Tag Archive for: Olón Ecuador

The Real Deal About Living in Olón Ecuador (Pros & Cons)

Olón, Ecuador is a charming little rural beach town located on the Pacific Coast with a unique vibe that attracts an intriguing mix of people from all over the world.

But, like any place that’s popular with expats and tourists, it comes with its own set of pros and cons, which we share in this article.

Olón Ecuador The Pros of Living in Olón, Ecuador

When you’re thinking about a place like Olón, it’s always good to start with the positives. After all, they’re the reasons this charming town caught your attention in the first place, right?

So let’s kick things off by going over some of the standout perks of living in Olón, Ecuador.

Sea Level: Most of the popular expat areas in Ecuador are high elevation and it can be hard to breathe. Cuenca was one of those places for JP. He struggled with altitude sickness. One of the pros of Olón is that it’s at sea level so altitude sickness isn’t an issue.

Authenticity: Olón is authentic Ecuador. This is not your over-commercialized beach town but a slice of real life where you get to experience the true local vibe.

Small Community: If you’re tired of big city life and crave a close-knit community, Olón might be the place for you. The people are friendly and welcoming. Our neighbors were locals, as well as foreign residents from all over the world!

Rural: Olón is an excellent place for folks who appreciate a rural setting. The vibe is laid back and tranquilo.

The Beach: The beach is flat, wide, and long, providing you with plenty of space to stretch out, soak up the sun, or go for a walk. It never felt overcrowded and dogs are welcome. (We occasionally saw cows and horses enjoying the beach too!)

Strong Expat Community: There are a lot of expats in the area and they are very helpful and supportive. Since Ecuador has a word of mouth culture, this was important to us since we didn’t know where to find everything we needed. Our neighbors were especially helpful when I injured my knee and I needed a scooter and crutches.

Food Scene: We were surprised by the variety of restaurants. You’ll find local Ecuadorian cuisine, fine dining, and our favorite: Indian Food! There are bakeries, pizza, Asian, and more. There are options for people with special dietary needs and everything is affordable.

Mix of Beach and Jungle: One of the unique things about Olón is the incredible blend of beach and jungle. It truly offers the best of both worlds. We loved walking on the beach and walking or riding our bikes in the foothills.

Outdoor Activities: We loved our daily beach walks, but there is a lot more to do in Olón. We often swam in the ocean, I took surf lessons and did beach yoga, and we walked or rode our bikes regularly. There is a hiking/biking trail heading east out of Olón that makes for great nature outings. And the Dos Mangas waterfall hikes are just a short drive away.

Affordability: Rents have increased along the coast, but Olón is still affordable, especially compared to Manta or any beach town in the USA.

Climate: The weather is warm and humid but still comfortable. We did use our air conditioning at night, but rarely needed it during the day.

Bad Things About Living in Olón, Ecuador

After exploring the upsides, it’s only fair that we talk about the other side of the coin.

Every place has its own set of challenges and Olon is no different. Let’s dive into some of these aspects, to give you a fuller picture of what living in Olon might look like.

Lack of Services: For services, you’ll need to head to La Libertad, Salinas or Guayaquil. You can find some basics in the area, such as a small Tía grocery store, a satellite Netlife branch, and ATMs in Montañita, but if you need a full service branch, you’ll need to head to a major city.

Healthcare: Unfortunately, healthcare services in Olón are limited. There is a local clinic but it’s mainly for emergencies such as a cut or broken bone. For full service healthcare and specialists, you’ll need to go to La Libertad, Guayaquil or Manta.

Dark 6 Months: For half of the year, the days in Olón are dark, gloomy and drizzly. We struggled with the lack of sun and it is one of the main reasons why we left Olón.

Small and Rural: The very thing that some folks love about Olón (its small size and rural setting) can be a drawback for others. JP grew up in a small rural farm town in Kansas and he didn’t enjoy the rural experience as much as I did.

Tourists: On the weekends and holidays, Olón can get quite busy with tourists. We avoided the busy tourist areas but it does get crowded and noisy. The tourists also attract pickpockets.

