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Julsfem
2/5/2019 19:10 EST

Hello Expat Experts:)
My husband and I are thinking of moving to PC, I have read a lot of threads and appreciate all your opinions!
We are coming from Canada and are not quite at retirement and pension age, tired of struggling with over priced living of Toronto.
I have viewed many you tube and online info, but I believe it is outdated. Can you please help me understand what kind of a budget I need to prepare for?
Thinking of lower Boquete, or David. 2 bedroom 2 bath house for rent?
How much can a small used car and insurrance cost?
Medical Insurance?
Utilities and food?
And other things that I may not be aware of.
Yes we will be coming to see Panama before an actual move.
I thank you all in advance, and would love to hear you advice and words of wisdom.
J

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RICOBREEZE802MARK
2/6/2019 00:45 EST

used car depends on model, type, age, miles, you can always find a expat ready to sale one cheap because they are moving back. 5k to 10k ins. well that is cheap, about 200.00 per year on a used car. power bill 100 to 200 per month. water 6.00. gas a large 100 lb tank should last you a year. at about 75.00 dollars. cable and wifi. the more you buy from them, like tv internet, phone. cheaper the bill I get their fastest package for around 65 per month. house rental. 500 and up. food, again depends on your taste. many are cheaper then what you pay now, some or higher. locals seem to have a better price on goods.

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Travelocity
2/6/2019 07:56 EST

you can live in an affordable place in both places. boquete is cooler and I would say probably has a much better community union of expats than david.
the food can be affordable in boquete (going out). you can live much better, cheaper lifestyle. your imported items are luxuries and are expensive. I suggest take a trip and see what you eat, and see what it goes for in the supermarkets of the 2 places you want to move to. car insurance for a sedan is $450 or so a year for us. I suggest check out craigslist.org for prices on properties. also if a house is for sale don't be shy to ask for rental, many times years go by without the house being sold and the sellers do allow you to live and rent it. The only thing you might miss is shoveling snow in the winter. lol

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Julsfem
2/6/2019 08:45 EST

Thank you Recobreeze,
I appreciate your help, it’s really hard to make plans with numbers that are out dated.
I hope to make this move in the late fall, but will be coming in the spring to scout:)

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panamajames
2/6/2019 10:17 EST

Being from Toronto and now living in Boquete, I know exactly what you are speaking about. Send me an email at and I can explain the entire story to you how to do it.

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ranadelnorte
2/6/2019 10:42 EST

Here is some feedback on your budget questions. Some things in Panama cost less than in Canada, some more, and some about the same. Budgets are very personal. I have no idea how much you’ll spend on food because I don’t know your tastes and habits. When you come to scout, bring your standard grocery list and compare to prices here. Do the same for personal care items and medications.
For cable and telephone, go to the websites of the 2 main providers (CableOnda and Cable and Wireless) to see how much their packages cost for the level of service you require.
Health insurance depends on many factors: your age, your pre-existing conditions, and whether you need out-of-country coverage. You’ll have to do your own due diligence by getting quotes from various providers for the coverage you need. As a Canadian I can tell you that having to open your wallet every time you go to a doctor takes getting used to, with or without insurance. For example, I need a blood test for my thyroid 2x/year. It costs me $35 each time, using the senior discount and the early-bird-on-Sunday discount. In Canada there was no cost for this bloodwork, and seeing the endocrinologist also was free.
To me a big consideration is foreign exchange risk and inflation. While nobody has a crystal ball, you’ll have to calculate what effect a decline in the C$ against the USD will have on your budget. For example, when I moved here 5 years ago the C$ was trading at $0.82, or $.05 higher than it is today. This means everything for me costs 5 cents more on the dollar than it did when I arrived. If the C$ declines to $0.65, I’ll have to reevaluate. Panama’s economy is growing at a much higher rate than Canada’s, so inflation can be cause for concern. For example, medium eggs used to cost 0.89/doz vs $1.87 today, or over double. Panama has no social safety net such as subsidized housing and other income supports. If your money runs out, you’ll have to move back.
In my experience economic migrants who move to Panama ONLY to reduce their cost of living wind up bitter and disappointed because life in a developing country with a different culture and language has challenges that aren’t erased by lower costs.
You haven’t mentioned transition costs at all: what it will take to wind down your lives in Canada and become non-residents for tax purposes. Just as an example, you’ll have to do a deemed disposition of all your investments and will no longer be able to contribute to your RRSP and TFSA. Also acquiring the appropriate visa that will allow you to be legal residents of Panama will have associated costs.
IMO, your timeframe for a move (about 8 months from now) is very ambitious. The visa alone will take at least 4 months if you get a good lawyer and can get your Canadian paperwork ready quickly.
Good luck!

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Julsfem
2/6/2019 11:25 EST

ranadelnorte, thank you for the reply, It was very informative.

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dogbone
2/6/2019 12:53 EST

Maybe if you gave a rundown of what you pay in Canada, we could make some comparisons for you.

Panama is definitely not cheap anymore, but that is all relative. For example, I can get a pound of butter most places in the US for about $3, but here butter costs over $5 per pound.

Unfortunately, Panama has quite a bit of inflation now. This is totally because the Panamanian Government went into a lot of debt. Inflation is always a function of how much external debt a country has. US dollar denominated debt is the worst because the US dollar is on a long trajectory UP relative to other currencies You see, when Governments take on external debt, they must either raise taxes OR cut expenses to pay the interest on the debt. Because Governments don't want to do this, they circulate a lot of extra currency so that the uneducated public will bear the financial burden of the debt interest payments in the form of higher prices for everything. It is a sneaky way of transferring the debt burden from the Government to the people at large.. Since the Panamanian Government cannot print US dollar bills, they minted and circulated large coins that are worth 1 dollar. The presence of these coins is what is responsible for the added inflation and the resulting rise in prices. Since 2009, most prices at least doubled, some tripled.

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RedHatLady
2/6/2019 13:39 EST

Excellent information. I just had a dentist appointment. We chat as his English is good and he likes to practice. Example of cost comparison. He has his mother take his shirts to a laundry in Chorrera because where he lives near city is more expensive. His fees are less expensive since his office is in Arraijan compared to city.

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