El Cangrejo is a top choice for a comfortable, affordable, downtown Panama City experience. The neighborhood boasts a nice mix of single-family homes and apartment buildings. Many of the single-family homes are now businesses, but a few remain inhabited by wealthy Panamanian families.
Here’s the truest thing I can tell you about the cost of living in Panama City: It can be as little or as much as you want it to be, within broad ranges. The biggest part of any budget is given over to housing (that is, rent), which is also typically the most variable budgeting factor. Nowhere is this more true than in Panama City.
Which is why we focus not on Panama City, but on El Cangrejo. This is my first point: It’d be impossible to produce a useful report on the cost of living in Panama City. Compact as this city is, it’s home to many diverse neighborhoods, from Costa del Este to Casco Viejo and from Marbella to San Miguelito. The cost of living one to another is dramatically changeable, primarily because the cost of renting one to the other can vary so much.
Taking all this into account, we’ve chosen El Cangrejo. Not only because this is an appealing place to call home, but also because it’s middle of the road. It’s not this city’s most costly place to live (that’d be Costa del Este or certain areas of Marbella, for example), and it’s not the most affordable either.
Certainly, you could rent in Panama City for less, and we know many people who do. But you’d be living in a more out-of- the-way neighborhood—Arraijan, for example, or La Chorrera. I’ve read reports from other sources suggesting that expats and foreign retirees looking for more affordable Panama City options consider neighborhoods like these, but I don’t recommend it. The average retiree isn’t going to feel comfortable in these working-class barrios. I don’t speak with prejudice but as a realist.
For the purposes of our reporting, we assume that you want to stretch your retirement dollars as far as possible, sure, but also that you want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. In Panama City, El Cangrejo is one of the top choices right now for enjoying a comfortable expat lifestyle. A couple can live well on US$2,115 per month.
|Gas||N/A||Included with rent.
|Electricity||US$50||US$100 with air conditioning.
|Water||N/A||Included with electricity.
|Internet||N/A||Included with telephone.
|Cable TV||N/A||Included with telephone.
In 2014, out of 16 stations constructed as part of Panama City’s (and Central America’s) first-ever light rail system, El Cangrejo has not one, but two, of its very own metro stops. Metro trains pick passengers up from two sparkling new stations—the first near the intersection of Via Espana and Via Brazil and the second a few blocks down Via Espana near Iglesia del Carmen.
Future metro lines will also intersect in El Cangrejo. Think of El Cangrejo as a sort of Grand Central Station. Historically, in cities around the world, the neighborhoods that are selected for significant infrastructure projects—a metro stop, for example—consequently experience robust real estate investment and development.
The weather in El Cangrejo is the same as anywhere else in the city—humid and wet in the rainy season (April to December), and mainly dry, hot, and less humid in the dry months.
For hundreds of expats living in El Cangrejo, the neighborhood ticks a lot of key boxes. El Cangrejo is the expat hub of Panama City. There are a lot of tourists living for the short-term in El Cangrejo.