South America Living

Travel, Dine, Live… Like A Local


How Much Does it Cost to Live in South America?

You asked “how much does it cost to live in South America?” It depends on where you want to live! Would you like to live in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru or Uruguay? Ok, now we´re talking.

Geographic Regions and Subregions of South America - by the United Nations Statistics Division

If on a tight budget, you may want to read:   Where In South America Can I Live On $800 USD Per Month?

The general frame of reference is Boliva, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have many low-cost locations where you can live on $800 USD per month comfortably. If your budget extends to $1000 USD per month and up, you will find many locations in Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay that you can call home.

Most who move to South America are adventurous souls who want to see and do all they can while living on the continent. To travel cheaply and get the most miles for your dollar you need to visit Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador or Peru.

Travel in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay can be costly – especially the larger countries Argentina and Brazil where just getting from one area to the next takes multiple hours and therefore costs more.

Costs to enter tourist attractions are high all over South America, and as a tourist you will charged up to three times the price charged to locals. The best way to have a low-cost stay is to limit your travel time, and enjoy one area of the continent for an extended time.

That way you discover the best deals for restaurants, shopping and actually get to live like a local with all the benefits that entails. It’s also a great way to make friends and work on your language skills.

For a list of capital cities complete with online Travel Guides click here:   Capital Cities in South America

To find the currency used by your country of choice and information such as: ATMs (where are they located); how to do a wire transfer; credit cards (what is accepted in the country?); travelers checks (where can you cash them?) and where to exchange money, click on the country’s link:
Money & Currency in Argentina       Money & Currency in Ecuador
Money & Currency in Uruguay       Money & Currency in Bolivia

Click here for FREE online Living Abroad Guides to each destination.

More Articles You May Like:
Is it Safe to Travel in South America?
Travel in Ecuador – Cotacachi
Travel in Brazil – Rio de Janeiro
Living in Uruguay – Travel Hot Spots
Living in Argentina – Travel Hot Spots

21 to “How Much Does it Cost to Live in South America?”


  1. brad criqui says:

    Thanks for the information im going to UY soon and will use this information of what date is this acurate

  2. Web Hosting says:

    More likely you need $1000 and more to live sorta good. It is not that cheap as it looks in S.America at all.

    • Molly McHugh says:

      You are correct that $1000 would give a person more options, but there are places that you can live off of for $650 USD and many do it. Locals in these areas live off of half of that!

  3. Edward says:

    If $1000 is all you had, and you had 1 decision where to move…Where would it be? Thanks

  4. tyson chase says:

    im 20 and im looking to move to Brazil how much money would i have to save canadian dollars to move there and have a good life

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Move there and have a good life? That’s a tall order Tyson :) How about move there for six months to a year and see how you like it! Brazil is one of the most expensive countries to live in, though you can find off-the-beaten-track areas to get a cheap rental and enjoy life. Traveling through the country is pricey, but you can join couchsurfers.com and then stay in locals home for a night for free… you just have to be creative if you are on a budget.

      To live in Brazil I would definitely put away $1000 USD per month in savings. Important to note is you have to pay for a visa before traveling to Brazil. Information is here: Visas & Fees for Brazil http://www.southamericaliving.com/living-in-brazil-visas-fees/

  5. Giorgio says:

    Hi,
    how much is 1700 US$ a month to live in Uruguay along the costline. ( no punta del’este). No rent to pay. If you compare to USA average spending ( midlle class)for the same life how much you need in Uruguay. I know that is a difficult answer.
    Grazie
    Giorgio

    • Molly McHugh says:

      A very comfortable lifestyle – eat out when you want, visit Argentina or Brazil for a week or so every few months…

      Uruguay has opened up their national health care to foreigners. I need to write-up an article with more details but basically you would also have access to decent medical care (easy access if near Montevideo).

      I would recommend staying closer to Montevideo where there are more expats for the social aspect, i.e. near Atlantida, etc. as opposed to further north.

