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Living Overseas Expenses: Is it cheaper than living in the U.S.?

When comparing living expenses and foreign real estate purchases, consider living expenses in foreign countries like Panama, where restaurants are 35% more expensive than in the US.

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Living Overseas Expenses: The general idea to bear in mind when comparing living expenses and foreign real estate purchases. Every day, readers contact us to voice concerns about our pricing references.

After visiting Panama, a reader recently noted, “Restaurants in Panama are 35% more expensive than restaurants in the United States.”

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Living Overseas Expenses

Someone another wrote to us, offering to pay half as much for a flat in Nashville as they would on Ambergris Caye.

A third contacted to clarify that living in the US is really less expensive than in Mexico.

These claims are all often false. They aren’t making like-for-like comparisons. To be honest, it’s unclear what they are comparing.

Is it true that every restaurant in every American city and town costs 35% less than every restaurant in every city and town in Panama?

Variations in Property Prices

Without a doubt, the price per square foot of an apartment in Nashville, or in many other American cities, would be comparable to or cheaper than that of an apartment on Ambergris Caye.

Naturally, Ambergris is a Caribbean island with long, white sand beaches and world-class diving and snorkelling. It doesn’t seem like a flat in Nashville would compare.

Or perhaps it does. Depending on your priorities, that is.

You will pay more per square foot for your home if you want to live close to the seaside than you would for a flat in any old landlocked city.

You don’t need to worry about beachfront prices if you don’t like to live close to the water.

Distinctions in Grocery Purchasing

A couple recently travelled to Panama; while there, they checked the costs at the petrol stations and stopped at a few food stores.

Their verdict? The cost of petrol and food is “much higher here than back home.”

Certain particular supermarket products may cost more than the identical things in the couple’s hometown. Once more, though, you must compare like with like.

Anywhere they are imported, processed goods from the United States will always cost more. You will have to make the necessary sacrifices if you desire them.

But if you buy at the local markets instead of the American-style grocery shops, you’ll save money on apples, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, peppers, maize, rice and locally bred cattle and poultry. I would wager on it.

Variations in Gas Prices

Does petrol cost more in Panama than it does in the United States? It depends on the type of petrol you’re purchasing and where in the United States you’re comparing it to.

The numbers for a gallon of 91 octane in Panama City, Dallas, Texas, Baltimore, Maryland, and San Diego, California may all be compared.

To be honest though, that looks a little boring. It also fails to see the point.

Will you base your decision to retire overseas on how much 91 octane petrol costs per gallon?

Hopefully not.

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How To Draw Useful Comparisons for Living Overseas Expenses?

Certain items will cost less (perhaps much less) and some things may cost more depending on where you’re relocating from and where you plan to relocate to.

You must not let the price of a loaf of bread deter you from thinking about the total cost of living.

Put differently, compare cost baskets to similar cost baskets as well as apples to apples.

You probably pay high annual property taxes back home; depending on your state of residency, these taxes might reach $10,000 or higher. The majority of nations that levy property taxes do so insignificantly.

For instance, this is accurate in France, Portugal, Panama, Belize, and Colombia. I know since I’ve paid them myself.

Retirement Plans: Living Overseas Expenses

You probably don’t have a gardener or a maid back home. If so, the assistance will probably be costly and part-time.

For as low as $150 a month, you could hire full-time domestic help in some regions of Central America.

If all you want out of retirement is a low-cost lifestyle, you could definitely save the headache of moving abroad and just look for a very low-cost area within the United States.

You may get by on your Social Security income, for example, if you led a modest lifestyle in a tiny town in Iowa or Alabama.

Still, it’s impossible to equate beachside living on a Caribbean island with humble, small-town living in the centre of America. a fresh start in a centuries-old colonial metropolis… a broad perspective of the Pacific Ocean slamming from your balcony or getting to know the historical customs and allure of rural life on the Continent.


We frequently bring to your attention the significant cost savings that residing in various foreign locations might provide. This isn’t just sales speak. It is true.

Furthermore, it is relative. The specifics vary depending on your intended living situation, destination, and point of departure.

However, I hope we do just as well in assisting you in realising the additional advantages of making the investment in a new life in a new nation.

I’m glad to keep offering recommendations, but I am unable to advise you where to go. Once again, this will depend on where and how you want to live, but I can’t tell you how much more economical your life will be once you get there.

However, I can assure you that it would be incorrect to reduce our experience to a line-by-item comparison of the price of a pound of ground beef and cable television. You are doing yourself a disservice if you base your choice to move—or not—on that line of reasoning.

Though it won’t always be simple, you must consider the wider picture.At any moment in your life, moving abroad would be the experience of a lifetime. Begin with that. And persevere.

Tarique Anwer
Tarique Anwer
Tarique Anwer obtained his undergraduate degree from Aligarh Muslim University and his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Annamalai University. He commenced his professional journey at Bank of America. He is an experienced Media professional with demonstrated expertise in news writing, content creation, and people management.

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