South America Living

Cost of Living in Cotacachi, Ecuador

Lush, Palm Tree Lined Square in Cotacachi, Ecuador

Editor’s Note: This post is courtesy of Phil Ware who lives in Cotacachi part-time.

Are you thinking of a move to Cotacachi, Ecuador? Here is a run-down of what things cost. More information about the area is on this page: Cotacachi – Cheap Place to Live in South America.

Note: Ecuador uses the dollar as its currency: Money & Currency in Ecuador.


Cabs:  To go anywhere in town $1 USD (a little more if you go out further). To Otavalo (10k, 6 miles 20 minutes) $5 USD. To Ibarra (25k, 15 miles 30 minutes) $12 USD. To Quito (100k, 60 miles 2 hours) $50-60 USD.

Bus:  Cotacahi Bus terminal is next to the market on Leather Street. The bus system is very good and economical. There are several bus stops in town, however you can catch a bus anywhere you just flag it down when it comes by. Busses run every 20-30 minutes to the main destinations of Otavalo and Ibarra.

Bus to Otavalo is 25 cents, to Ibarra 45 cents, to Quito $2 USD (best option is to go to Otavalo Terminal where one leaves every 30 minutes).   Travel Guide to Quito

Note:  From Otavalo you can get busses to Colombia, Peru, Guayaquil and other destinations.


Apartment Rental:  Two bedroom 1.5 bath furnished apartment with all utilities paid including wireless internet costs around $400 USD a month.

One of the Many Vistas Viewed From Cotacachi

House Rental:  Three bedroom 2 bath fully furnished house costs around $700 USD a month.

These examples are for nicer, newer places. Less expensive places can be found but may not be in the best location, furnished, or have good hot water or internet.

Food Costs & Grocery Store Items

A new Tia store recently opened in Cotacachi which is the biggest one in town but still small by US standards.

The town of Ibarra nearby has a SuperMaxi which has a good selection of items and is a good place to buy meat which is 10% off on Fridays.

Best to buy fruits and vegetables at the local Cotacachi market. Sunday is the main day with the freshest produce and biggest selection.

Prices of Grocery Store Items:

Liter of milk = 75 cents Chicken (breast) per kg = $5.39
Rice 9 kg = $7.99 Hamburger (5-6% fat) per kg = $3.69
Cheese (Gruyere) 500g = $4.99 Cheese (fresh white) 500g = $2.79
Toilet Paper 4 rolls = 99 cents Water 5 liters = $1.20

Prices at the Local Farmer’s Market

8 Eggs = $1 Head of Lettuce = 25 cents
Carrots (8 medium) = 25 cents Onions (5 medium) = 25 cents
Large Cucumber = 25 cents Broccoli (large head) = 50 cents
Radish (16 large) = 25 cents Tomatoes (6 medium)= 50 cents
Potatoes 2kg = $1 Green Peppers (3 medium) = 25 cents

Beer, Wine & Spirits

Wine:  Bottle of Blue Nun is $9 USD, cheap brand is around $2.59 USD, medium quality is around $6.99 USD

Beer:  Budweiser 350ml can is 79 cents, Pilsner (local brand) 600ml bottle is 90 cents.

Liquor:  San Miguel Rum Oro (.75 liter) is $4.99, San Miguel Rum 5 year (.75 liter) is $7.99,
Bellows Whiskey (.75 liter) is $7.99, Bellows Vodka (.75 liter) is $6.99, Grants Whiskey (.75 liter) is $17.99 and for all you Jack Daniels fans… a .75 liter will set you back $54.99 USD.

Restaurant Meal

Nice meal without drink is $3.50 – $6.00 (nicer place) USD. Local meal (chicken, potato, rice, small salad) in a typical restaurant without drink is around $2.50 USD.

Internet & Cable T.V.

Internet service is around $35-$45 USD per month for basic service, more for higher speed. Cotacachi has several different types of Internet providers (cell phone, DSL, satellite).

Cable T.V is around $45 USD for a basic monthly package.

Entertainment & Local Attractions

Quicocha Lake a beautiful mountain crater lake at 10,000 just 8 miles from town. The Otavalo market is on Saturdays and is the largest indigenous market in South America.   Travel in Ecuador – Otavalo

Medical Care

There is a basic medical clinic in Cotacachi and a more specialized clinic and Hospital in Ibarra. There are very good hospitals in Quito, which is only 2 hours away.

A basic doctors visit is $5 USD. A cardiologist visit with exam and EKG consultation costs around $50 USD. A visit to a dermotologist including an exam and basic removal treatment is $50 USD.

Many medications are available in Ecuador without a prescription, such as antibiotics, birth control pills and anti-depressants.

Note about Health Insurance:  Some expats were checking into getting on the National Medical Care System but ran into complications.

Medical care in general is very good and reasonably priced in Ecuador yet you still might want to consider going back to home country for major procedures, especially if you have medical coverage.

Dental Care

Dental care is very good and very reasonable. Many people come to Ecuador just to get Dental work done. There is a good husband/wife dentist team in Cotacachi for basic work and a very good one in Ibarra for major work. The price of two new fillings and four gum restorations cost $150 USD. To get a crown replaced costs $50 USD.

Montly Cost of Living

A couple should be able to live comfortably on between $800-1200 USD a month. A single person for $650 – $800 USD per month.

Photographs by Phil Ware, all rights reserved.

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