For 2018 - Conflicting cost of living reports - What's realistic?

The conflicting reports Online would be almost amusing, if it wasn't for the fact that most Expats these days do their research Online, with cost of living expenses generally being one of, if not the most important criteria. I can't tell you how many sites/links I've seen with claims for cost of Living in Ecuador, where it's anywhere from 30% to 51% more cost effective to live in Ecuador, than is most other civilized well established places in the world (UK, Germany, FRance, Ireland, Netherlands, USA, etc.)

So my wife and I read about incredibly cheap rental prices in Ecuador ... but then find prices that fall right in line with other areas of the USA and Germany, just two of the places where we've lived. We read about the cost of Real Estate, only to find Realtor sites in Ecuador where propery prices range from what we would consider decent, to mind boggling outlandish rip-off prices by, presumably gringos, who have nothing better to do than to rip their own kind off. We read about how local Ecuadorians make a relatively meager wage with which they have to be able to live and raise their family, but then read about the cost of used vehicles which is 4 - 5 times higher than just about anywhere else in the world. We read about the "outrageously cheap price of food" which on many sites includes restaurant food, but then find Expat articles where people talk about excellent fine dining for less than $20 per person ... which is no different than where we live right now.

One thing is for sure and has to be correct. If Ecuadorians aren't making a lot of money while still being able to raise their familes, then the cost of living obviously has to be considerable more affordable to any single Expat who's making $1000 or more per month of guaranteed income, or any Expat Couple who's making at least $1300 per month on a retirement income ... most especially if they purchase their own property to live in.

So how come their are such massively conflicting stories? What's really going on? What does it cost to live in cities like Quito, Manta, or Cuence realistically & actually? It would be great if some of the Expats here in the forum could provide some 2017/2018 insights for realistic pricing. One thing that would interest us in particular, are rental and/or Real Estate prices for 3 Bedrooms/2Baths, including a fence with a yard that a dog can roam around in. Another tzhing that would interest us are actual car buying experiences for 2017/2018, by people who have purchased a used vehicle.
Thank you very much.

How much does it cost to live in any city, anywhere?

The answer depends on so many things - your lifestyle, your income and money available to you, your desires, rent or own, shack or mansion, etc. etc.  There is no one-size-fits-all answer as you imply when you say "One thing is for sure and has to be correct."

The bigger cities in Ecuador are more expensive than smaller towns in terms of real estate and other parameters.  This site ( can give some useful comparisons, here, for instance, between Ecuador and the US overall: … ry=Ecuador

You can also compare cities, for instance here between Nashville, TN and Quito: … Comparison

Here, for instance, a comparison between Cali, Colombia and Cuenca, Ecuador: … Comparison

The above comparisons are only an approximation - I have a hard time believing that Cuenca is only a bit more expensive than Cali, having followed discussions on this forum and and being familiar with prices in Cali.

For this forum, you can search topics - go here and enter in any keyword you like, for instance, try "price" and you'll get a number of links for threads about price:

As a rough guide realizing that in many ways you're trying to compare apples and oranges, you could figure that existence in Ecuador may cost about half as much to two-thirds as much as in the US, overall.  But that's not true in all cases for everything.  For instance, most people in Ecuador do NOT own a car whereas in the US most people do.  For instance, in the US single-family detached homes are common, in Ecuador they are not. 

There's a lot of info to be found on this forum.  Posters like vsimple and others have provided ongoing prices for many things - showing that Quito is not really that cheap if you want to live a comfortable, upper-middle-class existence.  But other areas in Ecuador can be cheaper especially if you are willing to simplify and adapt.

You need to make several exploratory trips to Ecuador or wherever, and find out for yourself - that is the only way you will get an answer that satisfies YOU.

For those of us who have lived here any substantial length of time, the information about "how much does it cost" can indeed be very amusing.  But your real question is:

"So how come their are such massively conflicting stories? What's really going on?"

And I can tell you that answer in three words: real estate sales.

There is here, as in many countries with larger expat populations the quite greedy International Lying and Lie and Invest types.  Sites created to sell the unsuspecting on a dream that is far from reality.  One "editor" for a well known, and quite shady by my experience and research,  once posted quite publicly on FaceBook (Ecuador Expats) that what they write about is not the reality, but exceptional examples and rather like Modern Bride or Speedway magazines they are presenting the Dream.  And to get the reality she referred readers to some of the more notoriously negative eBooks online about Ecuador.  Let me quickly note, those super negative books about a 1000 things you need to know about Ecuador before coming o r you will die a horrible death are also, quite distorted (and the author of one of them in particular has not ived in Ecuador since 98, twenty years ago).

