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


Per Month


$          800


$            80


$            10


$          120


$          200

Health Insurance

$          156


$            56


$            17


$            20


$       1,459


Per Month


$          150


$            11

Massage ($30/massage)

$          150

Physical Therapy

$            80

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

$            50


$            40

Belly Dancing

$            40


$            90


$            40


$          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



Get the Free Move Abroad Checklist

Enter your email address here to get our Unconventional Newsletter with all sorts of timely information about living abroad, online income and achieving financial independence.
You'll also get immediate access to our Move Abroad Checklist that will walk you through the process of wrapping up your life at home and moving to a new country.

PLUS, there are several other free perks in our Live Abroad Toolkit we think you'll enjoy!

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!

16 replies
  1. ALEX
    ALEX says:

    Hi Guys. Thanks for sharing. How is the Covid situation where you are?
    And how are gay people treated? Do you know any gay expats?

    Thank you.

    • JP
      JP says:

      Covid is here, but it’s not too bad right now. The govt has done a lot to keep it under control so we feel safer here than we would in the US. We know several gay expats who live in Cuenca, and several are members of our Patreon community. We haven’t heard about any negative experiences from them. Ecuador is a live and let live culture, for the most part.

  2. patricia
    patricia says:

    I really appreciate your openness and sincerity! I’ve been reading a lot of blogs by expats in Ecuador and yours is in the top list for accuracy of information, content, friendliness and willingness to help with any information asked in the most informed and realistic way!
    Thank you, wish you all the best and keep up the great work!

  3. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Can you shed some light on how taxes work in Ecuador? Do you pay taxes for US and Ecuador as a temporary or permanent resident?

    • JP
      JP says:

      We are only required to file and pay taxes if we earn income from inside Ecuador. Since all of our income still originates in the US, we still pay and file taxes there. Sales tax is 11% here, but not on unprocessed food (groceries).

  4. Sabrina
    Sabrina says:

    I have a monthly pension of around 4K. Could 2 people live off this amount? According to your table it says with discretionary expenditures 2K I just want to be sure. Love your videos, BTW

    • JP
      JP says:

      We lived in Cuenca on less than $2K per month and we live here on the coast for less than $1800/month due to lower rent and fewer discretionary expenses like massages and belly dance classes. $4K is very well off here.

  5. Hector
    Hector says:

    Hello Guys!

    I have been watching your videos for a while and am setting up a plan to move to Cuenca in 12-18 months time. I am a single 32 year old male and want to know how you think one would fare off solo-being a younger expat. Any advise would be great that you could provide.

    • JP
      JP says:

      Hola Hector! Glad you’re enjoying our videos!

      We know a few solo single younger expats here in Cuenca and they seem to be really enjoying life. You do need to be careful on the dating scene, however. We’ve heard that some women try to take advantage of male expats financially. That’s an offline conversation, though. I don’t want to share all the details from the stories I’ve heard online ?

  6. Mick
    Mick says:

    You guys are lovely! You seem so kind and warm.
    My wife and I are considering a move to Cuenca (we have 2 young kids) and wanted to trial for 5-7 months from this september. Not sure what area to move to (our oldest boy is just in pre-school, but 6 months away from it at 4 years old is no big deal). Any recommendations on neighbourhoods or rental agencies? budget is probably similar to yours 7/800. We’d need good internet too.

    Keep up the good work. You guys have a real charm


    • JP
      JP says:

      Be sure to check the Ecuador visa rules. They used to only offer a 3 month tourist visa with a 3 month extension that required an application, but they may have changed that to a 6 month tourist visa. You won’t be able to stay longer than 6 months without either being illegal or getting your 21 month temporary resident visa. One of our next videos is about Ecuador’s visas.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *