Is Panama City Florida Cheap To Live?

So, you’ve been wondering if Panama City, Florida is a budget-friendly place to live? Well, you’re in luck! This article will give you the lowdown on the cost of living in Panama City, Florida, and whether it’s an affordable option for you. From housing prices to transportation and entertainment costs, we’ll explore the various factors that could affect your wallet in this sunny coastal city. So sit back, relax, and let’s see if Panama City, Florida is a budget paradise or a financial headache.

Is Panama City Florida Cheap To Live?

Housing Costs

Average Rent

When it comes to housing costs in Panama City, Florida, the average rent varies depending on the type and location of the property. In desirable areas closer to the beach or the city center, you can expect higher rental prices compared to more suburban or rural areas. On average, a one-bedroom apartment in Panama City can range from about $800 to $1,500 per month, while a larger two-bedroom apartment can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $2,500 per month. If you’re looking to rent a house, prices can go even higher, with three-bedroom homes typically ranging from $1,800 to $3,500 per month. Keep in mind that these figures are just averages, and prices can vary based on factors such as the property’s condition, amenities, and proximity to amenities.

Home Prices

When considering purchasing a home in Panama City, the cost will significantly depend on the size, location, and condition of the property. Similar to rental prices, homes closer to the beach or in more desirable neighborhoods will be more expensive than those in suburban or rural areas. As of 2021, the median home price in Panama City is around $257,000. However, it’s important to note that prices can vary greatly, with smaller starter homes priced below the median, while larger, more luxurious homes can reach well into the millions. It’s advisable to consult with a real estate agent or browse reputable listings to get a better understanding of the current housing market in Panama City.

Rental Market

Panama City, Florida, offers a diverse rental market, catering to individuals with various housing preferences. Whether you’re seeking an apartment, townhouse, or single-family home, there are options available to suit your needs. The city has a mix of rental properties, ranging from affordable apartments in suburban areas to luxury condos near the beach. The rental market in Panama City tends to be competitive, especially during peak seasons when demand is higher. It’s advisable to start your search early and be prepared with necessary documents such as proof of income and references. Additionally, working with a local real estate agency or utilizing online rental platforms can help you navigate the market more effectively.

Cost of Utilities


As with most places, electricity is a necessary expense for residents of Panama City, Florida. The cost of electricity will depend on factors such as the size of your home, energy consumption habits, and the provider you choose. On average, residents can expect to spend roughly $100 to $200 per month on electricity. However, it’s important to note that these figures can fluctuate, particularly during the hot summer months when air conditioning usage is higher. Consider energy-efficient practices, such as utilizing natural light and adjusting thermostats, to help keep your electricity costs down.

Water and Sewer

Water and sewer costs are also a vital part of your monthly utility expenses. In Panama City, Florida, the average monthly cost of water and sewer services is around $40 to $70. However, these figures can vary depending on factors such as the number of occupants in your household and your water usage habits. Conserving water by fixing leaks, using efficient appliances, and being mindful of consumption can help reduce your overall water and sewer costs.

Trash and Recycling

The cost of trash and recycling services in Panama City is usually included in property taxes or billed separately depending on your municipality. Generally, these services are managed by the local government or contracted waste management companies. The fees for trash and recycling collection can range from around $10 to $20 per month, depending on the area and the level of service provided. It’s important to follow the guidelines set by the local authorities for proper waste management and recycling to ensure efficient and environmentally friendly practices.

Internet and TV

Internet and TV services are important considerations for many residents in Panama City. The city offers a variety of providers, giving residents options for internet speeds, packages, and pricing. The cost of internet and TV services can range from approximately $50 to $150 per month, depending on the provider and the level of service you choose. Consider your internet usage needs and preferences when selecting a plan, whether you require faster speeds for streaming, online gaming, or simply staying connected. Comparing offers from different providers can help you find the best value for your money.

Transportation Expenses

Gas Prices

Gas prices in Panama City, Florida, are typically in line with the national average. Factors such as global oil prices, supply and demand, and local taxes can influence the cost of gasoline. As of 2021, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Panama City is approximately $2.79. It’s important to note that prices can fluctuate, so it’s advisable to regularly check fuel prices at different gas stations to find the most affordable options. Additionally, adopting fuel-efficient driving habits, carpooling, or utilizing public transportation can help minimize your overall transportation expenses.