Up against these dream analysis types of living like a King on$600 a month, or Living like Royalty on a Hotdog budget, you will find the other end of the spectrum:  expats living like they are still back in their home country: owning a car, a private home or condo, purchasing lots of "imported" items rather than eating locally made substitutes.  That sort of lifestyle runs about $4K and up a month.

And then you have the rest of us, living on and around that $1000  (a person) a month mark.  That's the majority from what I can surmise after 10 years and 10's of thousands of posts read and responded on a number of web locations on Social media (some where I am the moderator and some not).

Something to keep in mind that is often misconstrued:  The Minimum Wage in Ecuador is about $383 a month, with 3 extra payments, and that worker is supposed to also have their insurance paid and get two weeks vacation.  SO it's actually about $475 a month.  Families live together (here on the coast they tend to live in larger family groups) and funds are often combined with a number of family members contributing.  SO an average "nuclear family" is bringing in close to $1000 a month.  And again this is minimum wage.  Most are bringing in $800 to $1200 a month in jobs with any training.

A long answer to your question but to summarize.  The confusion comes from the underlying purpose of the sites you are reading.  Better information is available from Social Media forums where you can actually discuss how much and for what with expats already living here in various areas (as areas and location make a huge difference).  The average family unit in Ecuador makes above the minimum wage of $475 a month.

One last thing to toss into the mix: Spanish.  If you speak Spanish and can live outside gringo centric areas that non speakers flock to, then you can save a lot of money on rent.  As an example, a 2/1 on the east (non ocean) side of the Ruta de Spondyus (our Pacific coast highway) just north of Olon in a lovely urbanization that appeals to many expats (Valles De Olon) rents for about $1,000 a month and there are many English speakers there.  They have a pool and a club house and many Guayaquilenos have purchased weekend homes there.  I live just south on the same side of the Ruta in a barrio called Las Palmeras.  The houses are not identical, in fact they range from bamboo to concrete and in all stages of building .  There is no home owners service that monitors a gate, and cleans the garden areas. In fact, there are no garden areas, just slices of farmland where fruit trees from the old plantation grow.  I pay $200 a month.  I have a moderate intermediate level of comprehension and speaking skills.

The prices vary because bloggers quote costs that reflect their own lifestyles, and not the actual cost of living of a particular city.

So for example the cheap $3.00 Ecuadorian lunch is constantly quoted but mid-range and upper end restaurants are not. So for every cheap almuerzo there are mid-range restaurants that cost $60-$80 for two people. There are also fine dinning restaurants in which a four course dinner for two people can cost $200 with a bottle of house wine. An Ecuadorian member comprised a list of such high-end restaurants on the Ethnic Restaurant thread, and some of these places have their menus with prices for all to see (look at Sur or Zazu for instance).

The same with groceries, the prices of fruits and vegetables are always quoted. But there's more to food than just fruits and veggies. How much is a kilogram of chicken that is corn fed, how much is cheese, natural juice, canned tomatoes, decent pasta from Italy, etc, etc?

This applies to rent as well, one can rent a $350 2 bedroom apartment, but there are also $900+ 2 bedroom apartments. My criteria for a residence is very simple, it must be dry, in a safe and central location because I enjoy going out and about several times a day. Some cheaper areas are neglected, including garbage collection. Some are excessively polluted and don't know why people choose to live there, some are dangerous at night, some where break-ins are common during holidays when occupants are away.   

As for second hand cars, the prices are indeed much higher, and especially more than North America. It's quite common to find a brand new 2018 model for $25,000 the same used 2010 model for $18,000, and a 2002 costing $11,000. This info is available online by Ecuadorians for Ecuadorians.

Being an middle class expat who speaks Spanish, is becoming well assimilated, and who enjoys going out to places frequented by Ecuadorians. A night out at a decent mid-range restaurant, and afterwards a few drinks at a decent pub with perhaps live music will cost about $100 for two people. This is the weekend culture for middle class/ upper middle class quiteños. The upper class lifestyle that some entities lead to believe you can have for much cheaper will cost a lot more.

vSimple is right on target.

While it is possible to live on bolons for breakfast, a $2.50 almuerzo for lunch, and rice plantains and fish for supper, and all the fruit you'd care to eat, I can tell you, it get's boring. 

