Cost of Living

We’re constantly surprised by the Cost of Living abroad because it’s so much more affordable than the USA. We often have reverse sticker shock!

Can I afford to live in Ecuador on Social Security?

Ecuador is a popular destination for retirees, particularly for Americans and Canadians. The low cost of living and warm weather year-round are among the main reasons why people choose to live in this beautiful country.

One of our most frequently asked questions is, “Can I live in Ecuador on my social security income?” So in this article, we break down the cost of living in Ecuador and give you an idea of what your life might look like on the average social security check, which is just over $1,700 per month (as of August 2023).

Before we dive into the details, we want to remind you about our Ecuador Relocation eCourse. This course has over 60 videos, written content, and links to more information. It provides a detailed checklist that you can download, and once you check the last item off the list, you will be living in Ecuador.

Visa Requirements for Living in Ecuador on Social Security Income

The first thing you need to do is make sure you qualify for a visa. The great thing about Ecuador is that you only need $1350 per month (3 times the monthly minimum wage) from your social security or other forms of income to qualify for a two-year visa and you can combine income sources to meet the income requirement.

The income requirement for the pension visa in Ecuador is lower compared to other countries that are popular with expats, like Mexico, which requires almost $2,600 per month to qualify for a temporary residency visa.

Housing Costs in Ecuador for Social Security Recipients

Regarding housing, experts recommend spending about 30% of your income on rent. Based on the average monthly social security income, that equates to around a $500 per month rent budget.

There are plenty of affordable housing options, including renting a room in a house or hostel for as little as $100 a month. However, this option means you’ll have less privacy and fewer amenities.

Luckily, there are lots of condos and single-family homes that rent in the $500 to $600 per month range throughout Ecuador. You can check Plusvalia for current listings (this is not a sponsor nor an endorsement).

Your rent may include some utilities but you may have to pay some on your own. We spent less than $100/month for electricity, water, propane, and internet everywhere we lived.

 

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Health Insurance & Healthcare

Ecuador has high quality, low cost healthcare. We’ve found that doctor visits and procedures are 1/3rd to 1/10th the cost compared to the United States.

Public and private health insurance is available. The public plan, IESS, costs approximately $83/month per person.

With this plan, all your costs are covered, including your medications, but you have to stay within the IESS network of doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies. You need to have your cédula before you can apply for the public health insurance and there is a 3 month waiting period for pre-existing conditions.

Private health insurance costs vary depending on your age and the type of coverage. In general, costs range between $$50 to $150/month per person.

Some benefits of private health insurance are that you can find more English-speaking doctors and you can get appointments within a couple of days. Plus you’ll have a direct line of communication with your doctor via WhatsApp.

There are a lot of private hospitals with the latest technologies available in the major cities such as Quito and Cuenca.

Groceries & Restaurants

Ecuador grows amazing produce! Buying fresh produce from the mercado saves a lot of money.

We buy most of our food from the mercado and buy packaged food and other products (such as cleaning supplies), from the grocery store.

Expect to pay more for imported and specialty goods. Meat is also more expensive.

During our 6 years in Ecuador, we’ve spent between $250 and $350/month on groceries for the both of us.

Dining out is affordable. Meals on average cost between $10 to $50 per person depending on the type of restaurant.

Many restaurants offer lunch specials, or almuerzos. These are big meals for a surprisingly low price, sometimes as low as $2! Almuerzos typically include soup, the entree, rice or potatoes, a small desert, and a juice.

Transportation in Ecuador

Transportation in Ecuador is affordable, with options such as buses and cabs costing between 35 and 50 cents for local travel. Interprovincial buses can cost around ten dollars or less.

While cars are an option, they are much more expensive due to import taxes, making public transportation a more economical option.

Note that bringing a car to Ecuador is not allowed unless you are a returning Ecuadorian citizen and meet specific criteria.

A monthly budget of around $50 should suffice for transportation costs.

Other Living Expenses in Ecuador

You’ll probably have some additional expenses that will impact your budget. Set aside extra funds to cover medications, entertainment, pet care, clothing and shoes, and travel back home.

Social Security Checks in Ecuador

According to SSA.gov, it is now possible to direct deposit your social security checks to a bank account in Ecuador. This could take some time to setup and may only work with certain banks.

We recommend keeping your US bank account and credit cards, and use those cards to pay for as many expenses as possible rather than transferring your money into Ecuador. But this is a personal choice.

We also recommend opening an account with a bank like Charles Schwab or Fidelity, which do not charge fees for worldwide ATM use and refund fees charged by local banks. You can take out cash to pay for additional expenses.

Living on the Coast or in the Mountains of Ecuador on Social Security Income

If you’re on a tight budget or want to save as much money as possible, you might want to consider one of the mountain towns like Cotacachi, Cuenca or Loja. These options are more affordable than living on the coast. If you have a roommate or more money to spend, higher-end rental options are available for less than $1,000 a month.

If you want to live on the coast, keep in mind that anything right on the beach or with beach access will be more expensive. However, going one block off the beach will save you a substantial amount on monthly rent.

Some expats choose to buy a home in Ecuador, which means you rent won’t be a factor in your monthly budget. However, you will need to pay taxes, insurance and possibly HOA dues, but they’re very low compared to the U.S. Taxes are often under $100 per YEAR on most properties.

Final Thoughts…

Ecuador offers a cost-effective and welcoming option for retirees looking for a new place to call home. With low visa requirements, affordable housing, and reasonable living expenses, it’s possible to live on social security income alone.

From the picturesque mountain towns to the stunning coastlines, there are plenty of options for retirees looking for a change of scenery.

It’s important to remember that costs can vary depending on the location and lifestyle choices, but with proper budgeting and planning, living in Ecuador on social security income can be an excellent choice for those seeking a higher quality of life for a lower cost of living.

Watch Our Video About Living in Ecuador on Social Security

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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10 Countries Where You Can Live for $1,000/mo (or less)

Inflation and stagnant wages are dragging down the quality of life for millions of people in “1st world” countries. Thankfully, there are more affordable places to live.

The developing world, and even some developed countries, offer a much lower cost of living, while at the same time offering a much higher quality of life full of adventure and new friendships.

In this article, we share 10 countries where a single person can live on $1,000/month or less, and a couple can live on $1,500/month or less.

Each of these locations offers affordable housing, food, utilities, and healthcare, along with exciting cultural experiences and a welcoming expat community.

Watch Our Video About 10 Affordable Countries

#10 Mexico

Don’t be quick to write off Mexico just because popular expat areas like Ajijic, San Miguel de Allende, and Playa del Carmen have seen a rise in prices. Affordable havens such as Oaxaca, Huatulco, Puebla, and Ensenada still exist.

Pros:

  • Diverse geographical options: beach, mountains, big city, small town
  • Fantastic weather – say goodbye to winters
  • Close to the US, making it an attractive option for many
  • Affordable and reliable healthcare
  • Delicious food

Cons:

  • High crime rates and bad air pollution in major cities
  • Water safety can be an issue
  • Gentrification leading to increasing prices and unhappy locals in some areas

See Also: Live Abroad in Mexico

#9 Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur MalaysiaNestled between Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia, Malaysia offers a warm and sunny tropical climate year-round. Popular expat spots include George Town, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, and Ipoh.

Pros:

  • Rich and diverse cultural and natural experiences
  • A significant number of English speakers, reducing language barriers
  • Reliable modern infrastructure
  • Home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Cons:

  • Dangerous driving conditions
  • Concerning levels of air pollution

#8 Thailand

Thailand, the “Land of Smiles”, is another Southeast Asian country perfect for budget living. With popular expat areas like Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Pattaya, it’s hard not to be charmed by this warm, tropical paradise.

Pros:

  • Friendly and welcoming local community
  • Excellent, affordable healthcare
  • Weed is legal

Cons:

  • Rising air pollution levels, especially in major cities
  • Overcrowding in main cities
  • Legalization of weed causing a surge in expats and consequent price inflation

#7 Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City VietnamFor those seeking rich history, culture, and incredible food, Vietnam ticks all the boxes. Places like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Da Nang are worth considering.

Pros:

  • Extensive public transportation, including buses, trains, taxis, and modern metro systems in major cities
  • Generally a safe country

Cons:

  • Often hot and humid
  • Dealing with government bureaucracy can be challenging and time-consuming

#6 Cambodia

Cambodia, located just next to Vietnam, is rich in history and cultural landmarks. Consider living in popular areas like Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, or Battambang.

