Cost of living in the Panama economy allows good life on $1,200

Cost of living in Panama economy helped by street veggies

This article by my colleague Sydney Tremayne dates from 2004. We are currently updating this information but at a quick glance there really isn't much change. Some things have gone up slightly while other things have gone down. We are basing our price chart on a Supermarket in Volcan. Here in Chiriqui fresh fruit and vegetables are cheaper but imported goods are slightly more expensive. But the overall picture remains the same - Panama is a very affordable place to live and retire.
David Dell.
December 2009.

The cost of living in the Panama economy depends, as it does anywhere else, on lifestyle. The part-time housekeeper I had when I first came here used to cook several meals a week on a budget of less than $20. Panamanians, most of them, don’t shop like most North Americans. The cost of living in Panama currency for them is necessarily way lower than it will be for you or me. Many earn much less than $500 a month.

A housekeeper can be hired for as little as $10 a day or, live-in, for $120 a month.

There are large, American-style supermarkets in all cities and most towns of any size in Panama. The dominant chains are Rey and Super 99.

While researching the cost of living in the Panama economy, I did not shop for the cheapest, but mixed local and imported products with names familiar to most North Americans. Local products, often at least as good as imported products, are cheaper in the Panama currency. There are plenty of examples of both in these lists to allow you to compare.

Beverages

Beer (local)

12 oz can

0.38

Beer (Heineken)

11.1 fl oz

0.69

Champaign

750 ml

3.75-6.95

Liebframilch Glockenspiel

750 ml

5.80

Rum (white)

1 liter

4.55

Rum (white, Bacardi)

1 liter

7.39

Baileys Irish Cream

750 ml

11.50

Whisky (Jack Daniel’s)

750 ml

17.90

Scotch whisky (Ballentine’s)

750 ml

12.95

Frozen food

Asparagus

350 g

1.25

Chicken breast, breaded

1 lb

3.35

Chicken fingers

12 oz

1.85

Chicken legs

1 lb

1.89

Corn

1 lb

2.05

Fries, home

750 g

25.6 oz

1.89

Fries, straight or crinkle

2.2 lbs

2.29

Peas

4.4 lbs

4.99

Turkey or chicken burgers

1 lb

2.09

Vegetables, mixed

1 lb

1.79

 

 

 

Fruit and vegetables (fresh)

Apples

Each

0.20-0.25

Beans (runner)

1 lb

0.85

Broccoli

1 lb

0.95

Cabbage

1 lb

0.54

Carrots

1 lb

0.55

Cauliflower

1 lb

1.02

Celery

1 lb

0.60

Cucumber

1 lb

0.37

Garlic

1 lb

0.49

Ginger

1 lb

0.55

Grapes (green)

1 lb

1.49

Grapes (red)

1 lb

1.05

Lettuce

1 lb

0.85

Onions

1 lb

0.60

Papaya

1 lb

1.00

Peaches

1 lb

0.45

Pears

Each

0.15-0.35

Peppers (green)

1 lb

1.25

Pineapple

Whole

1.00

Plantain

1 lb

0.25

Potatoes

1 lb

0.50

Tomatoes

1 lb

0.65

 

 

 

General groceries

7Up

1.5 liter

0.89

Barbecue sauce (U.S. brands)

18 oz

1.90-2.25

Beans (dried, red kidney)

1 lb

0.89

Bread (brown)

16 oz

0.73

Bread (raisin)

15 oz

1.12

Bread (white)

18 oz

0.69

Butter

1 lb

1.89

Cheese (slices)

1 lb

2.25

Cheez Whiz

8 oz

1.99

Chocolate drink (Nesquik)

400 g

2.45

Coffee (instant, Nescafé)

240 g

2.59

Coffee (Panamanian, Duran)

425 g

2.89

Coffee-Mate

6 oz

1.29

Cookies (chocolate chip)

12 oz

1.35

Cookies (lemon crème)

13 oz

1.35

Cookies (Oreo)

15.95 oz

2.25

Cookies (tin, Royal Dansk)

2 lbs

6.69

Cooking oil (Mazola sunflower)

1 liter

2.29

Corn (sweet, canned)

15.25 oz

0.65

Curry powder

30 g

0.45

Gatorade

500 ml

0.89

Granola bars (Quaker Chewy)

10 bars

2.89

Jams (local)

1 lb

1.69

Juice (citric punch)

1 gallon

1.95

Juice (grape, Welch’s)

46 fl oz

3.79

Juice (individual, DelMonte)

200 ml

0.25

Juice (prune)