In my area a nice chicken breast (unboned) runs between $2.25 and $3.00 depending on the size and made as cutlets, it's enough for 2 meals (if you are realy frugal like me, you cook the chicken bones left over and use that for making beans).  1/2 pound of ground meat is about $1(enough for two reasonable hamburgers or about 10 meatballs).  A pound of shrimp (with heads in the shell) is about $3 to $3.50.

Yeah, it's not beneficial when only the cheapest prices are quoted. I go to the mercado at least once a week because my favorite almuerzo at the moment is pescado frito with rice, papas, onion tomato salad, and of course aji de aguacate.

So for me it's important to balance the budget with foods and things that are generally cheap with things that the middle class enjoy. I don't own a house nor a car but I love my middle class lifestyle. And what's wrong with living a middle class lifestyle in the developing world? So I don't understand when people brag about living an upper class lifestyle when clearly they don't. As if it's shameful to admit that an actual Ecuadorian upper class exists. 

A person can quote the cheapest bottle of wine from Chile for $5, but I definitely know what's popular with the capital's middle class – Casillero del Diablo ($20). I also know there are Chilean wines that cost way more, and those are for upper class budgets, which are predominately Ecuadorians.

Thank you for all of your comments. How about online shopping though? isn't that becoming more and more popular in Ecuador, just as it has in the rest of the World since around 1992, now 26 long long years ago?
(yeah, my wife and I have been Online since 1990, crazy, huh?)  :D

Of course we understand that Ecuador is a developing Country, but c'mon now, after 26 years I would imagine that Ecuador has at least a couple of dozen places to shop online, with paypal payment options which have made things so much easier since 2001, now also a whopping 17 years ago. Perhaps most forum members just aren't big with Online shopping, is that possible? Does South America or Ecuador have it's own "Web" where shopping searches can be done, which can't easily be viewed by other Countries?

For those who are not aware of this ... Most Countries have limited, and in some cases totally restricted access to content pages & shopping out of their specific web zone. This started back in 2004 or so. If you install Firefox in France, you'll find predominantly French pages as you're googling. Same applies to Germany which includes Austria & Switzerland in google searches, and so on. Of course there's a way around that with VPN and some fiddling, but as a standard it's not possible for me to see what kind of Internet Shopping is available in Ecuador.

Seriously, OsageArcher ??? Traveling to Ecudaor several times ??? Do you think that we're wealthy Gringos ??? That idea is just plain absurd. We plan on making a single trip and stay in or around Cuenca for close to 3 months. Considering the fact that my wife and I havealready made three Overseas moves with containers, all planned & packed 100% by ourselves, I'm pretty certain that a 3 months stay should be more than sufficient, for us to be able to figure out whether or not Ecuador is a good fit for the rest of our days.
Learning some Spanish before we get there is a given too.  ;)

Seriously, Freejack, what is absurd  is moving to someplace sight unseen, with all your menaje de casa based only on what obviously limited research you've done - so many of the questions you ask can only be satisfactorily answered by YOU (and your wife) being there in person, not by proxy by anyone else.  Perhaps you do not realize we are all different, with different situations, different likes and dislikes.  Some people love Cuenca; some people avoid it like the plague and couldn't be paid to live there.

Yet you are willing to move there sight unseen, apparently largely based on what people on the internet tell you, even though you have said you don't have any more moves "in the tank"?

As to on-line shopping - I can assure you that the posters on this forum who live in Ecuador and Colombia are much more familiar with on-line shopping in those countries than YOU are!  Yes, you can do on-line shopping.  Many websites are allied with brick-and-mortar stores and offer home delivery.  There is also Mercado Libre which is similar to eBay, but different, as well as Locanto, which is like Craigslist, but different.  Many companies have country-wide presence on the web, some only in the city in which they're located.

BUT - getting things on-line from out of the country is problematic because of duties and customs inspection and taxes, theft, and additional costs - it's often necessary to have a third-party shipper bring it into the country.  Yes, you can get things not available in-country - but you pay dearly.  Ecuador and Colombia both slap on high taxes for imports.

You can use the search function in this forum to find many threads about it.  Go here and input "internet shopping", for instance, for the search term:

I'm sorry that you are less confident about Online research than my wife and I are. First of all, I never talked about moving to Ecuador sight unseen. I distinctly, more than once, mentioned a temporary move for a 3 month duration, before deciding if Ecuador's where we'll make our final home. I guess you don't realize that this means going back home to wherever after 3 months, and then making the final preparations for an actual move with shipping container, etc. But traveling to Ecuador multiple times is indeed absurd and we've read plenty of posts by people who visted Ecuador once, made up their minds, and then went home to make arrangements ... which were later not regretted.

