Sucre, Bolivia – Cheap Place to Live in South America
Great for a visit or a low-cost, long-term stay. Sucre, Bolivia may be the only capital city in South America that fits this profile. It may also be one of the few larger cities where you can not only live off of $800 USD per month but have a little left over to take trips to other areas of the country. Photos
The city is compact with plenty of traffic congestion (both pedestrian and auto) yet full of green spaces as well. The main square in Sucre is Plaza 25 de Mayo but if you wander off four to five blocks in any direction you are most likely going to come across another flower-filled oasis.
For a list of popular things to do in and around the city as well as places to eat and to stay when arriving view our Travel Guide to Sucre.
Other than tourists highlights, long-term visitors will have an array of classes (learning Spanish at a language school, taking drawing or painting lesssons at the Casa de la Cultura) and cultural events (film and music festivals) at their disposal. Posters of upcoming events are plastered on windows and doors of cafes and retaurants throughout the city.
Huge farmer’s markets are a main draw for visitors to Sucre, and a great place for low-cost shopping. For information, photographs and a video view: Markets in Sucre.
The city has two grocery stores, for information on both including a price chart of commonly purchased food items view Grocery Shopping in Sucre & Price Chart of Items.
How to Get a Three-course Lunch for Only 12 Bolivianos ($1.75 USD)
Set meal lunches (“El Menú del Dia” in Spanish) that comprise soup, a main course, drink, dessert and bread are dirt cheap throughout South America but in Sucre are an even more amazing bargain. If you pay for two weeks or a month in advance you can get up to a 30% discount. As an example, popular restaurant El Germen (231 Calle San Alberto) offers a month of lunches for 310 bolivianos ($45 USD) or two weeks worth for only 155 bolivianos ($22.50 USD).
Want to know what’s cooking at El Germen ? Here are a couple of lunch menus shared by a writer from England on sabattical in Sucre: “Today we had vegetable soup with wheat, vegetable bocaditos with creamed rice, pineapple cream for dessert and tumbo juice. Yesterday was tomato soup, stuffed pepper and salad, banana cake and juice.”
If you want to try a lunch before committing to more, the daily price is 18 bolivianos ($2.60 USD). El Germen is a vegetarian restaurant, but meat lovers can find a similar arrangement at another establishment. Find a place you like and then try to make a deal.
Low-cost Efficiency Apartments Near the Market
Want to land in Sucre and stay for an extended visit? Four blocks from the market towards the bus terminal is a building with many apartments available for rent – Villa La Plata Guest House.
They have efficiency studios (small kitchen with a few pots & pans, linen), one and two bedroom units with street-side balconies and a rooftop apartment with private patio. You can just show up and see what is available – the friendly owner lives next door. Prices depend on the unit and number of people but start as low as $170 USD per month, including all utilities. Address: 369 Ancieto Arce street Phone: 64-2257
Note: The apartment building has lots of stairs and of course no elevator, upper floors are three flights up.
Finding an apartment or house is very easy in Sucre, and there are plenty of Inmobilarios (real estate offices) to help you. Unlike in Argentina and Uruguay, you do not need to pay a hefty deposit upfront, just the first and last months rent. Renting an Apartment or House in Bolivia
I walked into an office (June, 2011) and there was a furnished two-bedroom apartment with private patio (nice, central location) plus an unfurnished lovely 4-bedroom house (safe neighborhood near the center) both available for $200 USD per month.
When the realtor looks at you and says “es amueblado” her or she means “comes with furniture”. Another way to say “with furniture” in Spanish is “con muebles“. Without furniture is “sin muebles“. Now you’re all set!
- Availability of low-cost temporary or long-term rentals in town center, within walking distance of all amenities.
- Grocery shopping. In addition to gigantic Mercado Central, there is Pompeya with a large selection of imported and gourmet foods. Craving stir-fry? Buy a jar of garlic black bean sauce at Pompeya.
Grocery Shopping at Pompeya in Sucre & Price Chart of Items
- Steady flow of cultural events in addition to monthly offerings for those with an artistic bent at Casa de la Cultura.
- Exhaust fumes. Everyone in Sucre seems to own a car and drive it 24/7. Black plumes of smoke passing from exhaust pipe to your nostrils is all too common when walking in Sucre.
- Internet service can be spotty, making working online (and SKYPE calls) difficult. Best -and often only place in town – to make a SKYPE call is the Internet cafe across from Plazuela Santa Cruz at Mercado Central on Ravelo street.
Photograph by Molly McHugh, all rights reserved.