10 Years of Blog Archive

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Cost of Living for Our Family of Five, 4.5 Years Later - UPDATED

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

UPDATE December 2015: We thought that after living here for 4.5 years we'd bring you an update on our cost of living for a family of five. Is it still the same? Go ahead and take a look at our monthly expenses, and then at the bottom of the article we'll leave you with our update. 
This article has been updated in March 2016!

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.  
We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!


  1. I've been watching your videos for several years and appreciate all the great information. You all do such a great job of explaining what you're experiencing in Cuenca. Until recently, I was not in a position to leave the U.S. As a single woman, early 60's, I worry about being alone in a foreign country, and my income is limited to $1100 monthly. Of course the only way to know if it's a fit is to visit, and I plan to do just that. In the meantime, I've been looking at the rental prices in and around Cuenca which are much, much higher than what you currently pay. Is there a website or particular company that you could recommend that I search for rentals? Thanks for all your informative videos and please keep them coming.

  2. Well besides the usual sources if it applies you could also try
    gringogoodsamaritans.com which is a link on this blog.

  3. I noticed that you recently spent 5 weeks in Panama. I'd like to travel, but I have a tight budget. Did this come out of your entertainment budget?

    1. No,travels are not part of our entertainment budget. we also are on a budget but we manage to put by a little here and a little there for travel once in awhile. We know how to live and travel on a local budget and so the only real expense for us when traveling is the airfare and we book our flight three weeks in advance and actually get pretty good fares that way. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Do you have expenses for health, dental or medications, etc.?

    1. We go to the dentist very infrequently. I had a tooth pulled last week and it cost me $15!

      Our three sons don't have cavities or teeth problems thanks to not drinking soda pop and candy when they were little. We're very fortunate they have good teeth.

      We also have good health and strive to eat well, exercise and enjoy life. We are natural health practitioners and advocates for taking care of our own health and well being through prevention rather than relying on doctors. thanks for commenting


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