Dedicated to providing you with credible information about living overseas
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroad

Questions & Answers

Q & A Menu Q & A BY TOPIC
To navigate, use menu bar to the left
David Btesh of Pacific Realty / Pacific Developers – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Modern home, Panama City, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe cost to build a home in Panama City and the surrounding area can range from US $100 a foot to $500 a foot. 
 
For $100 a foot, you would get a normal Miami-style house. It would be fireproof as opposed to being made of plasterboard.  It would be constructed of blocks, cement, and iron. It would have granite countertops, tile floors, Toto toilets and washbasins.  
 
(Modern home, Panama City, Panama, pictured.)
US: 406-551-4775
lars forsberg of Longboat Retirement – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account

Naturally I've had people ask me how much it costs to build a house in Panama.  That's a loaded question, but I can say that cost of materials is nearly the same as most of the US, but labor is extremely cheap.  Labor is so cheap that you'll likely feel guilty about it; I know I do.  I'm attaching a video of a couple Panamanians and I building walls in my house near Volcan.  The guy who is building the walls was quite skilled and pretty efficient, and his daily labor rate was less than the hourly rate of unskilled labor in the US.

 
Mike Vuytowecz of Inside Panama Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Home in coffee plantation near Boquete, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe cost to build a house in Panama depends on the quality of your construction. Having built seven of them myself already, I find that you could do it from anywhere from US $60 a foot to $100 a foot. They price everything by meters in Panama so that would be approximately $600 to $1,000 a meter.
 
I’m building my dream home at this moment, which will cost me at least $1,000 a meter to maybe $1,200, depending on the finishing. Building in Panama is quite a bit less than what you could do it for in the United States. However, they do it completely different than in the US. Everything in the US, for the most part is stick built, while in Panama, everything is built with block and steel. Construction takes a bit more time in Panama than it does in the US.
 
I am building two houses right now that are about 1,000 square feet each that are basic three bedroom two bathroom homes, each on a 600-meter (about a sixth of an acre) lot. We have a view of the ocean on one side. Although the ocean is an hour and a half away, you can see it. We also have a view of the Volcan Baru on the other side. Without the land, I can build that home for approximately $65 per square foot, which is the entry level that you could build it for with any kind of quality.  A $60 to $65 square foot home is equivalent to a typical tract home in southern California. It is likely that house would sell for $150,000 to $160,000 range. That home has granite countertops, tile floors, tinted windows, landscaping, a garage etc. There is really nothing lacking. 
 
For $100 a foot, my house has German windows instead of Panamanian windows. We have upgraded appliances, upgraded kitchen, and upgraded bathrooms. Building in a country club close to the Costa Rican border, there are not as many people, so the labor pool is less and getting good quality craftsmen costs a bit more money. 
 
The quality of the materials used in the home makes a big difference. For example the floor tiles are different. The granite is not as thick or expensive. The windows cost more money. And rather than putting a felt roof if you will, I will be using tile roof, which would cost some more. So these little upgrades are what makes the difference in the cost but of course that is by choice. You don’t have to do it.
 
(Home in coffee plantation near Boquete, Panama, pictured.)
Michael A. Martinez of B & B Real Estate Nicaragua / Panama Real Estate Information – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Kaufman and Broad house as imagined for the  Simpsons TV show – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingRight now you can have a contractor and build a decent house for US $55 a square foot in Panama. The house would be in a typical subdivision from the United States, and be of the quality of a Kaufman & Broad house. You can expect to have nice countertops, lighting, maybe a small pool. 
 
One of the reasons that it is so inexpensive per square foot in Panama is that a lot of the building under roof does not have to be as expensive because a lot of it is patios and outdoor living, so $55 is a very fair number. That’s how the Americans and expat community live. They live in giant open spaces.   You can, of course, go above that price.
 
There are plenty of $55 per square foot houses in Panama and they are very nice. The thing about a $55 per square foot house is if it has a million dollar view, it looks like a $100 square foot house. It’s the truth. I think you can get a lot from $55, all the way to $200 a square foot. 
 
(Kaufman and Broad house in tropical colors as imagined for the  Simpsons TV show, pictured.)
Bill Hamilton of Bill Hamilton – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Children practicing baseball in Santa Fé de Veraguas, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe cost of building a house in Panama depends where you go. You go to a Panamanian and you can have can a 150 square meter built house, finished with plumbing, electricity and cesspit for about US $65,000. This is for a standard house. Three bedroom, two baths, standard type.  (150 square meters is about 1,600 square feet.)  The same house in the US would cost you $200,000 to $250,000 to build.
 
You have to pay extra fees for your tiles and other finishing items.  The price I just quoted is for a basic build, finished, US $65,000.
 
There is not much difference between the American standard US $200,000 home to the US $65,000 Panamanian home. You can choose a granite top if you like.  To give you an idea of the cost here, I put a granite top in for $300. That is for the whole granite top and the labor.
 
The Panamanian $65,000 home and the US $200,000 home virtually have the same type of finishes. The only difference is that the Panamanian builders have a nasty habit of not putting anything on the floors first when they build. That is alright if it is a new build but it’s not if they’re doing renovation. They don’t put anything on the floor so you get stuff on the floors. You have to clean it up because they don’t clean it up.
 