And that's exactly what we plan on doing. Sorry, this whole reply is more or less off-topic because Archer appears to like to criticize more than actually producing real viable, informative answers that can actually be used. Reading is an awesome thing, for those of us who like to read and those who pay attention to the written words, before answering. Yes, I'm slightly annoyed at the moment ...

And to put your mind at ease about Online shopping since you obviously didn't understand the implications of our vast knowledge about the Internet, which we've gathered during the past 25+ years ....

To us, being Online and shopping there ... is as natural as breathing sleeping and eating. My wife and I met Online in 1996 when that was still totally taboo to do. We've purchased all of our vehicles Online since 2001, and since around 2002 we've also gotten our home insurance & car insurance Online. We planned our Wedding on the Internet, our Honeymoon, all three of our Overseas moves which included considerable Online planning for Container Services, Customs, Vehicle shipping on one occasion, vehicle rentals, finding a rental home on two occasions, every flight that we've ever taken between 1996 and 2015, and believe it or not ... we've even managed to find homes on the Internet for us to buy, as well as parcels of land to build on.

There are those who would never ever "dare to do" what we do online, but to us it's the most natural thing in the World. We've been eBay members since 1998 and we've even operated an eBay store on two occasions, once from the USA and once from Germany. Granted, we have indeed been ripped off a few times ... couple of hundred dollars here ... a few hundred dollars there ... but you know what?
We may have "lost" a thousand dollars or so during all of those years ...
... while actually saving many many thousands of dollars in that same time period.

We stay away from Facecrook, Whatscrap, Twitter, and other Social Media, but boy I have to tell you, we know how to do some really good research and gather valuable information.

As far as searching fore things here on the forum is concerned, the search doesn't appear to work as easily when you're in another Country. My own posts don't even show up when I search for them, had to resort to bookmarking them instead. Besides, it's always nice to have some fairly recent answers when considering a move to another Country, which can best be achieved by posting new questions ... which may receive better current answers than ones that are outdated. It's very simple really, if you don't like the fact that we're asking questions here ... just don't answer and ignore us. No problem, and you save yourself the effort and the time of responding. Everyone's happy ...  :top:   ;)

Freejack, I wish you the best, but it's apparent you don't really want help, but instead want reinforcement from others for the path you've already chosen, and at the same time, to brag about your capabilities, and how you don't really need help because you've already figured everything out on your own.

Perhaps I misunderstood you - your plan to move to Cuenca for three months first to see if you like it is a good one, as far as it goes.  With the right attitude the experience will do you good whether you stay or not - and although experience keeps a dear school, some will learn in no other.

My Ecuadorian girlfriend uses Ecuador's MercadoLibre site to shop online pretty often. It is a bit like Ebay "buy now", except she goes to the mall to pick up the package or sometimes meets with a courier. She only buys from highly rated merchants because she is wary of knockoffs.  She also says it's impractical to buy anything off of mercadolibre from neighboring countries like Peru or Colombia. For her, it's generally cost prohibitive to shop Amazon and pay an additional $45 (or more) for shipping things under 4kg.  Her last purchase was about a year ago and she got a Samsung Tab A 8 because she didn't trust that she could by a genuine version on MercadoLibre. Of course, this situation could change in the future if the current Ecuadorian government reduces tariffs or some other unforeseen technological innovation. 

Sometimes Ecuador feels like 1993 to me-- and this isn't a complaint. I have shopped in hundreds of little tiendas, and exactly zero of them take plastic. But at the malls, virtually all the shops take them. I got used to carrying around about $15 in dollar coins after a week or so. I got used to walking or taking the bus most of the time after a couple of weeks.

I was glad to find to that Uber is operating in Guayaquil now. We used it without a hitch, and my Ecuadorian girlfriend says its about 20% cheaper than a taxi for the same distance trip- a 20 minute trip ran us about $3.75

Those are the prices I found.
In greater Guayaquil, my favorite places to grocery shop are La Espanola (especially for meat and sausages),  Mi Comisariato, and Megamaxi.  We occasionally go to some tiendas and markets that specialize in Fruit and Veg. I haven't found a meat seller in a market that uses a refrigeration. After having one bout of E. Coli which hospitalized me-- I'm not going to risk it to save $1 or $2.