Pros:

  • Laid-back lifestyle and friendly local people
  • Plenty of activities and natural beauty to explore
  • Delicious local food

Cons:

  • Language can be a barrier
  • Hot and humid climate
  • Public transportation needs improvement in some areas

#5 Philippines

Known for its stunning beaches and vibrant underwater life, the Philippines offer an incredible quality of life on a budget in cities like Manila, Cebu City, and Davao City.

Pros:

  • Reliable public transportation
  • English is widely spoken, thanks to its history as a US colony

Cons:

  • Heavy traffic can be a problem
  • Potential for culture shock for newcomers

#4 Albania

Berat City AlbaniaLocated in southern Europe, Albania is a hidden gem with a lot to offer. Consider the cities of Tirana, Saranda, or Durrës.

Pros:

  • One-year tourist visa
  • Stunning natural beauty, including amazing beaches and the Albanian Alps
  • Rich history and archeological sites
  • Safe and hospitable

Cons:

  • Language can be a barrier
  • Economic development is still ongoing
  • Limited and unreliable public transportation

#3 Nicaragua

Situated just north of Costa Rica, Nicaragua is becoming a popular choice for expats thanks to its beauty and affordability. Consider Granada, León, or Managua.

Pros:

  • Stunning natural beauty with beaches, volcanoes, and rainforests
  • Lots of outdoor activities and exploration
  • Laid-back lifestyle

Cons:

  • Lacks comprehensive public transportation
  • Political instability and safety concerns
  • Limited healthcare options

#2 Colombia

Medellin ColombiaMore than just coffee and Pablo Escobar, Colombia offers a mix of modern cities and natural beauty in locations like Medellín, Bogotá, and Santa Marta.

Pros:

  • Delicious local cuisine
  • Enjoyable weather
  • Warm, welcoming locals
  • Multiple international airports for ease of travel

Cons:

  • Cities can be crowded
  • High crime rate

See Also: Live Abroad in Colombia

#1 Ecuador

Cuenca EcuadorFinally, Ecuador is a fantastic destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, birdwatching, and more. Cuenca, Salinas, Manta, Vilcabamba, and Cotacachi are some of the popular areas to consider.

Pros:

  • The economy is US Dollar-based, ensuring stability (don’t believe the conspiracy theories – the dollar isn’t going anywhere)
  • Natural beauty and friendly locals
  • Laid back culture
  • Excellent private healthcare and great weather

Cons:

  • Increasing crime rate in some areas
  • Bureaucracy can be challenging, especially regarding visas
  • Frequently cloudy weather

See Also:

Final Thoughts…

So, there you have it! A rundown of 10 affordable countries where you can live a high-quality life on a budget.

While each country has its unique charms and challenges, they all offer incredible opportunities for those looking to stretch their dollars.

Remember, research is key before making a move. Here’s to your next adventure!

Note: All prices and visa requirements are subject to change and can vary based on personal lifestyle choices. Always conduct thorough research and reach out to expat communities and official embassy websites for the most accurate, up-to-date information.

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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REAL Cost of Living in Ecuador for 2023: A Guide for Expat Budgeting

One of the main reasons expats leave home is to save money while also being able to afford a higher quality of life. The low cost of living in Ecuador and other popular expat destinations makes that possible.

In this article, we’ll share how much you can expect to pay for necessities in Ecuador, like rent, utilities, healthcare, transportation, food, appliances, and more.

Download our updated Ecuador Cost of Moving and Living Calculator here…

Watch Our Video About the Real Cost of Living in Ecuador

Cost of Housing in Ecuador

If you’re moving from the United States, Canada, or Europe, the cost of housing in Ecuador may prove to be your most significant savings.

Short-term lodging, long-term rentals, and purchase prices are all much lower in Ecuador, even for premium locations like beachfront property or panoramic mountain views.

Short Term Cost of Living in Ecuador

When expats first move to Ecuador, some prefer to find a place to stay for only a few weeks or months while they find the best neighborhood and location for their long term home.

When you first arrive, you might want to stay in a larger city while finalizing your temporary resident visa process before moving outward to a smaller town or rural area. Whatever your circumstances, Ecuador has countless short-term lodging options for you.

AirBnB in Ecuador

You have a variety of options for short term lodging and rentals throughout Ecuador, and the best place to start is AirBnB.com or Booking.com.

Less than ten years ago, booking a place to stay in another country was a hassle, but it has become much easier with sites like Airbnb.

Whether you want a high rise condo in the city center, beachfront property with ocean views, or a remote mountain villa or cabin, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your needs.

The key to saving the most money on Airbnb is booking longer-term stays with a minimum of 7 nights, but ideally a month or more. Monthly rates for AirBnB offer steep discounts, sometimes as much as 40%!

You can also contact the host before booking to negotiate an even lower rate (politely, of course). If the booking is more than a month out and not during a busy travel season for the area, you can ask for an additional discount after establishing some rapport with the host.

Prices vary from $300 to $1,200/month depending on the city, the neighborhood, the location, the size of the property, and additional amenities. Some luxury beachfront condos in Salinas can be $2,500/month or more!

In general, real estate or rental agents won’t help you find short-term rentals for anything less than 6 months unless you’re looking at one of the high end luxury rentals.

This is because the rental agent’s fee is based on the lease amount and duration. For 6 month leases, they get 1/2 the first month’s rent as their finder’s fee. For 12 month leases, they get the first month’s rent.

For anything less than 6 months, rental agents only get 10% of the rental amount so if you’re looking for a 1 month stay at a $500/month condo, their fee will only be $50 so it’s just not worth their time.

Apartment Hotels in Ecuador (aka Apartsuites or Short Term Stay Residences)

You may be familiar with short-term stay hotels such as Residence Inn or TownePlace Suites, but the price for a month or more in the United States or Europe is very expensive. They’re geared more to business travelers with corporate credit cards than tourists on a budget.

However, you’ll find very affordable Apartment Hotels or ApartSuites in Ecuador with nicely equipped kitchenettes, comfortable beds, and security guards/concierges who can help you learn your way around town.

Apartamentos Otorongo in Cuenca is an example of a short-term stay hotel.  These types of hotels range in price from $700 to $1,200 for monthly rates depending on the room size and location.

Most short-term hotel stays in Ecuador are listed on AirBnB.com, Expedia.com, and other online booking websites, but you’ll get the best deal by booking directly through their website.

You’ll lose the travel protection offered by the big travel websites, but the cost savings may be worth it to you. And we’ve vetted our recommendations so you’re less likely to experience problems (although we can’t guarantee you’ll have a similar experience as we did).

These types of short-term stay hotels focus on tourists from the US, Canada, and Europe. And they’re great places to meet other current and future Ecuador expats.

Long-Term Rental Costs in Ecuador

If you’re planning to stay in Ecuador for more than a year, a long-term rental lease will be your most cost-effective option.

Depending on your desires and budget, you can rent anything from a single bedroom in someone’s house to a luxury hacienda in the country.

Types of Housing Rentals in Ecuador

There are three types of rental options that affect the price and availability of long-term rentals: fully furnished, semi-furnished, and unfurnished.

A fully furnished home includes all furniture, such as beds, dressers, tables, chairs, kitchen appliances, dishes, basic linens, etc. Most will even offer bedding and pillows, but some may not.

A semi-furnished home includes furniture such as tables, chairs and beds, but won’t include any kitchen appliances. There will be no stove, oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer or dryer.

An unfurnished home does not include any furniture or appliances. Most will not include window coverings, and some may not include light fixtures or ceiling fans. You will need to supply everything yourselves, which is ideal if you’re shipping a container with your household items because these are the most affordable rental options.

Best Way to Find a Long Term Rental in Ecuador

For low budget rooms or apartments, your best option is to check websites such as GringoPost.com for locals or expats who are advertising a room or apartment with very few or no amenities.

If your budget is over $500/month, GringoPost.com is still a good option, but you may find additional and better options on websites such as EcuadorProperties.com or Ecuador-Realty.com, and Facebook groups such as Real Estate and Rentals in Ecuador or House Hunting in Ecuador.

See Also: Affordable Beach Town Rentals for Expats in Olón

If you have a higher budget, you may want to work with a real estate agent who can help you find properties as well as negotiate the lease terms, like we did in our Condos for RENT in Manta Ecuador on the Beach video.