Lack of Culture: If you’re looking for culture, this is not the place for you. You’ll need to go to Guayaquil for professional museums, art, and performances.

Boredom: While there are outdoor activities, some people might find the slower pace of life a little boring after a while. A lot of expats leave Olón and move to Cuenca just so they have more things to do.

Final Thoughts

Olón, like anywhere else, has its highs and lows. It might not be for everyone, especially you’re seeking an urban lifestyle, a rich cultural scene, or more extensive healthcare facilities.

However, if you love the beach, the jungle, a close-knit community, and an authentic Latin American lifestyle, it could be the perfect place for you.

Finding the right home is all about aligning a location’s offerings with your unique needs and preferences.

Watch Our Video About Why We Chose Olón Ecuador

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Why Kris and Mike Moved to Ecuador from Canada

Kris And Mike left Canada and moved to a small rural beach town in Ecuador. Here is their inspiring story about Living the Life You Love!

We owned a beautiful home on a lake in northern Ontario Canada. It was our dream home.

I was retired and Kris owned and worked at her small-town decor store. We loved to travel but other than that we never even talked about moving anywhere else, even within Canada.

Why would we? We had everything and were happy.

How the Pandemic Affected Our Plans

Kris and Mike in EcuadorWhen the pandemic came in 2020, Kris’s store was shut down and she was off work. We caught up on lots of jobs around the house and enjoyed the summer, but eventually, we needed more to do.

When the short Canadian summer was over, we started watching House Hunters International. We love to travel and enjoyed the possible locations we could visit. What we realized is how expensive it is to live in Canada and how big the world is with so many countries that were so interesting to us.

Over a lot of months, we gradually came to the conclusion we should leave Canada for another country around January 2021. Amazingly we came to this conclusion together at the same pace.

It started as a 3-5 year plan but soon we both realized we need to make this happen soon. Were we serious or not? We developed a 2-year plan.

Why We Chose Ecuador

Next came the fun part of picking a country. We started, like everyone else, searching for “Best places to retire in the world”.

We saw the international living website’s top 10 list and narrowed it down to a few countries: Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, Portugal and Costa Rica made our top 5.

Kris and Mike Woodpecker in Ecuador

We had travelled on vacation to all those countries except Portugal so we knew a little about them from the perspective of someone vacationing. That of course is very different from living there.

I am a bit of a research junkie so I built a spreadsheet and modified the International Living criteria to match our priorities. I also gave weights to all the criteria based on what was most important to us. That was something International Living did not do.

That narrowed it down to Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica.

Portugal was eliminated for two reasons. First, they still have winter, although it’s mild, and second, we wanted to be in a similar time zone to our family.

We eliminated Panama and Costa Rica because of two major reasons. Based on our research, it looked like they had already had large increases in the cost of living. The second and more important reason for us was the Americanization of those countries. Because of their convenient location close to the United States, it is not surprising to see that.

We have nothing against our many American friends; however, we wanted a country that was much more international. Ecuador has a much more international feel and that appealed to us very much. So Ecuador rose to the top.

Research Research Research

We watched every YouTube Video we could (thank you Amelia And JP). We joined every Facebook group in the areas we were considering moving to. And of course, we did two exploratory trips.

When Kris and I did our first trip to the coast of Ecuador, we totally fell in love with the whole area from Manglaralto all the way up to Ayampe.

Lush beautiful foliage in rolling hills behind probably the best beaches in Ecuador. You can walk these beaches for hours.

Each beach town from the party place Montanita to the sleepy beach town of San Jose has their own unique vibe and they are only a few km apart. They are all a short distance from each other and easily accessible via a cheap taxi or even a much cheaper bus ride.

Remember though, if you like lush areas, they come at the price of less sun and more rain. It’s important to do your research and limit your surprises too as few as possible.

The Push and Pull of Our Decision

Kris and Mike Outdoors in Ecuador

We talked a lot about why we were moving from Canada. We love Canada. We have family and grandchildren there. And why Ecuador?

We STRONGLY believe it is a push and pull. What is pushing us from Canada and what is pulling us to Ecuador? If you don’t have both, then your chance of long-term success in your move is greatly diminished.

