Living A Retired Life Is Easy and Affordable in Cuenca, Ecuador
Updated: Jan 26, 2018
When Damon and I decided to call it quits and start living our lives as roaming retirees, our friends and family thought we were crazy. We decided to sell everything and head out into the world on the journey of a lifetime. We didn’t have much but some smart investments to fund our travels, and so the biggest question that we were met with by everyone was always the same…”How are you going to survive?” Well, we’re here to tell you that what you
may have heard is true. People are retiring abroad and living wonderfully on a meager social security pension. So we believed that if they could do it than we could do it, too. We packed our backpacks and headed first for the warmth and sun of South America. And having read much about the wonderful life of expats living affordably in Ecuador, we decided to give Cuenca a chance. And we are so glad we did.
Cuenca is an incredible city that boasts a thriving community of locals, expats, and tourists all living harmoniously together in its beautiful colonial setting. Cuenca’s historic El Centro District, with its storefront windows lining cobblestone streets is like a welcome back to times long forgotten back in the States. Families strolling the streets holding hands and giving you a friendly greeting you as you pass made us feel right at home. While out walking you can dip into one of the many delicious restaurants that pepper the city, and be treated to a sumptuous meal for a third of the prices you’d pay back home. Almuerzos are the lunch meal of the day that can be found at most of the restaurants in town.
This meal usually offers you a fresh fruit drink, a hearty bowl of soup, a rice dish with your choice of chicken, pork, or beef, and some restaurants even top that meal off with a small dessert. That filling meal will run you about $2.00-$3.00 per person COMPLETE! With prices like that cooking at home seems more like a chore.
But if cooking a meal at home is what you’d prefer, then take a stroll through the Mercado Diaz de Agosto any time during the week and be presented with the most wonderful selection of the freshest local fruits and vegetables
imaginable. Here a bag of around ten red onions will run you just a dollar, as will most of the other produce.
You can buy an entire weeks worth of produce for less than $15.00. If you’re looking for meats, than the meat section of the market is going to be a feast for your senses. We’d recommend coming early to get the best selection.
Rents in Cuenca are truly incredible. We’ve priced huge 1700-1800 sq. ft apartments that are fully furnished for anywhere between $350.00 on up to $800.00 per month. Believe me, there’s a price to fit anyone’s budget. We found a great apartment through AirBnB that placed us right downtown in the El Centro District, fully furnished with all utilities paid for $750.00 per month, and we couldn’t be any happier. We’ve lived in Cuenca for the last two months, and we’ve spent the same amount as we would have spent for one month in a one bedroom apartment back home (not including the utilities), so we are definitely ahead of the game financially. Living so close to the action of downtown Cuenca allows us to be in
volved in many of the city celebrations, of which there are many. And getting to any of them is easy with the fantastic access to the many buses and cabs. Take a bus to anywhere for $0.25, or if you prefer to travel in comfort, than hail a cab and get to your destination within Cuenca for around $1.50 to $3.00. With access to such safe and affordable transportation, you question if you’ll ever need to drive again. With the savings of not driving, low income rents, affordable fresh produce, and practically giveaway prices of the many Almuerzos, and you have a recipe for living quite comfortably within the means of an early retirement or on social security. Our only question is why did we wait as long as we did?