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Archive for January 2018

Living Lavishly on the Budget of a Bus Boy The Cost of Living in Ecuador

AgentImage  | January 9, 2018

Before people uproot their life and move abroad, there are many things that they think about and cost of living is definitely at the top of the list. On so many of the expat pages and facebook groups, the question always arises “what is a typical budget in Ecuador.” This is not an easy question to answer because it truly depends on the type of lifestyle you are looking to create. Do you dream of living like royalty in an estate with a maid and gardener, consuming your mus- have imported foods and goods, or are you looking for an average 2-4 bedroom house/apartment and plan on using the buses and taxis as your main mode of transportation? There is nothing wrong with either type but it is something that needs to be considered when thinking about the cost of living. It is all subjective.

Some people can live on $500 a month in Ecuador just as some people can live on $1500 in the states. Not saying that $500 is the easiest budget to work with but it can be done. In general, things are relatively less expensive so a comfortable lifestyle isn’t going to break the bank. However, there are always some basic costs that you will encounter and thinking about those and how much you are going to need for yourself will help you figure out what your cost of living will be.

Initially you are going to have startup costs. This includes your flight, maybe a stay in a hotel, and those initial one times buys such as furniture, electronics, dishes, bedding, etc. While this is not a part of your daily/monthly budget, it is important to think about and plan for. In my case, I found a cheap flight that was about $700, I stayed in a hotel for the first month until I found an apartment which was about $750 for the month, and when I found my apartment, I bought some home items which totaled to about $250. My first month’s rent was $250. Other expenses such as food and transportation to interviews probably totaled to about $300 for the first month. Everything was new so I was trying everything and enjoying exploring my new home.

Your regular budget will probably include many of the same things that your regular budget in your current home includes. Some of the basic costs will be

  • Debts (mortgages, loans, interest) back home
  • Business and legal responsibilities
  • Travel (weekend vacations, site-seeing etc.)
  • Medicare (the in-case-of-emergency kind)
  • Emergency / spur of the moment purchase
  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Daily costs such as
    • Food
    • Transportation
    • Recreational activities

When we think about these numbers, this is where every budget varies. There is no one answer to give about how much it will cost you to live here but we can say how much things cost so that you can get an idea of how much you will be spending in your case depending on your desired lifestyle.

My lifestyle is basic but comfortable. I live in a studio apartment directly on the beach in Puerto Lopez on the coast of Ecuador. My rent is $325 a month. In Quito I shared apartments with roommates and paid between $200 and $300 for some other references. My monthly utilities are never more than $10. I have a washing machine so I don’t have to have my cloths washed but when I lived in Quito I did and spent about $5 a week on laundry. In Quito I loved walking but also used the public transportation and spent maybe $0.50 to $1 a day and if I took a taxi at night, another $2. I love eating out so I allow for a larger part of my budget to be spent on dinning in restaurants but I eat the typical $3 lunch and $3 dinner. Fancier dinners can go up to about $10-$20 a meal but I RARELY eat those. When I buy my groceries, I spend about $15-$20 a week in the market which covers my bread, meat, vegetables, eggs, rice, sauces and spices, tuna, fruits, coka cola and personal items such as deodorant. A 5 gallon jug of water is about $2 and that lasts awhile for me. I rely on the public health insurance and don’t need the private health insurance as many expats do because of my legal status here but if I did have to go to the doctor and something needed to be paid out of pocket, it is always payable with the cash I have in my purse (maybe $50-$100 at most). I used to travel more before I had two full time jobs and usually went on a weekend trip about once a month which maybe totaled to $100-$200 per trip. I love the nightlife and make sure that my budget allows for me to go out dancing and seeing concerts with friends. I probably spend about $20 a week on recreation activities. My responsibilities back home are my student loans and I pay $385 a month. I probably spend about $100 a month personally on my business (it’s my baby so I must). And maybe $30 for those miscellaneous buys. Let’s do the math (I will use my expenses in Puerto Lopez and the highest cost possible)

Utilities per month
Transportation in Puerto Lopez per month
Dining out per month
Groceries per month
Water per month
Recreational Activities per month
Student Loan Payments per month
Business Expenses

Take out the school loans and the business expenses and you’re looking at $599 per month for just a normal, day – to-day life. Not bad in my opinion. When you’re comparing this budget to, let’s say a budge in United States, things are looking pretty livable

  • Examples:
    • Water here: $0.50
    • Water there: $1.50
    • Lunch at restaurant here: $3
    • Lunch at restaurant there: $8
    • Tank of gas here: $20
    • Tank of gas there: $50

Depending on how you want to live will determine your cost of living. Nobody can answer that question simply. Maybe you are looking to build a house rather than rent, there is another expense for you. You just really have to sit down and think about the life you want to live. Whatever you spend, just make sure you are living the life you’ve always wanted to live!

