9 Cheapest Places to Live in Panama

Updated On May 15, 2024

Situated between North and South America, Panama is a popular travel destination.

Its unique location makes it known as the “transit country” due to the Panama Canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

It’s one of the few places to see the sun rise and set along both oceans.

If you’re considering staying in Panama, you’ll be delighted to know that there are some incredibly affordable options.

Below, we’ll detail the cheapest places to live in Panama, offering you hope for a budget-friendly yet comfortable lifestyle.

9 Cheapest Places to Live in Panama

Panama is a wonderful country to live in, with a rich culture and extravagant beaches.

However, the cost of living can often be expensive, especially in the city.

That said, other places are just as enjoyable, with a relatively low cost of living.

Below, we’ll introduce you to ten of the cheapest places to live in Panama that you’ll enjoy as an international traveler.

Just keep in mind that many of these places may have varying costs, as the cost of living will be dependent upon the rent and lifestyle an individual lives.


1. Santiago

The city of Santiago is located in the district of Veraguas Province and is home to nearly 129,821 people.

The Juan Demostenes Arosemena Park, the Regional Museum of Veraguas, and many archaeological and cultural areas make it the perfect place to explore.

With a more small-town feeling compared to Panama City, it makes a good alternative with its reduced cost of living.

Santiago is often favored by people who enjoy a laid-back lifestyle.

While there are plenty of activities to do around the city, it’s a better place to kick back and relax.

With mostly warm weather and lively locals, it’s an affordable, great place to stay.


2. Colon

Colon is the capital of Colon Province and is next to the Caribbean coast.

The destination is often a popular tourist zone due to the Colon Free Zone, a shopping showroom.

Right next to the port, it’s also a busy destination for cruise ships.

With a population of 40,417, it’s the perfect mixture of a small-town vibe with plenty to do.

The town is often one of the cheapest places to live in Panama, but it isn’t without its downsides.

One of the major ones is that it’s prone to flooding.

The infrastructure isn’t as secure as major cities and is often unsafe.

In addition, there are also high crime rates.

While a decent place to visit, it may not be a good location for long-term living.

San Jose de David
San Jose de David

3. David (San Jose de David)

David is located in the western part of Panama.

It is a small town with many wonders.

It features a lively industrial economy, mainly packaging sugar, coffee, cocoa, meat, and tanning.

The most notable exports are saddles and harnesses, proudly showcased throughout the town.

With a population of 156,498, the town is an amazing place to live with a lot to do.

David is the perfect place if you’re more into the city lifestyle, without the high prices and crowded areas.

You’ll have access to all the great restaurants, shopping, and entertainment, with amazing beaches just a short drive away.

La Chorrera
La Chorrera

4. La Chorrera

La Chorrera is situated in central Panama, just west-southwest of Panama City, and has a population of 258,221.

It’s known for its agricultural centers, but more importantly, it’s part of Panama City’s metropolitan area.

This makes it the perfect spot for those wanting close access to Panama City and the surrounding beaches.

The living costs are much lower than those of the main city, though it has seen rising costs.

Luckily, housing ranges from cheap to luxury.

There is something for everyone which makes it a popular choice for those looking for affordable housing.


5. Penonome

Penonome is the capital of the Cocle Province.

It is mainly known for the Playa Santa Clara, Yayas Falls, and the Penonome market.

Currently, the city has around 21,748 residents, but is slowly growing.

It’s also relatively close to the Inter-American Highway, making it a great place to access other attractions.

Most notably, many internationals who move there enjoy the city’s access to government offices, supermarkets, and restaurants.

The only reason is the affordable houses, which are much cheaper than living in a major Panama City.

Panama City
Panama City

6. Panama City

While one of the largest cities in the country, Panama City is still affordable compared to other North American towns.

Situated at the entrance of the Panama Canal, the city is home to nearly 1,086,990 residents.

Now, it’s safe to say that Panama City is one of the most costly places in the country to live.

Despite this, many international travelers have found that it’s cheaper than living in any other North American state, namely almost 50% less expensive than New York.

Many have had success finding one-bedroom apartments for under USD 1,000 in the city’s center.


7. Chitre

Chitre is located in southwestern Panama in the Herrera Province.

With a small population of only 9,092 people, this town is the perfect place for those looking for a leisurely life.

It doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of the city but still allows you to submerge yourself in Panama’s rich culture.

Many buildings constructed in Chitre are from the colonial era and adorned throughout the town.

Those looking to move here can do so on a low budget, as living comfortably only takes USD 2,000.

The best attractions are costs to beaches, fishing spots, and Sarigua National Park.

With good weather year-round, it’s a hard place to pass up.


8. Aguadulce

Aguadulce is located in the Pacific West region of the country, in the Cocle Province.

With a smaller population of 51,668, it’s a quaint place mainly focused on agriculture.

That being said, it features a low cost of living and is located near the Pan-American Highway, making other areas accessible by car.

Only a few internationals live in the city, but the town is seeing more each year.

The town is surrounded by nature and often feels more like a tropical getaway than a tourist trap.

That being said, not many locals speak English, making communicating challenging.

However, many people can live lavishly with a small budget of USD 1,250.


9. Boquete

Boquete is a small town in the Chiriqui Province of Panama.

It has a population of 19,000 and is on the westernmost side of the country.

However, Boquete is known for its welcoming atmosphere and friendly locals.

Those who enjoy mountainous terrain will likely enjoy living here.

There are many outdoor activities, some favorites including hiking, birdwatching, and more.

The cost of living is an average of $400 to $800 for rent, with an added $500 for living expenses.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where do most American expats live in Panama?

Most Americans live in Panama City, which has the most international travelers.

It’s a popular tourist destination and is full of activities and nightlife.

Many foreigners are drawn to the city due to its English speakers and many activities.

The city has modern amenities, while also providing many cultural experiences, which is what attracts many Americans to visit.

In addition to that, many international travelers move to Panama City because it has an international airport and is easily accessible.

Is Costa Rica cheaper to live in than Panama?

Living costs are generally more expensive in Costa Rica than in Panama.

While both have ranging costs, Panama’s cost of living is often less expensive due to its many locations.

The average person can survive in Panama if he/she earns from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the area.

In Costa Rica, it can range from $1,400 to $3,500.

How long can a U.S. citizen live in Panama?

A U.S. citizen can only live in Panama for 90–180 days without a visa.

However, those expecting to move to Panama must apply for a visa related to their stay.

This can be a work visa, a Pensionado visa (retiring U.S. citizen), or a Friendly Nations Visa.

For the best choice, it’s recommended to consult with an immigration lawyer so that way you can ensure that you’ve got the right visa.

How much money do you need to retire in Panama?

The average cost of living in Panama’s expensive cities can range anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000.

However, lower cost of living areas can bring total expenses down to $2,000 or less monthly.

The cost will mainly depend on what area you live in and what type of lifestyle you will expect.

Can you live cheaply in Panama?

The cost of living can be variable for each location.

Mainly, the cost of living will be dependent on a person’s lifestyle and expenses.

The cheaper areas to live in Panama tend to be in rural locations or smaller towns.

Bigger cities will have higher costs of living, but they are still cheaper than most places in North America.

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