Panama is one of the countries my husband and I are considering, so I was very interested to see a recent post in Live and Invest Overseas detailing costs of renting in three Panama locations.
- Panama City, specifically the El Cangrejo neighborhood. It’s necessary to be neighborhood-specific because, as in any other big city, there are areas that are more or less desireable with pricing to match. The neighborhood is described as “cool, hip, safe, welcoming and increasingly affordable.”
“Prices in ever-more-popular El Cangrejo peaked last year and are slowly coming back down to earth. New condominium construction boomed in 2006, and the thousands of units developed at that time are now coming online. This has made both rentals and sales markets more competitive citywide, including in El Cangrejo.
“Rental rates for a new, furnished apartment in El Cangrejo are in the range of US$8 to US$15 per square meter. Older apartment rental units go for less than US$8 a square meter, sometimes, if you’re in the right place at the right time, for as little as US$3 a square meter.
“A friend just this week rented a 200-square-meter*, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, just off Via Argentina, El Cangrejo’s main thoroughfare, for US$600. The place has air conditioning in both bedrooms and hot water, two luxuries not guaranteed in Panamanian rentals at this price point. Another 200-square-meter apartment in El Cangrejo, this one with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, is available at press time for US$900 a month.
“If you prefer newer and fancier, a one-bedroom loft in this neighborhood, furnished, with a gym and a pool in the common area, is currently on offer for US$1,650 per month.”
- Boquete, where lots of expats live.
“Rental rates are higher in Boquete than many other places in the country. Expect to pay US$500 to US$1,000 to rent a comfortable house. … To get a good deal, you need a local connection. Rentals you find advertised on websites are the priciest. To find something more reasonable, you’ll need to visit Boquete in person, asking everyone you meet if he knows of any rentals currently available. Someone you ask will know someone who knows someone who has a cousin or an uncle who is looking to rent his home.”
- Las Tablas, the Live and Invest Overseas pick for low-cost beach living in Panama.
” ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ is the usual reaction resident Panama Editor Rebecca Tyre gets when she tells people how much she pays for her three-bedroom, two-bathroom, three-year-old rental house in this town.
” ‘Living in Las Tablas,’ Rebecca explains, ‘I paid less in rent than I spent on groceries each month. My house, which is just five kilometers from Playa Las Comadres and a five-minute walk from downtown, costs just US$200 a month. Friends have similar rental houses and pay between US$250 and US$500 per month.’
“Rebecca’s friend Merrill rents a simple beachfront loft for US$300 a month, for example. Another friend, Rick, recently returned to Canada for six months. He rented his fully furnished, two-bedroom house for US$500…and threw in use of his car.
“You won’t find deals like these on websites or working with a real estate agent. Generally, they come your way once you’ve established local relationships. Rick rented his house to a fellow Canadian he knew from around town. Rebecca found her house thanks to a connection through her Panamanian boyfriend.”
You can read the entire article here.
So there you have it. Three different locations within the country, three very different costs. My personal favorite at this point? Las Tablas. That is, if I can get a reliable internet connection there, which all my sources tell me I can.
*Outside the US, most places measure in meters rather than feet. 200 square meters is about 2153 square feet. So if you see someplace advertised at 100 square meters, think a bit over 1000 square feet, and so on.
I’ve been a reader of International Living for many years so when they recommended Panama so highly for so long it was my natural first choice of a country to relocate to.
I spent eight weeks there in 2005/2006. During the last five weeks I spent there I took my elderly parents with an eye towards all of us moving there.
I like Panama City a lot. I didn’t spend much time outside of PC as I decided that’s where I wanted to live. I’m a big city gal and PC is the biggest city in Panama. PC has many of the big city amenities, excellent restaurants, cafes, movie theaters, shopping, etc. I really liked PC and hoped we could make it work there.
As I had taken my elderly parents I found an internist for them so I could take them for a checkup. Mom’s doctor in NYC had prescribed a new medication and asked that she be taken to someone in PC for a new prescription. I took both of my parents and was very pleased with the doctor and her very thorough exam of both of them. She wrote the new prescription and I went off to fill it.
