Ecuador Cost of Living – Budgeting for Paradise
The Ecuador cost of living is among the most affordable throughout Central America for expats, retirees, and investors. Learning how prices may vary from location to location can help make a budget for paradise.
Ecuador Cost of Living – Setting Reasonable Expectations
As more and more interest is being focused on Ecuador as an expat “hotspot”, greater attention is being paid to how much it actually costs to live there. Setting reasonable expectations on what the actual cost will be is an all-important first step in making the transition to the Ecuadorian lifestyle.
Factors That Impact the Ecuador Cost of Living
The old maxim “location, location, location” certainly applies when looking at the cost of living in Ecuador. Larger cities like Quito and Guayaquil will be more expensive than smaller cities and towns such as Cuenca or Ibarra.
Property type and size is another important factor. A one bedroom apartment outside a city center will certainly be less costly than a multi-bedroom unit in the heart of the action. Stand-alone properties can carry a higher price tag than apartment buildings or condominiums.
Deciding how modern or how rustic of a lifestyle to follow will also impact a budget’s bottom line. Air conditioning, high speed internet, cable/satellite television are just some items that may come with a higher price tag than expected.
Even shopping for groceries can impact the Ecuador cost of living. Buying local meats, produce, and products will be more economical than purchasing those stateside items that have to be imported.
Property Values – Renting versus Buying
One of the most important decisions impacting the Ecuador cost of living is whether to buy or rent property. Like most Central American countries, expats have the same ownership rights as Ecuadorian citizens.
With a wide selection of properties that range from turn-key residences to land waiting to be developed, Ecuador has many options. If purchasing is not a viable option, countless rental units can meet every taste and lifestyle. Prices overall are more affordable than many other Central American locations.
One item often overlooked in making an expat budget is the cost of medical care and insurance. Ecuador is fortunate in that the major cities (Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca) provide quality care at a significantly lower cost than the United States. Also there are a number of health insurance providers that are based in Ecuador that offer rates much lower than their stateside counterparts.
Traveling to and from Ecuador
Being able to travel to and from Ecuador is another often overlooked expense in the expat budget. There are several international flights to both Quito and Guayaquil from destinations like Miami (for example).
Since many smaller cities and towns do not have an international airport, an additional cost of shuttle or rental car should be added in. Depending on how often you are planning to travel outside Ecuador, the cost of airfare and ground transportation could be considerable.
Ecuador Cost of Living – Comparing Cuenca Ecuador to Tempe, Arizona
Cuenca, Ecuador has a “sister city” arrangement with Tempe, Arizona. Comparing the cost of living in Cuenca and Tempe provides a great illustration of the price differences that an expat could expect.
Below is a brief comparison that illustrates some of the basic differences between these two “twinned cities”. Similar differences are reflected in other areas such as food items, clothing, and entertainment.
|Utilities Per Month (1 bedroom apt)( includes electricity, heat, water, garbage)||$42.50||$546.30|
|Rent (1 bedroom-City)||$520.00||$917.50|
|Rent (1 bedroom-Outside city center)||$446.50||$650.00|
The cost of living in Cuenca is clearly lower than Tempe, again, depending on the amenities, lifestyle, location, etc. desired. Factoring in all of the potential costs ahead of time can prevent “expat regret” in moving to Ecuador.
Ecuador Cost of Living – Other Matters to Consider
When potential expats start planning their move to Ecuador some items that are not directly part of the budget should also be given consideration. These matters are often overlooked until the last minute and can throw a carefully planned budget totally out of balance.
Buying or Importing a Vehicle
Depending on the location, having access to a vehicle may not be a necessity. However, living outside a city center will almost certainly require having some kind of regular transportation.
Like most Central American countries, vehicle prices will be higher for the same model than in the U.S. A Volkswagen Golf, for example that costs $20,842 in the U.S. may be $25,000 in Ecuador.
By comparison, some expats choose to import their existing vehicle. While this may be less expensive, there is still a considerable cost plus the various import requirements to bring a vehicle into the country.
Regardless of which option is selected, the cost of having a private vehicle in Ecuador will represent a significant upfront expense that could impact a budget.
Shipping Personal Belongings
Many expats want to bring many of the comforts of home (furniture, bedding, appliances, etc.) to their new location in Ecuador. Shipping via ship container is not a cheap prospect and transporting the items once they arrive in country can also involve a major cost.
What About All Those Online Claims About Living in Ecuador for Practically Nothing?
There is an old saying that goes: “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Many online articles may contain statements that the Ecuador cost of living is minimal; the question that should be asked is “What does that statement include?”
Often, such claims refer only to property prices without taking into consideration all the other facets of daily life. Rather than take these claims at face value, doing due diligence and learning all that can be learned about life in Ecuador, the pluses and minuses of various locations, and what living as an expat will entail, can provide the necessary facts and figures to make the best decisions.
Ecuador does offer a unique and affordable lifestyle for expats and investors. While less expensive than counterparts in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, Ecuador cost of living isn’t the bargain basement price often touted online. How little or how much is spent will vary from person to person and lifestyle to lifestyle.
What Is the Best Way to Learn What the Ecuador Cost of Living Would Be?
The best way to truly understand what it would cost to live in Ecuador is to visit this beautiful South American country. Experiencing daily living in Ecuador can help develop both a plan and a budget for moving to paradise.