The monthly cost of living in Vilcabamba Ecuador makes it possible to live comfortably for between USD $1,100 and $1,700. Read on to see a breakdown of the monthly living costs!
We started this series on the monthly cost of living in various cities and countries around the world because as fulltime travellers, we like to slow down our travels by staying at least one month or more in each place we visit. However, we found it a challenge when researching to find up-to-date and thorough guides on the monthly cost of living for $2,500 to $3,000 USD per month, to ensure we could live there within our budget.
This post on the Cost of Living in Vilcabamba, Ecuador has been contributed by Marquis at Kikilagringa. Marquis (“Kiki”) has been a digital nomad since 2015, living in places like Ecuador, Australia, and Mexico. She had the absolute pleasure of living in Vilcabamba for half a year while living in Ecuador for a few years.
Compared to other countries in the region, Vilcabamba cost of living for the month is very affordable, especially when compared to the following places:
- Chiang Mai, Thailand ($1,500 – $2,000 USD) or Siem Reap, Cambodia ($1,200 – $1,750 USD)
- Valencia, Spain ($1,500 – $2,000 USD)
- San Jose, Costa Rica ($1,500 – $2,000 USD)
So, what is the breakdown for the monthly cost of living in Vilcabamba? Read on to see a detailed guide written by someone that has personally lived in Vilcabamba recently, and has first-hand experience of all aspects related to the living cost in Ecuador and expenses.
Please Note: All prices are quoted in the local currency – USD (US Dollars). To easily convert prices to your currency, we use xe Currency Converter.
Where is Vilcabamba, Ecuador?
Vilcabamba is a tranquil gem located in the southern region of Ecuador.
Why Live in Vilcabamba, Ecuador?
It’s known for its idyllic landscapes, lush vegetation, and a climate that’s been described as “eternal spring”. This little town also boasts a relatively low cost of living.
Overall Monthly Cost of Living in Vilcabamba, Ecuador
I lived in Ecuador when I first started my online career. I wasn’t earning any money from writing yet and worked at a school for a standard salary of $600 USD per month. While at times it was a little stressful, I lived pretty comfortably on the basics. It wouldn’t have taken much more to live well!
For a comfortable lifestyle, an overall monthly budget ranging from $1000 to $1500 should suffice. This budget allows for modest, but comfortable accommodation, local and fresh food purchases, regular dining out, basic utilities, local transportation, occasional entertainment, and necessary healthcare.
Living in Vilcabamba is very affordable, especially by Northern American or European city standards. It is claimed Vilcabamba is one of the cheapest places to live not only in Ecuador, but in South America.
N.B. Cost of living is vital information if you are looking to move to or live for a longer period of time in another country. Overall costs will vary according to the individual, their personal circumstances, and their lifestyle but the basic necessities such as accommodation, utilities, transportation, food and entertainment, will be very similar. On this basis, this article will determine approximately how much a person needs to earn or spend, to live comfortably in Vilcabamba.
QUICK OVERVIEW – How Much I Spend in Vilcabamba in Ecuador for 1Month
So, here is a quick overview of my monthly living costs in Vilcabamba, Ecuador.
- Accommodation: $400 USD per month in rent for a one-bedroom apartment
- Utilities: Electricity – $30 USD, Water – $10 USD, Gas – $3 USD, Cable / Pay TV – $30 USD, High-Speed Internet – $50 USD, Mobile Phone – $20 USD
- Transportation: Public Transport – $30 USD, If Own a Scooter or Car – $70 USD in petrol + maintenance
- Groceries/Wine/Beer: $250 USD
- Dining Out (per person): $100 USD
- Entertainment: $60 USD
- Health Insurance / Medical Treatment: $100 USD
- Visa Maintenance: $30 USD (averaged out over the year)
- Miscellaneous: $100 USD
This brings the total cost of living in Vilcabamba to approximately $1120 – $1630 per month, depending on personal spending habits and lifestyle choices. While these numbers provide a general idea, it’s essential to remember that individual experiences will vary based on personal preferences, lifestyle, and circumstances.
Pricing of General Items in Vilcabamba Ecuador
Here is the pricing of some general items which you can use as a point of reference:
- Meal in a Local Restaurant: from $3
- Meal in a Western Restaurant: from $10
- Milk 1 Litre: $0.85
- Eggs (12): $2.30
- Chicken Breast 1kg: $7.70
- Water 500ml: $0.83
- Water 1.5 Litres: $1
- Coke / Pepsi Can: $0.75
- Local Beer in Bar: $1
- Bottle of Wine: from $6
- Coffee: $5 for a bag of beans
- Massage: from $20 for 1 hour
- Cinema Tickets: $5
Read on for a detailed breakdown on the total living costs for the month in Vilcabamba.
