Property in Cuenca Ecuador

Guide to Cost of Living in Ecuador: Monthly, Start-up, Increases shares the best travel insights, facts, and photos. When you use our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

One of the questions we get asked the most is: What’s the Cost of Living in Ecuador?

Well that’s a tough question. Whats the cost of living in United States? Some people may do well with $1000/month and others “scrape by” on $4000/month.

So cost of living is subjective. While some people might find (and be happy) in a $90/month apartment, we needed somewhere a little more secure and with a little more space. Neither is wrong, but it does illustrate the difficulty of identifying a set monthly cost-of-living for a region or country.

Here is our current cost of living for Cuenca, Ecuador. We are a family of three, with a dog. We don’t live extravagantly and we aren’t in want. We do focus more on the moment than the merchandise.
All costs shown are monthly.

Housing: $341.17

$280 Rent. We rent a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house. It is just a few years old, is located on a quiet cul-de-sac with a handful of other homes, and is in a very safe area.
$30.67. Water/Lights. Tap Water $7.38 / Lights 23.29
$30.50. Gas/Drinking Water. Gas – 3 tanks at $2.00 ea= $6.00 / Drinking Water – 14 bottles at $1.75 ea = $24.50. The price for both of these are delivered. Official gas (propane) price is $1.60/tank.

Transport: $40

$30. Buses. Cost is $0.25 (yes twenty five cents) per ride. We spend an average of $10 each within our family. This is 40 bus trips each per month (one way of course).
$10. Taxis. Notes: Our taxi rate is quite low. Because we live on the bus route, we seldom take taxis. Others, because of the location of their home, or their lifestyle might find themselves spending $50-60 per month. An average taxi ride is $2.00 to $2.50. Of course, if you are visiting and don’t speak much Spanish, you’ll pay more – like $3 or $4 for a $2 ride.

We take an occasional trip to some of the surrounding towns. This isn’t really part of our monthly budget, but it wouldn’t affect it even if it was. A bus going to Chordeleg costs $0.60 per person and is about an hour ride.

Food: $300

  • Supermaxi: $140 month
  • Coral: $160 month

We generally shop at Supermaxi (the American styled supermarket – 3 locations) and Coral (the non-American styled supermarket – also 3 locations). We purchase our meat at Supermaxi, its actually a little less, and the meat department is very clean. The fruits/vegetables at Coral are significantly less expensive.

Meat from Supermaxi. There are three here in the city: Avenida de las Americas, by the Stadium and out by the airport.

  • Chicken: $2.31/kg – entera (means whole) – comes with organs, feet and head – great for soup, we’re told
  • Beef: $2.87/kg ground beef. Not sure of the other beef. The other kinds we’ve tried, regardless of price, have all had the consistency of sneaker leather. I don’t think beef is very popular here. We’ve heard of a good place to get great beef and we’re going to check it out.
  • Fish: $2.00/lb from the Feria Libre (the largest open market in the city). Fresh and amazing. It looks more like a roast than a fillet. Visit on Wednesdays for freshest fish.

We buy most everything else at Coral. There is one on Avenida de las Americas, Mall del Rio and Mall Monay.

  • Apples: $1.80/kg. Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Royal Gala all imported from Chile.grapes-bananas
  • Pineapple: $0.69 – $1.25 each. depending on season and size. Don’t buy from Supermaxi. They are unripe and very acidic.
  • Carrots: $0.87/kg. Large and sweet
  • Onions: $0.82/kg – white or purple
  • Bananas: $0.33/kg
  • Plantains: $0.40/kg green or ripe
  • Honey: $2.37/jar of 750ml
  • Coffee: $3.42 / 400g bag of Cubanito. It is the best coffee here (and its the cheapest too)
  • Ecuadorian Bottle of Rum: $4.37 – 750ml. Jamaican is even less – under $4.00.
  • Ecuadorian Beer: $0.50/bottle. Try Pilsner – its very nice.
  • Rice: $2.00 for kg bag – either white or brown.

Miscellaneous: $226.26

  • $32. Cell phones. We currently have a pay-as-you-go style cell phone plan with Movistar. We have three phones (one each). A $6 credit on each phone will last my wife and daughter all month. I spend around $20. This include taxes, texts, everything. We bought some basic model Nokia phones and a chip for $40 each. By the way, the $6 per month amount will last just 30 days, and then expires. A purchase of $3 will last just one week.
  • $34.26. Internet. We currently are using CentroNet, a division of the local power company. We have a modem mounted on the roof that received a wireless signal from antennas near the community of Turi. The speed is 740kbps. We also have a Movistar thumb modem that we purchased outright (approx $100). We use that when traveling (and this week because CentroNet is down). The cost for the modem is $3.00 per day, for “unlimited” bandwidth. It gets throttled after the first 100mb. Frustrating, but a good backup system. TVCable is the other primary option, and we used them in our first apartment. Similar cost and double the speed. They are the best option – just pray you don’t have to go deal with their “customer service”.Ecuador has good coffee!
  • $20. Entertainment. This is a funny one. You can buy a movie for $1.25-$1.90 each. They are ripped dvd’s. But they are the only option. Movie rentals don’t exist here, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a legit movie store. TV channels are all Spanish (of course) but the movies (dvd’s) are almost all in English. We go for coffee for $2.00 and lunch at a seafood restaurant costs $10 (for all 3 of us, with a non-alcoholic drink).
  • $140. Miscellaneous: Things always come up, so it comes from this amount.

So, what’s it cost to live in Cuenca, Ecuador?

As a family of three we spend: $907.43 / month, or just under $11,000 / year.

Excluded from this amount are vacations, expenses back in Canada and business expenses. We still have expenses at home in Canada. Things like life insurance and our post office box. We also have business expenses like web hosting, marketing, phone and business registration. But these are minimal.

Annual Expenses: $50

Membership cards:

  • Supermaxi: $45 (5% discount) The reason we have this card is because the discount also applies at Su Casa – a technology and home furnishings store. There is one on Avenida de las Americas, at Plaza del las Americas. There is a Supermaxi there as well.
  • Coral: $5 (3% discount)

Vacations and travel:

This isn’t budgeted in above, and we don’t do this a on a scheduled routine. The beauty of Ecuador is that a beach vacation or a jungle adventure are just a few hours away.

We are leaving next week for two weeks on the coast. We’ve rented two vacation rentals for a week each. First week: $400, second week: $250. We have hired a driver to bring us from Cuenca. Cost $140 each way. So that means two weeks on the beach including transport and accommodations is $930.00. Of course, food and entertainment is extra, but its pretty hard to beat.

What do you think? Is this high? Or low? What do you spend per month?

Has the Cost of Living Increased in Ecuador?

We had a reader question about the increasing cost of living in Ecuador. He asks:

I have been reading your blog for awhile now (great source of info). I found in your blog and several others is that they differ in what the financial requirements for living in Ecuador are. One site states that it is a 1000.00 dollars and another is now up to 2000.00 dollars per month. Can you shed some light on this?

It’s a very good question. A year ago, we published our family cost of living in Ecuador. It is still one of our most popular posts. It was one of the things we wanted to know when we moved to Ecuador more than two years ago.

It’s hard to plan a move if you aren’t sure if you can afford it.

What’s the True Cost of Living in Ecuador?

The most important factor to consider is: What lifestyle are you looking to create/maintain in Ecuador?
ecuador-cost-of-living When you move to Ecuador will you:

  • fulfill your dream of having an estate with servants (maid, gardener and cook)?
  • insist on imported foods and brand new vehicles?
  • want a home in the Andes and a condo on the coast and hire your real estate agent on the sole qualification of speaking English?

or will you:

  • live in an average 2-4 bedroom apartment/house, and do your own cooking?
  • take the bus and taxis and shop at the market?
  • house hunt on your own or with an Ecuadorian agent / personal assistant?

There is no right or wrong, no judgement to be passed. But these are the questions you’ll need to answer.

Determining the Cost of Living Abroad

Identifying the cost of living is like trying to determine the best food in the world. Its subjective. There is no doubt that some people can live on $500 / month in Ecuador.

Just like some people live on $1500 in the US and Canada. Many people happily live on little, either they have a house that’s paid for or a very small apartment. But many people don’t want to live like that – worrying about having enough money for next weeks groceries.

In regards to the cost of living there is no way to please everyone. In our post about what we spend every month in Ecuador, we were told both that it was too slim and too much. How can that be? Because it’s subjective.

Virtually all cost of living estimates is based on basic costs. These estimates never take into account the extras.

Think about:

  • Debts (mortgages, kids or parents) back home
  • Business and legal responsibilities
  • Travel
  • Medicare (the in-case-of-emergency kind)
  • Start up costs (furniture, electronics, dishes and bedding…)
  • Emergency / spur of the moment purchases

When reading these estimates, remember that you probably can’t actually live on that much. You’ll need to add more based on your lifestyle.

So to answer the question: Have costs increased in Ecuador? Of course. Like every country in the world. Have costs increased dramatically? No. Over the last two years, we’ve seen costs increase by a few percentage points.

I write this post on a flight from New York to Miami as we return from a visit “back home” to Canada. Inflation is much higher in Canada than in Ecuador. We experienced “sticker shock” every time we walked into a store or restaurant.

For example:

  • We fill our Isuzu Trooper for $20 in Ecuador (it’s just $1.48 per gallon and hasn’t increased in years). We borrowed my brother-in-law’s Saab (sedan) and it cost $74 to fill it in Canada.
  • We eat at the food court at Mall del Rio for less than $8 (3 people, with hearty meal and drinks) . We had 3 ice creams on the Halifax Waterfront for $14. Dinner at Mcdonald’s is around $30.
  • Bottle of water at a tienda (convenience store) in Ecuador $0.30. Bottle of water at Supermarket in Nova Scotia: $1.25

What has gone up? It appears that the crooked gringo real estate agents (*see note) continue to boost prices.
This has caused some resentment among Cuencanos towards the landlords – real estate prices in certain areas are increasing because many gringos arrive and willingly pay (almost) any price.