Public Transportation

Panama City offers public transportation options for residents and visitors. The Bay Town Trolley, a bus system, serves the city and surrounding areas. The fare for a one-way trip on the Bay Town Trolley is $1.25, with discounted rates available for seniors, students, and individuals with disabilities. Monthly passes are also available for frequent users. Using public transportation can be a cost-effective alternative to driving, as it reduces expenses related to gas, parking, and vehicle maintenance.

Car Insurance

Car insurance is a necessary expense for drivers in Panama City, Florida. The cost of car insurance can vary based on factors such as your age, driving history, the type of vehicle you own, and the coverage you choose. On average, residents can expect to pay approximately $100 to $200 per month for car insurance in Panama City. It’s recommended to shop around and compare quotes from different insurance providers to ensure you’re getting the best coverage at a reasonable price. Additionally, maintaining a good driving record and taking advantage of available discounts can help lower your car insurance premiums.


Parking costs in Panama City will depend on the location and whether you’re parking in public or private lots. In popular areas such as downtown or near the beach, parking fees can be higher, particularly during peak tourist seasons. Metered parking rates typically range from $1 to $3 per hour, while all-day parking fees can be around $5 to $10. Private parking lots, especially those in prime locations, may charge higher rates. It’s important to familiarize yourself with parking regulations, as parking violations can result in fines or towing fees. Utilizing alternative transportation methods or seeking free or discounted parking options can help mitigate parking expenses.

Is Panama City Florida Cheap To Live?

Food and Grocery Prices

Grocery Stores

Panama City, Florida, offers a variety of grocery store options catering to different budgets and dietary preferences. Major supermarket chains such as Publix, Walmart, Target, and Winn-Dixie have multiple locations throughout the city. These stores offer a wide range of products, including fresh produce, meat, dairy, and pantry staples. Additionally, Panama City has specialty grocery stores and farmers’ markets where you can find organic, specialty, and locally sourced food items. The cost of groceries will depend on factors such as the store, brand choices, and the items you purchase. It’s advisable to compare prices and shop during sales to maximize your grocery budget.


Panama City boasts a diverse culinary scene, with a wide range of restaurants offering various cuisines and dining experiences. From casual eateries to upscale establishments, there are options for every taste and budget. The cost of dining out can vary greatly depending on the restaurant’s ambiance, location, and menu. On average, a mid-range three-course meal for two people at a typical restaurant in Panama City can range from $40 to $80, excluding drinks. Consider exploring local dining guides or online reviews to discover hidden gems or affordable options that suit your preferences.

Fast Food

Fast food restaurants are prevalent in Panama City, offering quick and convenient dining options. Prices at fast food establishments are generally more affordable compared to traditional sit-down restaurants. A typical combo meal at a fast food restaurant can cost around $5 to $8, depending on the items you choose and the location. Fast food can be a budget-friendly option when you’re looking for a quick bite, but it’s essential to balance convenience with healthier food choices for long-term well-being.

Healthcare Costs

Health Insurance

Having health insurance is crucial to manage healthcare costs in Panama City, Florida. Health insurance can help cover expenses for doctor visits, hospital stays, medications, and preventive care. The cost of health insurance will depend on factors such as your age, health condition, coverage options, and the insurance provider you choose. In Florida, the average monthly premium for an individual health insurance plan is around $400 to $600, although prices can vary significantly. It’s important to carefully review different insurance plans, comparing coverage and costs, to find the best fit for your healthcare needs and budget.

Doctor Visits

Regular doctor visits are an essential part of maintaining good health, managing chronic conditions, and receiving preventive care. The cost of doctor visits in Panama City can vary depending on factors such as the type of healthcare provider, appointment duration, and the services required. On average, a routine primary care visit can cost around $100 to $200 without insurance. However, healthcare providers may offer various payment options, including discounted rates for uninsured individuals or patients paying out-of-pocket. Additionally, some employers and insurance plans offer telehealth services, allowing virtual consultations that can sometimes be more cost-effective.

Prescription Medications

Prescription medications play a significant role in managing various health conditions. The cost of prescription medications in Panama City will depend on the type of medication, your insurance coverage, and the pharmacy you choose. Pharmacies within grocery stores and large retail chains often offer competitive prices on common medications. Some pharmacies also have discount programs or generic medication options that can help reduce costs. It’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider and explore different pharmacies to find the most affordable options for your prescription medications.

Education Expenses

Public Schools

Panama City, Florida, has a range of public schools operated by the Bay District School Board. The city’s public school system provides education from pre-kindergarten to high school, offering various programs and extracurricular activities. Public education in Florida is funded through taxes, meaning that residents contribute to the education system through property taxes and other means. As a result, tuition fees for public schools are typically covered by these taxes, making them cost-free for residents. Families in Panama City have the option to enroll their children in neighborhood schools or apply for magnet or charter schools based on their interests and educational goals.

