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Cost of living 2018 in Ecuador

Hello everyone,

As per our annual tradition, we invite you to share your experiences and tell us more about the average prices of products and services in your town/city/area, so that we have updated information regarding cost of living and inflation in Ecuador.

Thanks to your contribution, future expats in Ecuador will be more informed and will be able to refine their budget and better prepare for their big move.

How much does it cost to rent an apartment or a house in Ecuador?

How much does it cost to buy an apartment or a house in Ecuador?

How much do you pay on average for public transportation (bus, subway, train, tram, taxi)?

How much do you pay for basic food items such as rice, bread, and pasta?

What is your monthly budget for groceries?

How much does it cost to see a doctor/dentist/physician/specialist in Ecuador?

How much do you pay for health insurance per month?

How much does childcare cost on average per month?

What is your child's schooling budget per month?

How much does it cost to fill up your car’s fuel tank?

How much do you pay for electricity/gas/water etc., per month?

How much do you pay for your internet and phone subscription?

How much do you pay for your lunch pack on weekdays?

How much do you pay for an espresso coffee?

How much do you pay for a cinema ticket?

How much does a gym membership cost in Ecuador?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

How much does it cost to rent an apartment or a house in Ecuador?

In North Centro Quito, a decent 2 bedroom apartment in a safe and nice area with many amenities within walking distance will be around $650-$750 (including building fee).

How much does it cost to buy an apartment or a house in Ecuador?

This will vary greatly in Quito, depending on area, construction, and the year the residence was built. In South Quito in a not so good area, and not so good construction, a 100sqm house can be bought for around $50,000-$60,000. A friend just sold his for 55,000.

In my area near Carolina, houses are worth more than a million dollars. The reasoning is very simpe, they can easily rent an entire house for $3000-$4000 a month to a company or partition the house and make it a multi-family residence and acquire the same rent.

The land itself is also very valuable because in this area, Quito is expanding vertically so these houses will eventually become high-rises. Basically, lucky landlords are sitting on a goldmine.

In the valley, or Cumbayá to be more specific houses range from $ 200,000 - $1,000,000, and on the cheaper end they will be semi-detached in gated communities.

How much do you pay on average for public transportation (bus, subway, train, tram, taxi)?

Public transportation despite the hoopla remains $0.25 for buses and ecovia. By taxi a 2.5mile/4 km trip is about $3.00, and more after 10:00 pm or so if the driver doesn’t want to use a meter.

How much do you pay for basic food items such as rice, bread, and pasta?

Rice is about $2.00 a kilogram, a loaf of bread the cheapest is about $1.40, pasta imported Italian is about $1.75-$2.00 for 400 grams, and local supermarket brand is about $1.00-$1.25.

What is your monthly budget for groceries?
It varies a lot, my latest weekly bill was $90, but I had a BBQ, and on average about $250 a month. More when relatives are here.

How much does it cost to see a doctor/dentist/physician/specialist in Ecuador?

I had my teeth cleaned for $40, and that’s the lowest as they also charge $55 & $70 depending on the level of cleaning required. 

How much do you pay for health insurance per month?

I pay $100 a month for premium insurance.

How much do you pay for electricity/gas/water etc., per month?

Electric varies depending on the weather. When the temperature dips below 68 F indoors, I turn on the heat. So on average maybe around $45 a month and water ranges between $8-$12 a month.

How much do you pay for your internet and phone subscription?

Internet is $75. Phone varies, but mobile is $20.

How much do you pay for your lunch pack on weekdays?

I've cut down a lot in this area and my lunches now cost between $3.00-$4.50 for regular almuerzo, and $6-$8 for other type of lunches. 

How much do you pay for an espresso coffee?

Americano (black) is between $1 - $2.40, depending on café and size.

How much do you pay for a cinema ticket?

I avoid the crowds, so I wait until the movie is a bit old, and a ticket with my supermarket card it’s $4.60 for two people. That’s right $4.60 for two people on 2x1 days (not Fr/Sat).

But on average a ticket is like $6-$8 (IMAX), with VIP seats costing as much as $12.

Two sodas and popcorn are about $13. M&Ms and other chocolate are about $3.00.

Many prices from last year remain the same and this is due to low inflation rate which I think was around ~1.15%+ for 2017. Some items due to trade agreements and the lifting of certain taxes decreased dramatically. Whisky, oranges, mandarins, garlic, noodles, baby food, TVs, hair dryers, printers, diapers, blenders, smartphones, cameras, lightbulbs, and Irons topped the list of items that decreased the most in 2017. A quick check on mercadolibre confirmed this as the same TV I bought in late 2016 is now 20% cheaper.