This is making it hard for Cuencanos to get a normally priced apartment in some areas of the city. If the expats writing about the high cost of living don’t speak Spanish, then their cost of living is high and growing. It’s true that food has increased, but like anywhere else.

What is a crooked gringo real estate agent? Who are we talking about?” Please note: I don’t want to imply that an agent is crooked because he is a gringo. That would be bizarre and untrue. What I’m saying is that there are, as in all markets, a few people that prey on both the inexperience and “newness” of others. Some people tend to take advantage of their niche (i.e. being from the same country) – and in all fairness, I’m sure that there are local agents like this too. I’ve seen this pattern among a few expat agents. I’m confident that there are excellent expat agents who use their unique knowledge to help their clients.
There, I’ve said it. Hope I haven’t offended anyone… (its not like I named anyone 🙂 ).

The thing to remember is that costs would have to double or triple to affect most expats in any significant way.
If it cost $1000 two years ago, could most expats handle $1200 now? For sure.

But it hasn’t even increased that much. If you are concerned about the cost of living – come and see for yourself.

An exploring trip is critical to a move.

Life Startup Costs in Ecuador for Expats

expat-startup-costs Okay, so cost of living is one thing. But what about life start-up costs?

When a typical person moves abroad, they don’t bring a fridge, desk or even bedding. Of course there are exceptions. One reader is planning to ship her bed mattress along with her other checked luggage (yes, on the plane). But this is certainly the exception.

UPDATE (May 30, 2014): I just reviewed the costs and they remain current and up to date. Although the post was written three years ago, these prices are reasonable to pay today. Last year we bought a desk and it was the same as 4 years ago. Food and electronics have increased but these types of products are pretty stable. 

You’ll probably bring a set of clothes, a laptop, camera and some personal care items. But you’ll likely have to source and buy everything else. Here are some rough costs, to give you a ball park:

  • $1000 for fridge/stove. Fridge is a full size Frigidaire brand, the stove is medium sized MABE brand (made in Mexico, I believe). If we had known, we would have bought a different brand, or at least a better quality model Mabe stove. The knobs are plastic and have broken (as a set) twice already.
  • $1000 for 2 beds and basic sofa set. There are some great furniture shops downtown that custom make wood/metal furniture. Because they aren’t imported, the pricing is very reasonable. Its great for repairs, or even if you want a custom color fabric. A very nice coat rack is just $20.
  • $500 for desks and basic dining room table (very basic – after a year we bought a “real” dining room set – for around $500). Also, we bought a real office desk and chair after the first year for another $350.
  • $1500-2000 for housewares, including bedding, cookware, propane tanks, propane water heater and the miscellaneous stuff, etc. Many apartments/houses don’t come with a calfone (propane water heater) so expect to pay from $150 – $250 plus $15 installation.
  • $900 for washer/dryer. After our first year we switched from using a laundromat (which is cheap and awesome – by the way) and bought our own gear. They are both full size and LG and Samsung brands. The dryer (like the stove and water heater) are propane.
  • $250-500 damage deposit. Most apartments want a deposit. Often the deposit is equal to firsts month rent. So, to start-up you’ll need a months rent x 2.
  • $40 Internet install. You can often get a deal for a free installation. Just depends on the provider, the month and where you’ll be living.
  • Telephone. We don’t have a landline – almost no one does. We each have cell phones – they cost $40/50 ea, and they cost us $6-20 ea per month. You can bring yours from home – they’ll probably work here. They insert a chip for $5.
  • Legal fees. There is no way to estimate these – there are so many different situations. Its good to take the legal/government fees into account when budgeting. If you are applying for residency or starting a corporation, you should get a price before you move here. 
  • $700 Desktop computer. A basic model desktop computer comes well equipped for a similar price to what you would find back home.
  • There are other things we’ve purchased which are hard to identify. Allow $500+ for miscellaneous expenses.

Life Start-up Costs: $7990

To figure out your ballpark start up costs, just deduct the expenses that you don’t require. The total above includes both the nice stuff we have now, and the cheap stuff that we either gave away or threw away.

Now to some this will seem sparse, and to others excessive. This isn’t just what we spent the first weeks, but to get to where we are now.

Advice: If you are planning on making this your home, buy good quality things. We went pretty cheap on a few things and ended up replacing them within a few months. One of our $90 desks didn’t last in our move (to a new apartment) and crumbled as it came off the moving truck.

How about you? What type of costs did you incur? Or what are you planning on spending?

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  1. Hey Bryan
    Living in Vilcabamba for 15 months. Four moves and you start buying wood furniture love seat with 2 nice chairs and coffee table for 250 dollars. Then new apartment under construction with 2 bedrooms with 1.5 baths and balcony with killer view of the mountains and need bed and washer…in Vilca there is no need for a dryer. 100 dollar new bed and 248 dollar new washer. Organic msrket with fresh fruit and veggies and chucken just off the hatchet crew for 20 dollars a week…water depends on your taste for maybe 6 dollars a week for big gallons. Bus fare is 1.90 to Lojs for SuperMaxi or 2.50 dollars for collectivo. I like Tia fo a few things but every thing is a 7 minute walkvaway for eggs or chicken or fruit and veggies fresh as can be. So Loja??? To pay cell and Internet service for privacy…cannot trust Vilca.. lol

  2. hi , thanks for your detail description. I want to know the local used car price in kunka. Have you ever had experience in buying local used cars

  3. Thank you for keeping things up-to-date and personal.
    I check out sites like NUMBEO and they seem a good rough gauge, then I look at ex-Pat sites and the prices are way more.
    I have lived abroad a few times. I have never liked “holidays”, but I love to up-stakes and try things on for size.
    Older, no wiser …
    I have had to deal with Anglos in other countries, telling me how dishonest the locals are. The locals I have dealt with were almost always more honest than the ex-Pats preying on new ex-Pats. As you said, this is NOT always the way, but those kind are very good at believing their schtick!
    Caveat emptor.
    PS I am not saying the locals will give you the “best price”, or the price they give to people who live on the economy, but … We’re all just trying to make the best living we can. Local people “have to live there”. Lovely that you typed it out loud. 🙂

  4. I have lived in the Philippines for 8 years. The cost of groceries seems equivalent to Ecuador, but housing is cheaper here (If you know how to find it). A nice 2 bedroom Townhouse is about $100-$200 per month, but I got lucky and found a nice three bdrm home with spacious yard for $60 per month. I am tired of the lack of good fresh food here. Restaurant food is not good and service is worse. Service for anything is terrible here. If you order food here and it turns out to be spoiled, you are expected to pay for it anyway since you ordered it. The biggest hurdle here is the people. Many don’t have acceptable social etiquette or behavior. I loved it when I first arrived for about 4-5 years but now my eyes have been opened. I am searching for a new home and Ecuador seems promising.

  5. Are these prices about the same now? It’s been about a year and half since the last update. I am researching.

  6. I am new to the blog so sorry if I am missing something. I went quickly through your cost of living post, but I do not see anything about healthcare or medical expenses. Surely as a family of three you must have some insurance or medical costs. Did I just miss it?

  7. I just recently (July 2017) spent two weeks in Gualaceo and the numbers that you have posted for Cuenca are in line with what our hosts, who have lived in Gualaceo for five years, pay for rent, utilities, etc. Gualaceo is a little less expensive. For example, their four-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house runs them $200 a month.
    We visited Cuenca twice and thought it was absolutely beautiful and offered a lot of activities. But it is also BIG if you’re used to small-town living. If you like living in a smaller area, Gualaceo is it! And it’s only 50 minutes east of Cuenca.
    A week before we left I lost part of a filling and broke the tooth. Our host made an appointment with her dentist for me. I ended up needing to have a Panoramic X-Ray which was $30. She did not fix the tooth for which the appointment had been made because we were not going to be there long enough. She didn’t want to get into something that she couldn’t finish. And I didn’t want to go to the dentist every day! LOL But she did find the cause of a toothache I’ve had for about 2 years. It was an abscess at the bottom of the root of a different tooth. She scheduled a root canal for me and started me on Amoxicillin, which was $4.95 at the pharmacy. A dentist came from Cuenca and did my root canal on a Sunday morning at 8 a.m. The cost? $200. The $200 included an x-ray after the root canal was completed as well as drilling out and replacing the temporary filling with a permanent one. The pain relief was immediate. She also gave all my x-rays and paperwork to me to give to my dentist back home.
    We were there to participate in a Bible education work, sharing Bible truths with others. So we were outdoors quite a bit and the weather was absolutely perfect. I can’t say enough good things about Gualaceo and the people there. If my circumstances allowed, I would move there tomorrow.

  8. My wife and I have been researching where to go when we become expats when she retires in two years and Ecuador, along with Panama, keep making it to the top of the list. One thing that is high on our priority list is the ease of availability of medication. We know that most of the American medications can be obtained from the local pharmacies, but we can’t find a comprehensive list (we need a few). Is there a general website that says what you can get? We’ve read that the only regulated items are pain medications and narcotics.

  9. I live Bahia de Caraquez for over six years now and I can tell you my cost of living for my family of three has gone up more than double. Some times I go into mi comisariato food shopping, then go again in a week or ten days and many of the items I purchased the week before have gone up in price by twenty to thirty cents. This is not unusual in is more the norm. I spend for food an average of $350.00 to $400.00 dollars psr month. I also shop at the local mercado for my vegetables and fruit. The more gringos that come here the faster and higher the prices go. I purchased Two lot of landthree and one half( 31/2 ) years ago for $14,000.00 each, When I started to build my home, 350 m/2 all of the other lots instintly went from $12,000.00 to $25,000.00, and the Ecuadorian people here, don’t care if its to high, they will wait. Now, some of them are asking $50,000.00 and more for a single lot that I paid $14,000.00 for. So, I guess I would have to say that the cost of living has gone up.

