There are lots of great ways to save money and we used to take advantage of many of those money saving ideas, even when we lived in the states. One of those was to stock up on an item when it went on sale. Here the food is already so cheap there is no need to stock up. But we have found that where you shop does make a difference.
1)Negotiate -- If you learn to negotiate you’ll get the local prices. There is no reason why you should pay more for something if you live here.
2)Stay out of gringo only neighborhoods -- When renting or buying you’re going to get the best deal when you stay out of gringo areas. We live in a Ecuadorian neighborhood and our house is pretty nice for $250 a month and we have friendly Ecuadorian neighbors too.
3)Don’t own a car-- We found out today from a Ecuadorian that there are 4,500 taxi’s just in Cuenca--they are everywhere. And there are just about that many city buses. You don’t need a car here.
4)Eat in Ecuadorian Restaurants – For about $2 on average you can eat a healthful lunch. You’ll also get really great service. Ecuadorian wait staff are VERY efficient.
5)Buy fruits and veggies at the mercados—You will save a lot if you buy your produce at one of the three major mercados located in Cuenca rather than at the grocery store.
And remember: Learning just a little bit of Spanish is going to help you to save money because you’ll be able to negotiate better with the locals and you’ll feel more comfortable renting or buying in a local neighborhood, plus you’ll truly enjoy ALL that Cuenca has to offer.