Cost of Living in Ecuador
(After a Year of Tracking my Spending)

Ecuador is one of the best places to retire because the quality of living compared to the cost of living is very good.

It is one of the cheapest places to live in Latin America.


Hate Reading? This video covers everything written below.

I’ve been in Ecuador for a year now, and I’m one of those people that keeps track of how much they spend, so today I’m going to bust open the books, take a look at the numbers, and breakdown all the costs of living in Ecuador. How much I spend per month on:

And I’ll show you how much it’s costing me, after averaging out a year of spending, to live in Ecuador per month.

A Couple Quick Notes

  1. These numbers are for one person, but I do live with my significant other, Sara the Lovely, so that makes things a bit cheaper. If you’re a single person, you can expect to pay about 30% more… And that’s based on science, or something.
  2. I live in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, so these numbers might be a bit different if you’re looking to live somewhere else in Ecuador.
  3. I’m pretty stingy cheap frugal. I don’t spend money on things I don’t need. We tend to move to a new country every few years, so I hardly ever buy things, because it will just get left behind. When I was like 32, I decided I was done doing things I didn’t want to do, so I essentially retired. In order to do that, I have to be smart with my money.
    My point is that these numbers are for the basics. If you like fancy things, you’ll struggle to hit these numbers. I’ll give you details as I go over things though, so you should be able to get a pretty good idea of the cost for your lifestyle.

Groceries

Your grocery bill will ultimately depend on how much you’re cooking and how local you will go. Anything produced outside of Ecuador costs a lot more. For example, peanut butter isn’t really a thing here, so it’s like $8 for a jar of Jif.

Seriously.
If you avoid stuff like that, it’s easy to keep your grocery costs really low, especially if you make things from scratch and if you shop at the local markets.
We love food and we cook quite a bit. We also make a lot of international food, so sometimes we’ll go to the Chinese grocer and spent like $50.

For the 2 of us, we are averaging $348 a month for groceries, so $174 each.

Accommodations

You’re looking at about $400-800 a month for a place.

Depending how long you plan on staying in Ecuador, I would recommend getting a furnished place, because buying furniture here can be very expensive.

Before you come here, take a look at this site – Plusvalia – to get an idea of what you can get, and for how much. You can put in all kinds of filters: do you want a balcony, a pool, a parking space, do you want it to be furnished? It’s only in Spanish, but it’s pretty intuitive, and with a good translator you’ll be fine.

We live in a somewhat unique situation. We had to pick an apartment before we even arrived here. Sara is a teacher, so the school she works for had everything setup for us so we could move-in as soon as we got to Ecuador.

a beautiful apartment in Ecuador
Our apartment with views of Ilalo.

We ended up in a really nice place. Great views, there’s a pool, a couple jacuzzis, a gym, everything is brand new (we’re the first people to live in the apartment), and it’s furnished with everything we need – so I think we lucked out, but I also think we would be just as happy living in a place that costs a lot less than what we’re paying. I’ve seen really nice 2 bedroom apartments in the valley for $500 a month.

Nevertheless, we’ll set aside $800 for rent per month, so that’s 400 each, and that should get you a really nice 2 bedroom apartment.

Utilities

Next up are utilities, which I’m going to include: water, electricity, phone, and internet under.

Different apartments will include different things. We have to pay for electricity and internet. Water is included in the rent, but if it wasn’t it would only costs around $5 a month.

Our electricity bill is around $20-25 a month. The great thing about living in this area is that the weather is so nice that you don’t need heat or air con, so you can save some money there, but if you’re on the coast, your bill will be a bit higher as it gets pretty hot at times, so you’ll probably have AC.

Internet is $28 – that’s for pretty fast internet – and we get 150 GB a month. Sometimes we go over that, and spend an extra $10 for more.

We also pay $2 a month for trash collection.

For my cell phone, I just do a pre-paid combo that lasts 30 days. It’s only $7 a month and that gives me 2GB of data plus an extra 2GB to use for Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, and it includes unlimited use of WhatsApp, which everyone uses here, so you don’t need to send text messages. It also includes 100 minutes of talk time, but I don’t think I’ve called anyone in like 5 years, so I never use that.

So all in, that’s $35 I spend on average per month for utilities.

Transportation

Because of the import taxes, the cost of a car in Ecuador is a lot more than in North America. For example, a brand new 2020 Toyota Corolla hybrid will cost a minimum of $27,000. I believe in America the same car goes for around 23,000 – so $4000 more in Ecuador.

That’s for brand new. What about a used car?

Well, the depreciation value here is very good – that’s great if you’re looking to sell, but bad if you want to buy. A 2010 Toyota Corolla in Ecuador is around 12-13 thousand dollars. In America, I think you can get that same car for under $5000.

On top of the cost of the thing, you’ll apparently pay around $150/month for maintenance, gas, and insurance.