**If you are one of those people looking to make Ecuador their home and need help with the process, Live the Life can help. With our integrated team of real estate agents, immigration attorneys, transportation services, travel accommodations, construction crews, and even home food delivery, our wide range of services will cover everything so you can start living your life in paradise right away. We can help you build that dream home and have land prices starting at about $100 per meter. So for under $100,000, you can easily purchase a beautiful plot that overlooks breath-taking views and construct your minimalistic house from just $30,000. Ecuador is extremely affordable and that is why Ecuador is an excellent option for anyone looking to start their life here, retire, or invest in rental properties. Come see for yourself, we’ll be waiting for you in paradise!

What Should you Bring When Moving to Ecuador

AgentImage  | January 4, 2018

Imagine the stress of moving to a new house. Now multiply that stress by 1000 and that is the stress you feel as you prepare to move to a new house in a new country. How are you supposed to know what you will need for the rest of your life? Do you ship everything down or just buy new stuff when you arrive? What if they don’t have what you need?!

I’m sure these thoughts have crossed all expats minds at least once or one hundred times as they prepared to take their life abroad. They sure crossed mine. And because everyone and every situation is different, every solution is different.

I can’t say that I have the right answer for you but in sharing my experiences, I hope I will be able to answer some of your questions and put your mind at ease as you prepare to start your exciting new life in Ecuador.

“Maybe I will just bring everything with me?”

Some people’s first thought might be to bring everything with them. Some people literally need every item that they currently have in their life and that is okay! However, the general consensus is that shipping becomes extremely costly, aggravating and time consuming. There are some companies that are very helpful and if shipping is necessary, they are the ones to talk to because they know the ins and outs of packing, transporting, and getting through customs. However, it is a long costly process and may make your move more stressful than it needs to be.

“Can I get what I need in Ecuador”

I decided to bring only what I could fit in my two very large suitcases. My airline allowed 2 free checked bags so I knew that was my limit. But this left me with the question, “can I get what I need in Ecuador?”

Calling Ecuador a developing country leaves the image in some people’s minds that they won’t be able to find basic day-to-day life supplies. Let me help; Ecuador is not primitive. Ecuador has pretty much everything you need or at least some version very similar, maybe even better. My shampoo, my makeup, my vitamins, my house décor, my kitchen supplies, my office supplies, my furniture, my building materials for my business, all easily bought upon arrival. To this day, the only thing I haven’t been able to find is ranch dip mix, but I think we can all agree that this is not life or death.

I tried to bring as much as I could because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find it in Ecuador but in the end, I have always been able to find the Ecuadorian version of that United States product. In addition bringing things from the US does not guarantee you will be able to find replacement parts for them here in Ecuador. When I brought my printer with me, I soon came to learn that I couldn’t find the proper ink cartridges. I wish I had saved that space for something like family photos which can’t be bought.

“Where will I buy everything?”

Big department stores have brought a whole new meaning to convenience. Going to one location and literally being able to buy your food items, household items, health items, toys, tools, car parts, etc all without ever having to leave the store. This won’t happen in Ecuador. Finding specific things may take some searching; you have to know where to look. Department stores do not exist in the smaller towns like where I live in Puerto Lopez but they do exist in the cities however, this doesn’t guarantee that making a trip to multiple stores in order to get everything on your list is out of the question.

You need paper? You go to the paper store. You need fabric? You go to the fabric store. You need new batteries? You go to the corner store where they sell all of those small “end-of-the-aisle” types of things. The way of life is slightly different therefore, the organization also remains different. It takes a little bit of patience and a lot of asking others for help, but without a doubt, you can almost always find what you are looking for.

What should you bring then?

Clothes, shoes, and those personal items that make you happy or are 100% necessary.

Ecuadorians are on average shorter and smaller than the rest of the world which can leave someone who is 5’10” with a size 9 shoe frustrated when shopping. Also clothing is generally more expensive here so take advantage of space saver bags and pack as much clothing as you feel you will need. All types of clothing and shoes are available, but it is not worth it when they are so easily packable.

Family photos, your child’s favorite stuffed animal, important prescriptions, these are something that you won’t be able to replace in any part of the world. These are what you should fill your suitcase with.

The availability of household items is not something to stress over. Some things may take a little searching around but you will be able to get what you need. And if it turns out that you absolutely can’t find it, adapt or do without! That’s why I moved to Ecuador is it not, to learn a new way a life, to learn to adapt and be flexible? I did not move to Ecuador to live exactly how I lived in the states.

Just because you are moving here doesn’t ever mean you will go back or won’t be in contact with someone who travels between your home country and Ecuador with frequency. Many people ask and offer to bring items from other countries because sometimes we just can’t live without a certain item. I still get my contact lenses from the states and when people visit I have them items purely for the fact that they are cheaper in the states. Can I live without them? Yes. But sometimes I just need that ranch dip mix.

Don’t stress about packing. If you forget something, you can get it when you arrive. And once you arrive, you may realize you don’t even need it.

Don’t be afraid to start living the life you’ve always wanted. Ecuador awaits