The 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.)