Regarding fresh food at the above supermarkets- I find the price of:
beef- between $2 and $7 per pound, depending on cut.
Chicken- $1-$4 per pound, depending on cut. (about 15% less than ohio)
Pork - $3-$6 per pound, depending on cut. (About 20% more than ohio)
Handmade sausage - $2-$5 depending on style and meats (about 40% less than ohio)
Shrimp - $3 - $6 per pound (about 70% less than ohio)
Local fish - $2-$7 per pound (about 25% less than ohio)

In general, at supermarkets I find fruit and veg prices to be 40% less than ohio. At farmers markets, they could be up to 70% less. My spanish isn't good enough to negotiate and my girlfriend doesn't squabble if the total is under $3.

I don't drink wine, so I can't comment. Ecuadorian beer is about $1.50 to $2 at the tienda for the big size. But I only have 1 or 2 beers on weekends.

We cook at home most of the time. I follow a low carb diet when eating at home, so we don't buy rice or pasta. Occasionally we eat beans or lentils.

Okay, going to admit it.  I moved to Ecuador sight unseen and got much of my info from the magazine so disparaged above.  I’ve been here 4 years in June and have had no unexpected surprises concerning my life here.  Because I’d traveled to Mexico, Argentina & Panama, I had a reasonably good idea of what to expect in Ecuador, even tho it is a poorer country.   I’m happy with my choice, find life affordable on just my SS income (lucky, because it’s all I have), and the people friendly.
My only recommendation is that instead of 3 months in Cuenca, you spend maybe 2-3 weeks in Cotacachi, a smaller, easily navigated community about 1.5 hours north of Quito.

Are there any restrictions. on elderly "gringos" wishing to move to Ecuador on their own?

I have been here almost twos years now and my budget, after bouncing around for awhile until I have settled on my preferred expenditures (products and availability are very different here), is finally settling into a predictable routine.   One bottom line thing I can tell you is that I am living a lot better life here on a lot less than I was in Austin Texas from where I moved.  Of course if you know the history of Austin then you will know the cost of living there has sky rocketed in the last 10 or so years.  It is now for the rich and famous and I am neither.  People here can only post their personal experiences and those are based on individual budgets, priorities and desires.

I have a beautiful apartment in an excellent area of the city (I'm not saying where - because I like being the occasional expat, and you definitely need to know Spanish) for $1400/month.  That seems to be about top dollar here. However I do do occasional research for information for when my lease comes due and I have found apartments in this area much smaller and not as nice for $2500/month.  In both cases they were condos expats (must have an Austin frame of mind) have moved out of and were renting out.  Honestly I keep my fingers crossed that more expats expecting a mini USA don't move here and wreck the modest cost of living like they did in Austin.

On-line shopping does exist but it is very different.  PayPal - nada.  The culture here is not that focused on convenience with anything.  It is much more focused on extended processes and labor.  In that vein you will find "payment and delivery agreed upon with the seller" which usually means cash and the seller will deliver to your home.  It has worked fine for me so far on a few things, but you can not return products here (anywhere, online or not) like you can in the US.  You bought it is yours so I tend to shy away from expensive on-line purchases since it might be something the seller wishes he could return.  And there are a few items I personally feel are essential that are not available here anywhere.  Those my friends bring from the US on visits.

Contradictions is a good word.  Ecuador is full of them.  I feel it adds to its charm, but I will give you a topic related example.   I was walking in my neighborhood with my Ecuadorian friend who was telling me of a speech he listened to on the radio by the Ecuadorian president on how terribly bad the economic crisis in Ecuador is.  This while people were trying to park their giant brand new SUVs in the parking areas congested with other giant brand new SUVs, so that they can stand in line to buy a $70 pair of jeans at the mall after which they will stand in line with the entire family for a $20 - $30 per person meal.  Money is everywhere and flowing, at least where I live.  With 12% tax on most things I was asking my friend "What crisis?"

This is a third world country and as such things are different here. I did not move here for cost of living and convenience only.  I wanted and expected a challenge and I have not been disappointed.  I researched this country four years, and visited three times three years, prior to my move here and learned to start my expectations at grid line zero and just learn to live in a new country.  I love it and have no regrets, but if you are expecting Walmarts and the conveniences of the good old USA you probably won't love it and will have regrets.  It is not for everyone like the online expat dreamland it is purported to be.

If one is trying to create a hypothetical budget, and trying to find out how much things cost--- I started thinking about websites one could use to window shop.