  10. Hi Bryan,
    Saludos. Don´t know how I missed this article. Looking at our expenses I had often wondered how
    your family got by. From all the articles you´ve posted I can see the simple life has not hurt much.
    We really have not come down from our cost of living in Florida. A lot more than $1000 per month.
    At the job site the workers would call me a “pelucon” except for respect they call me jefe. . . and
    sometimes ask for a loan. I do help sometimes.
    Wish you all the best,

  11. Hello,
    I have been following all of your blogs for several months. Although I’m still teaching ESL at a local community college, I am contemplating retirement in the next 2 years. I wonder — how is the wine in Ecuador? Are there any college/univ. teaching opportunities part-time or are those prohibited if not with the proper visa? How can I find if my medications are available in a particular area (could I write to a particular hospital, for instance)? What areas do you recommend for someone who cannot tolerate the tropical heat year round? I enjoy the lake, mountains, temperature climate, a cultural experience every day. I have lived in 4 different countries and traveled to many as an ESL/EFL instructor. I so enjoy your blogs! Thank you much.
    Judi in VA

  12. Hello Bryan,
    My wife and I are considering a move to Ecuador for retirement. We would like to live outside the city in an area with warm climate 60 to 80 degrees (we are very cold-natured). Do you know which provinces would have that type of climate? We would like to do some of our own tropical gardening. Do you know if they rent country homes, and if they have electricity and running water? We have been doing some research, and have discovered that some of the provinces have a cool spring climate and others are prone to flooding. We would appreciate any information that you can share. Thank you for your very informative site.

  13. Hi Bryan,
    I’ve always been interested in moving to Ecuador for a few years. I’m from New York and work in television and would love to find a job in television in Ecuador. I also have my masters in International Communications so I think its a perfect fit! I really want to make the move now because im 28 and I feel if I dont do it now, i will never do it. Only thing holding me back are my student loans. I hear that the salery is alot lower in Ecuador which makes me worried because I still owe alot. Is that true Salery wise? Any insight would be helpful. Thank you!

  14. Hi, thanks for your post, I’d like to know if this costs apply for 2015, or may had increased? Thanks for your reply

  15. Hi Bryan, thanks for your information!! I’m from Venezuela and I’m planning (with my wife) to move to Cuenca. So, According with your post, How much do I have to spend monthly in this moment? (Winter 2015) The same ammount than Fall 2010, or more?
    Thanks again

  16. Bryan, I believe I’ve read this before but I learn something new each time. Did you or Dena or your child have any problems with “altitude” sickness. I live in Chapala, MX which is on a mountain top at approximately 3000 ft. I didn’t have any problems adjusting and I came from Florida which is just a few feet above sea level, 8500 ft is really high! Do you have an oven? Does Dena bake? Is it difficult to adjust recipes? Thanks for all the great info on Ecuador. As I’ve said before, I am enjoying life in Mexico, but Ecuador was my first choice… Thanks for all you do! MAS

    1. We felt some moderate effects from altitude for the first few weeks – but almost nothing.
      Dena does bake – the recipes were different at first but now we are used to it. I don’t know if we could identify what we do differently – unless we were back at sea level and we have to learn it all again. 🙂
      Thanks for your comment!

  17. Hello!!!
    First of all I want to say thank you so much for the site, it is by far the best site I have seen. I am considering moving to Ecuador by the years end. I have visited several times and I just love it. We are an expat family and have lived in 4 countries over the last 6 years and now I am ready to settle down with the kids (did I mention I have been doing this as a single mom). I was wondering if you had any Realtors or great attorneys you could recommend. I plan on applying for my VISA before we get there (if this is the best option) and would like to apply for the retirement VISA as I get a month retirement from the military. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    1. We don’t recommend specific agents – because we haven’t used one yet. In this post about Ecuador real estate you’ll find a listing of agents in Cuenca and Salinas.
      We do recommend a law firm in Cuenca because we have used them with great success. Nelson and Grace are full-time immigration lawyers and many expats have used them.

      1. Thank you! Funny you mention it I was just reading through all the posr and came across that post and actually sent an email over to the office this morning 🙂

  18. I’d be curious to see an update since was written over 3 years ago. We visited for a month in April/May 2013 and moved here in December. We noted several things had increased just in that time frame. Thanks for the great resource, it (and your family) was a major reason we looked further into moving here. We love it!

    1. We’ve thought about updating the cost of living – but I don’t think it has changed that much.
      Just like everywhere in the world, prices do fluctuate here. You’ll likely see some of the increases decrease over then next few months. Imported alcohol went up a few months ago because of higher import taxes. It seems that imported items in general are always on the increase. Other things, like food and taxis seem to be quite stable. We’ve seen the price of chicken increase around $0.30/kg in the time that we’ve lived here.

  19. First, great job with both content and delivery of this site. It really helps both those watching, and those ready to take the plunge. Next, what would you say is the biggest issue you miss, regardless of aspect, from living in North America? Now, what is the greatest aspect of living in South America? Lastly, what is social life like there (both in town, region, country)? Do you find a place/venue where ex-pats congregate?
    Thanks in advance for the info. I am headed to both Quito and Manta in Feb and am gathering info on potentially relocating there on a semi-annual basis. !Muchas gracias!

  20. Hi Brian,
    We visited Ecuador for the first time around Easter. We are now crunching our numbers and are targetting retiring there in about 8 years. You mentioned life insurance. Are you taking life insurance from a Canadian or an Ecuadorian company? Would you happen to know what premium an Ecuadorian company would charge for someone in his early 60s for each 100k?

  21. Hi Bryan,
    You mentioned briefly at the beginning that you are still paying life insurance. We visited Ecuador for the first time around Easter and are now targeting retiring there in about 8 years time. We are crunching the numbers now. One piece of information I can’t seem to find easily is the cost of life insurance premiums. Are you taking your life insurance coverage from a Canadian or Ecuadorian company? Would you happen to know what the premiums would be for someone in the early 60s for every $100k?

  22. Hi Brian, I am a single 62 year old female and wondering what type of television is available? Are there any English channels and or shows available. Do you know how difficult it would be to obtain a job teaching English. I am a certified TEFL teacher as of 5/09 and would be interested in teaching part time. Any info would be appreciated.
    Also, are there any Airlines you would recommend?
    Love your site and would love to make a trip over to check it all out.
    Thanks, Karen

    1. Hi Karen,
      Yes you can watch English television in Ecuador. In addition to local connection options, we also watch Netflix and Hulu.
      I think there are options for teaching English. We have friends who teach at universities and online. I was offered a job last month.
      We have flown both American Airlines and LAN – both good options, but LAN is our favorite.

  23. Hi,
    This site is terrific!
    I plan to move to Cuenca this summer for a year with two young children. My daughter will be turning 5. Do you know if expat children can attend local (public) schools? If so, is there a cost? (Or let me know if you’ve already written about it and I missed it on your blog!)
    I saw that other families were planning to move with young children as well. If anyone has any feedback on schooling, tutoring, etc, that would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Nancy,
      You can choose from public or private schools. I don’t know any expats that have sent their kids to public school. Private schools can cost from $50-250 per month and I don’t know of any limitations for expat kids being enrolled.

  24. Hi Bryan!
    I am enjoying your website so much! My husband and I are looking to take our daughter there to relocate from New York. We will be making a trip down there within the next year to check it out in person. I have heard many wonderful things about the country and the people and am so excited to be a part of the culture! I have a couple of questions:
    How hard was it for your daughter to adjust to living in a foreign country? My daughter is five and I worry about her transition.
    Is there any part time work that you recommend for a young expat (30)? My husbands pension is enough to live on but I would like to find something to do part-time.

    1. Hi Michelle,
      I’m so glad you’re enjoying our site! Initially, it was a hard transition for our daughter. She was eight and the language barrier was the hardest thing. We wrote about it here. After a few months, everything leveled out and she is doing amazing.
      There are companies looking for native English speakers – as teachers and sales representatives. Depending on your background you could probably find part time work consulting. Or you could start a blog

  25. I will be coming to Ecuador on May the 8th. I am not an extravagant person. Living comfortably like you do, how much do you think it would cost, on average, for a single person in Cunca? I am guessing $600 to $700 but I do not want to arrive and be surprised at a much higher cost. Thanks, Dave

  26. Hi, I have a question,I see this post was written in 2010, I think I found an update for 2011, now in 2013 have the prices change much? Specialy rent?
    Thank you, by the way this site has been really helpful to me since I’m planning to move there in a few months.

  27. Hello, My name is Pamela. My husband and I have been looking at Equador for quite sone time. We are from fla and of course would love to be close to the water, but most important, how and where are good hospitalsm. Disability of apx $1900.00 per month for hubby, but I want to work. Any suggestions on all above?. Thanks for any help you can give. Pamela

  28. Bryan, Can you please what is the average cost of a private elementary school for children?What is the cost to have dental work done in Cuenca?Especially implants?What about properties in the downtown area and what is the best area?
    Thank you.

  29. Thank God I found this site. I have been considering retiring abroad for many years and here it is 7 months out. I am a single 43 year old woman. I would like to check it out first and was wondering how to find a family to rent a room from for a few weeks to see if it is what I am looking for. My military retirement will be $1200 but I will be getting disability as well, amount unknown. If I do move I want to be near a beach, I want to grow some vegetables…I am very social and it would be nice if I was in a community with other singles. Also what about bringing my dog? I have very little in savings but want to live a simple life in beautiful surroundings. Oh I also I want to be near public transportation. WHat advice can you give me?

    1. Hello Shannon, well you can live close to the beach pretty much any city you move into! jajaja… from Quito the beach for me in bus is about 6 hours, other ones like Salinas is about 10 hours away, and about 30 mins by plane, which is so wonderful! I don’t know about many families to rent a room in, but there are furnished apartments that you can rent, best to look at “El Comercio” but it is in Spanish, well if you got any questions or need a helping hand, you can email me I speak both Spanish and English 😉 Good luck!

        1. Im sorry i didn’t mean to confuse, well Salinas is on the coast, but up higher, I meant Atacames is 6 hours away from Quito, its an easy fast ride to it, but Salinas is up north in the coast and the ride is a bit longer… Atacames, Esmeraldas, Pedernales its all closer to Quito by bus. 🙂

  30. hello bryan, thanks for replying to my earlier conserns about expats moving there for profits. my wife and i want to move there within the next two years. i am disabled. my disability per month is $1200. per month. loja seems to call out to us. would my monthly funds do well in loja for two people. your thoughts would be nice. my thanks to you, and GOD bless you. bob smith

    1. Really depends on your lifestyle – but I would think that with $1200 per month you should do quite well.
      I would recommend visiting first to see how you like it.

