Cost of living: Bocas Del Toro, Panama


The spreadsheet is up for our month in Bocas del Toro.  Things are more expensive on islands, but we also upped our budget for a bit of a last hurrah before we returned to the states for a few years.  Roughly US$1,200 bought us a good month.  See for yourself by following the link along the right edge of this page.


14 Responses to “Cost of living: Bocas Del Toro, Panama”

  1. Adam Says:

    Hey I just stumbled across your blog and find it a fantastic reference. I’m a photographer from the Ireland considering a venture to central america early next year. I’m looking for somewhere by a beach, that won’t cost me a fortune and it quite chilled. Not sure how I will form work yet. I had been looking at Nicaragua and I also see you posting quite a bit here on Panama…any advice would be most welcomed, even the best websites to look for rentals…you can email at: irishcamera@yahoo.com and check my website at: http://www.adampatterson.net

    thanks in advance


  2. V Says:

    I’m wrapping up my time in Bocas, just want to let you know (again) how much I appreciate your detailed record keeping. I tried doing the same — wow, it’s hard! I ended up with summaries on what we spent daily (btw, our totals were close to yours) but never got the categories as organized as you did. We’ve decided on Boquete instead of Granada in January, I’ll see if I can do a better job tracking our expenses there.

    • cgearhart Says:

      Good to hear! What was your impression of Bocas?

      • V Says:

        We both liked Bocas, a lot – english is prevalent ( i’d been looking forward to practicing my Spanish, but it’s tough to do there, not everyone had the patience to wait for me to slowly work out the right way to pronouncethings!), US currency, fabulous weather and ultra laid-back atmosphere – SUCH an easy adjustment for someone from the US. An extra plus is the safety factor, not sure if we will find that elsewhere in Panama or Nicaragua. The downside would be somewhat limited grocery selection, and the fact that there weren’t many free activities, but neither of those things were a surprise, given the size and location of Bocastown. Bocas del Toro stays on our list of places we may settle down in.

      • cgearhart Says:

        Thanks so much for posting your impressions, V. I think you’re going to love Boquete if it’s not too cold for you.

  3. Ralph Redjou Says:

    This is RalphR from Nica Living.

    Thanks for pointing me to your blog. I am looking mainly at Esteli, Nicaragua followed by Volcan, Panama so your information on Esteli was super useful. I will read all the postings ASAP.

    I am currently living in a 300 Sq Ft place so almost anything would be an improvement. Your comments about pricing is critical as I would only have a income of US $700 a month if I was to move right now. That looks plentiful for Esteli.

    Just a note of encouragement right now. Keep up the fantastic posting. 🙂

  4. Hannah Says:

    Hi, I just followed your blog to see the cost of living spreadsheet…but cannot find it anywhere. Help please! Thanks

    • cgearhart Says:

      Sure thing: check the links along the right side of this page. Under “One month of living in”, click any of the links with “(Cost of living)” next to it. Let me know if you have more trouble.

  5. Tadeas Petak Says:

    Hey, we are staying in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica right now and are contemplating going to Bocas del Toro, Panama as it sounds pretty nice. The spreadsheet is super useful, thanks for keeping such a tight record of all the costs! Any chance you might advise us on where (site/address…) to rent something similar to what you guys had there? (My e-mail is tadeaspetak@gmail.com).

    Cheers a lot, take care & have fun 🙂

    • cgearhart Says:

      You’ll probably need to be there to find it; arranging stuff ahead of time isn’t impossible, but it’s usually more expensive and you’ll have far less to choose from. I’d recommend asking around for Tyson Merrill, a local realtor. He did us well and I think he has a solid repuration in general. You can canvas much of Bocas Town on foot in an afternoon, block by block, looking for leads. We stayed at Bocas Condos, which is pictured in our Bocas Summary. The different units there sometimes have different owners, so the rent between two nearly identical condos can vary considerably. They are also going to vary based on season since they see plenty of vacation traffic.

      I would set aside 5 to 7 days of apartment hunting once you arrive and be sure to check out the other 2 major islands (Carenero and Bastimentos) before you decide on anything. There are some nice rental condos outside of town across the street from the beach, in this general area, so it’s worth heading out there and looking for “for rent” signs.

      We also really liked the simple, long term rentals that were here, but it was a “bring your own dishware, etc) that didn’t make sense for a 30 day stay.

      Links (prices on websites or via email are ridiculous, negotiate in person):
      Our Bocas Summary
      Bocas Condos
      Interesting spot with numerous options on Carenero

  6. Hello! Just wanted to let you know, my boyfriend and I have really enjoyed reading your blogs. We are currently traveling throughout Central America, and your blog has been very helpful. We spent month in Costa Rica but it was a little too pricy for us. We are just about to finish this month out in Bocas del Toro at around 1000 for the two of us. We are headed to Volcan, Panama next and then San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua for a month. Not sure after that. If you would like to check out our blog and see how we did things that would be great. http://www.cutratetraveler.com

    Thanks again for all the great info.

    • cgearhart Says:

      I am all over this! I just took a glance at your site and know that I have to stop now and allocate an hour or more later so I can really pay attention. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be commenting the hell out of it.

    • cgearhart Says:

      Hey Natasha, love your site. I’m not active on Facebook, though, so I can’t comment on your posts there.

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