South America Living

Travel, Dine, Live… Like A Local

Where In South America Can I Live On $800 USD Per Month?

It is possible to live in many areas of South America on a budget of $800 USD per month. It won´t be a ‘high-flying nights-out-on the-town’ type of existence but can be done and can be enjoyable. Want to know where? Profiles of featured destinations are here:   Cheap Places To Live In South America

Map of South America - Click To View Larger Map

Editor’s Note: I recently upped the monthly amount to $800 USD, previously it was $650 USD. Read “Can I live in South America on $650 USD per month” to learn why.

A more workable budget would be $1000 – $1200 USD and up, affording more luxuries such as eating out regularily, shopping excursions, larger apartment or house, trips to other areas of the country, etc.   Living in South America Guides

The following countries have the lowest cost of living: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The most expensive countries to live in are Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay.

Argentina offers great value for your dollar but many popular expat locations are expensive such as Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Bariloche. For these high-priced areas you would need a budget of $1200 USD – $1500 USD per month to live comfortably.

Two options for low-cost living in Argentina include the small town of Miramar on the Atlantic coast near Mar del Plata and the midsize city Salta in Northwest Argentina.   Salta, Argentina – Cheap Place to Live

Uruguay has few low cost destinations. Inland locations are affordable but not where most International expatriates would enjoy living unless they have the disposition of a hermit. One exception is the midsize city of Salto in northeast Uruguay.   Salto, Uruguay – Cheap Place to Live

Of course living in a major city will require more financial planning, because it
costs more than living on the outskirts of a metropolitan area or in a small town. To view a list of capital cities in South America – complete with online Travel Guides click here:   Capital Cities in South America With Online Travel Guides

Old Town in Quito, Ecuador

As an example, many areas of Peru are very affordable, yet if you want to live in Lima, you will need a budget of $900 – $1000 USD per month or more. Huanchaco and Mancora – popular surf towns – would be possible locations to live on $800 USD per month. Find a low-cost rental, spend most of your time chilling at the beach with a few meals out per week and you are all set.   Huanchaco, Peru – Cheap Place to Live

Ecuador is the most affordable country to live in with the best value for your dollar. There are many locations to choose from to live well off of $800 USD per month. Living in Quito will be difficult at that price, but venture a short ways out of the capital city and you have more options such as the current hot spots Otavalo and Cotacachi – small town living in scenic, serene locations.   Cotacachi, Ecuador – Cheap Place to Live.

The city of Loja in the South is very affordable and the very popular and hip hideout – Vilcabamba – only 40 minutes away by bus:   Vilcabamba, Ecuador – Cheap Place to Live.

Beach towns near Bahia de Caraquez already have smatterings of expats living full-time such as in the popular tourist town and surf spot Canoa.   Canoa, Ecuador – Cheap Place to Live

If you want a country that you can not only live in on $800 USD per month, but travel (staying in hostals) and eat-out regularily as well – Bolivia is your best bet. And this may be the only country in South America where you can afford to live in the capital on $800 USD per month.   Sucre, Bolivia – Cheap Place to Live

Look Like A Place You Would Like to Live? Try Cochabamba, Bolivia.

La Paz is a favorite travel destination and affordable, yet a beautiful small town just two hours away at lower elevation (no need to worry about Altitude Sickness) is Coroico.   Travel in Bolivia – Coroico

Many expatriates choose to call Colombia home. Unless living in an unsafe slum, Bogotá would not be affordable at under $1000 USD per month but you could try Medellin, very popular with expats and backpackers as well.

Medellin, Colombia – Cheap Place to Live

The city has transformed itself from a drug lord hot spot to a tourist hot spot and is considered one of the safest metropolitan areas in Colombia.

Cali is an attractive, affordable city in Southern Colombia but referred to as the ‘kidnapping capital’. Not where most would choose to live. I have traveled through the city and loved it, but stayed only three nights. The small town of Santuario (population around 9000) is cheap to live, with decent apartments for under $300 USD per month with spectacular views of the Andes mountains.