  31. Hi Bryan, We have just started getting your Gringos abroad notices,we really enjoy them. We are planning on coming to Ecuador the first of November for our first look at living there. Are there any type of retirement tours available in the Cuenca area, we really dont want to just wonder around on our first trip there,also would you recomend
    flying into Quito or Guayaquil? Thanks again Jim and Jody

    1. I’ve heard of real estate tours, but I’m not sure how good or thorough they are. I don’t think it matters which airport you fly into, except that you’ll have more flight options from Quito to Cuenca than from GYE.

  32. I’m wondering when you got your Supermaxi and Coral cards. I got mine last March 2012, and didn’t pay any annual or membership fees. Also, I have a Nokia phone with Movistar and I periodically add $10 to it. I don’t use it very often (I find even here, friends communicate most often by e-mail) and so far I haven’t had anything “expire.” Thanks for your insightful site on living in Cuenca. I didn’t know my Supermaxi card is good at Sukasa, so I’ll be taking advantage of that when I move into my new apartment next month. Keep up the good work.

    1. They have since changed the rules (a decision by the president, we were told) that they can’t charge for the cards. And you are right, cell phone saldo doesn’t expire anymore, also a decision by the federal government. Time for some updates…

    2. Hi Carolyn,
      I have been considering moving to Ecuador for a year or so and I saw your comment on Brian’s blog. I see that you were planning to move into a new apartment. I was wondering if you could share some info with me. Like the rent, location and safety. I am single and would like to find someone that is already there that could shed some light on living there as a single woman.
      I would apprecaite any info that you care to share. Thanking you in advance. Karen

      1. I think Ecuador especially Quito is a good place to live in Ecuador.
        Mysel, I am an ecuadorian that decided to comeback to Quito after living in California for over 17 years.
        Of course there are a lot of things that one has to adjust, but overall the change is good.
        Things I think people need to bring with them is a bag full of optimism, backpack of spanish everyday usage
        a wallet of cash of course and plenty of time to spend here, there are a lot of places to see and a mix bag of people to meet ranging from poor to rich and from black to white with no stigmas attached.

  33. Hi Bryan,
    We are a family of four, my wife 30, my kids 8 and 6 and myself 31. We have been to Cuenca almost every year since 2004, and we really love the city, the people, and the lifestyle. We really see ourselves moving to Cuenca; our only concern is our kids’ education. We are concerned with the cost and level of education in Ecuador. Even tough our kids speak Spanish, we are afraid that they will not do well in school because they do not write the language. Do you know of any good schools that will fit our kids needs? We would also like to meet with other expats and their kids; do you know of any places on how to meet with expats in the same situation as ours?
    We thank you in advance for all the information that you may provide in regards to schools and cost.

  34. Now that we have them proselytized and their economies under foot let us move in ourselves and bring our commodity fetishism with us!

    1. If you’ve been to Ecuador, you’ll know that it isn’t expats changing peoples lifestyles. There are millions of Ecuadorians (1,000,000 in New York City alone) abroad who send other ways of doing things back here. I’m not sure that it’s a bad thing, but certainly a few expats aren’t changing the country’s culture.

  35. Hi Brian-
    Amazing base of helpful, well written and interesting mass of content you have created!
    Wondering if you have discussed your finances pre-move to Equador? Knowing start up and monthly costs is excellent. I wonder about how much you cut ties with Canada (sell your home?) and how much money you had in the bank before making the leap? Did you cash out retirement savings to help or are you leaving that as an emergency plan?
    We’d be a young family of 4 who are not close to retirement. Internet / computer savy tho… Would need to work. Wife is a teacher and speaks spanish. Your COL sounds manageable. Trying to get a feel if we are ‘financially prepared’ enough to make the leap.

    1. Hi Ross, some of the specifics we won’t be publishing (there are still a few details in our life that have managed to remain private 🙂 ) but we did sell our home and our business. We cut most ties back in Canada. To give you an idea of what we do for work you might want to check out How Do You Earn a Living Abroad?. In terms of emergency funds everyone is different. We’ve heard some expats requiring more than $250,000 as a next egg back home – “just in case”. Others traveled/moved with just a few bucks in their pockets – and had literally nothing back home. Really is just personal comfort level.
      All the best on your plans.

  36. Hey brian, me and a friend are planning on moving to ecuador, cuenca to be exact, and i was gonna ask you about jobs there for us. As in difficulty and/or abundance. Just an experience and visual observation that you might have obtained while being there. Im not bilingual but im willing to do anything and everything. Ive researched a lot or have tried to lol but i cant really find a lead on anything.

    1. I really can’t say. We know of many expats that have jobs here. Without Spanish, it is going to reduce your options. There are classifieds sections in the papers – but you’ll need Spanish to read them and respond. Once you are here, you can begin the search.

  37. Hi BRyan,
    which would be a safe area to move to in Cuenca. I wanted to rent a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment, but I am not sure about the areas and also can you recommend a suitable estate agent or any other way to find the right apartment.

  38. Bryan, first of all thanks for you insight and comments. I’ve been to dozens and dozens of sites an yours is the most informative there is. My wife, son and I are planning on a trip to Ecuador in either December or next summer if I’m not deployed again. to take a look around for ourselves. We too are tired of how the world is headed and have done alot of research (all online as of now) on our future and what we want for the family. We are looking for an area with some gringos, but not saturated with them (I can stay in Texas for that). We’ve been looking at the Loja area, but not in it (we’ve country folk and cities aren’t our thing). Loja has a few Universities and my son will be done high school soon. Any suggestions/comments are always apprieciated.

  39. Hi!
    Really enjoying and researching this site. I am planning to move to Ecuador early next year. I am 25 years old with no family moving along with me.
    Am I being logical by planning a $10k/12,000 nest egg for my first year in Ecuador? I am a working class citizen from the US and therefore do not live extravagantly. I am not sure if I will work much while I am in Ecuador, mostly just volunteering.
    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this if you get the chance.

    1. As a single person, you can probably do okay in $1000 per month. Don’t forget about start-up costs – things like a bed, fridge, etc. Or if you rent a furnished place you won’t have to worry about that but it will cost more per month.
      All the best on your plans.

  40. Thank you so much for this!
    I am moving with my two children to Cuenca in July 2012 and I was really wanting to see the breakdown for someone who lives almost the same as I do. (I don’t drink– LOL)
    I had seen an article about a couple who was spending like 1500 per month, it seemed over the top for 2 people but they had a dog who eats the most expensive food and a maid who apparently eats a lot too and lives with them. LOL!
    With my children, I was hoping to live there for under 1000 per month. We live frugally, will cook much of the time and will still watch TV on Netflix over the internet.
    Thank you for this article! It is so helpful and also hopeful! =)

    1. Just wanted to warn you, I was recently in Ecuador and learned that Netflix doesn’t stream there. Neither does Amazon. I’m sure there’s probably some workaround, but we wound up getting DVDs instead.

  41. Hello Brian, you have said that your family of three get by comfortably on a little over $900.00 a month.
    I am single male, 45 and recieve around $900.00 a month disability insurance. being single could I expect expenses be even less than $900 per month ?

    1. Really depends on your standard of living, but I don’t think you should have any problems. The catch would be having enough for buying furniture, visiting doctors, travel, etc. With some savings and/or a frugal lifestyle you will do fine.

  42. My husband, 2 year old daughter and myself are very likely moving to Cuenca in about a year and are so excited to explore and hopefully find ourselves right at home in your beautiful city. I have looked around and have not found one important piece of information that is needed. How much does the typical three person family pay for medical insurance? I have heard nice comments about the medical facilities but nothing on the cost…
    Thank you for any help and we hope to meet you one day soon!
    The Quinn Family

  43. How much do you spend a month for health insurance in Ecuador? is it mandatory to buy or, do you buy private plan?

  44. DO they have gyms and what the cost? How about yoga class?
    do alot of people use bicycles there? My x wife was from Barranquilla,the drivers are crazy.

    1. Yes, there are gyms and yoga classes. I don’t do them, so I’m not sure of the costs, but one friend checked and the gym was $5 to join and $5 a month. There is also a Curves franchise on Remegio Crespo I plan to check out. As for biking, I haven’t seen many bicyclists, and I personally wouldn’t do it for safety reasons. The drivers are fast, and even crossing the roundabouts on foot requires having your wits about you.

  45. Bryan
    What is the square footage or meters of your rented home?? What are its features and what does it look like?? Is it free standing or attached?? can you post photos?? Is it relatively easy to find a similar size/price one in a good neighborhood outside the old center??
    I am a certified english ESOL language teacher from the Miami, Fla., school system, and a spacialist in improving English pronounciation for Spanish speakers through a unique method of accent reduction…any chance of working part time in this field do you think?? I speak native Spanish.
    Thank you for any info you can provide on these questions.

    1. Hi Rolf,
      Dena has prepared a post that will be finished and published over the coming weeks of what you can expect. The home you are asking about we don’t live in anymore. But we’ll be sharing some details to help give an idea of what the money can buy.
      I understand that a good wage for teaching English is around the $4 per hour mark. There are exceptions – like teaching Business English to businessmen but wouldn’t be too common. I know that some teach English online – mostly to customers in Europe and this can be as high as $10 per hour.
      Hope this helps,

      1. Hi Bryan, I will be retiring in one year. I would like to know about the humidity where you have lived. I understand that there is little humidity in Cuenca, is this true? Also I would need a 1 bedroom apt in a very safe area and I would like to know how much you think I would have to pay for rent. If you can let me know about those two things, it would help me immensely.
        I really enjoy your blog, thanks so much. Blessings to you and yours.

        1. Hi Karen, humidity is low in Cuenca – at least compared to where we are from (Nova Scotia, Canada).
          We’ve seen a very nice 2 bedroom apartment for $140 (small bedrooms – but nice). I haven’t seen many one bedroom places – but I think you could go as high as $300-$500 for a decent 2 bedroom place. If you look around (and speak a little spanish) I think $300 should be on the high end. We pay $250 for a large 3 bedroom apartment in a safe area.