As OsageArcher pointed out, Numbeo is a great and fairly realistic budgeting starting point. It has all the basic categories most people care about. If you are trying to create a range rather than average, add and subtract 15% to each averaged figure quoted.

MercadoLibre and OLX will help you determine real, current prices on non-food things you buy frequently. You can also search on these sites for cars and housing.

VEHICLES MercadoLibre today has more than 4000 cars listed for sale in Ecuador.
OLX has more than 23000!

I mentioned the price range of food I found at the bigger supermarkets, and it is in line with Numbeo's crowdsourced averaging.  As of 2018, none of Ecuador's chain supermarkets have online purchasing. Nor do they publish many prices on their sites. 

Real Estate and Housing [Propiedades - Inmuebles] is the trickiest to create a hypothetical budget, as there is no amazing realtime database like Zillow or Trulia for Ecuador.

I can confirm, an enormous amount of property for sale/ rent is FSBO, sign-in-the-window kind of thing. My Ecuadorian girlfriend's mom is a landlady, and she still does rents out her apartments like that. Or she just tells her friends at church when she has a unit available, and hopes for word of mouth. So old school!

Real Estate and Housing , you'll need to do a lot more legwork. Just presume that the true market of available real estate is much larger than what you'll find online. "Casas en Azuay" would help you look in the province that surrounds Cuenca. And also presume a 3% annual rise in property prices due to inflation.

OLX has 45000+ live property listings for all of Ecuador (Propiedades - Inmuebles)
MercadoLibre has 3000+ live listings.
Realtor dot com international has 1700+ live listings.

Wow, what an amazing, incredibly useful response. Thank you so very much !!!  :top:

It's not just JadeRiver's area, a lot of centro-norte is like that. If one looks at the area around  La Universidad de Las Américas towards monteserrin, one would think it's a suburb in Singapore. Some people thinking they are living “a solid upper class lifestyle”,  like one couple that the Miami Herald article claimed were on $1500 a month, well that is nonsense. My friend's parents are upper class, they are spending 6 weeks in Southern Italy. That's how the Ecuadorian upper-class vacation. They also spend at least $1000 hosting friends, and family over a couple of nights during Christmas week. If anyone has been to a brindis de vino hosted by affluent Ecuadorianos then you know what I mean.

Let's continue to dispel the falsities about what a middle class budget can get you in Ecuador. And for parents who want to educate their children then ask yourselves where do the upper class educate their children, and the answer to that would be very expensive international schools.

vsimple :

Let's continue to dispel the falsities about what a middle class budget can get you in .

I agree Vsimple!!  :)

Before coming to Ecuador, or making any expat type move (for the majority of us), finances should be a strong and first consideration. 

Most adults are savvy, and they know this stuff. But just in case:

The expat-to-be should know the answers to these three questions:
  1 What is your monthly income from all sources?
  2 How much do you have in assets?
  3 How much debt do you have, if any?

Once the potential expat has this essential financial info, she can do some number crunching and make some budget (expense/spending) projections.

As long as: 

INCOME minus EXPENSES =equals= some positive value, you are probably gonna be ok.

You'll be really good  if total expenses are only about 75% of income (i.e. Income is $3000/mo, all expenses are $2250/mo)

Be forewarned, Expat-to-Be!! you will not get to live in a Palace and drive a Bentley with your $1500/mo pension.  You will be disappointed to learn that you may only be able to live in a nice, safe apartment and you'll have to walk. You might be able to get a once-a-week house keeper.  But you do have the opportunity to experience a really cool new country with wonderfully warm people!

Philosophically: "middle class" is pretty hard to define though, isn't it? What is middle class?

I guess I know middle when I see it... But looks can be deceiving. I know  a dentist who shops at Walmart and drives a 25 year old Toyota who considers himself to be typical middle class American. I know a secretary who collects Louis Vuitton handbags and drives a new Mercedes and considers herself to be typical middle class. It's how each of them self-identifies. One appears to be wealthy to observers, and she isn't. The other appears and claims to be middle class but his accountant would tell you differently. 
Here's my middle class story, by personal anecdote: I lived in a middle class neighborhood in Ohio for the last 10 years.  In my subdivision, we had nurses, teachers, office administrators, a local small business owner, landscapers, retirees, stay-at-home moms, graphic designers, a police officer, sales women, and a fireman. To me, this sounds like squarely suburban american middle class. Houses on my cul de sac were built between 1968-1972. About 1700-1900 Square Feet. 3 or 4 bedrooms, 2 or 3 bathrooms. All 2 car garages. Slightly less than 1/4 acre lots. About 2/3 of the kids in that little neighborhood go to the local public school (in walking distance) and 1/3 go to private catholic schools (parents carpooled). Some people on my street could afford to travel for 4 weeks every year to the Caribbean and Europe. Same neighbor had put in a new in-ground pool and a mother in law suite during my decade there. Five doors down the cul-de-sac, one guy struggled just to keep the electric company from shutting off his power. Eventually it happened. Three months later his house was both condemned by the county and foreclosed upon by his bank! (and then an investor came in and did a fantastic job remodelling it)  We all lived on the same 25 house suburban middle class cul de sac. But it seems financial circumstances varied quite a lot.