The smartest move you can make when moving abroad is to keep an open mind and be ready to try something new if your original ‘dream relocation town or city’ did not pan-out to be as idyllic as you imagined. Got abducted and robbed in Ecuador by a taxi driver (“express kidnapping”) and do not feel safe living in the country anymore? Leave. Try a few months in Northern Peru or hop a flight to Chile or Argentina. Read beforehand: Is it Safe to Travel in South America?

The opportunities for life and living in South America are endless, it is up to you to decide what will work best for you solo or with spouse and children in tow.

More Articles You May Like:
Travel Guide to Coroico, Bolivia
Travel in Bolivia & Peru – Lake Titicaca
Travel Hot Spots in Argentina
Blogs About Ecuador

77 to “Where In South America Can I Live On $800 USD Per Month?”

  1. Interesting article. I think maybe some of the places have gone up in cost by now (2011) but the top 4, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia are still the cheapest.

    I’d like to see this done for Central America too! What about beautiful Costa Rica, or Mexico?

    • Molly McHugh says:

      So true vochos! Costs are rising everywhere, especially for travelers (reciprocity fees, etc.). But you can still find an off-the-beaten-path (and out of the capital city areas excluding low-cost Bolivia) area to live affordably. A minimalist existence at $650 per month for sure, but still enjoyable & full of cultural activities and opportunities to make new friends. Viva South America! Molly

  2. David says:

    I am 56, good health, still strong, speak decent Espanol.
    Looking to Expat. Poco dinero, will need to work…
    Prefiero la costa; Have start up $$ to rent…
    Can anyone tell me the best and safest places.
    I have been robbed and shot and don’t want to go through that again.

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Hi David,

      My recommendation would be to research Ecuador. Low-cost and lovely people, safe in general (outside of cities, etc.) – can find a family with an apt. or room + bath to rent at very little cost. I found Ecuadorians very friendly in general to foreigners.

      The biggest issue I see is needing to work… it is next to impossible unless someone has a large amount of cash to invest (then they can run a hotel, restaurant, B&B, etc.). True for all South American countries unfortunately.


  3. Bonnie says:

    Consider getting a TEFL certification to teach English or start out by applying for work at language institue. You can build up a clientele and eventually become a tutor in private homes. If you put together large classes you can make a good hourly wage.

    Also, you may be able to find affordable housing by renting a room from a family. You could pay a little extra to include meals. Sometimes you can find these families through the language school.

    Good luck!


    • Bob Wright says:

      Jon, could you tell me the cost of renting a one/two bedroom furnished apt/house in Lima. also I heard Peru has become the new Columbia when it comes to drugs. Do you know if this is true and safe is it in Lima. Oh yes what about
      the medical care cost quality. Any information you can provide will be helpful.



  4. Jon says:

    Anyone planning to move to South America to teach English should consider teaching English out of their apartments and try areas other than the usual expat parts of town. I would highly recommend learning Spanish and placing adds on sites like olx and mundoanuncio; the institutes in almost all the countries for a non-experienced teacher (with no work visa, which is hard to get) will pay terrible money and it’s a waste of time.

    I recommend safe areas of Mexico, Paraguay, and my number one pick is Lima, Peru.

    Anyone need info on cost of living in Peru send me a reply.

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Good info, sound’s like you are experienced in the matter. I know folks who have done well teaching English in Buenos Aires, but that is money to get by to party and have fun, not a real working wage.

      I need info on the cost of living in Peru! Have a template, maybe you could fill it out for Lima if that is where you live… email me at editor (@) for more info. Molly

    • LORRAINE says:

      info on Peru please

  5. ann says:

    I’m doing preliminary homework looking into retirement and I’ve been reading a lot of good things on the internet about Ecuador and Panama. So much is written about Cuenca, Ecuador, that it seems impossible that it has not gotten overcrowded and spoiled by now. What do you know and think??