    2. Hi Rolf, Im going to jump in on this question, well I from here from Ecuador, I am currently back in Ecuador. I used to live in the states, and well my sister works as a teacher in an Academy here teaching English to Ecuadorian children from ages 4-7 and she makes around $800 with a schedule of 7am – 2pm, There are those types of jobs, English Teachers do make good money, well considering the fact that the basic salary is $318 minus taxes and the social security taken out, so you end up with around $280 or so. Hope this helps. 🙂

  46. Bryan,
    What is the size of the home you rent in square feet/meters?? Can you provide a photo and the name and location of the neighborhood to have a better idea of what you are getting for the price??

  47. My wife and myself are traveling threw Cuenca and a friend directed us to Coopera food stores .
    The food is mostly organic and cheaper then in Supermaxi an other stores. You could decrease your food budget even more.
    Your visiting compatriot from Toronto

  48. Hi.. We are planning to bring our appliances with from the US in a container, after reading about propane use for appliances I wonder if we will have problems connecting the ones we bring with us? Do you have any advice for folks bringing all their major appliances along?

    1. You’ll probably need to get an electrician to wire the plug for an electric dryer and stove. Unless you have specific needs for a certain type of appliance, you might consider buying them here. Freight costs are very high, and the appliances aren’t really that expensive here. And you’ll have warranty service here. Just an idea.

    2. Thanks for the quick response! I must confess, my husband just made a pre-visit in Nov. and the folks he spoke to said bring your own appliances as they are expensive in EC. So possibly there are some appliances you suggest not bothering to bring at all then?
      Thanks for your input and continued work to share all that is useful to us trying to do what you are already doing.

      1. Hi TJ, I really don’t think its necessary to bring appliances. We bought everything here, except for a few laptops that we brought with our luggage. You might want to check out our start up costs.
        I’m confident that the savings of not buying the appliances will be consumed (and much more) with the freight costs. The only exception that I can imagine, is if you require a professional or specialty item. We bought a washer/dryer pair for $900 – and are covered under warranty here.

        1. Great blog. I was thinking a container shipment would be a great idea. Think of all the good stuff we could fit in there. But my girlfriend said she heard it would be really expensive… and she was right again. I got a few quotes from Chicago to Salinas was $8000 base if we did almost everything ourselves. The guy really said to count on $11,000 in reality by the time you are done paying all the fees etc. So new – in country, local warranties sound like a deal to us.

  49. Hi Bryan – I have enjoyed reading all of the back ‘n forth postings. I currently live in the Charleston, Sc area, which is a fabulous place. Unfortunately even as a single person it would be hard to live a quality life style here for less than $2,500 – 3,000 per month (or more) and thankfully I am still working. But I plan to retire within the next year or so and will have bewteen $1,750 – $1,900 of assured income (primarily US Social Security). As a divorced single person currently in good health it sounds like a $1,750+ monthly income is more than sufficient to live a comfortable life in Cuenca. After reading all of the posted comments I have several questions:
    1 – Can you clarify the climate/weather situation? Even if it rains almost daily is it predictable and is there at least some sun on most days of the month thoughout the year? I have heard and read many conflicting sides of this story.
    2 – Although I would intend to embrace the Cuenca/Ecuadorian culture I do want to still remain connected to the US. Can you tell me who and at what cost provides US TV live programming via satellite (primarily sports and cable news shows) and US movie downloads? I’m pretty sure that I can get the Wall Street Journal online anywhere in the world.
    3 – Are there coffee shops or “expat hangouts” that are WIFI in the core/downtown area?
    Thanks/keep the info flowing.
    PS – My son lives in/splits his time between Quito and Jama/Pedernales

  50. Wondering what is the cost of electricity per Kilo watt hour (Kwh) you are paying in Ecuador? We are working with a mission who is interested in locating solar power at their mission, but we have not been able to get and idea of what the per hour cost is. I would like to know what taxes, surcharges, etc… are included.
    Thank you
    John Cotten

    1. Hi John, from my bill it looks like 11.96 cents /kWh. On my last bill, we consumed 175 kWh at a raw cost of $14.63. There was a subsidy of $1.60 plus a marketing cost of $1.41 for a total of $17.64. The bill also includes firefighter component of $1.32 and public lighting of $2.25. The bill total was $21.21. Our rate is highly variable – runs from $20 to $35/month, but is still pretty low compared to Canada.
      Hope this helps.

  51. Hello Bryan. Having entered into the ranks of senior citizenship – and having lost both shirts in a commercial real estate debacle a few years ago here in the states, the continuing idea of moving to a place where available residuals might still provide a reasonable level of survival, have been ongoing. Within the last couple of years, have taken a look at San Miguel, Mexico, staying there for about six weeks, and a short couple of weeks in Panama on another trip. More recently have become interested in Ecuador, and Cuenca in particular. Believe the best information on any place will come from folks living in the location they are promoting. Thus, have found your posting on Cuenca excellent. Taking a short vacation to somewhere is one thing – gathering information on a possible relocation is more serious. Thus, albeit in the eye of the beholder as to subject, I appreciate reading about the bad as well as the good. Do have an inquiry regarding the renting of a furnished one bedroom/studio apartment. The numbers often sound good – however, do you know if these may at times be only teaser rates, with increases over a short period after move in – and if so, are there (or could there be) a negotiated rate (a lease) obtained perhaps after a few months of renting covering a longer period of time. Another area of personal interest: Have you posted previous information on areas/smaller towns in and around Cuenca that a newcomer might want to check out? Best of luck to you and family – keep up the good work. Graham.

    1. Sounds like you are doing your research very thoroughly. I haven’t heard of teaser rates. Just be sure to get a signed lease and you’ll be fine. You can even ask the question outright. With a signed contract you shouldn’t have any troubles. There are a couple of small towns just outside of Cuenca. There is the town of Baños, Azogues, Paute, Gualaceo, Chordeleg and Yunguilla Valley. But the majority of foreigners live in Cuenca. It would take a level of Spanish and some understanding of the culture to pull off a move to one of these towns.

  52. Hi Bryan, I thought I had no more questions but here is one more……I just checked the Consulate of Ecuador website… shows we should have a pensioners visa now this visa cost 200.00 U,S, dollars, now I wanted to know your opinion on this next question: when we return from our short trip to Cuenca, should we than exit the USA with a pentioners visa or should we do this in Cuenca as we have to show a renters lease or certificate and other documents…. it also state that I have to open a back acct with our funds now is this what all North Americans do or do they wait until they get to Cuenca. Thank you for your time…..

    1. You don’t need an actual Visa to come to Ecuador, U.S. Citizens can stay up to 90 days with out any type of visa you can just travel with your passport. If you want to exceed this time you can get an extention at the American Consulate, and for people moving to Ecuador, you can rely on the Pensioners Visa.

    2. You don’t need an actual Visa to come to Ecuador, U.S. Citizens can stay up to 90 days with out any type of visa, if you want to exceed this time you can get an extention at the American Consulate, and for people moving to Ecuador, you can rely on the Retirement Visa

  53. Bryan – I’m a 51 year old woman about to get dumped by her husband – I will have some equity from the break up and I get a $1600 a month disability check. My concern is one you’ve gone over here – health insurance. As I’ve said, I’m disabled. My disabilities would improve, however, with the move to Cuenca because of the climate. Still, I suffer from chronic pain and need maintenance care in several areas.
    I am currently on Medicare but it would no longer cover me if relocated there.
    Am I to understand that I could buy in to some government insurance there? I’m not concerned about the quality of care – I believe it is probably as good as in the US – but I’m more concerned that because I have so many problems, which are manageable to me with medications, that any governmental program might deny me coverage.
    I believe I would be much healthier there – in fact, one of my doctors even recommended it. But it is more than being able to get to the doctors. It is being able to get the medications filled. How would that work on the types of programs they have?
    I thank you for any advice you can offer.

  54. Hey thanks for the breakdown on the cost of living there Bryan! However my question is a little different. Everyone is a little worried about the cost but my question is related to pay. Is it realistic to expect to make $1500 or month per month in Ecuador or is this only doable if you have a source of income already coming in (social security, internet job, etc.) I mean sure $1000 or $4000 is relative but if you cant make that amount there you have to have a income stream coming from somewhere.

    1. Hi, well everythign its possible in Ecuador but all depends on ur preparation, on the company u are working for, or if its and independent bussiness the time and the zone you apply for it, what is secure its the basic salary for a person here its 280 usd per month so in any company that’s the min u can make. 😛

  55. Thanks for your site! You have so much information. My husband is currently in Ecuador and myself and our two young children are thinking of joining him. I know nothing about Ecuador and look forward to using your site to learn more!

  56. Great post, and thanks for the costs, I live in Saquisili, close to Latacunga, I am british, and my husband is ecuadorian, and I have been living here for nearly 3 years. Having quickly rounded up our expenses we spend at most around 500 USD a month. it´s just the two of us, no pets, renting a 2 bed and 1 bath apartment, (100 USD a month) we own a car and 100 USD goes on that (including gas, SOAT, Matricula, general repairs, etc) we spend 12 USD more or less in the local markets, (it´s outside our door 2 days a week). food in the supermarket around 120 USD. We also have the claro USB, thumb modem that we pay around 23 USD a month and the CNT internet around 35 USD a month for calls, internet, including international calls, etc. mobile phones, we have three but we get by on 6 USD a month (good old movistar with it´s 3×1 promotions) , entertainment (varies from month to month), electricity at a push is 9 USD, water 0 USD ( we have yet to pay in well over a year, the town hall is a little inoperant on this front but then they do cut us off at 7PM every evening and turn it back on at 7 AM. so we don´t mind not paying.)
    Some of you may think this is a ´little lean´ but there is no way I would have this life style living in the UK, we are both web designers and photographers, we work from home, have our own work hours and no boss. I am well travelled, having travelled more than 50 countries and lived in 4 of them We own our car and land, 3500 sq m. and are currently building our home in the country with some of the most amazing views.
    We have no problems with local markets raising cost just because they see me as a foreigner. We don´t drink the water because the taste of the botellon is better but we do cook, brush our teeth and other things.
    Great blog by the way

  57. I am a Police Officer here in the States and it is time for a change. I have the start up cash for just about anyhting but was wondering with my background, (Law Enforcement), if you could think of any type of employment? Thanks

    1. Hi Mike, I don’t know the requirements for police officers in Ecuador, but likely you’ll need to take some additional training – to meet local requirements. If its difficult to be a police officer, I’m sure you could find work as a security guard. This is a very popular job. I’m sure that, in either case, Spanish will be a must.