Cost of Accommodation in Vilcabamba, Ecuador
Long term rentals in Vilcabamba Ecuador are relatively low. A fully furnished one-bedroom apartment in a decent neighbourhood will cost around $300 – $500 per month. I found something for $250 per month!
Staying near the town centre is a fun and easy way to be involved with the local culture, but if you can score a spot back along the creek or up on one of the hills, then you’d really get the full Vilcabamba experience.
Monthly Cost of Utilities in Vilcabamba, Ecuador
I never had to pay utilities myself because they were always included in my rent. That’s because utility costs are relatively low. Monthly averages are:
- Water – $10
- Electricity – $30
- LPG gas cylinder – $3
- Cable TV – $30
- High-speed internet (20Mbps) – $50
- Mobile phone (with 3GB data plan) – $20
How to Get Around Vilcabamba / Cost of Transportation in Vilcabamba, Ecuador
Public transportation is readily available and inexpensive. A bus ticket for in-town trips costs less than $1. Taxis are also affordable, with the average fare around town being $2 – $3. You can get a bus to Loja, a (green!) city nearby, for less than $5. This will connect you to anywhere you need to go in the country for less than $30, usually.
For those preferring personal transportation, a scooter or small car can be an excellent option. Expect to spend around $50 per month on petrol and $20 on maintenance.
Cost of Food and Drinks in Vilcabamba, Ecuador
Grocery costs are low thanks to the local produce coming in from the small towns on all sides. Expect to spend around $200 – $300 per month. Local beer costs about $1 – $2 per bottle, and a decent bottle of wine costs around $6 – $15. Coffee lovers will appreciate the local coffee, with a bag costing around $5. Seafood is also super fresh and the tastiest I’ve had anywhere in the world, and it is cheap, like everything else.
Cost of Entertainment in Ecuador Vilcabamba
Dining out is pretty affordable, with meals at local restaurants costing $ 3 -$5, and at higher-end establishments, $10 – $20 per person. A night out, including drinks, might cost around $15 – $20.
Movie tickets are approximately $5, but you won’t find any movie theatres in Vilcabamba (you will in nearby Loja!). Instead, hit the trails and take in the gorgeous scenery in Vilcabamba for free.
Cost of Affordable Splurging / Miscellaneous Costs
Massages and other spa treatments are affordable luxuries, with a one-hour massage costing around $20 – $30. A gym membership costs around $20 – $30 per month, and hiring a maid for a few hours a week costs about $50 per month.
Electronics or any other pricey imported items will not be affordable, so plan around that. The import taxes are pretty hefty on certain products, like electronics and vehicles. I had to ask a friend in the US who was planning to visit Ecuador to bring me a new phone when mine broke because it was cheaper than buying a new one, or even getting it repaired in Ecuador.
When my laptop crashed, I had to fly home to get it replaced because I could not find an affordable replacement or knowledgeable technician (I definitely tried). These major cons eventually are what led me to leave Ecuador after a few years of living there.
Cost of Health Insurance / Medical Costs in Vilcabamba en Ecuador
It was cheaper for me to get medical and dental services out of pocket in Ecuador, then have insurance back home in the US, so I really took advantage of this while living there. A doctor’s visit costs around $30, and a dentist’s visits around $25. Health insurance for expats cost approximately $70 – $100 per month, depending on coverage.
Visa Maintenance in Ecuador
Now is a really great time to live in Ecuador as a digital nomad. Ecuador recently introduced its Digital Nomad Visa, known as The Rentista for Remote Work, in July 2022. The application process is relatively simple and can be completed online, with processing times typically around seven working days.
The visa requires several documents, including a valid passport, proof of employment with a foreign company, a clear criminal record, valid health insurance in Ecuador, and proof of financial means. The visa costs $50 for the application fee and $270 upon approval. As a digital nomad in Ecuador, you are liable for Ecuador-sourced income tax, with rates ranging from 5% to 35%.
