Sunday, October 14, 2012

The cost of living in Cuenca.

When I see how inexpensive it is in Cuenca, Ecuador---I feel sometimes like exclaiming to the vendor... “What are you doing charging me so little!?!?!”  If you’ve never felt you were being charged too little---visit Ecuador---you just might find yourself feeling that way too.

Prices on door to restaurant in downtown Cuenca
There’s an Ecuadorian man about my age I see by accident somewhat often in downtown Cuenca.  His English is not that bad and he’s a jolly sort. Between my beginner's Spanish and his English, we’ve had some good-hearted laughs. The last time we bumped into one another, though, he was obviously feeling depressed. When he asked for money I didn't hesitate to give four dollars to him. He was grateful, but later I asked myself why didn't I give ten dollars to him?  Ten dollars in Cuenca is chump change to me, but it would have helped him so much more than four. When it comes to giving money out, maybe I still feel a bit like I'm living in the states---ten dollars to me in San Mateo is an amount to spend carefully.

Hamburger and bottle of water in Cuenca restaurant: $1.75.
I’m on the low-end-of-the-financial-totem-pole in the states.  My total monthly retirement income meets my expenses with little to spare; my income in Ecuador however overturns that situation---in Ecuador I’m on the high-end-of-the-totem-pole. The value of my dollars in Ecuador climbs such that for me to live here, I would need only around thirty-three-percent of my retirement income. To emphasis this point---I repeat, that’s versus the roughly one-hundred-percent I need to live like I do in San Mateo.

I’m content with my standard of living in the states except that it takes almost all my monthly income to maintain this standard of living. There isn’t much left to save for when the truck needs repair or when a root canal at the dentist is needed.  Those expenses are paid with credit or by scooping money out of savings. I could work or start a business. That’s true.  But I’d rather not if not compelled. I prefer if possible to have free time for writing and travel---and that's possible if I move to Ecuador.

Brand new for $2, 691.10.
I allocate about forty-seven-percent of my income to rent shelter in San Mateo, where I live in a studio apartment with a kitchen and bathroom. By looking at rental figures supplied via the Ecuador Expats page on Facebook, I see I could rent a one bedroom apartment in Cuenca for about thirteen-percent of my income. 

I’d be content to have a haven in Cuenca comparable to what I have now in San Mateo. I would like a garden. I’d be content also to take the bus and taxi and prefer to do my own cooking. 

Samsung TV for sale in store in Cuenca. $101 a month for 18 months
The surplus money I could save by living in Ecuador would not only pay for unexpected expenses but also for visits to Rome, Paris, Athens and Jerusalem---places my heart beats to see before I die.  These considerations I put onto the scale I’m using to decide whether to choose to move to Ecuador.