There are many people who describe Cuenca as the cheapest place to live for retirees in the world. Actually I believe you don’t have to be retired to live a good lifestyle here in Cuenca.
We first came here three years ago and have seen some prices rise. We re not retired by any means and I am lucky that most of my work is through the Internet. This post is not about tours but what the cost of living is for us in a realistic way.
RENTALS We own our apartment so we don’t need to pay rent which does make it much easier. BUT rentals here are very affordable. You can find a very nice 2 or 3 bedroom furnished apartment from around $400 – $800 per month. This of course depends of your preference of living. Each person has their own likes and dislikes as to how they wish to live. You can even find some great unfurnished rentals from $300 per month. You need to be here though and look through the papers. Some people don’t necessarily advertise with Realtors. The best thing to do is like I said, be here on the ground and take a look for yourself. Renting houses here is not as easy as you think and generally most require a minimum of 6 – 12 months. Also not everyone is pet friendly. Make sure that you also find out everything that is included in your rental, like are the month apartment fees included.
FOOD Whenever we walk over to the Feria Libre Mercado it takes my breath away. So many different varieties of fresh fruit and vegetables. There is an absolute abundance of fresh produce. The Mercado is cheaper than the great Organic market we have and then the Organic market is cheaper than the SuperMaxi supermarket. Again it is a matter of deciding where it is best for you to do your shopping and which is more convenient for you. This photograph of food on the left including eggs was around $10. It is hard to see everything but there was quite a lot of fresh produce. The photo on the right was taken at the Feria Libre mercado. I love walking through and smelling the wonderful aroma of different spices and then checking out the fresh produce and also fish. Saturday early morning is the best time to go and buy seafood as it is the day that they receive it fresh from the coast. What I absolutely love about living here is that we can afford to eat out if we really want to. We dont live a lavish, extravagant lifestyle and mainly we enjoy my husband’s cooking. But hey if I want to have lunch with friends here it is no big deal and we can all have turns in choosing an affordable restaurant. Sometimes when out with a girlfriend we will go and find an out of the way place that we have not been to before and have the “Menu Del Dia” for around $2.25-$3.00. This includes fresh soup, main meal with either chicken or beef, rice and sometimes a small salad, fresh juice and a desert. Although not everyone has the desert on the menu. I have a favorite Vegetarian restaurant which is down the road from where we live. Here you can get the most delicious lunch for $2.25. It is clean and always busy.
FLOWERS GALORE Back in the days when I had a garden I would enjoy the different seasons when I was able to go and cut fresh flowers. But I would need to wait for Spring or Summer. Here in Ecuador as we live on the equator and the sun rises and sets at the same time everyday, there is no season for flowers. Especially roses. I love all flowers but I have certainly gone crazy here. I indulge in buying to fresh bunches of flowers per week. Generally roses. The cost is usually about $5. You can buy bunches of flowers from the Flower Market in the city from as low as $1. Beautiful arrangements can be bought for $5. I absolutely love it and I get quite a kick out of buying these beautiful flowers for myself or friends without cringing at the price. I absolutely enjoy that I can fill our apartment each week with whatever flowers catch my eye for the week.
TRANSPORT We do not own a car and after living here full time for two and a half years only seldom miss it. Maybe because I know the city quite well and can easily jump in a car a go wherever I need to go. Sometimes I have to explain the the cab drivers which is the best way to go. Public transport here is very good. There is a wonderful bus system and you can generally pick up a bus for 25 cents. Taxi cabs are all over the place. The prices start from $1.50 and can go up to $3.00. As a “newbie” you will sometimes get caught in higher prices. Generally we walk everywhere and the weather is mostly quite delightful. The exercise is fantastic and I always find something new and interesting to see. Even if we decide to go to the coast it is not expensive. We can take one of the many Mini Vans for $12 per person to Guayaquil and then take one of the luxury coaches to Salinas and Montanita for $5.50 per person. Traveling time is about 7 – 8 hours. I will post more interesting and affordable places to visit in Cuenca in future posts, but below is a break down of our monthly expenses.
Cost of Living – November 2011 in Cuenca, Ecuador If you are considering renting make sure you add in the price. As we own our apartment this amount is not featured below.
- Apartment monthly fee (this is for the upkeep and security of the building plus water and gas usage) $ 65.00
- Electricity $ 28.00
- Telephone – land line $2.77
- Cell phone pay as you go $30.00
- Internet $56.00
- Taxis $20.00
- Food (includes roses and cleaning products and we eat home a lot) $400.00
- Entertainment $100.00
Ok well I have upped a few prices life food and entertainment as they looked a little low. It really depends on what type of lifestyle you live. You may also like to take into account Direct or Cable TV which is around $50 per month. We have a movie download membership that we use and watch all the latest movies after we have downloaded. The membership for lifetime as I last looked at it was around $39. The news we can watch on the internet. We both walk on our computers and have big screens attached to our laptops. Then when we want to watch a movie will pull up a chair and plug in the earphones. Works great for us.
Hot Springs, Massages, Pedicures, Manicures.
Also I have not included day trips to Banos where we sometimes enjoy the hot springs and a massage. A place we love is Piedre de Agua as we found this one two years ago and had our wedding celebration there. We know the owners quite well and love to hang out for a few hours. This one is a little on the expensive side at $10 per person to sit in the hot pools. There are others that you can go to which are $2 or $5 and there is even a free hot pool further up in the mountains. A secret place that only a few of us know about. Massages can cost from around $15 – $30 for a full one hour body massage. A Manicure can cost $8-$10. Also a pedicure is around the same price or sometimes you can get both for $15. A haircut can cost anything from $3-$20 depending on what you want to have done.
The other thing which is absolutely wonderful is that you can go and see regular concerts and exhibits in and around town for FREE. Sometimes you may be asked to pay $2.50 as an entrance fee.
You can get a great coffee, cappuccino, late, cafe con leche or whatever you desire from around $1-1.50. One of my favorite coffee deli’s also serves the coffee with a beautiful chocolate. If you really want to indulge you can have this enormous delicious chocolate brownie which is far to large for me to eat alone. Love sharing it with a friend. The cost $1.00
Well these are also just a few of my favorite past times above. I am sure I have experienced many more things that I thought the prices were amazing. Stay tuned to find out more in the next post.
Chao for now