      1. As a Police Officer is a nationally appointed position, it is highly unlikely that a foreigner would be given this job.

        1. However- have you thought about purchaing cheap apartments in the USA in states such as Florida, or Texas, and renting them out?
          If you bought 3 apts for rentals, and rented them out for 500/month, you would have around 1,500 dollars a month (minus taxes, etc..) to live on. Of course you would have to pay these properties off beforehand- but given the fact that apts can be had now in the states I mentioned starting at 13,000 dollars, it can be done!
          This is my plan.

    2. Well the only thing i can tell you its here that’s one of the worst paid jobs. so i think if you have some cash and u want a relax life the best its to open a bussiness, Ecuador its very good place for investments as there are many areas to develop.

  58. hi bryan just l vant ask about monthly bank interest ? Income up to $ 100,000 to bring what it Safe ? plss ..

    1. Hi Ted – not exactly sure of your question. Interest rates are low, but significantly better than the US/Canada. I earned almost $1 on $500 in my account last month. I understand that on an investment certificate, you can look at 6-8% returns, locked in for just 1 year. Not too bad.

      1. Actually in normal saving accounts its around 2% per year. but somethign u need to hav in mind its if u bring money here specially in those amounts its for doing something here. as for taking out the cash u hv to pay a tax called currency exit tax and its the 2 % of the amount u wanna transfer plus bank services fee, so ithink its better to bring the money to ecuador and use it in any investment rather than keeping in the bank appart of it if u wanna save the its better to do in any certificate then u can get till 7 %

  59. Hello Bryan,
    I and my family (3) are presently living on my retirement income in the Philippines and are looking at some other options and places. One of the major problems with the Philippines is that you have the filipino price and then you have the expat price which is about double. Do you experience the same problem there? We are presently living in a small two bedroom apartment and our monthly cost of living is running about 1100. to 1200. per month. Would like to hear about any comparisons from you or other readers between Ecuador and the Philippines. My total monthly income is `1400. per month and I am hoping that will be enough for my family of three to be comfortable there.

  60. I would like to thank all those who posted as this has answered most of my questions. My self, my Hubby and two boys age 15 and 17 and my sister are very seriously thinking of buying in Ecuador. We are looking along the coast for calm water and beach front property. Do you think it is important to be in a gated community? Do we need to be? We will only be there for a couple of weeks a year for the next two years until our youngest graduates, then for three to 6 months at a time after that. We are planning to come in August of 2011 and do the coastal tour to see where we want to live . We want quieter calmer beaches, not a city. We are not party animals but do enjoy a night out. I have read that parts of the coast have different weather as well. We are looking for warmer and dry. Where would you suggest? Just to clarify we are looking to build 2 homes or buy 2 homes close together .

  61. Bryan,
    First of all, great readings and responses from you to other interested individuals on here. I recently retired from the military and looking at several different places to call home. Cuenca is on the list as well. My girlfriend speaks spanish and is a certified dance instructor. Do you know of any need for dance instructors in Cuenca? We thought about opening a small club but have dance classes available 3 days a week.
    Also, any good websites you would recommend to look at rentals? Either in English or Spanish.
    Most importantly, do you know of any good schools for a 7 year old that speaks English and Spanish?
    I know he will miss WWE down there but hopefully a good internet service will make him happy to watch over the internet.

    1. Hi Dale – there are many dance studios here. I'm sure that your girlfriend could either find work or have success running her own place. There are lots of good schools here, but because we home school, I can't recommend any. The internet is good here. Its how I earn my living, but you might consider a load balancing router for a more stable connection. About TV, your son should be able to find just about everything: English TV in Ecuador

  62. Brian,
    We will be traveling to Salinas and Cuenca in late August this year. We are trying to picture Cuenca before we get there… Should we be thinking Mexico or Spain??? So what do I mean by that??? To me, Mexico is a bit dirty, a bit dangerous, can't drink the water, drugs, not to comfortable a place to be living, in fact we don't travel there anymore….. Spain has history, beautiful buildings, more civilized…. I know this is subjective but do you get what I am asking??? Thanks

    1. Hi George, I’ve never been to either Spain or Mexico. But as you describe them, I would say that Ecuador is a combination of them both. There are unsafe areas here (as in any country) but generally its safe. The drug shoot-outs like we hear about in Mexico just don't happen here. The country is full of history and beautiful buildings and certain areas really cater to the foreigner. Cuenca is one of the most beautiful areas here in Ecuador. We are in Quito right now, and it is amazing. I wish we had more time here. Cuenca has its dirty areas, but generally is very clean. In the downtown core most building are in amazing shape. I'm having a bit of trouble answering. Cuenca is very nice, but not perfect. Everything isn't spit-polished and white-washed. While its very popular with tourists, the city has a “lived-in” feel – everything isn't adjusted for the tourists eyes. Not sure if this helps. Sort of a hard thing to convey in text.Hope you enjoy your trip here.Bryan

    2. not all areas of mexico are the same. check out chapala dot com for the lakeside area of chapala/ajijic. the largest western expat community in mexico living on the largest lake in mexico (lake chapala), spring weather year round, guadalajara airport 25 minutes away. you can check real estate at select chapala in the drop down meanu.

    3. Hi George,
      Months have passed since your post but thought we’d chime in – we’ve visited both Mexico and Spain (in 2010 and 2011) in the quest to find our retirement home. In Mexico we visited Lake Chapala and Ajijic (summer of 2010) and didn’t like it at all. Even the expats we met said we shouldn’t walk from the restaurant to our B&B (10 blocks) at night. We didn’t feel safe there at night. The lake is dirty – when the locals won’t swim in it, you know there’s an issue. We did like Bucerias, Mexico. More touristy tho – but we totally felt safe, great expat community, locals were friendly but seems that home prices are quite high. Just returned from Spain and although there are many places that are beautiful, our experience was that the locals aren’t all that welcoming. Great cheap wine tho! Great roads and easy to get around. Prices for food about 25% cheaper than Canada. We won’t be relocating to Spain. Not our cup of tea at all. Equador is our next journey in January 2012. Good luck in your quest!
      Kim and Leslie

      1. Hi Kim & Leslie, I have just started reading this blog and read your message. I have been thinking of Lake Chapala, Mexico as a retirement home. You said you did not feel safe there and the Lake was dirty. Would you mind giving me as much info as you can about Lake Chapala/Ajijic and of anyone I could contact there. I would be living there as a single retired woman. Thanks so much. Karen

    4. I´ve lived in Mexico for almost 20 yrs., yes, there are problems, probably more than Ecuador, but if you aren´t involved in crime related activities, you´re relatively safe here. I visit the U.S. only when I have to and am more concerned about my safety there. I spent 2 mos. in Cuenca this year and am concerned when folks interviewed said the climate was ´perfect´???? In 2 mos., I think I saw the sun 8 hours, over the span of 2 mos. If you want the perfect climate, that would be here in Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Mexico

      1. Hi Linda, I am so excited to know you live in Lake Chapala. I am wanting to retire to Lake Chapala at least for 6 months of the year. I would appreciate all the info you care to provide. I would be living alone and am concerned about safety, health care and cost of living especially the cost of an apt., food, etc. I would love to know what the weather is like there from April thru Sept/Oct. I also am open to living there permanently. Thanks so much for any info you can provide. Karen

  63. Brian, your COL data sounds very appealing! You are living better on about 1/3 of my gross income. I like to say that I have "too much" month left at the end of my income. I am getting by, comfortable, but I have no funds left for entertainment. You didn't mention cultural events in Cuenca. Is there an opera, live theater, musical events, a symphony, movie theaters? What about shopping malls? This is important because I'm considering both Mexico and Ecuador for my relocation.

    1. Hi MandyinJax,
      Its a good question. Here in Cuenca, there are musical events, museums, live performances and movie theaters. There are two nice multi-screen theaters here – and cost just $2.50 to $4.00 depending on the day. We had plans to attend cultural events when we first moved here, but life got busy. . . One of the theaters is in Mall del Rio – the largest mall in the city. There are a number of other smaller malls here.
      Those things do exist, but I'm not the best person to comment on that. One of then nicest things is in the evenings in Parque Calderon (the main city square) there will sometimes be a group of string performers – or they'll play that type of music on the speakers wired throughout the park. Its very nice. These performances are free. Some of the restaurants do open mikes, and others have musicians come in to play for the guests. Not to sure about opera.
      Sorry I can't help more.

  64. I hope this doesn't sound negative, but what will you do if you get cancer or have a major medical problem? How will you survive without insurance?
    I was thinking about moving to Cuenca with my wife and baby, and I only have a maximum of $1,000/mo to live on, so I was trying to see if there is a way to make it work, without risking disaster if something happens unexpectedly, healthwise.
    We live frugally, and easily survive on $2,000 a month in the U.S., including health insurance for 3, so I'm hoping I can do the same in Ecuador for half that. Do you think that's doable?

    1. Hi Jay – I understand your concern. We were worried about health care too.
      After having been to a number of doctors, and specialists, we've seen that the care is better and less expensive than our "free" health care in Canada. Things can always happen, but we aren't too worried. Health insurance does exist, but I don't know much about it. I've heard that you can buy insurance at a specific hospital and they'll care for you exclusively. Specialists cost $20-25 per visit, and you can get an appointment the same day. Family doctors are about half of that.
      In case of a car accident, the government has a program called SOAT – which is a mandatory health insurance. If you are in an accident, you are rushed to the nearest hospital and everything is covered. It seems like an awesome program.
      Everyone lives differently, but we do well on $1000/month here. You'd need to allow some cash to setup a place, but aside from that, it should be pretty straight forward. If you life outside of the center, you'll find much better rent. We could live on significantly less, if need be.
      Hope this helps.