  6. Molly McHugh says:

    Hi Ann, I just sent you an email. My go to person on Cuenca is George who publishes the George in Ecuador blog and is moving to Cuenca. He welcomes comments/questions on his blog as is fine to email him directly.



    Best of luck, Molly

  7. Mike Brady says:

    I have been looking at several locations in Equador. I love the ocean and feel linked to it but I also love sunny days and wondered if the coast would offer the climate I am looking for? Any suggestions?

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Hi Mike, one thought for you would be Salinas in the South – lovely beach, near many great ‘beach vacation’ towns (that you probably wouldn’t want to live in such as Montanitas or Puerto Lopez), expat scene but still very low-key with a small shopping mall to boot.

      Check it out for sure. The great thing about Ecuador is you can travel within the country easily, so are not ‘stuck’ in any one location. Molly

  8. dianna smith says:

    Hi \

    thinking of moving to panama? any thoughts?

  9. Mike Brady says:

    I originally did some research about Panama and consider this my second choice. Equador appears to be the best location budget-wise. I am in the process of making plans to visit this fall. I want to get a good feel for the country since I will be relocating within the next couple of years.

  10. John says:

    Interesting blog with one extremely irritating feature–or rather lack thereof. You can’t right-click on the links, so as to place different pages on different tabs in the browser. Your coding is in other ways rather defective. Get it checked by a good webmaster. Also, the blog is not optimized well for Firefox and even less so for Opera.

  11. Molly McHugh says:

    Hi John, I intentionally disable right-click and will not be changing that – sorry if you find it annoying but too many folks steal content, photos, etc. and giving them the option to do it in a click is just plain stupid. This is a business, I have to protect my livlihood the same as any other business owner.

    I will check the other issues though asap, thanks for the note, Molly

  12. Twila says:

    Hi everyone, this is a great blog. My husband and I are very open to moving to South America and the buzz in 2012 seems to still be Ecuador. However, what I’m seeing is that the low cost of living/real estate seems to have dramatically increased over the past few years. I see posts that say homes for $30,000 but then when I look at real estate websites, the homes are pretty close to what they are selling in many parts for in the US- upper 150,000 to 200,000 range. I really am looking for a home with some land to do some light farming, my own well for a plentiful water supply and a wish list item but not absolutely necessary would be overlooking the coast so that fresh seafood/fish would be wonderful. I would also prefer that we buy in an area where an open market is available so that fresh food would always be available. We are like many Americans- had saved all our lives for retirement but the stock market was not good to us and now we are going to have to live on so much less.. My husband can draw SS in one year. Any help you all can give me would be much appreciated. Thank you

  13. Molly McHugh says:

    I think your assessment is right on the money Twila. The 30,000 USD for property in Ecuador would at this time be a basic, very run-down house outside of any main tourist or relocation area or a plot of land (if you were so lucky) in a more desirable area.

    Your wish list above I think would be extremely difficult at that price, but I cannot say impossible – I do not know everything about real estate in Ecuador or every location in Ecuador! The problem is, as an American you will definitely be charged more, unless you really do some major on-the-ground researching and looking, talking with locals, trying to make some cash deal that will not be advertised by a realtor (who makes most of their cash charging more to foreigners).

    For your desires above I would recommend the Bahia de Carquez area (mentioned in the Canoa article) – or maybe somewhere on the coast near Salinas (in both spots you’d have a hub with other expats and decent, basic shopping) and do your searching yourself after researching thoroughly.

    Another highly recommended option would be to go, find an area you like and rent for awhile. Rents are very reasonable throughout Ecuador. Then you could figure out where you want to live, and maybe have made some good, local contacts who want to sell property.

