Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Living in Ecuador - What's our budget?

The one question we get asked a lot is "How much does it cost to live there?" Needless to say, this can vary drastically from person to person based upon lifestyle choices. These are just OUR numbers and will change as we live here longer. Unlike most others, we still have US based expenses since we own property there and plan to eventually move back. Property taxes, memberships, scuba insurance and our timeshare, for example. These numbers are NOT included below.

The original budget we developed after our visit here in April-May 2013 was based upon what we saw and heard during our visit as well as what we had read from fellow bloggers living in the same area, Cuenca.

Rent600
Utilities100
Cell/Internet/TV150
Food300
Entertainment200
Transportation100
Medical/Insurance100
US Trip200

1750

Our current budget has been amended to reflect some actual costs and some costs are still projected.

Rent400
Utilities50
Cell/Internet/TV100
Food300
Entertainment150
Transportation75
Medical/Insurance100
Housekeeper50
US Trip200

1425

We originally planned to rent furnished but fell in love with our current unfurnished place so our initial "get settled" costs rose with the cost of furniture and appliances. The bedding and decorations would have been bought in either case.

Our utility estimate is still an estimate but is based upon what our downstairs neighbor is paying for water, electric and propane. Our first tank of propane, used for cooking and hot water, lasted us three weeks and three days. The gas man comes and swaps the empty tank for a full one, all for the cost of $2.50 a tank.

Our cell phone is still pre-paid and we use very little, a couple of dollars a month IF we call outside other Claro (our cell provider) users. The $10 I put on during our first visit still had $4 on it when I recently added another $10. Currently we have free Internet provided by our landlord but it's at a slower speed than we need to get good TV reception and we share it with our downstairs neighbor. We are working on getting our own line installed and then will pay about $60 a month for a higher speed line. The additional costs will come from subscriptions to our VPN provider - Strong VPN, NetFlix and possibly Hulu.

Food is one thing we really don't have a handle on yet so that is still a projected cost. We are still stocking basics like condiments, spices and cleaning supplies. We're hoping February will give us a more accurate number. Finding a little storefront mercado five minutes from home was this week's bonus. Great fruits and veggies there at a lower price will be much better than the supermarket.

Entertainment includes eating out, tours, movies and the like. Transportation has dropped and will continue as we use buses more and taxis less. We are also walking more. We got our bus passes and since I am over 65, my rides are 12.5 cents, Stu's are 25 cents. Still a bargain! Medical and insurance is still a guesstimate as we evaluate various insurance plans. We also haven't bought any prescription medications yet so we anticipate this amount may rise.

We had no real plans to hire a housekeeper but when we ran into one of the maids from Apartmentos Otorongo as she was working at a house a block away (for some other expats), we quickly arranged for her to come and clean for us. She comes every other week and I no longer have to worry about cleaning bathrooms! <insert big grin> She does a lot more (dusting, mopping, cleaning all the nooks and crannies) and is worth every penny. We might have found someone cheaper but this is someone we know and trust implicitly.

Our US trip number is for our annual trip back to the US to see family. I'm pretty sure it won't cover everything but it's a good start. Our first trip will be next August-October and we will see what the numbers really are when that time comes. Airfare, transportation to Guayaquil and back to Cuenca, rental car in Florida, gas to our property in Tennessee and fuel to take the RV to Maryland and back. Food would be bought regardless. Time will tell...

I will take an annual look at this budget here on the blog, maybe more often, not sure. I hope this helps others build their budgets based upon their lifestyle. If you eat out a lot, like to entertain, enjoy gourmet meals and hard liquor or fine wines, then your costs will definitely be higher.


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