January 2018 (North Quito)

Restaurants
Seafood fried rice $12 – Rincón Manabita
Azteca Soup  $6 – La Guardia del Coyote

Mercado
Caldo  de Pata (Entero) $2.50
Green Apples 5 for $1

Supermarket
5 chicken drumsticks (grass fed ) $3.45
Ground Beef 6-7% fat $6.15 kg/$2.79 lb

Services
Fitted bedsheet – cleaned w/o ironing - $2
Taxi – Mariscal to Carolina, late $5, usually $3
Room rental w/ access to kitchen $200 month Mariscal

Department Stores
Sofa Cama $425 (Similar to Coaster Delleston)
Shaggy Runner 1.5m x 0.8m $77 (made in Belgium)

How much does it cost to rent an apartment or a house in Ecuador?
Cuenca answers
Allow $400 to $600

How much does it cost to buy an apartment or a house in Ecuador?
$150,000 apt up to $250,000 for house

How much do you pay on average for public transportation (bus, subway, train, tram, taxi)?
We use taxis .Usually $1.50 min one way

How much do you pay for basic food items such as rice, bread, and pasta?
Brd $3.20

What is your monthly budget for groceries?
$400 to $600
How much does it cost to see a doctor/dentist/physician/specialist in Ecuador?
Initial $30 to $40

How much do you pay for health insurance per month?
$80 for state. Do not use this figure there is huge confusion right now supposedly new people could be range of $400 ton$600

How much does childcare cost on average per month?
N/a

What is your child's schooling budget per month?

How much does it cost to fill up your car’s fuel tank?
No car

How much do you pay for electricity/gas/water etc., per month?
Electricity $30 $8 cold water $13 hot water $10 gas

How much do you pay for your internet and phone subscription?
$24 phone High $65 high speed fiber optic
How much do you pay for your lunch pack on weekdays?
Almuerzo in restaurants $2.50 to .$3.50

How much do you pay for an espresso coffee?
$2

How much do you pay for a cinema ticket?
$7

How much does a gym membership cost in Ecuador?
$20 to $30

Lurch :

How much does it cost to buy an apartment or a house in Ecuador?
$150,000 apt up to $250,000 for house.

Dear Lurch,

Welcome to the Ecuador forum.

---- 

Lurch is apparently looking at large apartments in the most expensive neighborhoods that cater to Gringos and affluent South Americans .. or perhaps the fancy vecindarios of Cumbayá, a pricey suburb.

Many good apartments in gated conjuntos in El Centro are available for under $50,000 in Quito.

cccmedia, owner of condo in Centro Histórico, Quito

Lurch :

How much do you pay for health insurance per month?
$80 for state. Do not use this figure there is huge confusion right now supposedly new people could be range of $400 to $600 .

Lurch makes a valid point about "state" health care -- a.k.a. IESS health care.  It is a controversial, unsettled matter.

Under the plan, still apparently unimplemented in the case of most Expat residents, IESS care will no longer be available for $80 to $90, but will be based on a percentage of an Expat's 'reported' income.

This would theoretically mean that a U.S. Social Security recipient who receives $3,000 a month in SS benefits would pay three times as much for IESS coverage compared to an SS recipient receiving $1,000 a month.

This means that Expats must answer for themselves some new questions....

1.  Should I drastically increase my IESS monthly obligation by reporting all sources of income, even though I think the government would be gouging me for coverage?

2.  Should I prefer to sign up for private insurance instead of IESS?  Private coverage might be less expensive than IESS if the new premiums are enforced, although coverage might not be as extensive.

3.  Given Ecuador's loss of lustre as an Expat destination, would an increase in health premiums for IESS be a dealbreaker for me in terms of moving to or continuing to live in Ecuador? 

cccmedia

How much does it cost to rent an apartment or a house in Ecuador?
I am renting a 3 bedroom + office space for $290 per month in Cuenca near Gran Aki & Monay Shopping Center.

How much do you pay on average for public transportation (bus, subway, train, tram, taxi)?
I have the senior discount bus pass, so it is $.12 per trip. Most taxi trips to El Centro/Millenium Plaza run $2. I only take the taxi if I have more things to carry than I want to take on the bus.