Factors that pushed us away from Canada:

  • Climate – Winters are way too long. This became a bigger factor as we got older. Goodbye, winter.
  • Cost of Living – Not a huge factor in our decision, but leaving Canada allowed Kris to retire at least 7 years earlier. The gap is only increasing with the current huge inflation difference between Canada and Ecuador.

Factors that pulled us to Ecuador:

  • Nature – For its size, Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. With both of us loving nature and our nature walks there was no better place that fit our criteria with such accessible areas to explore. In fact, you can’t escape it.
  • Welcoming Ecuadorian People – based on our previous trip and our exploratory trips to Ecuador, we were overwhelmed by the kind, welcoming hospitality of the Ecuadorian People.
  • Climate – In Ecuador, you can basically pick your perfect climate to live in. Because the Andes split Ecuador in half, you can pick
    spring-like conditions in many of the valleys or choose the coast for a much hotter and more humid climate. The choice is yours.

The Naysayers

In every big life decision, you have your supporters and the people who think you are crazy.

The decision to sell everything and move to another country seems to attract a lot of people who think you are crazy. Also, a few who admire you chasing a dream.

They comment directly or indirectly about things like:

  • Aren’t you worried about crime?
  • How can you leave your grandchildren?
  • Will all the garbage, noise and dogs roaming free bother you?
  • You can always come home if it doesn’t work out.

The Naysayers can be broken down into two groups:

  • Family members and friends who are genuinely concerned and, over time, they will become supporters as they get educated. They may even visit you.
  • Family members and friends who, for many reasons, only see the risk and not the benefit and will never change. These people, unfortunately, will be a casualty of your move.

The bottom line is all the benefits must exceed the drawbacks. No place is perfect so don’t expect it to be perfect. Was your home in Canada or the United States perfect?

Concentrate on what is pulling you to your new country so that you can Live the Life you Love.

Negative stuff will happen but if you pick the right place, those negative things will be no big deal.

Live the Life You Love

Kris and Mike Sunset in EcuadorKris and I started our Youtube Channel Kris And Mike to document our journey and life in Ecuador.

One of the themes we discuss is about living the life we love, and we promote and encourage others to do the same thing.

It doesn’t need to be about moving to another country, either. So many people are not living the life they love. They feel trapped. Trapped in jobs they don’t like. Trapped in relationships. Trapped in a lifestyle they can’t afford. Essentially, they’re living out their life in monotony, unhappiness, despair and denial.

The reality is, you really are in control and can make decisions to totally change almost anything. Think of why you CAN do something rather than why you CAN’T do it.

Our Life Now

Kris and Mike Dogs EcuadorWe moved to Ecuador on the coast just 5 km north of Olón on January 5th, 2023. We live on a hill just outside of San José with a spectacular view of the ocean as well as the hills of San José.

We bought our house and did not rent against all conventional wisdom. We go into detail about why we did that in one of our videos. However, for most people, it is certainly a good idea to rent first.

Although our house and yard are being renovated and we have had lots of visitors from Canada, we can honestly say we are living a very tranquil life. Being outdoors in nature so much as well as being on the ocean and getting so much more exercise it feels like I am on some drug. The people have been so welcoming and the nature we came for has not disappointed us. It truly is amazing for us.

One huge additional benefit that we did not realize is that we are much healthier. I have lost 15 lbs in three months without trying. Just a better active lifestyle. Kris has lost weight too and gained lots of muscle from all her beach walks.

In addition, we are eating much less processed food and more fruit, vegetables, fish and seafood that all taste amazing. Red meat intake has decreased dramatically. Again, all without trying. We probably have added years onto our life with our move.

Yes, bad things happen. We had a strong earthquake that really scared us and we had some flooding in our house that will need to be fixed. We had no power for 3 days!

But for every bad thing, we have 20 good things to enjoy. It makes it easy to deal with bad things when you are living the life you love.

Watch a Video from Kris And Mike About Moving to Ecuador

 

Echoes of Olón Ecuador: A Sunset Story

When Amelia and I lived in Olón, Ecuador, we often took evening strolls on the beach to watch the sunset over the ocean as the soothing sound of foamy white waves lapped the shore. The colors of the sky transitioned from yellow to orange to pink to purple.