This is where I saw the differences and possible difficulty in living there. I went to about five pharmacies before finding one that had the medication. We were staying in the El Congrejo district so there are a few of every kind of store in that area. I liked staying there although it can be a bit scruffy in spots.
The pharmacy had the medication and when I picked it up I was quite surprised. The price of the medication, manufactured in Panama although the same medication as she took in the US, was higher priced than it would have cost in NYC without insurance. I think it would have cost something like $70 in NYC before the insurance kicked in and in PC it was something like $79.
I’ve written to some of the expat ezine publishers about this and their responses were all similar, saying that their experience was different. One described purchasing antibiotics for her son for very little money. My response is that antibiotics are not necessarily going to be sold under a brand name and therefore mostly available at lower costs. However, brand names like Cipro and many of the other drugs older people take may not have a generic equivalent and therefore will cost more there. I spoke to quite a number of expats living there and online who told me they ordered their prescription drugs online because the cost was too high.
I would also caution you to check out the health insurance availability for your age before doing anything. Some countries in S. America have age limits like 60 and some like Mexico offer open ended insurance to older people, but have exclusions for pre-existing conditions. I think some pre-existing conditions are not covered for three years in Mexico. I don’t know exactly what the story is in Panama, but I would advise you to check it out very carefully and talk to expats on the ground before making a move.
Good luck wherever you choose to go, but do your due diligence.
This is an old post. The costs for rent and everything else have gone up in Las Tablas where I live. You can still find furnished 3 bedroom 2 bath homes for 5 to 600 per month pluse utility’s. If you want an unfurnished home they range from 200 for an older property on up. 300 will rent a fairly nice unfurnished home. Not always easy to find something here. I have lived in Las Tablas for 5 years and have been watching the prices move steadily higher on just about everything. All in all, Las Tablas is still the best value in Panama that I know of for the newcomer.
You’re absolutely right, this is an old post. Costs across the country have been going up. I’ve not been here as long as you — only two years — but we’ve seen prices increase noticeably during that time.
That said, we’re paying $400 for a 3 BR/2 bath house, furnished. Friends are paying $300 for a similar house, unfurnished. Another friend is paying $180 for 2 bedrooms, and someone else I know just looked at a nice 2 BR house for $200. It’s possible to still find bargains here, especially compared with much of the rest of the country.
I am a newbe researching Panama. We are available for 6 Month periods. Glen says Las Tablas is
the place to be. How large is the city/town..What is unique. Etertainment? golf? Hospital?
Help me please
Las Tablas is the folkloric center of the country. That means it is the place to be for Carnaval, and there are many festivals throughout the year. It’s also the home of the Los Santos professional baseball team, so there are games to attend during the season.
If you’re looking for a fabulous nightlife and fine dining, though, forget Las Tablas. Unless you want to drink beer in the cantinas, you make your own entertainment outside of the big celebrations. The closest movie theater is in Chitre, a half-hour away. Golf is also in Chitre.
Yes, there is a local hospital and it’s fine for everyday illnesses and injuries. (Incredibly affordable, too.) If you need heart surgery, though, you go to Panama City where there are world class hospitals.
Hi I am looking to relocate my family abroad and Panama looks really good.
I have a pension but also have 2 children aged 8 and 12 so education is an issue, also my wife is a type 1 diabetic so access to doctor/pharmacy is also important. Does anyone have any tips or experience that might help?
Brian, your best school options for your kids will be in or near Panama City, where there will also be top-quality medical care for your wife.
Other places you could look at would be Coronado and David.
hi we’ve been members of IL for rears and are coming to Panama this oct. to look at properity, BUT dont want to spend the $125-$150 a nite for a room on the beach. We’ll be there Oct7th. to the 28th. do you have any suggestions?? Jay
Absolutely! Check with Bonnie at Casa del Puertos. She’s on the beach in Guarare (next town north of Las Tablas) and provides accommodation for very reasonable rates. Her website is here, and her phone number in Panama is 507-994-5982.
She’s also a wonderful guide to the area.
Tell her I said hello. 🙂
looking for one bedroom apt. panama city- reasonable as Canadian dollar