Most leases in Ecuador are very basic, but they are in Spanish so if you’re not fluent you may want to have someone there to represent your interests and act as a translator.

Low Budget Rental Options and Costs in Ecuador

The lowest budget long-term rental option is to rent a room in an Ecuadorian home. You can often find places in the $100 to $200/month range, but they may have a shared bathroom, and you’ll need to share the kitchen and refrigerator.

If your goal is to learn Spanish quickly, full immersion in a Spanish speaking household is a great way to do it!

House and Condo Rentals in Ecuador

Cuenca Ecuador House

Condo and house rental costs vary widely based on the city/region, neighborhood, size, amenities, and age of the building.

At the low end, you’ll find an older studio or 1-bedroom/1-bathroom condo with minimal facilities in the $250 to $500 per month range.

For $500 to $1,500 per month, you’ll find better condos, townhomes, and free-standing houses with 2 to 4 bedrooms and bathrooms, like the one pictured here.

Our old 1,800 square foot fully furnished rental house in the popular Cuenca neighborhood of El Vergel is $800/month for 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms as of June 2023. We checked with the landlord and it’s still the same price now as it was when we moved in back in 2017.

See Also: Cuenca Condo Tour Video

After we moved to the coast in 2020, we rented a condo about 3 blocks from the beach in Olón Ecuador. It was a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom ground floor condo with a nice covered patio and backyard for $700/month including Internet and tap water. We paid for electricity and bottled water. Since the tap water isn’t chlorinated in Olón, it’s not safe to drink.

See Also: Olón Condo Tour Video

Depending on the location, some rental houses and condos may even have fantastic views of the city, ocean, or mountains.

Luxury Rentals in Ecuador

Luxury Rental Salinas AirBnBIf your budget is over $1,300 per month, you’ll be able to live in a luxury home that would easily cost 3 or 4 times more in the United States or Europe.

Condos will have all the bells and whistles, amazing views, and 24/7 security guards. Houses will be vast and luxurious.

Comparable beachfront property that may have been a pipe dream in Miami or San Diego is affordable in Ecuador.

See Also: Salinas Edificio Bahía Chipipe Luxury Condo Tour

When we moved to Manta in 2021, we rented a luxury beachfront 2 bedroom/2 bathroom condo on the 15th floor of the Ibiza building for $1,300/month. The building had 24/7 security, two pools, a tennis court, workout room and it was walkable to Mall del Pacífico, Megamaxi and restaurant row.

See Also: Manta Luxury Condo Tour Video

We had expat stalkers in Manta (not Ecuadorians) and someone flew a drone in our 15th floor window so we no longer share where we currently live for privacy and safety reasons.

Buying a House or Condo in Ecuador

As it is with rentals, purchase prices for houses and condos are much lower in Ecuador. You can expect to pay one third or less for a comparable property in Ecuador compared to the United States, depending on the location.

For example, a newly built, modern, fully furnished condo in the heart of Cuenca’s El Centro district lists for $94,500 (June 2023).

Olon Ecuador Beach HouseThis 2,153 square feet beachfront house in Olón Ecuador with three bedrooms and three bathrooms (shown here) recently sold for $425,000.

There is also a lot of land for sale in Ecuador, so if your dream is to own a farm or part of the Amazon jungle, that’s a real option. You can buy pristine land in many areas with lakes, rivers, and waterfalls for less than $1,000 per acre.

However, as with many developing nations, purchasing a property in Ecuador can be risky due to their lack of clear title rules and regulations. Some people have lost their property due to outstanding liens or fraudulent titles.

When it comes to land purchases, you may find that the government has issued mining rights to major international corporations who have the option to set up shop on your property whenever they choose.

It’s less risky to buy a condo or house in a gated community, especially if you are working directly with the developer. And you will minimize your risk by working with a real estate agent and a lawyer to help you navigate the nuances of buying a property in a foreign country.

See Also: Buying Real Estate in Ecuador

Whatever your housing requirements are, you’re sure to find something you like in Ecuador.

 

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Cost of Food in Ecuador

Overall, the cost of living in Ecuador with respect to food is much lower than the US, Canada, and Europe, especially for fruits and vegetables.

However, some specialty foods, such as non-dairy milk and gluten-free products, as well as meat and dairy are the same price or even more expensive in Ecuador.

Your cost of food will vary depending on the diet you choose to eat and whether you choose to buy most of it at the traditional Ecuadorian mercados, or in modern grocery stores such as Supermaxi, Mi Comisariato or Tía. Mercados tend to be much less expensive than grocery stores.

Farming isn’t heavily subsidized in Ecuador like it is in the US and Europe so the cost of food is more inline with the cost of producing it. That means food like meat and dairy that are expensive to produce are more costly in Ecuador because tax dollars aren’t used to artificially deflate the market price (and give an unfair market advantage to whoever can hire the most lobbyists or donate the most to political campaigns).

Since most plant foods are grown by local farmers inside Ecuador, and since GMO (technically, Genetically Engineered) crops are banned by the Ecuadorian constitution, things like beans, lentils, rice, grains, fruits and vegetables are very fresh and affordable.

Most of the produce we buy is grown in Ecuador so it doesn’t need to be treated with chemical preservatives or specially packaged for expensive long distance transportation.

Farmers are also allowed to save their own seeds for next year’s crops so they aren’t forced to buy expensive seeds every year from GMO monopolies.

Additionally, the cost of farm labor is far less in Ecuador compared to the US and Europe. All of these factors mean the cost of plant-based foods are far cheaper in Ecuador.

Ecuador Mercado Itemized Food Cost

Cuenca Ecuador Mercado FoodThe cost of fruits and vegetables in Ecuador varies by location and season. Most of the products you’ll find in mercados are grown in Ecuador and much of it comes from local farms.

However, if you live in the mountains, you’ll pay more for tropical fruits grown at lower elevation and shipped into the mountain cities.

Conversely, many of the root vegetables like potatoes and beets, are grown at high elevations, so you may pay more for those if you live on the coast.

Regardless of where you live, you’ll find the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables to be far less than you’re used to paying, and the quality is much higher.

In September 2020, we spent $41 at mercados, which is where we buy the majority of our produce and enough to feed two people for the entire month.

We now buy most of our produce from an organic farm-to-table farmer and pay about $100/month.

Here is an itemized list from a Mercado in Cuenca, Ecuador:

Item Oz  Cost
Choclo 16  $         1.00
Peas 48  $         3.00
Beans 16  $         1.00
Blueberries 4  $         2.50
Strawberries 16  $         1.50
Apples 40  $         2.00
Peaches 12  $         1.00
Dragon Fruit 32  $         3.00
Chirimoya 16  $         2.00
Limes 16  $         1.00
Bananas 64  $         1.00
Papayas 32  $         1.00
Tomatoes 32  $         1.00
Mellocos 16  $         0.50
Carrots 48  $         1.00
Sweet Potatoes 64  $         2.00
Yellow Potatoes 32  $         1.00
Beets 24  $         1.00
Broccoli 24  $         0.50
Cauliflower 32  $         0.50
Total 584  $       27.50
Pounds 36.5  $         0.75/lb

Ecuador Grocery Store Cost

Cuenca Ecuador Cost of Living SupermaxiThe mercados have some packaged items, but they mostly carry fresh, unpackaged foods.

Most expats choose to purchase packaged or specialty items at one of Ecuador’s major grocery stores, such as Supermaxi, Tía, Akí, Mi Comisariato, Coral, etc.

We spend around $250/month at grocery stores on things like cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, chocolate, almond milk, oats, mushrooms, popcorn, raisins and condiments.

Here is an itemized list from Supermaxi El Vergel in Cuenca, Ecuador:

Item Qty  Cost 
Rolls of Toilet Paper 12 rolls  $         2.06
Almond Milk 946 ml  $         3.13
Oats 850 g  $         3.14
Raisins 400 g  $         1.93
Organic Chocolate 3 bars @ 50 g  $         5.81
Brown Rice 2 kg  $         5.40
Lentils 2 kg  $         3.61
Pasta Sauce 2 jars @ 500 g  $         5.04
Garlic Salt 140 g  $         1.65
Garlic Powder 100 g  $         2.63
Mustard Powder 28 g  $         1.40
Vanilla Extract 120 ml  $         0.96
Ketchup 1200 g  $         2.85
All-Purpose Cleaner 900 ml  $         1.60
Dish Soap 1 L  $         2.41
Organic Spinach 250 g  $         1.23
Organic Chard 450 g  $         1.16
Asparagus 250 g  $         1.31
Total  $       47.32

Total: $47.32 + $4.25 Tax = $51.57 – $2.06 Loyalty Discount = $49.51

The prices in Cuenca are nearly identical to the prices in the Salinas Supermaxi and the Guayaquil Megamaxi, so you can expect the costs to be similar throughout Ecuador.

