See our new post: Has the Cost of Living Increased in Ecuador?
One of the questions we get asked the most is:
What’s the Cost of Living in Ecuador?
Well that’s a tough question. Whats the cost of living in United States? Some people may do well with $1000/month and others “scrape by” on $4000/month.
If you listen to some of the internet ads, you can live in Ecuador for $660/month. And no doubt that’s true, but what type of life? And do you really want to eat just rice and bananas?
So cost of living is subjective. While some people might find (and be happy) in a $90/month apartment, we needed somewhere a little more secure and with a little more space. Neither is wrong, but it does illustrate the difficulty of identifying a set monthly cost-of-living for a region or country.
Here is our current cost of living for Cuenca, Ecuador. We are a family of three, with a dog. We don’t live extravagantly and we aren’t in want. We do focus more on the moment than the merchandise.
All costs shown are monthly.
$280 Rent. We rent a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house. It is just a few years old, is located on a quiet cul-de-sac with a handful of other homes, and is in a very safe area.
$30.67. Water/Lights. Tap Water $7.38 / Lights 23.29
$30.50. Gas/Drinking Water. Gas – 3 tanks at $2.00 ea= $6.00 / Drinking Water – 14 bottles at $1.75 ea = $24.50. The price for both of these are delivered. Official gas (propane) price is $1.60/tank.
$30. Buses. Cost is $0.25 (yes twenty five cents) per ride. We spend an average of $10 each within our family. This is 40 bus trips each per month (one way of course).
$10. Taxis. Notes: Our taxi rate is quite low. Because we live on the bus route, we seldom take taxis. Others, because of the location of their home, or their lifestyle might find themselves spending $50-60 per month. An average taxi ride is $2.00 to $2.50. Of course, if you are visiting and don’t speak much Spanish, you’ll pay more – like $3 or $4 for a $2 ride.
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.
- Supermaxi: $140 month
- Coral: $160 month
We generally shop at Supermaxi (the American styled supermarket – 3 locations) and Coral (the non-American styled supermarket – also 3 locations). We purchase our meat at Supermaxi, its actually a little less, and the meat department is very clean. The fruits/vegetables at Coral are significantly less expensive.
Meat from Supermaxi. There are three here in the city: Avenida de las Americas, by the Stadium and out by the airport.
- Chicken: $2.31/kg – entera (means whole) – comes with organs, feet and head – great for soup, we’re told
- Beef: $2.87/kg ground beef. Not sure of the other beef. The other kinds we’ve tried, regardless of price, have all had the consistency of sneaker leather. I don’t think beef is very popular here. We’ve heard of a good place to get great beef and we’re going to check it out.
- Fish: $2.00/lb from the Feria Libre (the largest open market in the city). Fresh and amazing. It looks more like a roast than a fillet. Visit on Wednesdays for freshest fish.
We buy most everything else at Coral. There is one on Avenida de las Americas, Mall del Rio and Mall Monay.
- 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. Don’t buy from Supermaxi. They are unripe and very acidic.
- 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 of Cubanito. It is the best coffee here (and its the cheapest too)
- Ecuadorian Bottle of Rum: $4.37 – 750ml. Jamaican is even less – under $4.00.
- Ecuadorian Beer: $0.50/bottle. Try Pilsner – its very nice.
- Rice: $2.00 for kg bag – either white or brown.
- $32. Cell phones. We currently have a pay-as-you-go style cell phone plan with Movistar. We have three phones (one each). A $6 credit on each phone will last my wife and daughter all month. I spend around $20. This include taxes, texts, everything. We bought some basic model Nokia phones and a chip for $40 each. By the way, the $6 per month amount will last just 30 days, and then expires. A purchase of $3 will last just one week.
- $34.26. Internet. We currently are 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. We also have a Movistar thumb modem that we purchased outright (approx $100). We use that when traveling (and this week because CentroNet is down). The cost for the modem is $3.00 per day, for “unlimited” bandwidth. It gets throttled after the first 100mb. Frustrating, but a good backup system. TVCable is the other primary option, and we used them in our first apartment. Similar cost and double the speed. They are the best option – just pray you don’t have to go deal with their “customer service”.
- $20. Entertainment. This is a funny one. You can buy a movie for $1.25-$1.90 each. They are ripped dvd’s. But they are the only option. Movie rentals don’t exist here, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a legit movie store. TV channels are all Spanish (of course) but the movies (dvd’s) are almost all in English. We go for coffee for $2.00 and lunch at a seafood restaurant costs $10 (for all 3 of us, with a non-alcoholic drink).
- $140. Miscellaneous: Things always come up, so it comes from this amount.
So, what’s it cost to live in Cuenca, Ecuador?
As a family of three we spend: $907.43 / month, or just under $11,000 / year.
Excluded from this amount are vacations, expenses back in Canada and business expenses. We still have expenses at home in Canada. Things like life insurance and our post office box. We also have business expenses like web hosting, marketing, phone and business registration. But these are minimal.
Annual Expenses: $50
- Supermaxi: $45 (5% discount) The reason we have this card is because the discount also applies at Su Casa – a technology and home furnishings store. There is one on Avenida de las Americas, at Plaza del las Americas. There is a Supermaxi there as well.
- Coral: $5 (3% discount)
Vacations and travel:
This isn’t budgeted in above, and we don’t do this a on a scheduled routine. The beauty of Ecuador is that a beach vacation or a jungle adventure are just a few hours away.
We are leaving next week for two weeks on the coast. We’ve rented two vacation rentals for a week each. First week: $400, second week: $250. We have hired a driver to bring us from Cuenca. Cost $140 each way. So that means two weeks on the beach including transport and accommodations is $930.00. Of course, food and entertainment is extra, but its pretty hard to beat.