Private Schools

In addition to public schools, Panama City offers a selection of private schools that provide alternative education options. Private schools often have smaller class sizes, specialized programs, and different teaching philosophies compared to public schools. The cost of private school tuition will vary depending on the school, grade level, and additional fees for extracurricular activities and supplies. On average, private school tuition in Panama City can range from around $5,000 to $15,000 per year, although prices can be higher for more prestigious or specialized institutions. Parents considering private schools should research and visit different schools to ensure they align with their child’s educational needs and family budget.

College and University

Panama City is home to the Gulf Coast State College, a two-year community college that offers a variety of associate degrees and vocational programs. Tuition fees for community college programs are usually more affordable compared to four-year universities. As of 2021, the average annual tuition for in-state students at Gulf Coast State College is approximately $3,000. For out-of-state students, tuition rates can be higher. Students seeking to pursue four-year degrees have the option to transfer to universities outside of Panama City. Tuition fees for universities can vary significantly depending on the institution, program of study, and residency status. Exploring scholarships, grants, and financial aid options can help offset the cost of higher education.

Entertainment and Recreation

Movie Tickets

For movie enthusiasts, Panama City offers various entertainment options, including movie theaters showing the latest film releases. The cost of movie tickets in Panama City can vary depending on the theater, movie format (e.g., regular, 3D, IMAX), and the time of day. On average, a standard adult ticket for a regular movie screening can range from $8 to $12. Premium movie formats and additional amenities, such as luxury seating or dine-in experiences, may come with higher price tags. Frequent moviegoers can benefit from loyalty programs or movie subscription services that offer discounted tickets or special promotions.

Gyms and Fitness Centers

Staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for many residents of Panama City. The city offers a variety of gyms and fitness centers where individuals can work out, participate in group classes, or receive personal training sessions. The cost of gym memberships in Panama City can depend on factors such as the facility, amenities, and the type of membership (e.g., monthly, annual). On average, basic gym memberships can range from around $30 to $60 per month. Higher-end facilities with additional services and equipment may have steeper monthly fees. Some gyms also offer discounted rates for students, seniors, or families. Prioritize your fitness goals and consider options that align with your budget and preferences.

Parks and Beaches

Panama City is known for its beautiful parks and stunning beaches, which offer various recreational activities for residents and visitors. Many of the city’s parks and beaches are publicly maintained and accessible at no cost. Residents can enjoy outdoor activities such as picnicking, hiking, biking, or swimming in designated areas. Some parks may have additional amenities such as playgrounds, sports courts, or pavilions available for rental at reasonable rates. Taking advantage of the natural beauty and recreational opportunities offered by Panama City’s parks and beaches can be a cost-effective way to enjoy leisure time with friends and family.

Museums and Attractions

For those interested in culture and history, Panama City offers several museums and attractions that showcase the region’s heritage and natural wonders. The prices for visiting museums and attractions can vary depending on the venue, special exhibits, and the age of the visitor. Some museums may offer discounted rates for children, seniors, or students. On average, admission fees for museums and popular attractions in Panama City can range from around $10 to $20 per person. Many venues also offer annual passes or discounted packages for families or frequent visitors. Consider planning your visits during special promotions or free admission days to make the most of your entertainment budget.

Taxes and Financial Considerations

Income Tax

Florida is known for its lack of state income tax, making it a tax-friendly state for residents. Unlike many other states, Florida does not tax personal income, including wages, salaries, and retirement income. This absence of state income tax can contribute to a lower overall tax burden for individuals living in Panama City. However, it’s important to note that while Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, federal income tax still applies.

Property Tax

Property taxes are an essential consideration for homeowners in Panama City. The amount of property tax you’ll pay depends on the assessed value of your property and the local tax rate. While property tax rates can vary slightly depending on the specific location, the average effective property tax rate in Bay County, where Panama City is located, is around 1.1%. On a home with a median value of $257,000, the annual property tax bill can be approximately $2,827. It’s important to factor property taxes into your budget when considering homeownership in Panama City.

Sales Tax

Sales tax is an important consideration for everyday purchases in Panama City. As of 2021, the state of Florida has a sales tax rate of 6%, and Bay County adds an additional discretionary sales surtax of 0.5%. This brings the total sales tax rate in Panama City to 6.5%. Keep in mind that sales tax is applied to most goods and services, excluding certain necessities such as groceries and prescription medications. Understanding the sales tax rates and exemptions can help you budget appropriately for your overall expenses.

