Panama Vs Costa Rica

Many new comers to Panama come from Costa Rica. I sometimes wonder how people afford to live there. It is so much more expensive than Panama.

Lilliam always is up to date on the conversion rate between the US dollar and the Costa Rican Colon because her retirement comes from Costa Rica and she is paid in Colons. Today’s rate and the rates for the past few weeks have been changing almost on a daily basis.

The exchange rate is currently 550.0 colons for one US$. I think it was 538 colons on Monday.

Now you might think that is good because one US dollar is giving you more colons than before. You might think your buying power is greater in Costa Rica is better than in Panama. However, many purchases in Costa Rica are done in US dollars and your purchasing power has gone down.

When you compare items in Panama vs the same item in Costa Rica the cost of living in Costa Rica is extremely high. If you were considering Costa Rica and have decided on Panama, thank your lucky stars. You made the right decision.

15 thoughts on “Panama Vs Costa Rica

  1. Yes, Mark and I were comparing C. R. vs Panama. It is sooo expensive. A costarrican was telling me the other day that a regular meal nothing fancy costs around $7.50 to $10. You can eat here for $3.50 and even less if you go to a fonda. Don´t even think about buying a car or clothing.
    Not a surprise that El Rey and Price Smart are full of ticos buying groceries and they buy their medicines in Arrocha.

  2. Think about this: Costa Rica’s economy is tourist based. Without tourism Costa Rica slides into a deep hole. Now think about Cuba being opened for tourism, I have heard that it has beautiful beaches’, way way cheaper costs on everything and would be much closer to the U.S. (90 miles from Miami) making it more affordable to visit for U.S. and Canadian tourists. Now, Panama, on the other hand doesn’t rely on Tourism although it welcomes Tourism. But Panama has the CANAL and is generally regarded as the Banking Center of Latin America. It can survive without Tourism. Most ex-Pats come here to retire not just visit for a week or two. So, where would you rather live?
    BTW: I lived in Costa Rica from 1995 to 1999 before moving to Panama.

  3. You are so right. I found CR to be very expensive when I have visited there. The only true thing I liked better in CR was the cleanliness of the country. It was very clean, unlike Panama. The people and country really take pride in their parks and streets, the places I visited anyway. I am not sure about flying into CR, but has anyone noticed the last few years how much it has gone up to fly in and out of Panama. It is outrageous, compared to a few years ago.

  4. Hey. Panamá is a great place, but I’m tired of narrow focused unbalanced and little-informed Costa Rica thinking. Costa Rica has a diversified growing economy focused on education, high tech and manufacturing, as well as tourism. A friendly, proud and intelligent people that can earn very well; a professional middle class that regularly vacations in New York, Orlando, Madrid or Buenos Aires, and a people from the poorest to the richest who are rated as the happiest on earth and who love participation in collective decision making and won’t be bossed around or controlled. A middle class that knows they can buy a lot of cheap imported, about often unhealthy, US products, in Panamá, and also smile at all their own major brand products that line the shelves of Panamanian supermarkets. It’s great eating out cheaply while visiting Panamá, but Ticos are acutely aware that they are in a slightly untidy and dirty and less educated third world country, and they miss the advanced social development and advanced civility of Costa Rica, just not all the prices. But if one earns even moderately well in Costa Rica, one can afford to live there and even take shopping vacations in Chiriquí, where they can appreciate the kindness of their hosts who love Ticos because of their spending power.

  5. If you can afford it – go for it. Lilliam has a lot of family living there and it cost a fortune to live there compared to Panama. I think most would say the roads are better in Panama and the crime is less. I get this from those that have moved here. All milage may vary.

    I might add, if one is planning on moving to either from a foreign country, you should rent for a minimum of 6-10 months before making any investment. Living in a region is much different from visiting for a couple weeks.

  6. I love Costa Rica and hope to travel there more, but even the Ticos will readily tell you that things are a lot more expensive there. We’re lucky to be so close that we can easily enjoy it, but also have the advantages of living in Chiriqui.

  7. Yes, Kris, you can enjoy the best of two worlds!

    And for anyone with USD, Costa Rica suddenly became 10% cheaper this month. So those frozen capuchinos from pricesmart as well as tres leaches deserts from pricesmart are now CHEAPER in Costa Rica. There are also 7 pricesmarts in the Central Valley metro area. The combo of coffee with pie from McDonald’s is also slightly cheaper in CR, and McDonald’s there even offer a free refill. Oh, coincidentally, there are also over fifty Mc Donalds in Costa Rica, but even more Subways, Thank goodness.

    Also I want to comment that it seems Panamá has seen a lot of price increases in the last year or two.

    For Ticos, if you earn there it’s not as bad spending there. It’s just like the case of Switzerland: Expensive to visit but great place to get a relatively good paying job if you have a degree and speak languages.

  8. I do go to Pricesmart occasionally, but I didn’t go to McD’s in the US and don’t plan to start here – especially not in Chiriqui, the land of wonderful fruits and veggies.
    I agree that prices in Panama are going up too but since I have no intention of engaging in that four letter word (work), I think I’m better here. I want to plan more excursions to CR though so a favorable exchange rate will be nice.

  9. Costa Rica is expected to begin requiring proof of payment of an exit tax Monday at land border crossings.

    This is the tax that went into effect Dec. 2 and was abruptly ignored the same day because there was no way for travelers to pay the tax at the borders.

    The amount is $5 a person plus $2 for baggage
    inspection even if there is no baggage. (read more):

    Pura Vida

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