You have to make sure you get a good builder, like the one I found.  He has an excellent rate and I saw his work. He has built two small urbanizations.  He’s built eight or more houses in the country. He showed me one house that he built for $65,000 and it was absolutely finished perfectly. Everything’s straight and beautifully done. He has even done a double phase cesspit for your waste water, double filter, electric panels in, nicely done.
 
(A cesspit is where your bad water goes. It is a septic tank. They call it fosa negra here. "Fosa" means "hole," so it is like a black hole.)
 
(Children practicing baseball in neighborhood in Santa Fé de Veraguas, Panama, pictured.)
Jose Broce of Broce-Pinilla & Asociados – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The cost of building a house in Panama depends on the location of the land where you want to build your house. If you want to build a house in the middle of the city (Panama City), it could cost you a couple of million dollars. However, if it is a little bit away from the city, meaning 15-20 minutes travel time from the center of the city, the average price could go from US $100,000 -$150,000.
 
The cost of the property nearby the city per square meter is about $800 up to $2,000 per square meter (about $74 to $185 per square foot). This property is definitely up to American standards and does not only include the land, but the house as well. However, if you really want a beautiful piece of land, you have to spend more.
 
If you decide to build a house that costs you $800 per square meter, you can have a middle class house. This house can have 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a kitchen, a front yard, a backyard, a garage and tiled floors.
 
Assuming that you build a hose that costs you $1,000 per square meter to build (around $92 per square foot), you can get a much better place. It could be closer to the city or perhaps you can have a second floor.
 
If you want a beautiful house with a swimming pool that is located in a better position in the neighborhood, it will cost you around $300,000.
 
Sieg Pedde of Helix Courier Limited – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
How much it costs to build a house in Panama would depend on what type of house you want to build.
 
You could build a home for US $50-$60 per square foot if you just want a nice, comfortable place. The more particular you are about the details like the type of windows, roof, whether or not you want landscape included or a concrete driveway, the more costly your house would be. You can spend $100 a square foot and you’ll be getting a really nice, well-constructed and very classy house.
 
Where I live (in Canada) for example, everyone has a basement so that’s a consideration. Everyone in Canada has central air conditioning.  In Panama, where my development is located, the temperatures are reasonable. Most people don’t have air conditioning or heating. In Canada, we are paying ridiculous amounts for the land. For example, in the city where I live in Canada, there’s a $21,000 fee that goes directly to the municipal government for providing services to the lot. You’ll be paying $70,000 -$120,000 just for the lot so you can put a home on it. You can have a 1,500 square foot home that doesn’t include the expenses for the basement and you can spend around $320,000- $350,000 or more for that home. If you want to spend that much money in Panama, you can get a much larger home without a basement. You can also have a much larger lot and a beautiful patio that you would sit on the afternoon. Honestly, it’s really hard to compare “apples to apples”.
 
Overall, the land is going to be much less expensive in Panama and the cost to build a house is maybe over 20%-30% less. So you if you want to build the same kind of house that you’ve had in Canada, it’s going to cost you a lot less in Panama and you’ll going to have a lot more money left over to do other desirable lifestyle things.  That’s what most retirees look at when going to places like Panama. They’ve done all sorts of things, they’re retired and they think it’s time to build a house that is comfortable but not necessarily palatial.
David Whittington of Tucan Golf Club and Resort – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The cost to construct a house in Boquete, Panama, Boca Chica Panama home with ocean view – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Livingwithout the cost for the land, for a home constructed to North American good standards (but not elaborate), is about $100 per square foot.   The cost here in the area of Panama City is a bit higher, because the cost of labor is a little more.  At the upper end, the cost to construct a home in Panama would be about $150 / square foot.  This means that for a 2,500 square foot home constructed to North American standards in Panama, you can expect to pay construction costs of between $250,000 to $375,000.
 
Land costs vary widely, depending on many factors, anywhere from $20 per square meter ($80,000 per acre) to $500 per square meter ($2 million per acre).  The average is about $40 - $50 per square meter ($160,000 to $200,000 per acre; or $40,000 to $50,000 for a good-sized quarter acre lot).
 
As a very, very rough average, if you were to build a 2,500 square foot home for $125 per square feet on an average quarter acre lot in Panama, you would pay in the general area of Panama small farm land – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living$360,000.  Some places, of course, it would cost more, and some places, it would cost less.
 
All these numbers assume access to city utilities.  To take a more extreme example (but something that you need to be aware of), you may find relatively cheap land way out in the country at $20 - $30 per meter, and then find out that you need to install your own hydro-poles (Canadian for “electricity”) at $10,000 per pole.   In this case, you may also need to drill your own well, so you need to know that you have water available, which may cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
Vannessa Solano of Activentas, S.A. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The total cost for a house in Panama of course also includes the land, the location and your builder.  In Panama you can build a house for US $100,000 up to several million.
 