Ecuador Restaurant Costs

Dining at restaurants in Ecuador is so affordable that many expats choose to eat out more than cooking at home.

In major cities like Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca, you’ll have a variety of international cuisines to choose from in addition to more traditional Ecuadorian fare.

Breakfast Restaurants in Ecuador

If you’re moving from the United States, you may be surprised to learn that breakfast isn’t a popular meal in Ecuador. Most Ecuadorian restaurants are not open for breakfast.

Most Ecuadorians eat a VERY late dinner, typically after 8 PM. That may explain the low importance they put on breakfast, which is often a fresh piece of bread or fruit that they eat on their way to work or school.

Still, you’ll find some restaurants open for breakfast in areas that are more popular with expats such as Sunrise Café in Cuenca. You can expect to pay between $5 and $10 per person for a typical American-style breakfast at these types of restaurants.

El Almuerzo in Ecuador

Most restaurants in Ecuador have a traditional lunch special that ranges from $1.50 to $3.50. It’s called El Almuerzo (the lunch) and usually comes with 3 to 5 courses.

The amount of food at El Almuerzo is smaller than a typical dinner, but it’s still very filling, especially for the price.

Dinner Restaurants in Ecuador

Dinner is the biggest meal of the day for Ecuadorians, so that’s when most of the restaurants are open. There are lots of Ecuadorian restaurants in every neighborhood.

In the larger cities, you’ll also find a variety of international cuisines, such as American, Indian, Thai, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.

You can expect to pay around $10 per person for dinner without alcoholic drinks at expat-oriented restaurants. A glass of wine costs $3 to $5 with a bottle running $20 to $30. A bottle of domestic beer such as Club or Pilsener costs $2 to $3 while craft or imported beers cost around $5.

Pizza is also trendy in Ecuador. In addition to the American pizza places like Pizza Hut, Papa Johns and Dominos, you’ll also find a large variety of smaller mom-and-pop pizza restaurants. You can expect to pay around $15 for a large gourmet pizza at places like Fabiano’s in Cuenca.

Restaurants in Olón Ecuador

In Olón, there are several delicious restaurants to choose from, such as South Indian Restaurant, MOMO Restaurant & Deli, Nettuno Pizza, and many more.

Dinner at South Indian typically costs $19, including a $2 tip, for rice, two entrees and 2 pieces of naan bread. A bottle of wine costs $15 and a glass costs $5.

MOMO is the most expensive place in Olón, but it’s also the most gourmet restaurant with food that would have people lined up around the corner in any major US city. We typically spend about $50 for dinner there which includes an appetizer, two entrees, dessert and a $5 tip.

A large square thin-crust pizza at Nettuno runs $12 and is one of the best pizzas we’ve had. The owners have family connections in Italy so it’s very authentic Italian pizza.

In September 2020, we spent $193 at restaurants and ate out 9 times for dinner. That’s an average of $21 per visit for 2 people.

Restaurants in Manta Ecuador

In addition to the malecón and other traditional Ecuadorian restaurants found throughout Manta, you’ll also find a variety of international cuisines along restaurant row on the western side of town near the beachfront condo buildings.

Our favorite restaurants are South India Restaurant, which is owned by our friend Ravi from Tamil Nadu in Southern India. You can expect to pay roughly $20 for a dinner for two.

Martinica is a delicious Italian restaurant and arguably Manta’s best (non-Indian) restaurant. We also enjoy Mamma Rosa, which has great pizza and other Italian dishes.

Mall del Pacífico has a food court with a Kobe Sushi, the express version of Noe, and several other restaurants. And Hotel Oro Verde has a really nice restaurant with outdoor seating and views of Playa Murciélago.

You can expect to pay $5 to $10 per person for lunch, and $10 to $15 per person for dinner at most places in Manta.

Health Insurance Costs in Ecuador

You may want private health insurance when you first move to Ecuador. Once you have your visa and cédula (government-issued ID card), you can get the cheaper IESS public health insurance.

Private Health Insurance in Ecuador

Just like in the United States, there are several different health insurance companies. You may want to use a health insurance broker like Blue Box to help you pick the best plan for your circumstances.

A private health insurance plan allows you to go to the doctors and hospitals that you choose.

Depending on your age and smoking habits, you can expect to pay $50 to $150/month per person with a private health insurance company such as Confiamed.

Private insurance companies are required to cover pre-existing conditions after two years of paying into the plan. However, the maximum coverage is typically less than $10K, so if you have an expensive pre-existing condition that requires medication or frequent trips to the doctor, you may prefer Ecuador’s public (universal) healthcare option.

Ecuador IESS Public Health Insurance

IESS is Ecuador’s single-payer social security and (universal) healthcare system. Once you have your temporary or permanent residency visa and your cédula, you can sign up for this health insurance.

IESS health insurance is cheaper than private insurance, but you have to go to the IESS hospitals and doctors. Since it’s their version of social security, it also means you’ll get some of it back when you retire if you’re still living in Ecuador.

The IESS plan is around $80 per month per person and covers pre-existing conditions after a three month waiting period.

See Also: Ecuador Health Insurance: Private vs. Public IESS – Explained

Other Common Costs of Living in Ecuador

Startup Costs Following Your Move to Ecuador

After we moved into our rental house in Cuenca, we spent about $700 on startup costs. Even though it came fully furnished, it lacked a few essential things such as sheets, blankets, a quality set of pots & pans, a pressure cooker, coat rack, knives, heaters, etc.

We bought most of these items at Coral and Sukasa. Coral is like a Super Walmart and Home Depot combined, while Sukasa is like a Crate & Barrel or Bed Bath & Beyond. You can also find home items at Kywi, which is like a Home Depot.

See Also: The Real Cost of Moving to Ecuador from the United States (or elsewhere)

Medication Costs

Most prescription and OTC drugs are available in Ecuador, but they may be sold under different brand names than back home. The prices may also be different.

Prescriptions drugs in Ecuador are typically much cheaper than the US due to pricing regulations that prevent pharmaceutical companies from price gouging people for required medications.

However, we’ve found that many OTC drugs like Zyrtec, Allegra, Tylenol and Ibuprofen are much more expensive in Ecuador compared to the US so we stock up on those every time we go back.

Transportation Costs

Ground transportation costs vary based on the type of transportation and the region of the country.

Cuenca Ecuador

In Cuenca, a bus ride costs 31 cents and the Tranvia costs 35 cents per trip.

Taxies have a minimum fare of $1.50. It usually costs $2 to $3 to go most places in Cuenca.

You can also book private drivers with nicer cars or trucks that can help you move things for $10 per trip.

Olón Ecuador

You can catch a bus every few minutes on the main highway, la Ruta del Sol, for 50 cents. If you’re going a longer distance to La Libertad or to Puerto Lopez, expect to pay $1.50.

Most taxies are based in Montañita, Olón or Manglaralto. Fares between these towns cost $1.50, but if you live further away from these towns, you can expect to pay $5 and you’ll need to call one to come get you.

Manta Ecuador

The minimum cab fare is $2.00, which covers most 10 minute cab rides in Manta. It costs $5 to go to the airport.

Clothing and ShoesCuenca Ecuador Emily Shoes Cost

These new boots made with synthetic materials at Emily Shoes in El Centro cost $29.

The price of clothes in stores is about the same as the US. However, you can have clothes made for you by local tailors for about 1/3 the cost of off-the-rack clothing.

Fitness Costs in Ecuador

It seems like there’s a gym on every corner in Ecuador. They’re very popular with Ecuadorians, who seem to be very active.

We’ve seen both traditional indoor, as well as outdoor Crossfit-type gyms. You can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $40/month for memberships, and long-term commitments are not common.

Yoga at RumiSol in Cuenca Ecuador

You can find yoga classes on a variety of different websites, like Gaia.com if you prefer to do your yoga at home, but you can also go to yoga studios like RumiSol Yoga. The monthly rates range from $30 to $50, and a drop-in class is $6.

