Okay, so cost of living is one thing. But what about life start-up costs?
When a typical person moves abroad, they don’t bring a fridge, desk or even bedding. Of course there are exceptions. One reader is planning to ship her bed mattress along with her other checked luggage (yes, on the plane). But this is certainly the exception.
UPDATE (May 30, 2014): I just reviewed the costs and they remain current and up to date. Although the post was written three years ago, these prices are reasonable to pay today. Last year we bought a desk and it was the same as 4 years ago. Food and electronics have increased but these types of products are pretty stable.
You’ll probably bring a set of clothes, a laptop, camera and some personal care items. But you’ll likely have to source and buy everything else. Here are some rough costs, to give you a ball park:
- $1000 for fridge/stove. Fridge is a full size Frigidaire brand, the stove is medium sized MABE brand (made in Mexico, I believe). If we had known, we would have bought a different brand, or at least a better quality model Mabe stove. The knobs are plastic and have broken (as a set) twice already.
- $1000 for 2 beds and basic sofa set. There are some great furniture shops downtown that custom make wood/metal furniture. Because they aren’t imported, the pricing is very reasonable. Its great for repairs, or even if you want a custom color fabric. A very nice coat rack is just $20.
- $500 for desks and basic dining room table (very basic – after a year we bought a “real” dining room set – for around $500). Also, we bought a real office desk and chair after the first year for another $350.
- $1500-2000 for housewares, including bedding, cookware, propane tanks, propane water heater and the miscellaneous stuff, etc. Many apartments/houses don’t come with a calfone (propane water heater) so expect to pay from $150 – $250 plus $15 installation.
- $900 for washer/dryer. After our first year we switched from using a laundromat (which is cheap and awesome – by the way) and bought our own gear. They are both full size and LG and Samsung brands. The dryer (like the stove and water heater) are propane.
- $250-500 damage deposit. Most apartments want a deposit. Often the deposit is equal to firsts month rent. So, to start-up you’ll need a months rent x 2.
- $40 Internet install. You can often get a deal for a free installation. Just depends on the provider, the month and where you’ll be living.
- Telephone. We don’t have a landline – almost no one does. We each have cell phones – they cost $40/50 ea, and they cost us $6-20 ea per month. You can bring yours from home – they’ll probably work here. They insert a chip for $5.
- Legal fees. There is no way to estimate these – there are so many different situations. Its good to take the legal/government fees into account when budgeting. If you are applying for residency or starting a corporation, you should get a price before you move here. We recommend the Cuenca Law Office.
- $700 Desktop computer. A basic model desktop computer comes well equipped for a similar price to what you would find back home.
- There are other things we’ve purchased which are hard to identify. Allow $500+ for miscellaneous expenses.
Life Start-up Costs: $7990
To figure out your ballpark start up costs, just deduct the expenses that you don’t require. The total above includes both the nice stuff we have now, and the cheap stuff that we either gave away or threw away.
Now to some this will seem sparse, and to others excessive. This isn’t just what we spent the first weeks, but to get to where we are now.
Advice: If you are planning on making this your home, buy good quality things. We went pretty cheap on a few things and ended up replacing them within a few months. One of our $90 desks didn’t last in our move (to a new apartment) and crumbled as it came off the moving truck.
How about you? What type of costs did you incur? Or what are you planning on spending?