Olon Ecuador BeachSunsets in Olón were a ritual for us, as well as other locals and tourists (when it wasn’t cloudy). We all gathered to watch in awe as the sun took its daily plunge into the ocean while families played soccer on the beach, their laughter filling the air.

Evenings were also a favorite time for the neighborhood dogs to join the rest of us on the beach. They chased birds, kids and each other, adding to the lively atmosphere.

Children built sandcastles and little red crabs scurried around digging holes as the waves filled them back in. It was a constant battle the little crabs were destined to lose.

We moved away from Olón almost two years ago, and while we probably won’t move back, we still miss the sunsets and our long walks on the beach.

Those sunsets will always hold a special place in our hearts. We may not be able to physically be there to watch them anymore, but the memories will stay with us forever.

Watch Our Video from Olón 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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The Real Reasons We Left Olón Ecuador (and Moved to Manta)

We get a lot of questions about why we left Olón, Ecuador so we thought it was about time we filled you in on why we decided to leave.

It wasn’t because we had any bad experiences or fell out of love with the place. We had an amazing time in Olón, but we always knew it wasn’t going to be our forever home.

We love Ecuador, and we want to experience more of this beautiful country. We wanted to show you all the incredible sights and experiences that Ecuador has to offer, beyond just Olón. To make that happen, we knew we had to spread our wings and move around a bit.

One of the main reasons we left Olón was to broaden our YouTube video opportunities. We wanted to capture more of Ecuador’s diverse landscapes and showcase them to you.

We also realized how important it was for us to have a place with a stunning view, something we didn’t have in Olón. Working from home,we wanted to be able to look out the window and enjoy the ocean views and incredible sunsets. It’s not just about taking walks on the beach; we wanted to truly immerse ourselves in the coastal beauty.

 

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Our new place in Manta has an abundance of natural light that floods in from every angle. We instantly fell in love with the condo building and the variety of options available here. While Olón had its charm, it couldn’t match the range of high-rise rentals we found in Manta.

Another reason we left Olón was because we wanted to travel more, and Manta has an airport. Now, we can easily hop on a plane and jet off to Quito and, from Quito we can travel to other incredible destinations within Ecuador or beyond. The possibilities are endless, and we can’t wait to share these new experiences with you.

Olón is a small comuna of approximately 2500 people and it was too small for JP. I grew up in the hustle and bustle of the Chicagoland area, so I couldn’t quite relate to what JP was feeling. But JP grew up in a small Kansas farm town, and he couldn’t shake off a bit of small-town PTSD. We both needed a place that struck the perfect balance, and Manta offered that for us.

We still love Olón and it holds a special place in our hearts. In fact, we plan to visit when we can and indulge in some of our favorite activities, like taking long walks on the beach, watching the sunsets, and eating at our favorite restaurants.

So there you have it: The reasons behind our departure from Olón. We wanted to explore more of Ecuador, find a place with a breathtaking view, expand our filming opportunities, and discover the perfect blend of city and seaside living.

Our journey continues, and we can’t wait to bring you along for the ride. Stay tuned for more adventures!

Here’s the link to the Top Dental website, and be sure to tell them you saw this video when you schedule an appointment!

Watch Our Video About Why We Left Olón, 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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Waterfalls are not Supposed to be Like This! (Dos Mangas Ecuador Cascadas)

We waited for the rainy season to do the hike up to Las Cascadas in Dos Mangas, Ecuador. It’s been on our list since we moved to Olón, but the waterfalls (cascadas) have been dry for most that time.

It was a sunny day again and beautiful outside so we called our driver to take us to the trailhead. That’s where we picked up our guide, Luis. He told us about all sorts of plants and wildlife on our roughly 3 hour trek to the waterfalls.

Sadly, the coast of Ecuador is in a multi-year drought so the rainy seasons haven’t been very rainy for a long time. Meanwhile, the population in the area has grown and there is more livestock being raised and crops being planted that require more water.