How much do you pay for basic food items such as rice, bread, and pasta?
Rice: $2.99/2 kg; Wheat bread: $1.34/loaf; Pasta (spaghetti): $0.49/350 g.

What is your monthly budget for groceries?
Average $150/mo 

How much does it cost to see a doctor/dentist/physician/specialist in Ecuador?
General practice: $8 (I have not seen a dentist or specialist, yet)

How much do you pay for health insurance per month?
$110

How much does it cost to fill up your car’s fuel tank?
Do not have a car.

How much do you pay for electricity/gas/water etc., per month?
Electric: usually less than $20; Gas: $2.50; Water: $6

How much do you pay for your internet and phone subscription?
My internet is combined with my cable TV (TVCable) and runs $52/mo. My mobile phone is $23/mo.

I teach a class in how to live in Cuenca for under $500 each month for a single, $800 for a couple.  This involves living simply, obviously, but well.  I live in a pueblo on the west side of Cuenca, but still inside the city limits, so in the Cuenca bus system.  I pay $280 per month for rent for my house and farm.  Services, internet, water and electric run $44.  Gas for cooking and hot water costs me $3.20/month.  Our food budget for our family of 3, and an average of 3 others, volunteers on our farm, runs under $100/week, about $350 for the month.  We spend about $5 each week for gas for our car.  So our total cost of living at the moment is $700/month.  We spend nothing on health insurance or medicine.

louisb333 :

Our food budget for our family of 3, and an average of 3 others, volunteers on our farm, runs under $100/week.

Good job, Louis. :top:

What motivates folks to volunteer to work on your farm?  Besides food, that is?

cccmedia

through the Workaway program volunteers get to travel the world and work at organic farms, hostels, etc.....they get room and board for 20 hours work each week, with plenty of free time to explore Cuenca and Cajas National Park

louisb333 :

So our total cost of living at the moment is $700/month.  We spend nothing on health insurance or medicine.

As an expat, I was under the impression that health insurance is required for everyone.  As mentioned previously, this can be a deal breaker for many potential expats.

There's a new rule about compulsory insurance, but it's so new and potentially hard to police, that it may take a while for implementation .. and even longer for the whole situation to shake out from where it is now -- confusion and ignorance.

----

In related news....

One wrinkle in the health-insurance scene is that the most popular health insurance in Ecuador -- the government's IESS health coverage -- is trying to change its monthly fee to a percentage of income.  In the process, IESS will lose current payers (to private insurance, which will be newly competitive in costs) .. IESS will have to persuade Expats who are here without pensions to start declaring foreign income .. and a massive set of bureaucratic challenges will have to be met to make it workable long-term to change the fee-basis affecting Expats for IESS coverage.

The prospect is that Ecuador will lose current Expat residents to Colombia and other cost-of-living-friendlier countries .. and will lose prospective Expats from North America to the same countries.

Further slowing things down is that the new president and his administration are focused on selling next month's controversial national-referendum issues.

My take....

For current Expats living in Ecuador:  don't lose any sleep over this situation.  It's probably going to be long and drawn-out in true Ecuador fashion, yet it could end well for Expats if the new rules are not strictly enforced.

For prospective Expats still living in North America:  figure that eventually, individual Expats in Ecuador with good pensions and pre-existing conditions will have to pay at least several hundred dollars a month for health coverage .. whether they go with the IESS program or a private insurance plan.

cccmedia

the new rule about mandatory health insurance is impossible to enforce, and it will change soon enough...I ignore it, having no plans to travel outside of Ecuador

Just a heads up guys – currently there are incredible sales going on especially for clothing and footwear. The occasion is cambio de temporada or the changing of seasons. One place that I shop at has many quality items (clothes) at 50% off.

I don’t know when the sales will end, but probably sooner than later as they started about a week ago.

So mark this down somewhere: mid to late January is a great time to buy clothing in Ecuador.

Happy shopping.

How long is the average stay?

Priscilla :

How much does it cost to rent an apartment or a house in Ecuador?

Rented a studio / efficiency apartment in Vilcabamba, Loja for a few months everything included for $250/month. Most other rentals in the area were more expensive / larger and ran 450-700/month.

How much does it cost to buy an apartment or a house in Ecuador?

Bought a one hectare property with three one bedroom houses for $140k. There were better deals on land and better deals on buildings, but finding even a structurally sound building on one hectare or more of land was nearly impossible.

How much do you pay on average for public transportation (bus, subway, train, tram, taxi)?