Appliances and Electronics

You can find most appliances in Ecuador, even 4K TV’s, but you’ll likely spend more for them here.

The cost of living is low in Ecuador, but the cost of “things” is very high. Anything with a plug will cost 50% to 100% more than it would in the United States.

Monthly Cost of Living Comparison

Here is a monthly cost of living comparison for Cuenca, Olón, Manta and Quito. Costs have not changed much since we moved to Ecuador. The main variable is rent.

Itemized Expenses

Non-Discretionary  Cuenca Jun 2019  Olón Sep 2020  Manta Jun 2021  Quito May 2023
Water Jugs  $                        –  $                   14  $                       –  $                       –
Propane  $                       10  $                     2  $                       –  $                       –
Transportation  $                       20  $                   71  $                      10  $                      10
Claro  $                       17  $                   21  $                      20  $                      40
Mercado  $                     120  $                   41  $                      32  $                    100
Internet  $                       56  $                   45  $                      45  $                      45
Utilities  $                       80  $                   64  $                      84  $                      40
Health Insurance  $                     158  $                 158  $                    174  $                    214
Grocery Stores  $                     200  $                 254  $                    543  $                    250
Rent  $                     800  $                 655  $                 1,300  $                 1,300
Total  $                  1,461  $              1,325  $                 2,208  $                 1,999
Discretionary  Cuenca Jun 2019  Olón Sep 2020  Manta Jun 2021  Quito May 2023
Wine/Drinks  $                        –  $                   85  $                       –  $                       50
Entertainment  $                        –  $                   18  $                       –  $                       –
Translations  $                        –  $                   20  $                       –  $                       –
Massage  $                     150  $                    –  $                       –  $                       –
Amelia’s Hair  $                       10  $                    –  $                       –  $                       –
Yoga  $                       40  $                   80  $                       –  $                       –
Belly Dancing  $                       40  $                    –  $                       –  $                       –
Housekeeper  $                       40  $                   90  $                       80  $                       –
Traveling Mailbox  $                       20  $                   20  $                      20  $                      25
Spanish Lessons  $                        –  $                   50  $                      50  $                      –
Restaurants  $                     150  $                 193  $                      85  $                    250
Total  $                     450  $                 556  $                    235  $                    325
Grand Total  $                  1,911  $              1,881  $                 2,443  $                 2,324

Ecuador Inflation: What it Means for the Cost of Living in Ecuador

The inflation rate peaked at 4% during 2022, but it was close to 0% from 2017 to 2022. As of May 2023, it has returned to pre-recession levels at 0.09%. Ecuador may use the same currency as the US, but it has a completely separate economy.

We’re often asked if we’ve noticed a price increase since we moved to Ecuador in 2017. Several other bloggers and YouTubers complain about how the cost of things has gone up in recent years, but we haven’t noticed much of a change. Most necessities have stayed at the same price, but some things are more expensive, and some are less expensive.

Unchanged prices

The previous renters of our house in Cuenca lived there almost a year and a half and we lived there from Nov 2017 to Feb 2020. We messaged our old landlord and asked what it’s renting for now, and he said it’s still $800. The price hasn’t changed since 2016.

Our Mercado and Supermaxi food costs didn’t change while we lived in Cuenca. We consistently spent $30/week at the Mercado on produce, coffee, nuts, and seeds. That’s when we didn’t buy specialty or out-of-season items like cherimoyas or pitahayas. We consistently spent $50/week at Supermaxi.

We spent much less at the mercados in Olón than we did in Cuenca mainly because we bought coffee, nuts, seeds and beans at the grocery story rather than the mercado. We consistently spent about $10/week in Olón for our fresh fruits and vegetables, and about $60/week at the Tía or El Pueblo in Montañita for packaged items.

The cost of water and electricity in Cuenca decreased while we lived there. Our utilities averaged $80/month for the first year in Cuenca, but dropped to $60/month during our last year there. We still aren’t sure why they decreased.

Taxi rates and doctors visits have also remained unchanged.

Price Decreases

In 2018, Ecuador started rolling back its massive import tariff of 100% that applied to cars and electronics. Subsequently, the price of those items fell dramatically.

Ecuador also repealed the “goodwill law” that taxed real estate development almost out of existence. That meant developers weren’t building things because they couldn’t sell them for enough to cover the cost of the taxes. The lack of supply drove up the value of existing properties as the demand grew from both gringos and more affluent Ecuadorians.

Since then, lawmakers repealed the statute and, as a result, developers were once again building at a faster rate (pre-pandemic), which has increased the housing supply. In the coming years, we expect this will drive down the overall cost of housing.

The cost of internet access is lower on the coast with Netlife than it was in Cuenca with Puntonet. This doesn’t have anything to do with the economy; it’s just a different service provider charging different rates.

Amelia doesn’t color her hair anymore and she’s been cutting it herself (with my help) so we no longer have haircare expenses.

Price Increases

Our private health insurance increased from $117/month when we arrived in Cuenca to $214/month now. Most of the increase came from me turning 50 and a blanket increase to help offset the cost of the pandemic.

A propane tank increased from $2.50 to $3.00. In Cuenca, we had to replace the tank attached to our hot water heater about once every two weeks. The tank connected to our stove/oven lasted about six months.

In Olón, we had a tank connected to our gas stove that we replaced twice in 15 months. We replaced the tank connected to the hot water heater about every 2 months. We’re not sure why a tank lasts so much longer in Olón, except that water boils at a lower temperature due to being at sea level, and the outside air is warmer so the pipes aren’t as cold for the hot water transit.

We didn’t have propane in Manta or where we live now so that expense has gone away.

In Cuenca, the cost of a bus ride increased from 25 cents to 31 cents in 2018 to cover the cost of replacing the blue puffer buses with low-emission diesel buses.

Our mobile phone plan with Claro has increased from $17/month when we signed up in October 2017 to $20/month in September 2020. As of June 2023, it’s still $20 per month, but we have two phones now so we pay $40/month.

Amelia’s yoga was more expensive in Olón because she took private lessons on the beach twice per week rather than the group classes she took in Cuenca. We both workout at home and the gym at our complex so we don’t have those costs anymore.

Our housekeeper in Cuenca came once every 2 weeks for 4 hours and we paid her $5/hour or $40/month. In Olón, we had a housekeeper come 3 days per week for a total of 5 hours per week. She came on Monday and Wednesday for an hour to clean the kitchen, and on Friday’s for 3 hours to clean the whole condo. We paid her $5/hour or $90/month (she often didn’t show up one or two days per month). We paid our housekeeper in Manta about $80/month and we clean our own house now.

Cost of Living in Ecuador: A Comfortable Life for MUCH Less

We live a very comfortable middle class life here in Ecuador. As you can see, it’s easy for a couple to live on less than $2,000 per month. For a single person, the cost of living in Ecuador is often $1,200 per month or less. We know people who live on less than $500/month!

The major deciding factor is how much you want to pay for rent. You can rent rooms for less than $200/month, smaller condos for less than $400/month, nice condos and houses off the beach for less than $800/month, and true luxury resort-style condos and homes for less than $1,500/month.

The overall cost of living is lower in the mountains than the coast, and it’s lower in smaller cities like Cuenca, Loja and Cotacachi compared to big cities like Quito and Guayaquil.

Regardless of your budget, you’re sure to find a place somewhere in Ecuador that fits it and we don’t expect the cost of living to change much over the next few years.

See Also:

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Why Ecuador Is Better than Mexico for Retirees & Expats!

If you’re on a tight budget and don’t qualify for a Mexico temporary residency visa, you may want to consider Ecuador, instead.

Here’s our last Cost of Living video showing you what your quality of life will look like on the average social security check.

Planning a move to Ecuador? Check out our A-to-Z Ecuador Relocation eCourse!

Watch Our Video About Why Ecuador Is Better Than Mexico for Expats

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Expat Life in Ecuador on Less Than $500/month

Is it possible to live in Ecuador for less than $500 per month? The short answer is yes! Expats and retirees flock to Ecuador for its tropical weather and beautiful, biodiverse landscapes, as well as for the low cost of living! Depending on where you choose to live, it’s entirely possible to live well in Ecuador on a very small budget.

People worldwide—including US, Canadian, and European expats—have discovered that Ecuador offers many affordable options to choose from. Besides the prospect of pleasant weather and stunning scenery, you can also look forward to minimizing your expenses and stretching your income!

