When considering a retirement city/country, one of the first questions people ask is:
What's the cost of living in Ecuador?
Of course, this isn’t a simple question. Some people eat chicken, others prime rib. Some couples require a one bedroom unfurnished apartment, where others want a 4 bedroom house completely furnished.
Some of the ads online promote the cost of living in Ecuador at $660/month. And no doubt that's true – but what is this life like? Will you be happy or will the shock of such a drastic lifestyle change take away the pleasure of living abroad?
So obviously, the cost of living in Ecuador is subjective.
As a family of three (and a dog) here is our current cost of living for Cuenca, Ecuador. We live simply, but not too simply. All costs shown are monthly. Costs are based on renting a house/apartment and not having a car.
Housing: $211 – $575. We spend $341.17
$180 - $500 Rent. We pay $280/mo for a 4/bedroom, 2.5/bath house that’s just a few years old. We are just minutes from the center and live on a quiet cul-de-sac in a very safe area. We own our own furnishings and appliances.
$25 - 40 Water/Lights. We pay $30.67. Tap Water $7.38 / Lights $23.29
$6 – 35. Gas/Drinking Water. We pay $30.50. You could drink the city water, and save the cost of buying water, but we don’t. Gas - 3 tanks at $2.00 ea= $6.00 / Drinking Water - 14 bottles at $1.75 ea = $24.50. The prices for both of these are delivered. Official gas (propane) price is $1.60/tank.
Transport: $30-100. We spend $40
$0-$30. Buses. We spend roughly $30/mo. Cost is $0.25 (yes twenty five cents) per ride. We spend an average of $10 each within our family. That’s 40 bus trips/mo (one way of course). While it’s possible to avoid taking a taxi (depending on where you live) it would be impossible to avoid both taxis and buses.
$0-100. Taxis. We spend roughly $10/mo. Our taxi rate is quite low. Because we live on the bus route, we seldom take taxis. Because of the location of their home, or their lifestyle, others might find themselves spending $50-100 per month. An average taxi ride is $2.00 to $2.50.
We take an occasional trip to some of the surrounding towns. This isn't really part of our monthly budget, but it wouldn't affect it even if it was. A bus going to Chordeleg costs $0.60 per person and is about an hour ride.
Food: $200-600/mo. We spend $300.
We spend roughly $300/mo for 3 people and our little dog. There are three options: Supermaxi (the American styled supermarket - 3 locations), Coral (the non-American styled supermarket - also 3 locations) and the open markets. The biggest factor in pricing is: imported or local. Coffee, rum and cookies made in Ecuador are a fraction of the equivalent imported products. If you require your favorite brand, you’ll pay for it. Local brands are both great and inexpensive.
Chicken: $2.31/kg - entera (means whole) - comes with organs, feet and head
Beef: $2.87/kg ground beef.
Fish: $2.00/lb from the Feria Libre (the largest open market in the city).
Apples: $1.80/kg. Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Royal Gala all imported from Chile.
Pineapple: $0.69 - $1.25 each. Depending on season and size.
Carrots: $0.87/kg. Large and sweet
Onions: $0.82/kg - white or purple
Plantains: $0.40/kg green or ripe
Honey: $2.37/jar of 750ml
Coffee: $3.42 / 400g bag
Ecuadorian Bottle of Rum: $4.37 - 750ml.
Ecuadorian Beer: $0.50/bottle.
Rice: $2.00 for kg bag - either white or brown.
Miscellaneous: $25.99 - $500.00. We spend $226.26
$6-20/mo each. Cell phones. We pay $32/mo. We have three phones (one each). We currently have a pay-as-you-go style cell phone plan with Movistar. A $6 credit on each phone will last my wife and daughter all month. I spend around $20. This include taxes, texts, everything. A basic model Nokia phone with a chip is $40.
$19.99 - $80.00 Internet. We pay $34.26. We are currently using CentroNet, a division of the local power company. We have a modem mounted on the roof that received a wireless signal from antennas near the community of Turi. The speed is 740kbps.
$0-$200. Entertainment. On a typical month, we spend only around $20. There are so many great things you can do for free here. There are outside concerts, people watching, museums and countless parks. A movie (ripped DVD) costs just $1.25-$1.90. You can go for coffee for $2.00 and lunch at a seafood restaurant costs $10 (for all 3 of us, with a non-alcoholic drink). Or you could spend $45 for the same meal for 3 at a more expensive spot.
$0-$200. Miscellaneous. We allow $140/mo Things always come up, so it comes from this amount.
So, what's it cost to live in Cuenca, Ecuador?
So, hypothetically, an expat couple could expect a cost of living between $466.99 – $1775 per month. As a family of three we spend: $907.43 / month, or just under $11,000 / year.
Excluded from this amount are vacations, expenses back home. Things like life insurance and our post office box. But these are minimal.
Vacations and travel: We don’t include this into our monthly budget. The great thing about Ecuador is that either a beach vacation or a jungle adventure is just a few hours away.