But can I put a dollar amount on "middle class"? I know marketers, politicians, sociologists try to define it. Is "middle class" defined by income, net worth, the kind of employment you have (or had), your education level? Or is it defined by your opinion set, your beliefs, and personal values? Is it defined purely by an individual's self identification?

Or is "class" just a meaningless label that is used to divide groups of humans?

(yes and I use this label all the time. i don't mean to sound judgmental, it's a habit)

Good questions, lebowski. I believe the term live an upper-class lifestyle in Ecuador is a marketing ploy used by some entities that benefit from it. Some people find the allure of living an upper-class lifestyle appealing, no matter how they define. And of course some bloggers repeat the same thing on their blogs, some of whom benefit from it by selling something or offering a service.

I abhor these tactics because they deceive people. Ecuador does not need to be oversold, it is a beautiful country. But yeah, there's a lot of marketing going on. This is why updated data, as in specific costs, products, area, restaurants, quality and so on are beneficial.

As for defining classes, that's a question that can definitely sidetrack us from this thread, and lead us into the abyss.  :D  But IMO Ecuador is very much class conscious, especially with well off people. I am fortunate enough that I am able to socialize across the entire spectrum.

Well that "beautiful Country thing" only goes so far. Most people aged between 55 and 65 years of age aren't looking at actual beauty as much anymore, but rather at the ability to enjoy the fruits of one's labor with decent housing, medical care, and lifestyle. Today, the beauty & comfort of our home on the inside is more important to us too. Not talking about gourmet or lavish ... At our age, a beautiful Country is nice, been to Italy 3 times in the past 12 years, other European Countries too, but in Ecuador we wouldn't be seeing all that much of the Country itself anymore, as we're looking to settle down once and for all. We're computer people. Four computers in our home, running at all times. So yeah, quality of housing & medical care are our two top priorities.
I can live in a cave. It's how my home makes me feel that's really important to me personally.

With that said, we have a retirement income of around 1800 USD for just the both of us. After checking out Ecuador for three months while residing there, we'll go back home,  sell our house, and return to Ecuador in order to purchase our home. We'll have aout 100K to 115K available for a home. Regardless which Country we've lived in in the past, we've always had our own home.

We live very frugally which is precisely why we're so concerned about being able to order things Online. With 1800 USD monthly there's no doubt in my mind that we're actually living more like people who are making around 2100 USD monthly. We're debt free, so that's not an issue at all.

According to earlier mentioned sites here, the cost of living comparison between Germany where we are right now and Cuencas cost of living is 47% cheaper. Housing is supposed to be around 56% cheaper. Well, if that's true, then we may not be living like Royalty, but I would think that we would certainly be living what we would consider to be a more middle-to-upper class lifestyle? Right now we're just making it month to month while saving a little for a couple of one week long vacations per year, in areas where we can drive our own car to. That's going to be a huge problem for us, not having a car. Housing ... Yes, we understand that that's renting and not buying.

I have ADhD. I'm a planner and a perfectionist ... for my wife and myself. I have learned that nobody on earth plans as I do, as far in advance with as many details as I take into consideration, and for the past 20+ years my planning has always worked perfectly. I do not rely on others, especially not where time-lines are concerned, but I do rely on myself totally, as much as possible anyway. Vacations are planned 4 to 6 months in advance and container moves are planned 12 to 15 months in advance, after I'm done gathering information. We do all of our own packing, customs paperwork, etc. I even have a full size container ramp that I built for our last Overseas move, since I knew that I had to load and unload that particular container all by myself, furniture an' all ...

Freejack :

We live very frugally which is precisely why we're so concerned about being able to order things Online. With 1800 USD monthly there's no doubt in my mind that we're actually living more like people who are making around 2100 USD monthly. We're debt free, so that's not an issue at all.