Cause of the year-round good weather, I find Ecuador to be a great place to ride a motorcycle, so that’s what I drive around. I actually have a blog post about buying a motorcycle in Ecuador that you can check out, but I ended up paying $2250 for a 250cc fuel injection (important when you live in the mountains) Chinese-made motorcycle. So far, it’s been great – no complaints.

my motorcycle in Ecuador
My motorcycle after a ride to Ecuador’s oldest hacienda.

As far as monthly costs go, I’m averaging $26 a month for maintenance and petrol. But I’ve taken the bike to the coast and back, I’ve done multiple road trips, and I also had to pay for a few registration type things, and a few extra oil changes, since the bike was brand new.

Gas in Ecuador is super cheap. It costs me $4 to fill up my bike and that will last me about a month.

The cheapest way to get around is by bus. We have a bus stop out in front of our house, so if we want to go to Quito or the valley it costs us 25 cents each. If you want to take a bus out of town, I find it usually costs about a dollar per hour of riding.

Taxis, Uber, or Cabify are also very inexpensive here. For me to go from my place to downtown Quito – 8 KM away, about a 15 minute drive – will cost me $3.50.

So when it comes to transportation, I’m averaging $13 per month for taxis and buses. Plus $26 a month for the motorcycle, for a total of $39.

Going Out

Going Out includes going out for meals, going to the bar for a couple pints, concerts, the cinema, basically any outing – but I can break these numbers down a bit for you.

I’m averaging $60 a month on eating meals out. Eating out in Ecuador can be very expensive, but it can also be very cheap. I can get lunch, which includes a soup, juice, a main, and a little dessert for around $2.50. If you eat like the Ecuadorians do – a big lunch and a small dinner – you can save a lot of money here. Of course, we go out for pizza, Chinese food, tacos, and other meals that are more expensive than Ecuadorian food.

pizza and craft beer in ecuador
A pizza and some craft beer at Bandidos Del Paramo.

Cause I work from home, it’s nice to change up my setting by going out for a coffee. A cup of coffee is usually around $1.50 here. On average, I’m spending $6.50 a month on that.

And my last sub-category here is just called entertainment, which is any non-essential outing like going for beers, going to the movies, or a concert. The biggest cost in this section is definitely our craft beer obsession. A pint here will cost from 3-6 dollars. There are a lot of great craft beer places in Quito and, like the Pokemon guys, we gotta catch em all.

Before the pandemic, I was going to around a movie every 2 weeks. On the right day, that costs just $4 a movie, so like $8 a month.

In total for entertainment, I’m averaging $32.45 a month.

For all of “Going out” the monthly total is $98.95 – that’s a bit more than I thought it would come out to, but you should try the stouts here. Really good stuff.

Others

My last category is “Others” which includes any items I’ve purchased: clothes, anything we needed for the house – like a new frying pan, I also bought a cheap phone, plus a bunch of small stuff.

Keep in mind, we did move to a new country in that time and, even though our apartment was fully furnished, there were a few purchases we needed to make in order for it feel like home. Also, I did not include the purchase of my motorcycle in this.

Buying items is one of the only costs in Ecuador that you’ll find higher than North America, Europe, and Australia. Because of import tax, anything you buy that’s been imported into the country will be way more expensive. A lot of items cost an additional 25% to get them into the country. On top of that you’ll get another 12% VAT or sales tax. So a $100 item will end up costing around $143? Something like that.

There are also less options, less brands to choose from, so you can’t always find the lower-end items that you can get in North America. So that being said, I really try to avoid buying things (even more than normal) here. Currently, I need a couple electronics, but I’m waiting until I can get back to Canada to purchase them.

My total in the others category comes to $45.38 per month.

Travel

The only other thing I spend money on is travel, which I’m not going to include in the total, but I will throw the numbers at you.

In the past year, we took a couple week-long vacations and a few weekend ones for a total of 34 nights. Those trips cost a total of $790 – that’s like $23 per night per person – and those costs include the accommodation, any attractions, and honestly it probably includes some meals, especially if we ate them at the hotel.

The Total

Groceries – $174
Accommodations – $400
Utilities – $35
Transportation – $39
Entertainment/Going out – $98.95
Other Purchases – $45.38

$792.33 per month per person (about $1600 for a couple)

To be totally honest, that’s more than I thought it would be. Compared to the last 2 places I lived (China and Vietnam), it’s a lot easier to spend more money here. Plus their strict import laws make a lot of things really expensive.

But that’s still very inexpensive. If I moved back to Toronto right now, I would expect to pay that in just rent per month.

Overall, Ecuador is one of the best bang for your buck places to live. The weather and the views are something that you can’t get everywhere and it’s hard to put a price on that.

view from our terrace in Ecuador
Cotopaxi Volcano – the view from our terrace outside of Quito.