Panama City - Post Report Question and Answers

What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It's widely available, especially from friendly migrant Colombian and Venezuelans. About $20-30 a day. - Dec 2021

I pay US$650 (average is around $550) for full-time, live-in nanny help. Many find the requirements (social security, severance pay) to be cumbersome here. - Oct 2018

Local help is adequate but usually it is third-country nationals. Panamanians do not seem to want to do domestic work for the most part. We have a full- time Nicaraguan maid for $30 per day and that is considered a high salary, but we believe in a living wage. We also hire a person who speaks English to take care of our house with enthusiasm and cooks daily. Maids are the most common help here. - Sep 2018

Expensive and legally you must give a lot of benefits. - May 2017

We don't have household help, though I think they are around $25 per day. From what I've heard, Panamanians don't iron. - Mar 2017

Available but expensive with lots of bennies to pay. - Oct 2015

Panamanian helpers generally don't iron. It's hard to find good part time helpers. At the moment the going rate for part time is US$30 (/plus) per day 7:30am - 3:30pm. Full time helpers can live in or out. You can apply for work permit for non-Panamanian helpers. I believe if a helper is pregnant or delivers baby while employed by you, you are liable to pay for her medical expenses, however I don't know if you need to pay 100% or partial. - Jun 2015

Cheaper than in the U.S. but way more than one would think for a county in Central America. The average price for a full-time maid is US$600 a month plus social security, one month's vacation, one month's Christmas bonus, plus severance pay. A part time maid is about US$30 a day plus vacation, severance, etc but you don't have to pay social secuirty for someone who works less than twice a week. Most Panamanian maids do not iron and many won't clean or take care of a small child. - May 2015

Too complicated to hire a maid. - Sep 2014

Most help comes from Nicaragua, Colombia and neighboring countries. You can house live-in help or not. Cost varies from US$300 to $600 depending on how many days and what the work is (i.e. children, cleaning, cooking, ironing). - Jul 2014

We don't have any domestic help, but I've heard that it's hard to find good people. Most of the available domestic helpers will not perform more than one sort of duty (they'll either clean your house OR cook/prepare food OR be a nanny - it's hard to find someone to do all three). Also I've heard that it's hard to find someone who will iron. I don't know the price range, it's not terribly expensive but you do have to pay Social Security and follow the intricate labor code if they work more than 2 days/week. - Mar 2014

Domestic help is available and usually runs about $20/day. Getting and keeping good-quality help can be difficult. Also, enrolling a full-time employee in the social security system, as is required by law, is a real headache, which is why many people don't. - Jan 2013

We pay around $30 a week for a cleaning lady to come twice a week. - Sep 2011

Most people avoid hiring the Panamanians, who are not known for their stellar work ethic. Fortunately (or unfortunately), there is a ready supply of other Central American workers ready for hire. Nicaraguans are particularly capable. - Apr 2010

local help is easy to find (if you speak Spanish) and is fairly cheap. A full time housekeeper is around $250 to $300 for a month - Dec 2009

We have a lovely woman who charges US$20 per day. - May 2008

About US$250 for a live-in. Everyone we know has tried Panamanian domestics and in the end ended up hiring a Colombian due to work ethic issues. We didn't believe them initially but after going through two Panamanian maids, I would recommend identifying a good alternative with references. - Apr 2008

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