Live on $30.60 per day in Cotacachi, Ecuador

If you’re like most retirees, you dream of spending your golden years in a peaceful and relaxing place with a beautiful setting. No more days spent rushing to the office or battling gridlocked traffic. You won’t want to worry about sweltering summer days that keep you wrapped up tight in your air-conditioned house. Nor will you want to waste any effort on snow removal or defrosting your car.

It may seem like a dream right now, but the incredible news is that this life can be yours. Several hundred expats have already discovered the perfect retirement in the idyllic equatorial village of Cotacachi, Ecuador.

Despite its home on the equator, Cotacachi has comfortably warm days and refreshingly cool nights. You’ll never see snow on the streets of this town, but you’ll not yearn for artificial cooling systems either. In addition, you’ll find a laidback vibe and far more pedestrians than motor vehicles. To top it all off, Cotacachi is surrounded by majestic mountains and (like Ecuador in general) is full of happy, friendly, welcoming people.

A place like this might seem out of reach for the average person. You would think that a place with excellent weather, stunning scenery, and a low-stress environment would only be available to the wealthy. But with Cotacachi, that’s simply not the case.

So what does it cost for a couple to live in Cotacachi? Well the answer, of course, depends on your lifestyle and individual needs. But it’s safe to say that any lifestyle can be had in Cotacachi for less than living a similar lifestyle in North America.

If you like to live lavishly and take advantage of all the available creature comforts, a couple could still do so for under $3,000 per month. For example, you could rent a lovely brick house in a small private gated community for $850 per month. The two-bedroom house is completely furnished and has clear views of the two dormant volcanoes that flank the valley. Included in the rent is maid service, a gardener/handyman, internet, telephone, cable TV, and water.

In addition to rent you can expect to spend an additional $35 per month on electric and gas. If you buy groceries only at the large supermarkets and purchase many imported or expensive items like alcohol or specialty meats, you could expect to spend $700 a month on groceries for two people. Eating out at fancy restaurants will set you back around $30 per person (including drinks), so that will cost up to $500 each month if you eat out twice a week.

Budget $100 for taxis to and from neighboring cities, $350 for health insurance, and an extra $500 for travel, clothing, and entertainment, and you get a grand total of $2,965, or $98.83 per day per couple. A conservative estimate for a similar lifestyle in a small mid-west U.S. town would be somewhere around $190 a day

However, if you’re on a very tight budget, Cotacachi can easily accommodate you too. An unfurnished, two-bedroom apartment in town can go for as low as $250 a month. Each month you can expect to pay $35 for electric and gas, $3 for water, and $35 for internet. Shopping at the local produce market and family-owned tiendas (grocery stores) will save you quite a bit on groceries and a couple could easily get by with spending between $300 to $400 month. You can still eat out and an Ecuadorian-style meal of soup, meat, salad, rice, potatoes, and juice will cost just $5 for two people at a local café.

Taking public buses instead of taxis means you’ll spend less than $10 each month on transportation instead of $100. And if you take advantage of the many free public concerts and parades instead of spending funds on private entertainment events, you can keep even more money in your pocketbook. You’ll still need health insurance, but the state-run IESS program can cost as little as $80 per couple.

Add all this up and you’ll find that a couple can live on just $918 monthly, or $30.60 per day.

Now, most of us will fall somewhere in the middle of the prince and pauper lifestyle. So if a retired couple is interested in renting a modest, but furnished two-bedroom condo, occasionally eating at swanky restaurants and occasionally dining on street food, taking a mix of buses and taxis, and splitting their grocery money between local stores and chain supermarkets, it can be done between $1,800 and $2,200 per month.

Here’s a breakdown of what that budget might look like:

Housing (Two-bedroom furnished condo)$500
Utilities (Electric, gas, water)$38
Cell Phone x 2 (Pay as you go plan)$20
Dining Out (Twice a week)$220
Health Insurance$350
Monthly total$1,843

It’s easy to see why so many expats are choosing Cotacachi as their retirement destination. For less than $61.50 per day a couple can comfortably live a relaxed lifestyle in this tranquil town.

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