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What's The Cost of Living in Ecuador?


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

  • Bananas: $0.33/kg

  • 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.

bryanhaines New member
Member since 29 September 2010
Cuenca, Ecuador
2 years ago

Great article, applies well to when it was written over 4 years ago. Since then prices have skyrocketed here in Ecuador -- Our rent a block from the beach here in Salinas for a tiny apartment is $600. Food we find no cheaper at Supermaxi than at home at Safeway. Eating out is cheaper, but I wish I had visited more before moving here. Salinas is often touted (by those with vested interests) as "Little Miami Beach." Salinas is as much likw Miami Beach as Manhattan is to Sudan. It's a tiny strip of delapidated buildings and a malecon (sea wall). It is actually rather ugly, except for the nice view of that tiny strip of beach. We do not live extravangantly and it's costing us almost as much to live here as in the U.S., except here we earn a lot less, which cancels out any financial advantage here.

4 years ago

Bryan. Been looking for this type of info. The nuts and bolts of everyday living. Would like to contact you. Email me at bbabcock@puc.nt if you would. Thanks Bryan @ Karen

4 years ago

Some useful information here, thanks. What would you estimate your monthly medical insurance costs to be?

Loving Ecuador
Loving Ecuador
4 years ago

This is a great article, and that is Cuenca (the mountains). Coastline prices are lower. Here where I live (La Libertad) are dramatically reduced as weather is drier and warmer, (it barely rains)and life is more laid back. People is very kind everywhere and the former crime problems had been addressed as this administration is though fighting corruption. People can get a decent 2-3 bed oceanfront by less than 100K depending upon how close to the city they want to live. Rentals are anything from 450 to 1200/month. Drop me a line should you come to the coast

4 years ago

Loved your article. We are trying to get there. Have to sell our house here on The Big Island of Hawai\'i first and the real estate market is lousy! Can\'t wait to come! Antoinette Jackson

5 years ago

Loved your article! Would also like info on schooling since you have a young one, and any costs in that area.


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