In this article, we’ll take a look at the typical monthly expenses you can expect to incur living in Ecuador. This is a guide to everything you need to know to make a $500 budget work well for you.

You’ll find information on housing options, health insurance costs, food, and transportation that will allow a single person to live quite well on a low budget.

Low Budget Housing in Ecuador

Housing is often the largest budget consideration. It’s also what makes moving to Ecuador so attractive for people who leave Canada, Europe, or the US. Although coastal options and larger properties will cost more money, it is entirely possible to find safe, comfortable housing for less than $300/month.

Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when you look for housing on a tight budget.

Hostel or Private Room

Although you’ll have to share amenities like a kitchen and bathroom in these setups, you can find a safe, spacious place to live in Ecuador for between $100-$200/month in a hostel or private room in someone’s home.

For example, a friend secured a well-appointed room in a house living with an Ecuadorian family in Cuenca for $110/month. Though she only had a small corner of the fridge to herself and shared a bathroom with her host family, she enjoyed the experience and lived on a very low budget. As a bonus, living with an Ecuadorian family allowed her to quickly learn the local culture and become fluent in Spanish.

Private Housing in Ecuador

If you elect to rent a private house, condo or apartment, there are plenty to find below or around the $300/month mark in smaller cities and towns throughout Ecuador.

Here are some things that you’ll want to factor into your housing search:

Furnished, Semi-furnished and Unfurnished

There are some pretty dramatic differences between the types of listings for rental properties in Ecuador.

Furnished homes are move-in ready and have everything you need, including kitchen items, like pots and pans, and linens, like sheets and towels. Consequently, they’re more expensive.

Semi-furnished homes have appliances, like a stove and refrigerator, but you’ll have to provide everything else, such as pots, pans, plates, bedding, etc.

Unfurnished units will not have anything included—sometimes you’ll even need to provide your own blinds and light fixtures!

If you decide to go with an unfurnished or semi-furnished place, you can find reasonably priced second hand furniture at moving sales or local consignments shops.

If you’re planning to ship your belongings to Ecuador in a container, check out our article about Ecuador Shipping Company Costs and Process for more on that.

Ecuador Housing Location

Desirable properties on or near the beach, or centrally located housing in popular cities such as Cuenca, usually charge higher rents, but there are plenty of places with great views and surroundings that you can rent on a budget.

Paute (which has a thriving expat community) and Azogues are about 45 minutes from Cuenca, but offer a host of cheaper housing alternatives. Inland cities like Cotacachi, Ibarra, or Otavalo also have very affordable housing options. You might find that you need a car to get around those areas rather than rely on public transportation, so that could be costly.

For more ideas on affordable coastal living options, check out our Affordable Beach Town Rentals in Olón Ecuador video to see opportunities like the Casita in Las Nuñez, which rents for $350/month.

Health Insurance in Ecuador

Health insurance is required to apply for the Pensioner visa and for your cédula.  It is no longer required to enter the country on a tourist visa.

You will probably choose to purchase either private or public health insurance although some choose to have both. Public heath insurance costs  about $83/month/person. Private health insurance costs vary depending on the type of coverage, your age, pre-existing conditions, and whether or not you smoke. You can expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $150 per person.

Private Insurance in Ecuador

For private insurance, in addition to the monthly premium, you can expect a nominal $100 annual deductible and a $10 copay per visit for low deductible plans. You can also purchase a high deductible plan with gap insurance, which has the benefit of lower monthly premiums.

These plans cover you at 90% in-network and 80% out-of-network. Pre-existing conditions are covered after a two-year waiting period with private insurance plans.

Public IESS Insurance in Ecuador

After you obtain your temporary residency visa AND your cédula, you can enroll in the Public IESS health insurance plan for a similar monthly premium.

Under the IESS coverage, you’ll have no copay or deductible and everything is covered at 100%, including doctors visits, surgeries, hospital stays and medication.

However, you must go to doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies in the public IESS network. Pre-existing conditions are covered after a 3 month waiting period.

To learn more about this topic, check out our article, Ecuador Health Insurance: Private vs. Public IESS.

Grocery Costs in Ecuador

Cuenca Ecuador MercadoBudgeting $50/month/person for groceries is a reasonable amount in Ecuador, especially if you buy most of your fruits, vegetables and beans from the local mercados rather than the grocery stores.

Meat, dairy, eggs and processed foods are more expensive in Ecuador, so if you eat a plant-based diet or limit your consumption of those products, you’ll save a lot of money.

Transportation

Ecuador is well-connected with a reliable public transportation system. Each ride costs about 35 cents in Cuenca and 50 cents along the coast.

Cab rides in Cuenca typically cost between $2 and $3, while on the coast they cost $1.50 to $5 depending on how far you travel between towns.

Interprovincial buses will take you from city to city throughout the country for just a few dollars per trip.

Realistically, you can get by on about $20 per month for transportation if you stay local and limit your cab rides.

Mobile Phone Service in Ecuador

Mobile Phone Service in EcuadorWhatsApp is included in most mobile phone plans in Ecuador, and it’s used by most people to stay in touch using the free public Wi-Fi that’s available throughout the country.

Many expats choose to get a monthly phone plan that includes data for about $20/month. You can also go the prepaid route and spend a few dollars a month on minutes that you use until you run out. Depending on how heavily you rely on your mobile phone, this option can save you a lot of money over the course of a year.

Potential Extras

Many rentals include utilities like water, internet or electricity.

In warmer areas in the coastal or Amazon regions, electricity isn’t typically included because air conditioning preferences lead to varying costs that are hard to predict. Depending on how cold you like it, and how efficient your place is, you’ll probably pay between $20-$100 per month in electricity charges.

Basic, residential internet service costs about $30/month with Netlife on the coast or PuntoNet in Cuenca, and faster speeds will cost more.

Some extra costs that you might incur are bottled water delivery, for about $20/month. However, plenty of people in Cuenca enjoy the tap water.

Propane costs vary widely, from $2-$3/month to $15 or more.

Incidental Expenses

Montanita Ecuador AlmuerzoDining Out

Though the best way to save money on food is by shopping at the mercados and cooking at home, there are affordable dining options that you can enjoy on a low budget.

Local-run restaurants that serve typical Ecuadorian fares like chicken, fish, soup, rice, plantains, and juice are very affordable. Almuerzos, which are sizeable lunch portions, normally run between $1.50 to $3 for a hearty, authentic meal.

Depending on where you go and what you eat, you can dine out a few times a week on a $30 monthly dining budget.

Entertainment

Ecuador offers plenty of free entertainment options, such as local walking tours, free museums and free concerts. Local parks are outfitted with free outdoor workout equipment, and the beautiful beaches and most national parks are free, too.

These are plenty of fun ways to entertain yourself on the cheap in Ecuador.

Clothing & Shoes

Local brands of clothing and shoes are more affordable than imported brands, like Nike or Skechers. You can find plenty of options in malls, small stores or pop up shops that are in line with what you’d expect to spend on clothes or shoes back at home.

Conclusion

Yes! It’s more than possible to live well in Ecuador on less than $500 per month!

Frugal couples can easily manage on $700-$800 per month since the cost of housing won’t increase with more people.

Health insurance is reasonably priced, but will be a significant budget consideration. Beyond that, fresh, healthy food is very affordable in Ecuador. Almuerzos at local restaurants and fresh fruits and veggies from the mercados will allow you to eat well on a low monthly budget.

Transportation, utilities, and incidentals are also inexpensive compared to high cost of living places like the United States, Canada and Europe. The low cost of living in Ecuador continues to attract expats from around the world.

With a little creativity and little frugality, there are plenty of ways to make a $500 monthly budget work well for you in Ecuador, while providing lots of enjoyment and a higher overall quality of life.

Watch Our Video About the Cost Of Living on a Budget in Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Olón Ecuador Condo Tour & Cost + Drama on the Beach w/ Mini (our new drone)

The monthly rent for a 12 month lease for our condo in Olón Ecuador is $700. That includes tap water and Internet access. We’re saving about $200/month compared to our house in Cuenca, which was $800/month but didn’t include water ($20/mo) or Internet ($56/mo).

This is also our first video featuring Mini, my new drone. We’re very happy with her so far, despite the attention she garnered from a friendly beach dog who wanted to use her as a chew toy!

