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:

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Hola todos! Welcome to my author bio page! Let's see. Where to begin... I grew up in the country on a lake outside a small Kansas farm town. As soon as I could, I got the hell outta there! Since then, I've lived and/or worked in Kansas City, Washington D.C., Denver, San Francisco, and Ecuador. I started and sold a dotcom, wrote a book about it, started a YouTube channel, and now I write a lot. Amelia and I have embraced the Unconventional Life and we want to help you do it, too!

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