Buses to the city (Loja) cost $1, inside Loja is $0.35.  Taxi to/from the city costs $15-20 and into the center of town is $2-2.50.

How much do you pay for basic food items such as rice, bread, and pasta?

Rice : $55 / 50kg
Flour (bake my own bread) : $45 / 50kg
Pasta : $17 / 20kg
Milk : ~$1 / liter
Eggs : ~$2 / dozen
Potatos : $0.68 / kg
Butter : ~$8 / kg
Onions : $1.70 / kg
Sugar : ~$0.40 / kg

What is your monthly budget for groceries?

$50-75 per person

How much does it cost to see a doctor/dentist/physician/specialist in Ecuador?

No idea, haven't needed one yet.

How much do you pay for health insurance per month?

$33 for me and dependant (cheapest I could find - don't plan to use, just for visa).

How much does it cost to fill up your cars fuel tank?

~$26

How much do you pay for electricity/gas/water etc., per month?

Electricity : $25-45
Propane : $2.50
Drinking water : $2-4
Irrigation water : $20/year

How much do you pay for your internet and phone subscription?

Internet : $40/month
Phone (pp cell) : $7/month
Phone (IP) : $3/month

How much do you pay for your lunch pack on weekdays?

$2-2.50

How much do you pay for an espresso coffee?

I wouldn't , but regular coffee in town is usually around $0.75.

Edit : So for me and an almost adult dependent, cost of living is around $300 / month.

Quito, cost of living February 2018.

Astro running pants (made in Ecuador) $40, this was the cheapest good quality brand at
Marathon. Adidas were $80.

Yogurt drink (plain) 1.70 kg  $4.55

Walnuts (w/o shell) 220 grams $4.50

Gillette Mach 3 Turbo, 4 shavers  $6.25

Beef Tenderloin $18.98 kilogram ($8.62 lb)

French beans (green beans) 225 grams $0.56

Dry clean dress shirt $2

Wash and dry bed sheet $2

Wash and dry comforter $9

So I'm looking at the cost of living page on Numbeo for Quito. And I noticed something interesting - the prices continue to go up, for instance a meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant is now quoted at $37.50 on average with $30 being the low and $45 being the high.

It’s interesting because looking at historical data the average was $25 back in 2015. Now did prices increase that much over a two year period?

No!

My opinion is that the more data that is inputted the more realistic the prices are on that website. And if this trend continues I would think that the higher price will eventually increase to $60-$70 because that price reflects what some mid-range restaurants cost.

The other day after enjoying caldo de gallina (chicken soup including 1 egg and 1 large potato) at the mercado I decided to stop by the Asian mart. While buying veggies and other stuff I saw a 6-pack of Sapporo beer (Japanese), which had a little sticker on the box with $7 written on it. Enthusiastically I said aloud siete (7)!

A voice from the back replied “cada una” (each one). ajajaja

Corvina fillet $19 kilogram
Baskin Robbins 1 pint $5.25
Sensodyne toothpaste 100g  $6.79
Sake 75cl $27 (cheap stuff made in USA)
Erdinger 500ml $4.25

I reside in Tonsupa, Esmeraldas. 
After reading the price for corvina in Quito, I feel blessed.
I pay $5.00 for a whole (small) corvina.  Approx. weight 2Kg.

Uhhh, vsimple, you have an Asian Market in Quito? Where is it? Does anyone know of such a place in Cuenca?

DorothyPeck :

Uhhh, vsimple, you have an Asian Market in Quito? Where is it? Does anyone know of such a place in Cuenca?

We actually have three and they are all within walking distance of one another. The Asian Mart (Mercado Asiática) that I mentioned is located at mercado Iñaquito. It’s a store in the front facing the parking lot so you don’t actually go inside the Mercado.

The other one is across the street from the same mercado and is on the same side as Santa Maria supermarket. My favorite is located at the rear of CCNU (Cenro Comercial Naciones Unidades) this small mall is located on naciones unidades street and just off Japón street. Right across the street from Carolina park.

April 2018, Quito.