      Hope that helps! I have a travel writer contributor who lives in Atlantida, will email her and ask about her costs… update here in few days! Molly

  6. Giorgio says:

    Thank you Molly,
    I heard very different opinion about Uruguay and I do not know anymore if it is a country that we can live confortable with 1700US$. For me confortable life for two of us mean:
    Have one car, decent medical care, buy grocery ( we do not eat beef meat)and enjoy the beach and fishing. We normally do not spend time at the restaurant, probably no more then twice a month.
    We love a simple life.
    I am waiting for your update.
    Molly, were do you live?
    Thank you, grazie,gracias
    Giorgio

    • Molly McHugh says:

      I thought you meant cost for one person – yourself! Didn’t assume it was for a couple, maybe should have clarified! For one person that is a high amount, for two, of course not. My travel writer gal responded and wrote this:

      “About $1000 sounds about right, but it varies, depending on where and how you live.”

      That’s for one person, so your $1700 would have been very comfortable (you said without paying for housing)! For two people, more average living, definitely no car (outrageous costs) – many live off of that but not extavagantly.

      I would pick Ecuador (much better fishing, weather) over Uruguay for you. Or Panama… both countries would be a very nice lifestyle for two (without rent costs) and good affordable medical care (staying near core areas such as Quito or Cuenca for Ecuador, Panama City or other for Panama).

      We have spent time in both countries (Panama, Ecuador). Is a huge decision, research all you can online to balance my info and opinions! Molly

  7. Justin says:

    Where would one suggest a single 30 year old male go that’s looking to leave the USA for a country with an up and coming economy? Peru, Ecuador? I live in the US on about $1,000 a month by scrimping and take home double that. I’m looking for a similar or lower cost of living and would like atleast to make the same, possibly as an English teacher?

  8. steve says:

    So versus new York and southern California it is less expensive better quality of life ( for the adventurous types not all) has healthcare …I’m sold however what does a young American do for work and wages once in south America. Any careers that are needed aside from ESL and language programs ? I’m a diabetic and worry about moving and not being able to get medical supplies but here in the states I cannot afford to live let alone get health insurance so I’m here without medical care or supplies so I guess it is not much of a issue…

    • Molly McHugh says:

      So many areas to live, my guess is Argentina would be a good choice for you, and teaching English is just about the only job you will be able to get, in Buenos Aires there are opportunities. Health care is complicated, make sure to get travel insurance to cover you until you relocate somewhere and get on a local in-country plan. have fun, Molly

  9. Carole says:

    Me 66. Husband 74. Basically very healthy. Don’t like whats going on in US.
    We have lived the good life outside of Nevada. Property, animals, space. Is that something we can find near Ecuador? Living on $4,000 mth for two. What about vehicle? Medical. Don’t think our blue cross will help there.

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Best recommendation is to keep property in the U.S. if you can, in case something requires a return, or at least a plan to fall back on if long-term situation doesn’t work. Nothing is perfect anywhere, but moving abroad does give you a nice break from living full-time in your home country (whether it’s the U.S., Canada, Australia or wherever).

      You’ll live like royalty on that amount, have a lovely rental and be able to travel all over, including flights out of Quito to other countries for trips. I’m jealous!

      Things change often, issues that arise in home country will most likely be present abroad, just is different. Health care in Ecuador is affordable, there is a Facebook group – Ecuador Expats – that you can join for free and post questions to the many folks who already live in the country, some full-time some part of the year.

      Molly

  10. PaxListings says:

    Cost of living in South America depends upon location and your life style.Beside these it also depends upon various factors like house rent, cost of food, education etc.

  11. Laurie says:

    How much money would it take for a couple to live comfortably in Ecuador? By comfortably I mean a decent 2-3 bedroom apartment or house with a modern kitchen, plenty of storage and some outdoor space within walking distance to shopping, etc. and have some money left to travel a bit. What about the cost of having a car in Ecuador? Would $1200-1500 per month (or less) be enough for a soon to be retired American couple to live on? What about working in Ecuador or starting a business? Can one establish residence there? Buy real estate? Thanks in advance!

    • Yes! It is highly possible. A 2 bedroom apartment might run you about $500 US. And, because there are large ex-pat communities in many cities in Ecuador, you may find a niche business to either buy or begin. Good luck Laurie, and Buen Viaje!


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