Cost of Living in Panama for Expatriates

In this video, you’ll hear from an American Expat living in Panama. He talks about the cost of living in Panama, and as someone thinking of retiring in Latin America, this is a perfect post for the costs associated with living and residing in lovely Panama.

How Much Does it Cost to Retire in Panama?

This is the first time that we’ve made a react video. The thought comes to mind, some people might think you’re just making a react video just to get views. Well, the idea of getting views with your videos, yes, you need people to view your video in order to get your message out. Sure, you have to have the views and you need the views, but that isn’t the foundation of our content and our information. Our information is all about the passion we have for this subject.

Remember that we’ve lived through the ram bubble of 2011 in Cuenca, Ecuador. We know how it affects all the participants and all the players. We’re very in tune with all of the dynamics of this bubble making that goes on around the world, and how it’s precipitated over the internet. Having said that, let’s get on with the video.

Let me show you, “The cost of living in Panama is 50% lower.”

The first thing is that, I’m going to show you the map. I’ve talked to Colombians and Ecuadorians that live in Panama. There are other lands in Panama. They all say the same thing, that Panama is the most, especially Panama City, but pretty much all around Panama, is the most expensive area in Latin America, according to them. Now, there are other runner ups. Santiago, Chile, there are other expensive areas.

Let me show you on this map. The green is the lowest prices, yellow is in the middle, and then as it gets more to the red, orange-red, is the most expensive [unintelligible 00:01:54]. According to the cost of living map, Albuquerque is in a higher cost of living area in the US. Interestingly, she’s not comparing Albuquerque to Panama City or any other large city. She’s going to a small town.

Interesting to know, real quick, is that these are the biggest cities, the prices. It’s leaving out all the other smaller cities. That means where there are no colored dots, like right here, all these areas in South America and all these areas in North America and Mexico, not as many in Europe, but they are there, and all of these areas in Australia, that means there are smaller towns there, and that also means they’re all lower priced than the cities that are on this map. This is important, and it’s a key. Keep that in mind as we talk about this in this video.

Hi, everybody, it’s Frank and Angie. As you know, we’ve been abroad for nine years. We’ve never paid more than $300 or $400 for three or four-bedroom houses, furnished or unfurnished. That’s one of the things we say in a lot of our videos. What’s really at the core of that is that we cut through all of the promotion and hype of living abroad. We follow expat bubbles around the world. We also talk about the wheel that sets in motion the cycle, we call it, the expat cycle of these locations that are promoted.

I understand that people travel, and I understand that people are good at blogging and making videos. I understand saying, “Look at this wonderful place that I’m at. Maybe you might like to live here. That’s all good and great. We also do that too. Sometimes there are things that catch my eye for a reason, and it needs to be investigated. When I see a video about the cost of living in Panama is 50% lower for this American expat, of course, it caught my eye. Let’s talk about that in this video.

What’s the other side of the story here? We see these videos a lot, and they are designed to entice gringos, North American expats, or any foreigner. The words ‘50% lower in Panama’ is what’s used in the title. Then, when you get in there and watch it, you find out which– When I saw that title, I immediately thought, “Okay, all right. I know what’s going on here.” They say 50% lower in Panama, but she’s not in Panama. She’s in a city, in particular, a town in Panama. There’s a huge difference because she’s in a town of 22,000 population, as opposed to the big city.

The person in the video is from a big city, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is a big, big clue because we could talk about this frequently in our videos, about people that are coming from large cities in North America, and using that as a comparison, which there’s more issues in the video. She’s not really moving to Panama. She’s moving to Boquete, a town of 22,000. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this video.

The first thing that stands out to me is, yes, you can go to any smaller towns, as I showed you on the cost of living index. There are oodles and oodles of smaller towns, once you get outside of the big cities, that are going to be a lot lower cost than those big cities. This is also true in North America. The point is that you certainly don’t have to go from Albuquerque to Boquete to find a lower cost of living. This is clearly an attempt to funnel people to this particular area, which is a standard operating procedure of the rams and the following groups.