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Watch Our Video About The Olón Ecuador Condo Tour

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Salinas Ecuador Cost of Living (w/ REAL Prices)

This Salinas Ecuador Cost of Living video covers rental costs, living expenses, real prices for a variety of things, as well as some other common costs of living in Salinas.

Salinas AirBnB Tour, visit: Salinas Ecuador AirBnB Tour + A Walk on the Beach

Chipipe Luxury AirBnB Tour, visit: Edificio Bahía Chipipe AirBnB Condo Tour (Salinas Ecuador)

Cuenca Cost of Living, visit: Cuenca Ecuador Cost of Living: Updated with Real Prices

Cuenca Rental House Tour, visit: Cuenca Ecuador Rental House + Monthly Living Expenses

Salinas Ecuador Rental Cost

House and condo rental costs vary widely based on:

  • High Season, Low Season or Holiday
  • Beachfront, Ocean View, Off-Beach
  • Chipipe, Malecón, Northeast Salinas Beach
  • Length of Lease
  • Square Feet
  • Bedrooms and Bathrooms
  • Furnished, Semi-Furnished or Unfurnished
  • Year Built

Salinas Seasons

The low season in Salinas is from May through mid-December. The weather is cooler (60’s F) and it’s much cloudier. You may only see the sun for a few days per month.

The high season is from late-December through April. This is the warmest time of year (70’s – 90’s F) with a lot of sunny days. This is when all the Ecuadorians like to visit Salinas because the kids in the coastal towns have their summer break during these months. Rents are much more expensive during the high season. You can expect to pay about 50% more than the low season, on average.

The big holidays in Salinas are:

  • Christmas & New Years
  • Carnival
  • Cuenca Independence (the week of November 3rd)

During the holidays, the nightly and weekly rates can be double or even more from the low season rates.

Reasonable Housing Costs

Salinas is not for the overly budget conscious. If you’re looking to live as cheaply as possible, you might want to consider another beach town like Playas or Manta, or a popular mountain town like Cuenca, Loja, Vilcabamba, Cotacachi, etc. Salinas is one of the most expensive places to live in Ecuador.

In Salinas, you can find small fully furnished apartments and houses for rent starting in the $500 range depending on the factors listed above. However, a nice 2 bedroom 2 bath ocean view condo will likely cost $1,000 or more. Some of the really high-end places will cost over $2,000/month.

Unfurnished apartments and houses for rent are very difficult to find in Salinas because it’s such a popular short-term tourist destination. Lots of Ecuadorians own several properties in Salinas as investments that they rent out only during the high season to short-term stay tourists.

If you sign a 6 month lease for the low season, you’ll pay less per month than you will for a 12 month lease because that would include the highly lucrative holidays and high season months.

Finding Properties in Salinas Ecuador

We met with Amy Prisco, a gringo real estate agent, on our visit to Salinas to ask her lots of questions about living there. We plan to use her services when we search for a rental property if we decide to move there. You can search properties and contact her through her website: Ecuador-Realty.com.

You can also search for rental and for sale properties on the Island Estates International website.

Agents like Amy Prisco provide valuable boots-on-the-ground support for people looking for a rental house. They work on commission paid by the owner so there’s no cost to you for their services. In order for them to get paid, you need to work through them so if you find a property you like, send them the link and let them get the details, set the showing and work with the owner or listing agent.

Salinas Ecuador Cost of Food

We didn’t do a lot of cooking during our 10 day trip to Salinas, but we tried to get a good feel for the cost of food.

Salinas Ecuador Cost of Mercado Produce

Salinas Mercado

The Salinas Mercado is MUCH smaller than the mercados in Cuenca and we’re told most people go to the mercado in La Libertad that’s about a 15 minute cab ride away when they need more than the basics.

On our first day in Salinas, we went to the mercado for some dinner ingredients: giant head of broccoli, 2 onions, a caveman carrot and a whole bulb of garlic. The total cost was $1.50, which we think is about the same as Cuenca.

On our second visit to the mercado, we bought: 7 bananas, 2 mangos, 1 pitahaya, 1 small cauliflower and 2 lbs of tomatoes. The total cost was $4.50, which is also about the same as Cuenca.

We eat a Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) Diet, so we buy LOTS of produce at the mercado on Thursdays. Then we fill in the gaps with our local neighborhood fruit lady. We also chop up veggies and freeze them for quick oil-free stir fries on busy nights.

Salinas Ecuador Grocery Store Cost

There are two main grocery stores in Salinas: Supermaxi and Mi Comisariato Jr.

Supermaxi Salinas

Mi Comisariato Jr Salinas

Here are some price comparisons to the Supermaxi El Vergel in Cuenca Ecuador. Each store was missing a few of the items so we couldn’t do a perfect comparison, but this will give you an idea for prices and how little they vary between Salinas and Cuenca.

Item Qty  Cuenca Supermaxi  Salinas Supermaxi  Salinas Comisariato
Bananas 1 kg  $                        1.07  $                       1.07  $                         0.95
Broccoli 1 kg  $                         0.70
Cauliflower Large  $                         0.64
Papaya 1 kg  $                        1.39  $                         1.05
Mango 1 kg  $                        1.43  $                         1.96
Almond Milk 946 ml  $                        3.51  $                       3.51  $                         3.38
Sweet & Coffee 400 g  $                        6.57  $                       5.87
Oats 850 g  $                        3.42  $                       3.42
Raisins 450 g  $                        2.76  $                       2.46
Natures Heart Cranberries 200 g  $                        3.39  $                       3.03
Pita Bread 1 pkg  $                        2.34  $                       1.76
Schullos Brown Rice 2 kg  $                        5.40  $                       5.40
Super Extra Brown Rice 2 kg  $                        2.85  $                         2.78
Lentils 500 g  $                        0.91  $                         0.90
Tofu 1 pkg  $                        2.50  $                       2.50
Pasta Sauce 490 g  $                        2.52  $                         2.59
Schullo Peanut Butter 200 g  $                         3.46
Don Intriago Peanut Butter 400 g  $                        2.89
Jif Peanut Butter 793 g  $                        9.13  $                     14.63
Tabasco Sauce 150 ml  $                        9.80
Los Andes Ketchup 550 g  $                        1.61  $                       1.96

The cost of meat and dairy are higher in Ecuador than in the States because it’s not heavily subsidized by government handouts and taxpayer dollars. Animal ag competes on a level playing field with other food industries so the costs reflect that.

See More: Supermaxi Salinas Ecuador + Paseo Mall

Salinas Ecuador Restaurant Costs

We ate out quite a bit during our stay in Salinas. More than we intended to. And the cost of eating out in Salinas is a lot more than eating out in Cuenca.

You’ll also notice a big price difference between restaurants on the Malecón/beach vs off-Malecón. The Malecón prices were much closer to Denver prices while the off-Malecón prices were closer to typical Ecuadorian prices.

El Almuerzo at Bhakti Lunch SalinasBhakti Lunch Salinas

Most restaurants in Ecuador have a lunch special that ranges from $1.50 to $3.50. It’s called El Almuerzo (the lunch) and usually comes with 3 to 5 courses: juice/tea, salad, entree, rice, dessert & coffee.

Most almuerzos have chicken, fish or cow so we don’t eat those. However, the vegan almuerzo at Bhakti Lunch in Salinas was $3. Plus, the owners are amazing people who speak fluent English!

Oahu Açai Bar

We ate at Oahu Açai Bar for breakfast on the day of our Salinas Supermaxi Tour. It was AMAZING! I had the mango açai bowl and Amelia had the Spinach açai bowl. The cost of their bowls vary from $6.50 to $8.50 compared to the smoothie bowls at Zatua Miski in Cuenca that cost $4.50 and are just as good.

Luccy’s Mexican Grill

We have never eaten Mexican food in Cuenca so we don’t have a comparison, but Luccy’s Mexican Grill in Salinas was so delicious that we ate there for dinner 3 times! They have several vegetarian options that can be veganized and their chips & salsa are muy delicioso!

For dinner each night, we ordered roughly the same things: chips & salsa, 2 entrees, 2 wines and 2 Club Verdes. The cost was about $35 with a $2 tip. That’s about the same amount we spend at Paradise Indian Restaurant here in Cuenca for 2 entrees, rice, naan, 2 wines and 2 beers.

Mario’s Pizza

We had some delicious wood fired oven pizza at Mario’s on the Northeast end of Salinas. They have a vegetarian pizza piled high with veggies that we veganize by skipping the cheese. Their daily special is 2 medium pizzas for $20. That’s a little more than we pay for pizza in Cuenca.