Stone crab claws (pangora tenazas) $23 kilogram. They were out of season (veda de cangrejo), so the price was a little higher than usual.
Chicken breast $9.50 kilogram (corn fed)
Kale 150 grams $1.70
Spinach organic 220 gms $1.49
Kosher Dill Pickles $4.50 16 oz
Caramel Frappuccino $4
Argentinian empanada $2
Seco de chivo $11.50 at Ethnic Coffee & Art
1 liter artesenal (craft) beer $10 at a nice pub
Mojito $5   ''                                                   ''
Nachos/Medium popcorn/Soda $10 at cinema
Indian restaurant for 2 ppl  $40 (2 appetizers/curries/drinks) underwhelming

May 2018, quito

Supermarket (megamaxi)

White rice 2 kilogram (Gustadina) $2.44 (is this the best rice for curries in Ecuador or what)
Chicken legs (corn fed) $5.49 kg
Ground beef 1% fat $10.15 kg
Milk, low-fat, tetra pak, 1 liter, $1.25 (don’t buy the cheaper plastic bag stuff)
Speed-Stick gel deodorant $4.59

Restaurants
Sushi lunch (Noe) 1 ppl, small Mizuno soup, 10 slices salmon (sashimi), 1 carbonated water $36
Mexican lunch (El Rey del Burritos), 1 person, chicken tacos, lemonade $9
Craft beer sampler, 5 different beers in small tasting glasses, $8 

Street
Guanábana juice (soursop)  $1
Chochos $1

Misc
Electric $0.139 kwh (about 14 cents)
Spanish dictionary, Larousse(Diccionario General De La Lengua  Española), 53,000 words $40 at Libiri Mundi, good deal and just $8 cheaper than Amazon

vsimple :

May 2018, quito


Restaurants
Sushi lunch (Noe) 1 ppl, small Mizuno soup, 10 slices salmon (sashimi), 1 carbonated water $36

I'll try to track some of my restaurant spending and contribute when I return to Guayaquil in a few months. My girlfriend and I ate at NOE in Guayaquil at Mall del Sol for dinner in April. I think we ordered a combinacion especial para 2-3. (which is $46.35 for a couple) and both had small soups. For a  Sushi dinner of the same size in a similar location, I think I might spend $50-$60 in Ohio.

vsimple :

My opinion is that the more data that is inputted the more realistic the prices are on that website. And if this trend continues I would think that the higher price will eventually increase to $60-$70 because that price reflects what some mid-range restaurants cost.

Yes, you are totally right! The more samples and the more data, then the sharper our image of the facts will be.

In fact according to Trading Economics "Ecuador Inflation Rate":
"Consumer prices in Ecuador decreased 0.78 percent year-on-year in April of 2018, following a 0.21 percent fall in the previous month. It was the eighth consecutive month of deflation and the biggest drop in consumer prices since April of 1970...." 

Inflation has been pretty tame since Ecuador dollarized, which is good for anyone on a fixed income or living off savings. Inflation is the great destroyer of wealth.

I think there is also a general confusion (among everybody) of what exactly constitutes a "mid range restaurant" because it is kind of a vague descriptor. The view of mid-range also usually depends on where one is standing and cultural-economic contexts.
 
As an example, I will use Chili's (Restaurant)  because we went there in  Samborondon. To me, that place is a totally average,  unremarkable mid-range casual restaurant. I have been to Chili's maybe 7 times in my life, in several airports and a few different american cities. For me it has dependable and pleasant service. Yet  it does't have memorable food, I confuse it with Applebees and TGIFridays. But for me it never is bad.
  However, to my working class Ecuadorian girlfriend, Chili's was one of the fanciest meals she'd ever had in her life!!
Yet some of my associates from San Francisco sneer at the mere thought of  Chili's, such a pedestrian restaurant manufactured for the masses. To those guys, the difference in a $50 and $5 meal is utterly insignificant.
Thus, mid range is hard to define.

Chili’s and TGIF are definitely mid-range restaurants in Ecuador. A comparable Ecuadorian restaurant is Lucia Pie House & Grill. All three cannot be mistaken under any context with fine dining restaurants like Zazu, and IMO fine dining restaurants are upper-end.

From Wikipedia category of restaurants, I would say that fast casual, casual dining, premium casual are all within mid-range type of restaurants.

VSimple, your definition of mid-range makes sense to me.

I would put Noe Sushi in the same midrange category.

Something else to consider : This seems to be dominated by people living in the city (Quito or Cuenca).  As someone that lives in the country, a $15 meal is considered high end here with $2-5 being average.  It was the same when I lived in the USA.  In the country, a $20-30 meal was really high end and $5-$10 was normal, mid range.  In Philly, a working class city, mid range was about $20 and high end could be close to $100 or more. I went to Noe in Cuenca and was literally offended by the price/quality. $50 pp for sushi I wouldn't pay $10 for in a supermarket in the US.  I other words, it's all relative.

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