return.
Embark with us on a new adventure and a new chapter in your life, an adventure in paradise at Roca Milagro.