      1. Thanks for the reply, Bryan. That sounds promising. I take it that if I ever needed an organ transplant or chemotherapy or something like that, I might be out of luck without insurance though, right? That's got to cost a fortune, even in Ecuador. A friend of mine has MS and his insurance pays for his medicine, which comes to about $2,000 a month. He would basically be dead in Ecuador if he didn't have insurance, right? Just checking out the worst case scenarios. Let me know what you think.

        1. Hi Jay, you know, some friends have told me that there are two systems here – free and pay. I went to a clinic for a test and it was free. They even gave us specific supplies for our family doctor to use, for free. We've used the pay system, because its faster, but as far as I understand we could go to the government run hospitals and get treated for free. Some other friends have purchased insurance at a specific hospital, and that is now “their hospital”. But as far as things like transplants and chemo – you might be out of luck without money.Maybe some of our readers can help with this?

          1. Thanks, Bryan. I hate to think negatively, but it concerns me a little to abandon my insurance, get a serious illness and then be unable to ever get insurance again and/or die in the process 🙂
            I read the other day that approximately 50% of all American men and 35% of all American women get cancer eventually and it got me thinking that I better plan for the worst, just in case.
            Do you have any friends that might know how much insurance costs down there? I've heard it's maybe a couple hundred bucks a month for a family of free, but I'm not sure about it.

          2. If we (2 adults and a kid) lived in a decent house or an apartment in a safe area on the edge of Cuenca somewhere, and don't have a car, does this sound like a realistic budget for Cuenca, or is it too low?
            rent $180
            electricity $30
            internet $35
            water bill/drinking water $32
            cell phone $26
            Ooma/MagicJack $2
            Club Correos $1
            doctor/dentist/medicine $20
            life insurance $30
            groceries/vitamins $200
            taxi/bus $40
            clothes/extras $99
            Total: $695

          3. Honestly, it seems a little shy, but it really depends on your lifestyle. There are lots of free things to do for entertainment in Cuenca. Food would be okay, but you couldn't eat much meat, or imported foods. But basic fruits and vegetables with rice and plantain with a small amount of meat and you could do okay. You're in the ballpark.

          4. OK, if I add $55 more for meat and entertainment, do you think we could live a thrifty, but decent life there? Are the rest of my numbers doable?

          5. Hello Jay, regarding your concern of a serious illness, there are a few health care plans that cover cancer. They cover up to 100,000 for cancer, which I am not 100% sure if it’s a good number, although my aunt went through cancer and because she is Ecuadorian, they have covered absolutely everything from transplant to medicine. The health plans offered are great, I have both my children on Ecuasanitas and I pay $23 per each, covers accidents, acts as a life insurance and for $4 a months covers cancer!! So I believe finding the right information and the right people to go to, you would be fine. As far as your cost of living, they seem fair living in Cuenca, I spend $200 a month on food for my family of 3 and that is only at the supermaxi, there are cheaper places. I think you’ll be pretty good.

  65. Hey Bryan,
    was wondering if there is any brew pubs there in Cuenca and what if any laws that would prohibit brewing on a micro scale. Had enough of living here in the states and have narrowed it down to Ecuador, but to young to retire and will need to have a income to support a family of 4. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
    Oh and love the blogs, keep it up for us dreamers.

    1. Hi Erik,
      There is at least one micro-brewery here. Its just a street up from Calle Larga – in the downtown core. I don’t think they have a pub as well – they must wholesale. I really don’t know the laws, sorry.
      You’ve got a great goal. And because of the cost of living, it isn’t that hard to come up with something to create income. I work just a few days a week to support our family of 3.
      All the best on your plans.

    2. Hey Erik, My wife and I are planning a move there, and hope to open a business eventually. A brew pub sounds wonderful. We live n Portland, OR and are accustomed to lots of great micro-brews. Let us know how you make out. Hopefully we can toss back a pint of your brew sometime.

  66. Hi. Thanks for the great information we are finding here. My wife and I are coming there in April to look around and to decide if we would like to retire there next year. We would really like to meet with expats while we are there. Looking for the inside scoop first hand. Do you have any suggestions how we might do this? Hotel suggestions would also be helpful. Any suggestions to either of these or any other thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! Randall

    1. Hi Randall, I too am thinking of retiring to Ecuador and would appreciate any and all info you care to provide from your visit in April 2011. Thanking you in advance. Karen

  67. Eric
    Hi Brian enjoyed your comments very much . And it all sounds interesting. But i guess for an old guy like myself, it's all too nerve racking . Besides i could not bring my tractor and chain saws with me. So i guess my wife and I had better stay home with them. We also have four kitties to look after.
    I bet that little girl of yours is abig girl now, give her a hug for me OK.

    1. Hi Eric – great to hear from you! Keep taking good care of Ray and the tractor. The tractor might be a little big for the plane and there aren't too many trees for your saws anyway. But I do think you would love the smell of fresh cut Eucalyptus trees – its really amazing.
      Our little girl is growing up – shes 10 now – and really loving it here. You should hear her speak Spanish – sometimes it really surprises us.
      I miss our talks – we'll have to get together when we make it back to the Valley for a visit – but not sure when that'll be.
      Our best to Ray and your family.

      1. Hi Bryan, what is your suggestion on where and how to learn to speak spanish. Did you learn after you arrived there or did you learn before you moved. If before you moved what did you do. Thanks, Karen

  68. Hello Bryan,
    My wife and I decided about a year ago to move to Ecuador, and thanks to this site and others we have chosen to move to Cuenca. Your site has been invaluable in providing "real world" information about the city. We will be moving to Cuenca in a few weeks with two young children (ages 11 and 10) and were wondering if you had any recommendations for inexpensive hotels. We would like to stay at a hotel while we get to know the city and look for a place to rent. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. One of the nicest places I’ve seen is the El Puente Hotel. We had some friends stay there back in the spring. They have internet in the rooms – both WiFi and cabled.
      – this is a travel agency styled site. I’m sure you’ll get a better rate to contact them directly. Our friends paid $450 for a month. The rate is fixed for a month stay. El Puente Hotel is nice, there is a restaurant on the main level.
      It is located just at the foot of the hill leading to the city center. There is a supermaxi (grocery store) nearby, and its on a number of bus routes.
      Hope this helps.

  69. Wow many expats missing the boat on food cost's.
    We have been in Quenca for only one month we have discount cards for Super max and the Coral but honestly we pay half that price at the open markets and the produce is superior. If you do know local Quencanos which we mostly do ask them to go with you have some fun and negotiate and eat better in the process. As for time. if you go to one of the local markets you could shop faster and take less time than it takes to stand in the line at the Super max or Coral.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. In our first few months we also planned on shopping only at the open markets. After a while though, we realized the amount of time it was taking. And if you speak with an accent, or look like an extranjero (a foreigner) you'll pay much more (I'm a 6ft3in Canadian with light colored hair). A $0.50 pineapple for a local is $1.00 for us. Sure, we could barter and haggle, but we found it wasn't worth our time. An equivalent quality pineapple today at Coral is $0.95. We found we liked spending our time doing other things. But I agree with you – it is fun. We really enjoy the large open markets – especially the Feria Libre and 10 de Agosto markets.
      Glad to hear that you're enjoying Cuenca!

  70. Thank goodness for this blog, and this particular post. I'm 64 and contemplating the idea of not working here in America until the grave. 🙂 With social security of roughly $1,000 coming quickly my way, it's encouraging to know I might be able to live safely in Ecuador. Thank you, thank you!

  71. Bryan, we have lived in Cuenca on and off for 3 years. Now we have been here for two years full time. There are only two of us we spend a lot more than $300 per month on food. Well a lot more, probably another $200. We would spend $500 per month just on food and cleaning items. We actually eat very organic and only eat chicken and fish. Sometimes we buy our vegies and fruit from the organic market, sometimes SuperMaxi and sometimes Ferie Libre. We eat a lot of nuts, which are all imported so more expensive. If we go out for lunch we either go vegetarian or a restaurant that we know has salads or vegetables. Generally we would pay around $2.50 – $5.00 for lunch.
    Although we own our apartment, most unfurnished good rentals, in a safe part of town are anywhere from $300-$350. If you are looking for a furnished then you will pay from $500 anywhere up to $800 depending on size and location. Some houses furnished even go as high as $1,000.
    As for watching movies. You can download movies and depending on your internet provider we have found it to be excellent. We dont buy DVD's here anymore and have joined a website which has a lifetime membership and we just download movies to view. You cannot download from Netflix here.
    Water is drinkable but like Bryan mentioned we also drink from bottled water as there is also chlorine and fluoride in the water here. We brush our teeth and sometimes cook in the tap water if we have run out. As for large bottles we pay $2 delivered to our kitchen per bottle. We give a small tip which is in the $2.
    Bryan your rent is cheap because you live on the outskirts. But not many foreigners especially the retirees want to live out that far. Most don't want a car and like to be within walking distance of the city and shopping.
    There is great health insurance here but not over 65. I am currently working on getting together a special rate for expat groups. It actually works out at a better price.
    I have many local friends if anyone wishes a recommendation whilst coming to Cuenaca to relocate. Just drop me a line and I will be happy to pass on the information. Many speak English.

    1. Thanks for this info, Janelle. Its good to have another perspective. Cost of living can be a tough one. It varies so much between people and families.
      What movie site do you use? I think this would be of interest to many expats.
      Thanks again,

  72. Hi B & D and D, hope you enjoyed your vacation. This break down was very interesting. I didn't expect it to be that much, not that it is, compared to your old home. Bananas are 1/2 the cost of here, unless we have a good sale. What is the cost of dark choc.? I like following your blogs. I think you have done well w/your life choices.
    Keep up the good work.