32 fl oz

2.65

Juice (Tropicana, orange)

64 fl oz

3.65

Juice (V8 vegetable)

12 fl oz

0.89

Ketchup (Heinz)

1.5 lbs

1.59

Maple syrup

12 fl oz

1.65

On sale for 1.59

Mayonnaise (Hellmann’s)

410 g

1.70

Milk

½ gallon

1.45

Miracle Whip

465 g

1.70

Mushrooms (pieces, canned)

15 oz

0.79

Mushrooms (whole, canned)

8 oz

1.15

Nachos (Doritos)

7 oz

2.10

Nuts (mixed, Planters’)

6.5 oz

2.99

Olives (stuffed)

21 oz

2.10

Oregano

7 g

0.24

Pancake mix

1 lb

0.89

On sale for 0.69

Pasta (angel hair)

250 g

0.51

Pasta (lasagna)

245 g

0.69

Pasta (penne)

500 g

0.59

Pasta (spaghetti)

500 g

0.59

Pasta sauce (Ragu)

26 oz

2.59

Peaches (yellow cling, can)

29 oz

0.99

Peanut butter (Happy Kid’s

Crunchy)

28 oz

3.45

Peas (dried, split)

1 lb

0.55

Peas and carrots (canned)

300 g

0.63

Pepper (black)

2 oz

0.70

Pepsi Cola or Coca-Cola

1 liter

0.62

On sale for 0.59

Pickles (dill)

1 pint

1.75

Popcorn (Act II)

3.5 oz

0.75

Pork and Beans (Campbell’s)

15.75 oz

0.75

On sale for 0.59

Potato chips (Ruffles)

6.5 oz

1.55

Prunes

12 oz

1.69

Raisins (California seedless)

15 oz

1.59

Rice (white)

20 lbs

7.20

Rice (wild, Uncle Ben’s)

6 oz

2.19

Salad dressing

8 fl oz

1.69

Sandwich meat (Spam Lite)

340 g

1.99

Soda crackers

14.7 oz

1.63

Soup (Campbell’s)

10.75 oz

0.85-1.20

Soup (packaged, Knorr)

65 g 4-6

servings

0.62-0.63

Sugar (white)

5 lbs

1.40

Sweetener (Equal)

50 pkts

2.35

Tuna (canned, local)

120 g

0.65

Tuna (StarKist, canned)

170 g

0.79

Vinegar (white)

1 quart

1.49

Water (bottled)

500 ml

0.49

 

 

 

Kitchen, bathroom, laundry

Aluminum foil

75 feet

2.20

Garbage bags

12

0.80

Kleenex (145 x 2-ply)

Box

0.75

Paper towels

Roll

0.52-0.75

Toilet paper

Roll

0.14-0.43

Toilet paper (Scott regular)

12 rolls

2.59

Bleach

1 gallon

1.29

Air freshener (Glade spray)

9 oz

1.29

Disinfectant (Lysol spray)

12 oz

3.69

Window cleaner

2 liters

1.59

Raid

403 ml

3.05

Laundry detergent

3.3 lbs

2.79-2.99

Shoe polish

30 g

0.49

Charcoal for barbecue

8 lbs

1.55

 

 

 

Meat and fish

Beef

1 lb

2.09

Chicken (breast)

1 lb

1.15

Chicken (legs)

1 lb

1.15

Chicken (whole)

1 lb

0.99

Chicken (wings)

1 lb

0.99

Corvina (Panama’s favorite fish) That's flounder to you.

1 lb

1.95

Hog dogs

1 lb

0.99

 

 

 

Toiletries

Deodorant (Ban classic roll-on)

-

4.59

Deodorant (Speed Stick)

-

3.05

Facial cream (Pond’s)

165 g

4.15

Lotion (body, Nivea)

250 ml

4.75

Lotion (Lubriderm)

400 ml

6.30

Mouthwash (Listerine)

500 ml

3.49

Shampoo (Head & Shoulders)

400 ml

5.30

Shampoo (Pantene)

400 ml

5.05

Shampoo (VO5)

444 ml

1.79

Soap (Dove)

2 bars

1.95

Soap (liquid, Dial, with aloe)

15 fl oz

2.59

Toothpaste (Colgate)

125 ml

1.78

I hope this list allows you to compare the cost of living in the Panama economy with prices where you now live.

Some books say you can live here on as little as $1,000 a month. Many Panamanians live on far less than that. Those who do, typically share expenses with family or friends.

Given the current cost of living in the Panama economy, you can have a reasonable life here on about $1,200 a month.