We've made a few alternations. And gone are the days when you can live comfortably on $600 a month, although we know several single people who live on that amount and do just fine. And you can still find rents for $300; in fact, I saw one on Craigslist the other day for $280 that was two bedrooms, one bath with granite counter tops and modern kitchen, but it was only 538 square feet. We live in 800 square feet and it's perfect for us: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and every room with a view. That works for us!
However, I still get sticker shock at Supermaxi -- in the make-up aisle -- when I see Maybelline mascara for $16.00. Ouch! I guess we can't put a price tag on beauty -- right? I just make sure I stock up on all those "necessary" items on our trips back to the States.
Thankfully, we're vegetarians, we don't drink, don't smoke, and have no other vices so we're fortunate in that regard.
Our shopping list looks basically the same almost every week. The fruit and veggies change, depending on what's in season. We juice a lot, so we keep everything fresh and sometimes we'll make 2-3 trips a week to Coral, Supermaxi or the mercado to get what we need.
Pulpa de Pina (pineapple pulp) 1.68
Mora (Blackberries) 1.12
Avocadoes (3 large) .83
Tomatoes (6 large) .81
Onions (4 large) .78
Cucumbers (3) .53
Bouquet of flowers 1.29
Dental floss 2.94 (x2)
As you can see the most expensive thing on the "menu" is dental floss; it's by Oral B and imported. I have no idea how much dental floss costs in the States, but something tells me it might be cheaper.
If you shop on Wednesdays at Supermaxi you can get a discount of 20% on produce and flowers, so that's usually when we shop, along with the rest of Cuenca!
I know, we're NOT your typical expat couple in that we don't drink alcohol, but we can drink all the "jugo" (juice) we want. We enjoy eating healthy and our blood pressure thanks us (and so does the rest of our body).
Our new budget is about the same with a few exceptions; we don't pay rent!
Alicuota (condo fees) $45
Water & Gas $9
ETAPA phone $4
ETAPA Internet $39
Life Ins. $94
Our allotted budget is $1,317.17, so we are below budget. We cancelled Direct TV and switched to Apple TV. Initial investment was $150, but we love it (no commercials). We actually spend less than we did four years ago, but that's because we own our home. All the rest that we make goes into savings -- including our teaching and writing income. We use the extras to go on vacation to the States once a year and take a few vacations within Ecuador. This year we went to the coast twice and enjoyed a few overnight trips. We don't have private medical insurance because we have found it to be a waste of money and only use IESS. Our medical insurance is a little more expensive because we're considered professionals (teachers). Normally it should be $70 with the dependent paying $11.
We don't have an iPhone with a data plan (just a flip phone -- like Gibs on NCIS) and we use Skype or FaceTime to connect with family and friends. We don't own a car as we live 3 blocks to the main shopping mall (Mall del Rio) and 20 minutes to El Centro. We walk a lot, take the bus and hail an occasional taxi.
Life is simple -- just how we like it!
|Jardin del Valle|
I exercise at the park around the corner where they have resistance training equipment, dance therapy at 8:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, and swim at Hosteria Duran once a week for $3.10. We ride our bikes on the weekends and use that time to explore the city.
|My $3.10 pool at Hosteria Duran on a busy day!|
The best part: We savor each day to the fullest. I love my writing world and look forward to some more stories coming out this year, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power of Forgiveness, and Mark enjoys teaching at CEDEI. Mark always wanted girls and this cycle he has 16 of them!
Life is still good in paradise!
Until next time...hasta luego!