Cheap Living in Ecuador

Ecuador prices

As I write this I’m in Quito for the fourth time. Every time I’m amazed by how cheap some things are, partly because the prices have barely budged since I first started taking notes in 2009.

dollar bag of applesThey use the U.S. dollar here, so there are no mental calculations to do and no currency fluctuations. When the government made that rash decision at the beginning of the 00s, it was done to tame inflation. Mission accomplished on that front.

Sure, some things go up. As I’ve mentioned before, alcohol. But that’s from massive taxes, not inflation. Fuel will go up eventually when subsidies get rolled back, starting in 2016. Meanwhile, you can get a taxi ride for $2-$6.

I’m posting same random photos I took this week while walking around the historic center of Quito. I arrived around lunchtime and was starving, so I popped into the first meal of the day place I came across. I got a bowl of soup with rice, veggies, and beef. Next was a big plate with chicken, rice, potatoes, and a salad. A glass of juice and a banana came with it. The bill was $2.35.

Later I stopped in a place that had a microbrew on draft—a real novelty in most of Latin America still—and met a couple from Florida who owned an apartment nearby. They don’t live here all year, but they come down regularly. “We bought it on a lark really. It was around $30,000, so we figured there wasn’t much downside to that deal. We put about $20K into it over four years getting it ready. Now it’s quite nice.” They’re walking distance to where I was, which was about two blocks from the Plaza Grande.

Ecuador prices

Quito is a city where you still see apartments (or even whole houses) for sale for less than $50K and decent places to rent for less than $300. Oddly enough, Cuenca costs more than the capital these days for the non-exclusive places because the average income is higher—not just because of the 5,000 or so gringos, but because a lot of wealthy Ecuadorans have moved back from abroad and settled there for a more mellow life.

Get beyond these two cities and (not so desirable) Guayaquil, however, and living expenses are almost sure to be even less. Riobamba, Vilcabamba, Cotacachi, or some chilled-out town in the Andes you find and decide to unpack for a while. There will be a lot more details in my book, A Better Life for Half the Price. Those who sign up for a more comprehensive, ongoing course structure will be hearing a lot about Ecuador. Get on the list for updates here.

Comments
  1. Marie @ Budgeting for Travel

    Wow, those were very cheap! Would love to live in Ecuador from now on! The place where I live have high prices on necessary things especially on food.

  2. Helen G. Dickerson

    Food commodities in South and Central America is way cheaper than in Europe. Traveling in this country is fun and cheap.

  3. Jeff

    Tim, my wife and I moved from Cuenca to Cotacachi a little while ago. So next time you’re in Quito, jump in a $2.50 bus to Otavalo, then a 25 cent bus to Cotacachi and come visit!

    Or I’ll come see you.

  4. Charles

    Incredible cheap. should think about to live there someday.

  5. carmen

    I just looked up homes for sale in Ecuador and it is NOT cheap! :(

    • Tim Leffel

      Carmen, if you pick up this book below, one of the key points is to start looking for real estate AFTER you’re in a country, not from a desk chair where you live now. Online prices in English don’t usually bear much resemblance to what you’ll actually pay if you have feet on the ground there. Not just for Ecuador, for almost any developing country without a standardized multiple listing service.
      http://www.cheaplivingabroad.com/packages/

  6. june schnovel

    Hi, I would like to retire to Ecuador but I must have a low altitude town. Having trouble searching for one. I have 2 small dogs. Know to stay away from the ring of fire.

    Thank you.

    • Tim Leffel

      For low altitude in Ecuador, you simply go to the coast. Though as we saw in the recent earthquake, the “ring of fire” is not confined to where the volcanoes are.

  7. june schnovel

    Hi, I would like to retire to Ecuador but I must have a low altitude town. Having trouble searching for one. I have 2 small dogs. Know to stay away from the ring of fire.

    Thank you.

  8. Lori

    I am seeking friends in Lojas. Planing to move y the ed f the year. Any insights? I do not want to be a typical gringo but learn the ways of the nativesw
    June 2016

  9. Robert B

    Trump in – Me out – Thanks for the Information!

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