Health Insurance Costs in Ecuador

You’ll need private health insurance before you apply for your Temporary Residency Visa. Once you have your visa and cedula (government issued ID card), you can get the cheaper IESS public health insurance.

Private Health Insurance Cuenca Ecuador

Just like in the States, there are several different health insurance companies to choose from. We used an insurance broker to help us pick the best plan for us.

We selected a health insurance plan through Confiamed that costs $156/month for both of us. A private health insurance plan allows us to go to the doctors and hospitals that we choose. Quality and convenience cost more, but that’s important to us.

If you would like us to connect you with our insurance agent, please drop us a note and we’ll send an email introduction.

Ecuador IESS Public Health Insurance

IESS is Ecuador’s single-payer social security and healthcare system. Once you have your temporary or permanent residency visa and your cedula, you can sign up for this health insurance.

IESS health insurance is cheaper than private insurance (for now), but you have to go to the IESS hospital and doctors. Since it’s their version of social security, it also means you’ll get some of it back when you retire if you’re still living here. The IESS plan is currently $77/month for each of our married friends who are in their 60’s.

See More: Ecuador Health Insurance Overview 2019

Other Common Living Expenses in Salinas Ecuador

Startup Costs

After we moved into our rental house in Cuenca, we spent about $700 on startup costs for it. Even though it was fully furnished, it lacked a few essential things such as sheets, blankets, a nicer set of pots, a pressure cooker, coat rack, knives, heaters, etc. You may not need these things in a Salinas rental because they tend to be more fully stocked for the tourist crowd.

Transportation Costs in Salinas Ecuador

A bus ride costs 31 cents throughout Ecuador

Taxis in Salinas have a minimum fair of $1.00 compared to $1.50 in Cuenca. However, not a single cab driver turned the meter on when we got into their taxi so we negotiated the rate ahead of time. They all charged us $2 except for the first driver who gringoed us because we didn’t know what the minimum was. He charged us $2.50 for a $1 trip from the Salinas Supermaxi to the Paseo Mall.

For transportation options and costs between Cuenca and Salinas Ecuador, visit:

Electricity

We pay for our own electricity for our rental in Cuenca, but it’s very common for that to be included in the cost of rent here. However, in Salinas, electricity is usually not included in long-term leases because it’s expensive (and optional) to run the air conditioners. Electricity is included in short-term nightly and weekly rentals.

There is no need for AC in Cuenca so this will be an additional cost of living in Salinas or any coastal, low altitude city.

Propane

In Cuenca, we spend less than $10/month for propane that we use for our hot water, gas stove/oven, and the clothes dryer. From our observations, propane isn’t used very much in Salinas. Instead, they use electricity for most of their energy needs. That means you’ll likely save money on propane but spend more on electricity.

Bottled Water

We drink the tap water in Cuenca (even though some people say not to), but the tap water in Salinas isn’t safe to drink for us gringos (or probably anyone). During our 10 days in Salinas, we used three 5 gallon bottles of water for drinking and cooking at $2 per bottle. That means you can expect to pay about $20/month for bottled water plus another $10-$20 for the tap water used for showers, laundry, etc.

Internet Access

We have Puntonet in Cuenca and that costs us $56/month for 50Mb up and down. The main provider in Salinas is Netlife and they charge $45/month for 50Mb so that’s a little cheaper.

Salinas Ecuador Quality of Life

We live a very comfortable middle class, low-stress life in Cuenca Ecuador for less than $2,000 per month.  However, we expect it will cost about 25% more in Salinas, or $2,500/month, due to the higher rent, restaurant and electricity costs. The house we live in now in Cuenca would easily cost $1,200 or more to rent in Salinas so keep that in mind if you’re on a tight budget.

We’re going to feature other cities on the coast and throughout Ecuador in future videos so stay tuned for those. You might want to Subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you don’t miss them. And also, please consider joining our growing community of unconventional expats over on Patreon so we can afford to continue making these informational videos and blog posts.

Watch Our Video About The Cost of Living in Salinas, Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Cuenca Ecuador Rental House + Monthly Living Expenses

Here’s our Cuenca Ecuador Rental House Tour. Plus, we share our cost of living and monthly living expenses in spring of 2019 as two American expats.

For our 2019 updated cost of living, visit Cuenca Ecuador Cost of Living 2019: Updated with Real Prices (Episode 118).

Cuenca Ecuador Cost of Mercado ProduceCuenca Ecuador Cost of Living Food

When we lived back in Denver, Colorado, food was one of our largest monthly expenses. Here in Cuenca Ecuador, we spend far less on food, for far higher quality. The fruits and veggies may be ugly, but they taste like they’re supposed to; like when I was a kid growing up in a small Kansas farmtown. They’re sweet, juicy and flavorful. And cheap!

This organic produce haul from Mercado 27 de Febrero cost us $15. Here’s what we bought: bananas, payapas, red cabbage, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, yukka, yellow sweet potatoes, onions, green beans, limes, apples, peaches and beets.

This haul would have easily cost us over $100 in the states. The papayas alone probably cost more than $15 back in Denver. We never bought them because they were so expensive.

We eat a Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) Diet, so we buy LOTS of produce at the mercado on Thursdays. Then we fill in the gaps with our local neighborhood fruit lady. We also chop up veggies and freeze them for quick oil-free stir fries on busy nights.

Cuenca Ecuador Cost of Living – Monthly Living Expenses

Here are our Cuenca Ecuador cost of living expenses. This does not include medical expenses, travel costs or recreational activities. Those vary a lot so we opted to leave them out. We’ll do a video about our medical/dental experiences and costs in the future.

See More: The Best Dentist in Cuenca Ecuador – Dr. Grace Ordoñez (Episode 73)

Itemized Expenses

Non-Discretionary

Per Month

Rent

$          800

Utilities

$            80

Propane

$            10

Mercado

$          120

Supermaxi

$          200

Health Insurance

$          156

Internet

$            56

Claro

$            17

Transportation

$            20

Total

$       1,459

Discretionary

Per Month

Restaurants

$          150

Netflix

$            11

Massage ($30/massage)

$          150

Physical Therapy

$            80

Amelia’s Hair (Cut – $5; Cut & Color – $40)

$            50

Yoga

$            40

Belly Dancing

$            40

Baños

$            90

Housekeeper

$            40

Total

$          651

Grand Total

$       2,110

Startup Costs

In addition to these monthly expenses, we spent about $700 on startup costs for the house. Even though it was fully furnished, it lacked a few essential things such as sheets, blankets, a nicer set of pots, a pressure cooker, coat rack, knives, heaters, etc.

Reasonable Housing Costs

Olesya rents a room in an Ecuadorian family’s house for $110/month. You can find fully furnished apartments and houses for rent in the $350+ range depending on the size. Unfurnished apartments and houses start as low as $250/month. We looked at a really nice, fully furnished 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment that was $450/mo and included all utilities.

IESS Public Health Insurance

IESS is Ecuador’s single-payer social security and healthcare system. Once you have your temporary or permanent residency visa and your cedula, you can sign up for this health insurance. It’s much cheaper than private insurance (for now), but you have to go to the IESS hospital and doctors. Since it’s their version of social security, it also means you’ll get some of it back when you retire if you’re still living here.

The IESS health insurance is currently $77/month for our married friends who are in their 60’s. We opted for a more expensive private insurance plan through Confiamed because of my health issues and because we wanted to be able to go to the doctors and hospitals we choose. Quality and convenience cost more, but that’s important to us.

If you would like us to connect you with our insurance agent, please drop us a note and we’ll send an email introduction.

Cuenca Ecuador Quality of Life

We live a very comfortable middle class, low-stress life here in Cuenca Ecuador. As you can see, it’s very easy for a couple to live on less than $2,000 per month here. A single person could easily live here on less than $1,200 per month. It really depends on the type of home you want and the discretionary expenses that are important to you.

See More: Cuenca Pharmacy Tour + Paying Bills

Watch Our House Tour and Cost Of Living Video

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

Get the FREE Live Abroad Checklist

Enter your email address to receive helpful and timely information about living abroad, slow travel, having more freedom, and living life on YOUR terms!

You'll also get immediate access to our FREE Live Abroad Toolkit, which we created to help jumpstart your dream of living in another country.