Really Inexpensive Living

by | Mar 2, 2004 | Archives

Our recent tour of Colonial Quito real estate confirmed what we have always known about Ecuador investment opportunity. The best values are in the premium sector. For example if in the U.S. the difference between a meal at a Denny's or Waffle House and the Ritz Carlton is seven to one, the difference in Old Quito might be only three or even two to one. A decent meal is still available for $2.00 at a regular sort of place. However it might only cost six dollars in the best five star hotels

Yet Merri and I unmasked some very inexpensive ways to live really well in Ecuador. Let's take a look at how a person can enjoy the old city, live in 365 days a year of direct sunlight for as little as a few hundred dollars a month.

Start with a completed condo in the ECH (Empressa del Centro Historico) Estacionmientos San Blas project. This is handy development because as its name suggests it is right by a main trolley station. This makes access and travel easy. These condos are typical Old City, a four story building beginning with a grand entrance and stone stairs leading into a spacious courtyard. The cobblestone inner plaza provides an open spacious feel and light for all 30 (or so) of the condos in the building. Modern streetlights ring the plaza giving a festive air (and convenience at night). Large stone columns support the building and line the courtyard to add architectural interest.

The staircases located at each corner of the plaza lead to three upper levels. Each level contains a wide glazed tile balcony with a view down into the courtyard and the condo entrances.

The one unit still available in this building is a tidy one-bedroom unit of just over 450 square feet. This is essentially a studio with a small bedroom attached but entirely comfortable for one or two who are used to small places. The asking price is $21,000. Because this project is completed there is no discount for cash payment. This price is slightly higher than the norm because of the beautiful parquet floors.

If one has enough cash to buy the condo outright, other costs are very low. Condo fees including security and water at $19 a month. Telephone and electricity will cost about $15 each. There is a meal plan in the Old City providing 21 full meals (salad, soup entrÈe and dessert) for $38.

These means that a majority of expenses are covered for only $87.

Medical expenses are still low. For example a trip to the dentist for a teeth cleaning is only $25. (More is at

I stopped in at a local optician and the glasses I wear (strong prescription bifocals with astigmatism) that cost over $300 in the U.S. are $103 ($65 glasses and $38 frame). Medical costs are very low also. My mother joined us on this latest trip and lost her prescription. What she paid $17 for the generic brand on a discount plan in the U.S. was $11 for the expensive brand medicine here. Another delegate with asthma forgot too bring his inhaler that cost him $60 in the U.S. The price for the exact same Pfizer product was $7. He bought several to take home.

A friend of ours and his wife retired from the U.S. and moved down here. His Blue Cross plan gave him some doctors and clinic to use but he has only one complaint. Prices are so low that he never exceeds his $250 a year deductible.

A typical taxi trip around town is still only a dollar or two.

Whether you want to live a grand lifestyle or enjoy more modest means, you can get maximum bang for your buck in Ecuador and especially Old Quito right now.

Tomorrow you can learn how to earn income in Ecuador as well. Until then may all of your life be good!