That being said, Ecuador is notorious for changing its visa rules all of the time, even during your application process. For instance, my paper requirements changed depending on which agent I spoke with. And by the time I left the country, my $500 indefinite residency visa no longer existed, and I had to forfeit it in order to leave the country for more than two months. In fact, the original Digital Nomad Visa was $400 in July 2022 and has already dropped to $270 at the time of this writing. So be on your toes with this government.
For the most current and accurate information regarding visas to Ecuador, visit the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana del Ecuador).
Top Tips for Living in Vilcabamba, Ecuador
Living in Vilcabamba has its pros and cons. Pros include the low cost of living, the pleasant climate, a laid-back lifestyle, and access to fresh, local produce. Cons may include slower internet speeds compared to big cities, difficulties getting access to affordable electronics, and limited nightlife.
I absolutely loved Vilcabamba for its serene setting and hiking trails. It also felt safe enough for me to explore the area on my own while I lived there. However, it’s still a rural area, so those seeking a bustling city lifestyle may find it too quiet.
FAQs: Cost of Living in Vilcabamba, Ecuador
Things to Do in Vilcabamba Ecuador
Discover the hidden gem of Vilcabamba Ecuador, where adventure and relaxation await. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy such as hiking, horseback riding, and bird watching. Hike to the top of Mandango Mountain for panoramic views, indulge in a relaxing spa treatment, or explore the local culture at the weekly market. Don’t forget to try the famous longevity-promoting cuisine and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of this charming town.
Where is the Cheapest Place to Live in Ecuador?
If you’re looking for affordable housing options in Ecuador, there are several cities to consider. Paute and Azogues, located about 45 minutes away from Cuenca, have a thriving expat community and offer cheaper housing alternatives. Inland cities like Cotacachi, Ibarra, and Otavalo also have very affordable housing options. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each location before making a decision, but these cities are worth considering if you’re on a budget.
Is Vilcabamba Ecuador Safe?
Overall, yes, Vilcabamba is safe, but juts like most countries in South America, you will need to take the necessay precautions.
Why do People in Vilcabamba Live so Long?
People in Vilcabamba, in the valley of longevity Ecuador, live longer due to their healthy lifestyle choices. They eat a plant-based diet, exercise regularly, and maintain strong social connections. The clean air and water also contribute to the Vilcabamba longevity. Incorporating these habits into your life can improve your overall health and potentially increase your lifespan.
How Long Can an Expat Stay in Ecuador?
Upon arrival in Ecuador, tourists receive a T-3 stamp in their passport, which permits a 90-day stay in the country free of charge. If you plan on staying longer than 90 days within a year, you can apply for the Special Tourist Visa with our assistance, which grants you an additional 180 days to stay in the country.
How Long Can Foreigners Stay in Ecuador?
To ensure that you have the most up-to-date visa information for Ecuador, it’s advisable to visit the official website of the Embassy of Ecuador. If you plan to travel for business or tourism purposes, you can stay in the country for up to 90 days within a 12-month period without needing a visa. If you wish to extend your stay, you can do so by contacting the provincial migration offices.
Do I Need to Speak Spanish to Live in Ecuador?
Surviving in Ecuador without speaking Spanish can be challenging due to the limited use of English in the country. While it is possible to get by, many locals do not speak English, which may make communication difficult. It is recommended to learn some basic Spanish phrases to help navigate daily life.
In Summary – Cost of Living in Vilcabamba Ecuador
Vilcabamba offers a unique opportunity to enjoy a low-stress, high-quality lifestyle at a fraction of the cost of many Western countries. This serene town, nestled amidst the Andean mountains, is an excellent choice for digital nomads and expats seeking a mix of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and affordability.
So, compared to other countries in the region, Vilcabamba cost of living for the month is very affordable, especially when compared to the following places:
- Asia: Chiang Mai, Thailand ($1,500 – $2,000 USD) or Siem Reap, Cambodia ($1,200 – $1,750 USD)
- Europe: Valencia, Spain ($1,500 – $2,000 USD)
- Latin America: San Jose, Costa Rica ($1,500 – $2,000 USD)
Overall, it is possible to live comfortably in Vilcabamba without breaking the bank, as long as you are mindful of your expenses.
Is the Vilcabamba, Ecuador cost of living higher or lower than you expected? What do you think?
Marquis (“Kiki”) has been a digital nomad since 2015, living in places like Ecuador, Australia, and Mexico. She’s currently back in the US, living the digital nomad lifestyle in her converted RAV4. Follow along for hiking, camping, and yoga travel all around the world at https://kikilagringa.com/
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