Cost of Living Index

The cost of living index is a useful tool for comparing the overall affordability of different cities. In general, Panama City, Florida, has a slightly lower cost of living compared to the national average. The cost of living index takes into account factors such as housing, transportation, groceries, and healthcare. For Panama City, the cost of living index is around 88, with the national average set at 100. This means that, on average, living in Panama City is more affordable than many other parts of the country. However, it’s crucial to consider your individual circumstances, income, and lifestyle when assessing the affordability of living in any city.

Job Market and Employment Opportunities

Unemployment Rate

The job market in Panama City, Florida, can vary depending on economic conditions and industry trends. As of 2021, the unemployment rate in Bay County, where Panama City is located, is approximately 4.9%. This rate is slightly higher than the national average but has been steadily improving over the years. It’s essential to research specific industries and job sectors that are thriving in the area to increase your chances of finding employment opportunities. Engaging with local job boards, networking events, and professional organizations can also provide valuable insights into the job market and potential career paths.

Major Industries

Panama City has a diverse economy with major industries contributing to its job market. Tourism, hospitality, and retail sectors play a significant role due to the city’s coastal location and vibrant tourist attractions. The military is also an essential part of the local economy, with military bases and defense contractors providing employment opportunities. Additionally, healthcare, education, manufacturing, and construction sectors contribute to the job market in Panama City. Understanding the major industries in the area can help you target your job search and identify career opportunities that align with your skill set and interests.

Average Salary

The average salary in Panama City, Florida, can vary depending on factors such as the industry, job position, and level of experience. As of 2021, the average annual wage in Bay County is approximately $36,000. However, it’s important to note that salaries can range significantly depending on the specific occupation and education level. High-demand occupations such as healthcare professionals, engineers, and skilled tradespeople may command higher salaries. Conducting thorough research on industry-specific salary ranges and negotiating your compensation package can help ensure you are appropriately compensated for your skills and contributions.

Cost of Starting a Business

Panama City offers opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses. The cost of starting a business will depend on various factors such as the industry, location, and size of the venture. Starting a small business in Panama City can require initial investments in licenses, permits, equipment, and inventory. The cost of these items can vary widely depending on the nature of the business. Additionally, operating expenses such as rent, utilities, and employee wages should be considered. It’s crucial to create a detailed business plan and explore available resources and funding options to estimate the costs and financial viability of your business venture in Panama City.

Safety and Crime Rates

Crime Statistics

When considering living in any city, it’s important to be aware of the safety and crime rates. Panama City does experience some crime, but the city has made efforts to improve safety. The crime rate in Panama City is slightly higher than the national average, with property crimes such as theft and burglary being the most common. However, it’s important to note that crime rates can vary within different neighborhoods and sections of the city. Taking precautionary measures such as securing your home, being aware of your surroundings, and participating in community crime prevention programs can help ensure your safety.

Neighborhood Safety

Panama City encompasses a variety of neighborhoods, each with its own characteristics and safety considerations. Before selecting a neighborhood to live in, it’s advisable to research local crime rates, speak with current residents, and visit the area during different times of the day. Generally, neighborhoods closer to the beach and city center may have higher rental and housing costs but can also offer an increased sense of security due to higher foot traffic and police presence. Suburban or rural areas may have lower crime rates but can be farther from amenities and services. Balancing safety, cost, and convenience is essential when choosing a neighborhood in Panama City.

In conclusion, living in Panama City, Florida, can offer a range of costs and considerations depending on your lifestyle, preferences, and financial situation. Housing costs vary based on rental or home prices and location. Utility costs such as electricity, water, and trash services are typical monthly expenditures. Transportation expenses include gas, public transportation, car insurance, and parking fees. Food and grocery prices depend on the type of stores and dining preferences you have. Healthcare costs should be factored in, including health insurance, doctor visits, and prescription medications. Education expenses encompass public schools, private schools, and college or university tuition fees. Entertainment and recreation costs include movie tickets, gym memberships, visiting parks, beaches, museums, and attractions. Taxes such as income tax, property tax, and sales tax contribute to overall expenditures. The job market and employment opportunities should be researched, considering the unemployment rate, major industries, average salary, and cost of starting a business. Safety and crime rates are also important considerations, with crime statistics and neighborhood safety influencing living choices. By carefully considering these factors, you can better determine if Panama City, Florida, is affordable for you.