10 Years of Blog Archive

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cost of Living for our Family of Five in Cuenca Ecuador - UPDATED 2016

Monthly Cost of Living for our family of five in Cuenca Ecuador!

UPDATE January 2016: We thought that after living here for 4.5 years we'd bring you an update on our cost of living for our family of five. Is it still the same? Go ahead and take a look at our monthly expenses and at the bottom of the article we'll have another update.

Rent: $250
Water and Electric: was $30 then $70 and now it's $100
Propane (gas): $10
Food: $430
Internet and landline: $55
Cell phone: $10
Vonage: $39
Transportation (bus/taxi) $50
ATM fees: $15 to $20
Entertainment: $100
Misc: $50
Total $1,204

Now, I’ve seen this figure on other blogs for two people at $1,500 so keep in mind it all depends on your needs and wants and how you desire to live. Most of the expenses on our list are fixed costs, such as the rent, utilities, Internet, and phone. These items will stay the same; the only things that could change for us, but probably will not, are food, entertainment and transportation.

Bear in mind, we do not go out to night clubs and spend money on alcohol or tobacco, and rarely eat out in the International style restaurants, because we cook international style at home!

We brought our own clothes and electronics and have no need to buy these things at this time. The bus here only cost $0.25 one way, and the taxi costs between $2.50 and $3.00. We mostly take bus or walk everywhere. Only time we take taxi is occasionally when we are out after dark.

We pay local rent. We did not allow ourselves to be targeted at gringo/expat prices. We live in a nice quiet area with friendly neighbors. Our house is only three years old and is a 3 bed 2-1/2 bath with office and sunroom. Our savings just for rent per month: $300 to $600

Most people buy bottled water which is about $50 a month for two or three people. The tap water is perfectly fresh and clean to drink; comes out of the mountains of the Andes that surround Cuenca. If you would rather not drink the water it would be much more cost effective to buy a filter for your faucet. We’ve not had any issues with drinking the tap water here, and it tastes great!  Our savings: about $50

Update: In 2014 we started using a Berkey filter to filter out chlorine, heavy metals, and fluoride in the drinking water.

As far as food shopping goes, there's three things we do all of the time,which keeps our grocery bill lower.

1. We try to stay away from imported foods which are waaay more expensive.

2. We always buy the produce that is in season.

3. We do not buy frozen, prepared, packaged foods. Other ways we save on groceries is we do not buy alcohol, pet food or cigarettes, all of which are very expensive here.

UPDATE December 2015: Our food costs have gone up just a bit (maybe $40 to $50 more per month) and that's because we only go to the Mercado about once a month instead of once a week. But here is where it evens out. We stopped eating out as much and that was logged in with entertainment and so our entertainment expense is about $50 less now.

So, all in all when you put everything together we're still only spending around $1,000 to $1,100 per month for living expenses in Cuenca Ecuador, for five people, almost five years later. Watch the video below to see how we go local and live well on less in Cuenca Ecuador.

To read more about the nitty-gritty of Cuenca life according to our family experiences, we think you might like these articles too.  


  1. Your monthly cost is $930/month, with your food bill being $300/for a family of five. Apart from your fixed costs, you guys are living very frugally. I am a single person, so apart from the cost of food, it appears that most of the other costs are cut close. Do you think it possible for a single person to live in Cuenca with an income of $1600/month???

  2. Hi BunnyJean, we just posted our response to your question in a detailed blog post.

    Thanks for your question.

  3. Hi: $19/month for a cell phone is very affordable. We are moving to Ecuador next spring, and I just wanted to know which service you use and whether you have a monthly plan or buy prepaid cards. Thanx.


  4. Hi. Thanks for commenting.
    It's just a pre paid from CLARO. They're all over town, you will spot their sign out side. It's a large red button. It's just a prepaid, that you recharge every so often. We actually ended up recharging it too much as we don't use it as much as we thought we would.

  5. My wife and I spent two years in Baja California Sur in San Jose del Cabo, about 20 miles from Cabo San Lucas. It was more reasonable than the U.S., but still, not a retirement destination. However, we have become enamored with living on the beach. Could you recommend beach communities? This is intriguing to us. I am an author/freelance writer, so I can work anywhere and would probably look for some writing opportunities there as well. Not full-time, just to generate some added income.

  6. Hi Frank & Angie

    Are these prices real?

    how far are you from down town Cuenca?


    1. please tell more we interested in making a move in two years as soon as the wife retires from teaching.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. How much is the cost of living now in 2014 and why expats do not have a car in Ecuador is it that expensive to maintain.
    Thanks for your response.

    1. Hello Mercy, The reason why expats do not have a car here is because they don't have to have one. Depending on where you live you can simply walk to many things, such as shopping, parks, activities, etc. Taxi's are very inexpensive and the bus goes everywhere in Cuenca for just .25 cents or .12 cents for seniors.

      The benefits of not owning a car far outweigh the negatives for many. Thanks for commenting.

  9. I enjoy your adventures but I was wondering what you do in your free time/evenings as you don't seem to have TV?

  10. Hello :)
    I love your page thank you for doing this!
    but i do have question about heating system at home, since a lot of people say is can be cold at night and i always get sore throat if is chilly ;( is there ant heating system at homes? or possibility to buy small heaters? what is the cost? Thank you !

    1. Yes, you can buy heaters here. You can buy the small electric space heaters for around $35 to $40 and the larger sizes are around $100 or more. Or, you can go with a gas heater, more dangerous need to be careful, but the cost is minimal at just a few dollars and it lasts several weeks. You can put the gas tank inside a nice looking cover so it is hidden and that costs around $120, depending on where you buy it. Thanks for commenting.

    2. Where can you get the electric space heaters? Do they sell them at Coral?

    3. Yes, Coral sells space heaters and so does Kywi hardware store.

  11. This was Annie great post but I am not good at negotiating particularly with rent. If you're a foreigner how do you get local processor of finding an Ecuadorian to walk around with you!


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