As an extreme example of higher priced land, in the beach areas like in Buenaventura (west of Panama about 90 minutes by car) in a very exclusive area, there is a lot for sale for $6 million.
 
If you already have the land and you want to build a house, for example, of about 2,500 square feet, it would cost you in the range of $200,000 to build.  The price could be higher or lower depending on many things, but this is a good average.
 
If you buy an already constructed house in Panama in a good area of 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, it could run you  $600,000, including the land.  
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Construction in Panamá
 
In the past the cost was ridiculously low to build any type of construction in Panamá.  That is, until growth began to change the country.  With thousands of people coming every day, prices have risen in every aspect, as would be the case for any modern and cosmopolitan city, or place.
 
There are thousands of construction projects taking place, both in the city of Panamá, as well as in the "interior" (countryside).  With this much activity and demand for construction workers, we can say that, if you have an individual construction project, finding a construction worker is very difficult, because most of them prefer to work under major contracts city or beach buildings, resorts and residential complexes.
 
Construction materials are also an issue. The price can rise dramatically, and quickly.  Adding to relative scarcity and higher prices are external issues like China requesting all the cement and other construction materials they can get.
 
In Panamá, construction permits are  also very important.  Getting approval can take a very long time, which could be an issue of frustration.  Also, enforcement of permits is strict.
 
Unless, after asking for lots of references, you find a local Panamanian to build your private house, a good suggestion would be to find maybe a house or a farm already built, and then make renovations to suit you.  Either that, or buy your property in a residential complex.  It´s a lot easier. 
Robert Maduro of Maduro Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Home in Panama Pacifico, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe cost to build a house in Panama will depend on the type and quality of tiles, faucets, hardware and material, as well as the construction methods in general.

In Panama City the range of how much it would cost to build a house is from approximately $400 per square meter (about $36.50 per square foot) to $1,200 per square meter ($110 per square foot).  For a 2,000 square foot house, this works out to between $77,000 to $220,000.

A very common number for a standard house (not cheap, not luxury finishing) could be approximately $700 - $800 per square meter ($65 per square foot).  For that same 2,000 square foot home in our example, at $65 per square foot, this would be approximately $130,000.
Lucia Haines of Panama Realtor Inc. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Cost of construction will vary depending on your finishes and the location where you choose to build.
 
In easily accessible areas within a reasonable proximity of hardware stores and quarries one can expect, for nice finishes such as granite counters, imported floor tiles and other quality materials, one should contemplate about 700-750 USD per m2.  This breaks down to roughly 70-75 USD per square foot.
 
In areas that are not as easily accessible, or in mountainous areas with roads that have steep grades, and are located further from hardware stores and quarries, the construction cost per m2 can escalate to 900-950 USD per m2, which breaks down to approximately 90-95 USD per square foot. 
 
Construction permits usually cost 1-2% of the estimated construction costs, and architects, project managers and contractors generally charge between 7% to 12% to oversee construction.
Allen Rosen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The cost of construction in most parts of Panama is about $40 per square foot for local standards, and about $80 per foot for international quality construction.
 
Jade Wills of Maya Moon Marketing – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account

How much is it to build a house in Panama? The actual cost can vary significantly from the size of the home you wish to build and the contractors or builders you hire.  Also you have to consider the location. The average cost of construction ranges from $40-$60 per square foot plus cost of land/lot. I am not a contractor but I am pretty sure prices are negotiable. This is from my personal experience in the Los Santos area. Be sure and do your homework and ask several builders/contractor for estimates. This price mentioned may not include architect and permit fees. 

Go Here Next

Go Here Next

 
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadUse the menu on this page to go to categories of Stories.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadUse the menu on this page to go to other categories of questions.
The Best Places In The World To Retire Location Advisor makes personalized recommendations for where to live and retire overseasGet matched to your ideal location to live abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadAnswers about living, working or visiting abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadStories by expats & others about their life aborad.
Best Places In The World To Retire - MarketplaceFind for profit, non-profit and religious organizations.
 

Go Here Next

 
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadUse the menu on this page to go to categories of Stories.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadUse the menu on this page to go to other categories of questions.
The Best Places In The World To Retire Location Advisor makes personalized recommendations for where to live and retire overseasGet matched to your ideal location to live abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadAnswers about living, working or visiting abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadStories by expats & others about their life aborad.
Best Places In The World To Retire - MarketplaceFind for profit, non-profit and religious organizations.
 

Our Pledge To You

Best Places will present information from the Community in a transparent way, unedited, except to conform with our Conditions of Use.

You can trust that Best Places does not manipulate content to sell you anything. All opinions in the Community Q & A and Expat Stories are those of its authors, not Best Places.

Get Known To The Community

Those who contribute to the Best Places Community are our heroes! And being a Best Places hero is fast, fun, and easy. Just go to Questions & Answers, find your first question to answer, click on it, and then click the Contribute Your Answer To This Question Button. If you’d rather enter a Story, go to Expat Stories and click the Contribute Your Story Button".

Contact/Support

Please contact us. We would love to hear from you! Customer Service
Technical Support
Business Development
Suggestions
Press
Phone: (US) 520-940-0481