I encourage you to look at MercadoLibre and OLX and see how the prices fit your expectations for online shopping. But getting the right keyword in Spanish can be tricky. Google translate helps, but it isn't always right. And you may find that locally produced equivalents, bought in the street markets are in fact, cheaper and/or better quality than what you can buy online.

Here's an example of one Ecuadorian shopping Odyssey:
I had been looking for a Weber Charcoal grill in Guayaquil. This shopping obsession lasted two months! The specific grill model I want, Amazon sells in the USA for $149. I went to every hardware store, mall, home goods store, and general merchandiser looking for it. Nothing! In fact, before I started to look, I thought I'd be OK with getting a local brand that used the same kettle style. I couldn't even find a kettle copycat. There are lots of grills available in the stores, mind you, but not the Gringo kettle style. 

When I first started shopping online for it, I looked for WEBER. Nothing on MercadoLibre or OLX (at that moment). Later, I looked for the keyword "PARILLA". More results, but nothing really came up.  Then I looked into getting it shipped via Amazon. DHL quoted me $700+ to ship it. NOPE. In this forum, I found a recent 2017 mention of LAARBOX for shipping. I think they quoted me around $175. Much better than DHL, but still high, so I delayed the decision. Then my Ecuadorian girlfriend suggested I try the keyword "ASADOR"

... Bingo! I found the right kettle style, even though they aren't Weber. They sell for $35-$75--- only available from online Ecuadorian merchants... I imagine the grills aren't porcelain enamel, like Weber, which lasts for decades (my grandmother still uses one she bought in the 80s).

But Whatever! I'm going to buy the Ecuadorian substitute for now and see how it does! It might surprise me and last a long time.

You're absolutely right. It's similar for some specialized items, especially regarding home construction, in Germany. Because there are so many private sellers, quite a few who are not actually native German speakers, you often have to search for an item which you factually know to be known under 2 different words or titles ... by searching for a variation of 4 or 5 different keyword strings. Doing a brand name search generally turns up the most expensive prices. Sometimes search results are so strange ... for the right thing ... that it has me scratching my head, how someone would think that such a description would cause more sales?
But hey, who am I to argue ... as long as the price is right. :D

Hi All
I have lived here in the Cumbaya/Tumbaco valley for 8 years.  Much warmer than Quito. 15 degrees C most mornings and 20-24 C during the day. You can find rentals from $300-$5000. a vehicle is probably the most expensive item. But now we have Uber and Taxis are cheap. I usually shop at Megamaxi or Supermaxi reminds me of Publix at home.  Wednesday are 20% off for fruit and veggies and Fridays 10% off Meats and other proteins. More expensive but they are sticklers for checking chemical content of fruits and veggies and usually their proteins are of very good quality. I started receiving my SS check in October 2017 plus I receive another for my 5 year old until he is 18. Bet most of you did not know that.  I have a organic fungi business that produces Fungi that prevents Plant diseases and kills insects organically without pesticides. I work that part time. Yes with about $2000 a month you WILL live much better than you could in the USA. Plus all the fruits and veggies that you eat here just came off the tree fresh. Schools are expensive but most of the expats here that wouldn't matter. And I feel very safe here and I speak Spanish fluently. ***

Moderated by Priscilla 7 months ago
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Hi Susan,

How far is Las Palmeras from Olon (not on the map). I am interested in Olon but want to check out the surrounding areas. I have been there twice.

ecuador55 :

Fridays 10% off Meats and other proteins.

I avoid buying meats and seafood close to expiration on "special" days.

Pay the regular price and get foods that are fresher/more reliable.

I also don't buy meats and seafood at local mercados with questionable refrigeration.

cccmedia near the Ecuador-Colombia border

Eyore :

Are there any restrictions. on elderly "gringos" wishing to move to Ecuador on their own?

1. Avoid hilly cities and neighborhoods such as El Centro in Quito where inclines and broken sidewalks on some local streets make walking problematic.

2.  Extreme altitude may challenge some seniors in Quito, Cuenca and other highlands cities/towns.

3.  An older Expat on his or her own without decent Spanish is at a disadvantage.  If altitude is not a problem, Cuenca offers the most Expat gatherings and group doings among the bigger cities.

4. Promptly get an attorney or someone whose cell phone you can call 24 hours in case of problems.  Know how to reach emergency services or call a taxi.


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