“Beach Condo or City House in Ecuador? We Can Afford Both”

I’m typing this from the comfort of a lawn chair on the patio of my house in Quito. It’s early December and even though Quito is moving into winter, today is warm and sunny.

Quito, Ecuador‘s capital (a UNESCO World Heritage site), sits on the spine of the Andes nestled between two mountain ranges and several ice-capped volcanoes.

The climate is mild, with high temperatures in the 70s and lows of around 50. What really determines whether or not it is warm or cool are the clouds. No need to watch the weather forecast—I look out my window in the morning and decide if I should wear short or long sleeves based on the amount of cloud cover.

It’s been a year since my best friend, Sharri Speaker, and I decided to relocate to Ecuador. Originally we thought we would like to live on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador, between the towns of Pedernales and Jama, full-time…but after spending some time there, we quickly realized that the isolation and rain, with the insects and heat that comes with it, made it a place we really enjoyed visiting—not one where we wanted to spend all of our time.

Thankfully, Ecuador’s low cost of living means we can afford to have the best of both worlds—a home in the city and one at the beach when we want it.

Most of the time Sharri and I live in our new home in Quito (we decided it was uneconomical for us both to purchase houses so we bought together). We found the perfect condo in the forest overlooking Quito, with three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, office, formal living and dining room and a large kitchen. The back of the house overlooks Quito while the front has a garden area with the forest across the street.

We were able to purchase the house well below market price and remodeled the interior to include a new bathroom for my bedroom, a very modern gourmet kitchen, new bamboo and tile floors (we left the beautiful hardwood floors in the living and dining rooms), built-in gas barbecue and other upgrades.

Even with the cost of the remodel, the price per square foot is still below market average. We have now invested $94 per square foot—the market average is slightly over $100. But to have this type of house in the U.S. in a comparable location, we would have spent well over $400 per square foot.

And though our monthly cost of living is higher than it would have been on the coast or in some of the smaller cities, life here is extremely affordable. Sharri and I have basically reproduced our lifestyle from the U.S. at a fraction of the cost.

We haven’t been in the remodeled house long enough to know what the electricity costs will actually be, but we’ve had bills as low as $20 and as high as $100. Based on our lifestyles—we typically use a lot of electronics, including flat screen TVs in all the bedrooms, two computers and printers, iPads, laptops, stereos and kitchen appliances—I suspect the latter will be closer to what we will pay on a monthly basis.

We use propane for hot water, cooking, grilling and the space heater on the patio. We have high speed Internet, cable in all the bedrooms, house phones and cell phones. Water is included in our homeowners association, as is the maintenance of the pool in the basement and security in our building, plus the maintenance of the neighborhood which includes green space, guards at the entrance gate, tennis courts, pool, volleyball area, barbecue, club house and parks throughout.

All in all, we live extremely well on just $1,215 a month in Quito. Here’s how that breaks down in numbers:

HOA Fees:$300 per month
Electricity:$100 (assuming the worst case)
Cell Phones:$40 (for both phones)
Maid:$40 (twice a month)
Gasoline:$25 ($2 a gallon for super unleaded)
Groceries:$150 (local produce is very good and inexpensive)
Wine:$250 (alcohol is expensive)
Entertainment$150 (good restaurants are plentiful and economical)


With the money we’re saving, we can afford to pay $520 per month for a rental condo at the beach, which we can use whenever we want it. Though it wasn’t the place for us to live full-time, we still really love the beach—so much so that we are purchasing a two-bedroom, two-bathroom beach condo, which is supposed to be finished in late 2014. We plan to rent it when we aren’t using it.

The only downside to our life here is that we occasionally miss family (especially my three-year-old grandson in Phoenix) and friends. But we’ve have made some great Ecuadorian friends here (who tolerate our less than perfect Spanish!). All in all, it really is a perfect life.

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