This is how gringo vicious cycles get set in motion, which by the way, this is the second cycle. These cycles, they run full course, and then as they become exposed, they die down. This is a couple of years later, two, three, four years later, it’s starting to pick up once again in Panama. Panama has already been through that vicious cycle. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you should go see that video about that cycle. Boquete, specifically, went through a huge crime wave, and the gringos all took off, which is understandable.

Now, we see this happening once again. These bubbles create a situation where the place just becomes something else. The first thing I want to say, this is not a bash Panama video. Now, I say this every time we’ve been doing this for nine years. We like to present the other side of the story. We like to expose the rams and their groups for the manipulation of the masses that they create these bubbles intentionally for the purpose of profit, and how those that are unwitting, they don’t know what’s happening, are being used as pawns.

The target of this kind of manipulation is always big city folk because it’s really easy to get the cost of living from big-city America and manipulate that into saying that you’re going to find a place that’s a lower cost, while at the same time, you’re really buying into these areas at two to three times more than what the local pricing structure really is, which creates just a outstanding profit for these ram groups.

I’m not against for-profit businesses. I’m just saying that there’s another side of the story here, and there’s a lot of fallout that happens, and a lot of people are hurt through these processes. That’s our motivation for showing you and making these videos. Pay attention to how this is done. This is being marketed to big-city folks, and they’re being funneled into a business that specifically targets Americans that don’t speak Spanish, are coming from large cities, and are going to be led like sheep into these places at gringo pricing structures.

Then comes the safety issues. Right off the bat, we’re talking about how– Now we just made a video about how gringos and foreigners will use terminology like feel safe. Safety has nothing to do with feeling. She’s telling us that she’s never been there before. She’s using a gringo service to move there. She’s only been there one year, but she’s using words like never and always when referring to crime, and feelings. Like, “Okay, I’ve been here one year, but I’ve never had a bad experience.” Well, never has nothing to do with being there one year. [chuckles] That’s a big difference.

We were in Cuenca, Ecuador for three years, and we could have said the same thing, “We feel safe, we’ve never had a bad experience,” but then on the fourth year, we started meeting prowlers every other night on the top of our road. The reason why she hasn’t experienced this yet, she’s two miles out of a small town. The criminals just don’t know you’re there yet. [chuckles] She’s been there one year, and she’s using words like never and always, “Never feeling unsafe after being there one year.” Always felt comfortable.

These are buzzwords that tells you that there’s an agenda. Why would somebody that’s been there a year want you to feel safe for the rest of the time that you move there? You cannot predict what’s going to happen tomorrow based on what’s happened last year. I’m helping you guys see through this stuff. I see through it the minute I see a title like this.

Here’s another clue. It’s already too expensive to get prescriptions in the little town. There’s two things happening in small towns. If there are foreigners coming in, there’s a serious shortage of commercialization. What happens is, as the foreigners start to trickle in, the prices start rising. This happened when we were in Yunguilla. I saw it. You’ll have in a small town, especially like Yunguilla and Boquete, only one store or two stores to go to. Once they start raising the prices, where do you go? She’s already talking about how she has to travel to David to get lower prices.

This is the beginning, this is just the beginning. The prices are supposed to be lower because the locals there make less money, but here she is already having to travel to David from Boquete. This is not about the person in the video or the business that they’re promoting. I’m sure they’re fine people. They look like nice. We’re reacting.

Talking about prices, here’s another clue. She went to the dentist. She’s talking about it was very reasonably priced compared to in the States. Now, guys, this is such a red flag to me. You got to see through these kinds of videos because I’ve seen expats in Ecuador do this, where they’ll go to the dentist and pay four times the local rate because it’s still lower than in the states. If I can get lower prices, because we know what the local price is and we also have methods of implementing the look of getting it through comparing it to the states and the beginning of the vicious cycle getting in motion. This is exactly what causes that.