  73. Bryan,
    Thanks for your budget break down. We are a family of 4 living for the past 3 +years in Cuenca (which is supposedly the most expensive city in Ecuador)
    We live in a newer 4 bdrm house with internet, phone and alarm service. We take taxis and buses (the buses are safe in Cuenca), eat out about once a month because we choose to eat at home and feed a dog and a cat along with two teenage children. One of your readers commented that your budget is very lean, but I disagree. We spend about the same as you do on food and rent. Our monthly expenses in Ecuador are between $900-1000 a month. We eat and live well and are not suffering at all.
    I think that any normal family could live on the same amount of $ that we do. In fact, we spend less on food than we did when we first arrived.
    I Just wanted to give a counter point to the comment form the reader who labeled your budget as "lean for Ecuador". That is a funny statement when you consider that the average income of an Ecuadorian is less than $300.00 per month. Just my two cents….

    1. Hi, Ecuadorean here. Just wanted to make clear that Cuenca is not the “most expensive city in Ecuador”. The most expensive would be Quito.
      Your budgets look very lean to me, and as said, I’m an Ecuadorean living in Guayaquil.

      1. Hi Jessica, thanks for your feedback. Cost of living is such a subjective thing. The only thing we saw cheaper in Quito (compared to Cuenca) were the taxis – because most of them are metered.

        1. Bryan, your article is very well written and extremely informative. I agree with you statement that “cost of living” is a subjective matter.
          That being said, you and others that live in Cuenca presently or in the last six to twelve months suggest the a couple can get along nicely on $3000 a month. The question that I would like assistance with is what sort of life style could a couple expect to have in Cuenca, if they were intending to live with a budget of say $5000 to $6000 a month
          Help from you and other readers regarding this issue would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

          1. Hi Paul,
            In most countries you’ll do quite well with $5000-6000 per month. In Cuenca, you would probably have trouble spending that much by the end of the month. Most expats spend $1000 – $1500 month, from what we’ve heard. Even with $3000 you’ll live like a king. You could afford to have full time help – maybe a maid and a cook. If have a solid income, you won’t have any worries about “getting by”.

  74. We are contemplating a month in Ecuador next summer with our two young children (4 & 6), we debated Cuenca and also coastal areas, such as Montanita. If you had to choose a month to enjoy some local culture and keep two little girls entertained, what would be your top Ecuador picks?

    1. Hi Laura, sorry for my slow reply.
      About Montanita, I would approach it cautiously. We haven't been in the town, but everyone – both gringos and locals – have not had good things to say about it. It is uncommon that people from the Coast and the Sierra would agree – but they all do about Montanita. It is said to be a drug/hippie town. One taxi driver told us (he was based in Salinas) that Monanita wasn't a place for children. Note: I don't know what I'm talking about – just passing on rumors and unverified advice. Just something to consider.

      1. I have to disagree with the rumors about Montanita being a drug hippie town. My children and I have lived in Cuenca for more than a year. In September, we rented a house for two weeks in Curie ( three miles from Montanita).
        We took a taxi to Monatanita almost everyday and spent lots of time on the beach and ate in many of the different restaraunts. The young back packers were very polite, did not litter on the beach and were not loud.
        Maybe there is the typical hippie drug culture the high travel months of December through February. I would recommend it as a place to visit.

  75. Bryan,
    I was a little confused about the cost of the Internet. You mentioned that is was a little over $34 per month, but went on to say it was $3.00 per day for the modem (which would be $90 per month). Could you clarify that section of costs?
    Also, did you choose not to have TV because it is all in Spanish or are there some satellite TV options that might have English speaking programs?
    Do you and your wife speak Spanish? If not, is it inconvenient? Did your doctor speak English? Did you need a presciption for the medicines or were they all "over the counter" medications?
    Do you wash your fruits and vegitables in any type of disinfectant before eating them?
    Thank you for your efforts.

    1. Hi David, I understand your confusion.
      We have two types of internet connections. The one that is $34 is by CentroNet and is a modem mounted on our roof. It is a fixed cost per month. The other method of connection is a usb modem by Movistar. It is a pay-as-you-go service and costs $3 per day. We use it when traveling and are using it right now because CentroNet is down for repairs. The repairs are on their main tower and have been for the past 2 weeks.
      Not sure whats available for English TV. We don't watch much and its easier to buy DVDs. We pick up about 20 stations with the antennas on the tv and we watch the news in spanish. It helps to get the local perspective on whats going on here.
      We are speaking Spanish now. When we arrived last year, we could hardly say a greeting. Now, we can converse and even conduct business. We sound a little like Tarzan but we can convey our point very well. At first, it was challenging, but we quickly progressed. Our family doctor does speak English. We are going to be posting her profile for other Gringos. She took her training in the US and is excellent. I did need prescriptions, but they are easy to get and inexpensive.
      And yes, we do soak our fruits/vegetables in a grapefruit seed extract. We brought some from Canada, but its easy to buy here. Just a few drops and 15 min later you're good to go.
      Hope this helps.

      1. We live in Cuenca and we are interested in buying grapefruit seed extract for medicinal purposes. Where do you buy your GSE?

        1. Hi Rhonda – we’ve bought it both at Coral and Supermaxi. Its usually in the produce department. The bottles are white with green lids. The one we have right now is Star-Bac. There is another brand – something like Kilol.
          Compared to the types we used to buy in Canada, these kinds are more watery and much less expensive.
          Hope this helps.

  76. Thanks for the breakdown. I've worked on similar blogs in the past so I know how much work it takes. I would caution that your budget sounds very lean for Ecuador. For example, I would blow through your entertainment budget just going out to one dinner with my wife. As gringos in Ecuador we cannot forget that "cheap is expensive." I spend more than this budget because I do not ride the bus in Ecuador. I cannot speak for Cuenca, but in cities like Guayaquil, Quevedo, Santo Domingo, Quito, Manta, etc. it's well worth a few dollars more to take a taxi. The same applies to food. You can pay $1,50 for lunch, but I'm sure you would not eat after looking at the kitchen. I typically budget $10 for lunch. For haircuts, you can pay $2,50 but they use the same comb for everyone and never wash it, or you can pay $7 to $10 for a nice haircut that matches the quality of any high-end place in North America. If you are looking for super cheap living you might be surprised…just my 2 cents from experience. disclaimer: i live in guayaquil which is likely the most expensive place to live in ecuador. Good luck to everyone. Stop dreaming and just move to ecuador….we are not getting any younger!

    1. Thanks Jason.
      You're right about food costs. They range from $1.50 to $12.00 per plate. We seldom eat out – thanks to food allergies. Also about six months ago we all got amoebas from a restaurant. Not serious but the medication is pretty strong. Our daughter was the most sick of all of us and lost significant weight. The the meds she quickly recovered and is back to herself.
      We have tried different lifestyles here over the last 15 months – from always taking taxis to almost never. The buses are safe and reliable here. I don't know about other cities. Overall we are trying to live like the local population. Most of our friends are Cuencanos (not Gringos) and we are learning from them. There are exceptions of course, but we don't live extravagantly.
      Also, what we listed is a rough cost of living – not a firm budget. Some months we actually hit this – other months, its a different situation. And we live in the outskirts of Cuenca – still in city limits but not downtown.

  77. Greetings Bryan,
    Thank you for your time and effort necessary to come up with your well-detailed conclusion. The best I've seen!
    I'll be in Cuenca for a few days in mid-November. Any possibility of connecting for coffee or lunch if you're back from your vacation? Please send me a personal message for more info.
    Have a great time on the coast.
    Kindest regards.

  78. Bryan, this is the best break down of cost I have seen, thank you. Do you have health insurance, if so how much does it cost.
    I am coming to Ecuador alone in January, my wife said I had to go first, see if it "is" what I think it is. If every thing looks good to me I have to convince her she will like it also, I may need help from people like you and especially your wife. We traveled for three and one half years in a motor home, spent a lot of time in western Canada, in the forest alone so she is not a wimp, don't know what happened. We also traveled the middle east, maybe she is getting old on me.
    Thanks and keep on Blogging!

    1. Hi Bill,
      Thanks for your comment. Many couples have one member more hesitant than the other. . .
      We don't have health insurance. I know that sounds "risky" but we don’t feel that way. For a family doctor visit we pay $8. Specialists are $20 and you can get in the same or next day. I am just getting off a bronchial infection, and the medication (10 needles and 7 more days of pills) cost $40. Including needles and pain medication. Health insurance (for us) seemed like a waste of money. Sorry, I can't help on the cost of insurance.

  79. Hhi Bryan – I found this really useful. It raised a couple of questions: why do you buy drinking water. I have read that the tap water in Cuenca is safe to drink.
    Secondly, why do you shop at the supermarket for your fruits & veggies instead of local farm markets.
    Thirdly, if you have internet access, is it not high-speed enough to watch downloaded movies, etc, .
    ANy other input on these questions would be appreciated.
    Thanks, Trudy

    1. Hi Trudy,
      Yes, some people drink the water. It is "potable". But we buy drinking water – we also bought drinking water in Canada. It tastes better and there's let risk of problems. For us, it a personal preference. Some foreigners will brush their teeth with the water, but don't drink it.
      About the local markets: we used to go to the markets, but its just about time. We grab a shopping cart and fill it up at Coral or Supermaxi. At the markets you need to lug around your purchases by hand. And because the pricing isn't set, you need to negotiate. Its not that we don't want to, but it just takes longer. And its not much cheaper.
      Internet speed: the internet is fast enough to download movies. We've rented many movies from iTunes. We just like the convenience of the DVD.
      Hope this helps.

      1. I agree Bryan. Sometimes it is worth to pay a little bit more at the Supermaxi or Coral or any other than having to go to the open market and put the stuff as you buy it in your shopping bags from different stands. After a while, the bags get heavy. Also, if they see that you're a "gringo" they immediately raise prices.. even a few cents. Whereas, at Supermaxi prices are fixed. However, the variety of vegetables and fruits at the local market is amazing… and you can even try a little fruit or so before buying it. Therefore there are advantages and disadvantages of buying at the local market versus the Supermaxi or so. About drinking water… I probably won't drink water from the tap. It is better to be on the safe side regarding water… you never know when you're going to get the "Moctezuma revenge"… when I'm in Quito, we buy a "botellon" that has 5 gallons or 20 liters… you just call the company and they deliver it to your home. I think it is 2.50 per botellon!!

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