Kris Cunningham, a retired registered nurse, moved from Sarasota, Florida, to Panama with her husband David in 2012. So far, Cunningham, 61, loves the affordable quality of life and the proximity to her children back in the US. The pair lives in the country for just $1,250 per month.
“If I stayed in the States, I’d be working until I was 70,” she said. Her home is near a river with a wooded area — a serene setting, she added. Panama has long been a top choice for North American retirees because of its proximity to their home countries and affordable beach living.
Housing: Setting up the home cost $4,500, in large part because the couple had to purchase new furniture. There are fewer options to choose from and it costs more than in the US. “It took two months to buy a sofa,” she said. The couple pays $385 per month to rent their three-bedroom two-bathroom home.
Eating: Panamanian food tends to be more affordable than US fare, and the Cunninghams tend to buy local and limit purchases of pricier imported food, she said. The grocery bill is about $300 to $500 per month, with another $100 on liquor and dining out — about $400 less than the pair might spend in Florida.
Essentials: The couple didn’t sign up for health insurance, which is available to non-citizens. They pay doctors out-of-pocket, Cunningham said. So far, she’s found the medical services to be of good quality and affordable. A trip to the dentist for a crown, for instance, cost Cunningham just $250, one-third of what she would have paid in the US. Regular trips to the physician cost less than $40. “We’ll take our chances and pay as we go,” she says. The pair bought a used car for $4,000 and they spend another $30 per month on gas. (Photo courtesy Kris and Joel Cunningham)