All right, more on cost. She’s talking about casita. This is a clue. Casita means it’s a really small place. When you listen to the terminology that’s being used, it’s like you can see the clear intent, giving the impression that something is fabulously cheap or even free. Saying things like, “I don’t pay for my utilities.” Well, you’re paying for them. They’re just included in one price. You’re just getting a price that includes all of your utilities. You’re still paying for them. Why would somebody say, “I’m not paying for those.”? I guess maybe you mean that you’re not personally having to go pay them one on one, but you are definitely paying for utilities.

Already in the first half, we’ve heard that it’s already too expensive to get the prescriptions in town. Now, we’ve also heard prices being compared to the United States all the time, no mention whatsoever of local pricing structure, I’m sure they have no clue. Now, we get to the meat and potatoes of the video where the video tells us that their total cost of living is two-thirds lower than what was being paid in the States.

This is really, really, important because this is part of that fabulous, greed, enticing, salivating kind of promotion that is designed to get people to just salivate at this stuff, like using words like paradise, live like a king and all that. When we hear two thirds, here’s a clue. The video tells us that the entire cost of living is $1,500 to $2,000. Well, if it’s two-thirds cheaper than in Albuquerque, doing some simple math tells us that she was spending anywhere between $4,500 and $6,000 a month to live in Albuquerque.

Let’s cut through that. Let me show you something. One bedroom in Albuquerque at 711 means that the cost of living would be around $2,100 to $2,844. Somewhere between there. A bigger place would be two bedrooms, and let’s say $900 would be around $2,700 to $3,600. Even for a two-bedroom, it would be $2,700 to $3,600. She said it was $1,500 to $2,000. Let’s say she has a one-bedroom. That means her Albuquerque cost of living would be $2,100 to $2,800. Even on the high end though, $2,700 to $3,600, it’s not two-thirds of Albuquerque, two-thirds cheaper. Let’s just give them the benefit of the doubt. Even if we go with the higher figure of $3,600. Two-thirds cheaper would be $1,200. She would have to be living $1,200 in Boquete according to these figures. She would have to be living on $1,200 but she’s not. She’s living on $1,500 to $2,00, so it’s not two-thirds cheaper.

Of course, having choices, talking that there’s choices here if you want to get involved with doing some volunteering or whatever, and then if you also want to just not get involved with anything like that and you want to live a quiet simple life. Well, this idea that you have to go abroad to get a quiet simple life. The only thing we ever lived was a quiet simple life in the States. If you know how to do it and set out to do it, it can be done. You just have to get out of the big city like Albuquerque. Once you’re retired, you can have a quiet, simple life just a lot of anywhere. I’m sure I could figure out how to have a quiet simple life even in a big city, but maybe not quiet [laughs].

She lives two miles out of an already smaller town. How many smaller towns in your own country or in North America could you go two miles out and have a quiet simple life? You don’t have to go to Panama to do that. I’m just saying that if you want to go to Panama, go to Panama, but how are these really reasons to go to Panama?

When you see a flurry of videos like this, I’m really sad to see a flurry of them now again for Panama because I know what Panama and the locals have been through so far. This is just more of the same. Remember, Panama only has around 3 million people for the whole country, not one city. The whole country is only three million people. You’re on the internet, and you’ve got how many eyeballs? Half the population that’s on the internet, you’ve got two to three billion eyeballs. Just in the USA alone, just 10% of the USA or even how many millions of people retire every month right now on baby boomers. Even if just 10% of those eyeballs. Just Google that and you’ll figure that out.

It’s a serious matter, and thanks for staying with me. Anyway, I hope that you’re getting something out of this, and if you did, please push the like button and have a wonderful day.


Tim Schmidt is an Entrepreneur who has covered retirement investing since 2012. He started this website to share his expertise in using his Self-Directed IRA. Most recently he's been advising individuals to diversify into precious metals ahead of a certain recession. He invested with Goldco.