As a result, the rivers and waterfalls are dry! The small trickles you saw in the video are nothing compared to the 100 foot high waterfall that is normally the climax of the hike. It still flows after a heavy rain, but it no longer flows continuously during the rainy season as it once did.

None-the-less, we thoroughly enjoyed our hike and Luis was an excellent guide!

Here are the links we mentioned in the video:
Dos Mangas Howler Monkeys
Olón is Booming
Soluna Tree of Life

Watch Our Video About The Dos Mangas Waterfalls in Ecuador

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Making Chocolate in Ecuador with Chef Ampuero

In this video, we get to see what heaven looks like when Amelia closes her eyes and imagines it! She did a great job of fighting the temptation to dive headfirst into a bowl of her favorite substance!

Chef Daniel Ampuero, a talented Ecuadorian chocolatier, and teacher was kind enough to give us a private chocolate cooking class in his laboratory, fulfilling one of Amelia’s lifelong dreams!

If you would like to buy some amazing chocolate or take a chocolate cooking class with Chef Ampuero, you can contact him via Instagram.

Watch Our Video About Making Chocolate 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 is Booming! Plus, Meet our Famous Ecuadorian Neighbor: Olmedo Quimbita!

Plus, thanks to Ed Lindquist, and Yenis and Joel Bejas at Cuenca Expats Magazine, we got to meet our famous Ecuadorian neighbor: Olmedo Quimbita.

Quimbita is an internationally renowned Ecuadorian artist from Cotopaxi. His art has been featured in exhibitions in 20 different countries around the world. We’re not art experts, but his work reminds us of Picasso’s cubism with a touch of Inca and lots of bright Latin colors.

If you would like to learn more about Quimbita, Cuenca Expats Magazine will be sharing an expose about his history in their upcoming issue.

And if you would like to book a stay at the Quimbita Hotel here in Olón or buy some of his amazing artwork, you can learn more about that here.

As we mentioned in the video, I’m going to discuss President Elect Lasso’s top 10 policy plan for Ecuador in this week’s newsletter. It may be surprising to some, while calming to others. Whether he follows through with his plan remains to be seen, but at least we’ll know what’s on his mind.

After you opt-in to the newsletter, you’ll also gain immediate access to our Ecuador Cost of Moving and Living Calculator. And you can opt-out at any time. Sign up here before Friday at noon to get this week’s newsletter.

Here’s the link to the inspirational MOMO video: Be INSPIRED and Be WHOEVER you want in Ecuador! An UNCONVENTIONAL Origin Story…

Watch Our Video About Olón, Ecuador

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Be Inspired and be Whoever you Want in Ecuador! An Unconventional Origin Story…

Adventure! Romance! Entrepreneurship! Unconventional Life Choices! This video has it all!

Join us as we share the inspirational story of two unconventional expats from Sweden and Argentina who found their home, their future, and their love in Ecuador!

After moving from Vilcabamba to Olón, Johan and Anahi started MOMO, one of Olón’s most successful gourmet restaurants serving fusion cuisine with a variety of delicious and artistically presented dishes for every palate preference.

They also have a gourmet store, which sells a variety of local, as well as hard-to-find, speciality items.

For the entrepreneurs among us, they share what it’s like to own and operate a business that employs more than a dozen local Ecuadorians.

And as expats from the United States, we especially enjoyed hearing why two expats from other countries chose Ecuador over EVERY other place they visited, and why they love this magical country as much as we do!

Make a Reservation at MOMO

Watch Our Video About MOMO Restaurant in Olón Ecuador

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What Suprised us About Ayangue Ecuador + Is it a Good Place for Expats? (2021)

Following our visit to Ayampe about 30 minutes north of Olón, several of our viewers asked us to show Ayangue, which is about 30 minutes south of Olón.

We know a few people who live there and really like it, but we weren’t sure what to expect. Every place we visit in Ecuador is dramatically different than the last, and Ayangue was no exception.

In this video, we shared several things that surprised us about our afternoon in Ayangue, and we discuss if we think it’s a good place for expats to live.

Watch Our Video About

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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

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