The Rising Cost Of Living In Panama City

“Kathleen, thanks for your great general information in your publications.

“We are preparing our move to Panama City. Nothing is arranged in Panama City as yet. As we read about changes the last year, please will you advise us on the following:

1. Data on pensionado visa
2. Data on permanent visa
3. Data on social security, social health care insurance, contributions, and the route for us to inscribe
4. Raised cost of living in Panama City

“Age of my wife is 68. Age of me is 78. We both enjoy a good health.

“Thanks for your help.”

–Bea and Bill D., United States

To qualify for Panama’s pensionado visa, you must be able to show a pension or Social Security of at least US$1,000 a month plus US$250 a month for a dependent (your wife). Once you’ve received your final approval, the pensionado visa gives you permanent resident status. In the meantime, you are issued a temporary residency card.

You won’t qualify for social security or public health insurance in Panama, as you’re not Panamanian and haven’t paid into Panama’s social system. You’ll need to organize your own health insurance, either in Panama (through private local insurance) or with an international agency.

Yes, the cost of living in Panama City continues to rise and is noticeably greater than when we moved here six years ago. The cost of rent has not increased much if at all, but the cost of everything else has. VIP movie tickets cost US$8 when we moved here and cost US$13 today. A regular movie ticket cost US$3 six years ago and costs US$5 today. That gives you a general idea of inflation these past half-dozen years.

All things considered, I’d say that the cost of living in Panama City is now about the same as that in a midsized U.S. city…though still more affordable than most European cities of comparable size.

Outside Panama City is a different story. In most of the rest of this country, the cost of living remains a bargain compared with most of the United States.

Continue Reading: Expat Life In El Cangrejo, Panama City