    Best of luck, Molly

  14. Richard Lemus says:

    I think Argentina has amazing landscapes, everyone could enjoy Argentina, at the Pampas, Mendoza, Skiing, Fishing, Wines, Tango, etc. Maybe nowadays the government is no the best, but this is not forever. I am living here since year 2005 and I will never come back. This is my place. But if you are moving to anywhere in south america, I recommend looking for specialized mifratory advise. I tryied by myself and made crazy. But after 2 monbth I decided and contacted a person (I think his name is Pablo) in and they gave my residence in few days. Also, there are a lot of opportunities for investment in farms if you love to live in the country. Regards and good luck!

  15. Robin says:

    I have two children 8&10 (youngest high function autistic) and dream about small beach town living. Won’t have to work but need to stay under $2000 month for EVERYTHING. Any suggestions?

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Hi Robin, you know what is best for your children and family as a whole but to recommend a location I need to know what country you are thinking of… any specific ideas of where you may want to live? What is the time frame? A year sabattical or do you want to purchase property?

  16. Anthony says:

    I am an Australian living in Vancouver and wanting to move to South America at the end of Summer (September) to study Spanish for 3 months. I like the look of Ecuador from the small amount of research I have done and love coastal living and warm weather. I was just wondering what the visa requirements were for an Australian entering Ecuador and how long we can stay in the country? Also if there are any small coastal towns that you know of that I can live on a budget of $750-$800USD a month on with Spanish lessons?

    Any information would be greatly appreciated

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Hi Anthony and that sounds excellent, plus you will have no issues with visas, will get a Tourist Visa issued upon arrival (do not need to pay any fee) and can stay for three months, and then 3 months more with an extension if you want for up to six months in any given year.

      More info here:

      I think you’d love Montanita – and it has some great language schools. If you live ‘across the bridge’ and not directly in town is mellow, the town gets crazy at times. Love the southern coast, that area has tons to do and fun places to explore cheaply and easily:

      We spent over 2 months in the area, if you are serious about a trip, feel free to email me after you do more research for more info: editor (@)

      best of luck, Molly

  17. Alex says:

    We are a couple with a 3 year old child, currently living in London.

    For 2 years we have been planning to move to South Africa, but now due to some family situations, we’ve become a bit doubtful if this would be the right decision for us.

    My husband is from Venezuela, so all 3 of us speak Spanish. Can anyone recommend where a young family could live on £1200 a month in South America?

    We’ve been looking at a few blogs, and it seems that Peru is seen as one of the safest places to live in. What do you think? We don’t have any particular requirements, we just want a safe environment for our child to grow up in.

    Thanks :)

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Since you all speak Spanish the continent is your oyster so to speak and I would choose Argentina to live in personally… there are safety issues (Buenos Aires has quite a bit of theft now) but other areas like around Mendoza (San Rafael) or even Salta (really cool area to travel around in after you settle).

      It will be tight anywhere on that monthly budget, but definitely more affordable in Ecuador and you may want to check out Cuenca as there are quite a few expat families with children there and the country is inexpensive to travel in.

      Peru is awesome, again… tons of places to see in the country. Lima isn’t very safe from what I hear (have only transitted through) and is expensive but you could definitely live in Cusco on that amount, if you can handle the altitude and is a safe city in general.

      Check out our articles on safety & travel, there is some good basic info that should help you plan:

      Sent you a copy of our eBook to help in your plans, best of luck, Molly

  18. Lenny says:

    If “low cost” is key here, don´t you ever consider Brazil. I´m yet to find a place more expensive…

    • Molly McHugh says:

      So agree Lenny and is why we didn’t get to visit there, in addition to the visa fee I was not willing to pay. I did not include Brazil in our ‘Cheap Places eBook’ and that is exactly why, it is an expensive country to live and travel in. Though I’d love to visit, Brazilians are so spirited and the country so full of exotic, beautiful destinations. cheers, Molly

  19. Jose Luis says:

    Hi All, I’ve been traveling to Colombia since 1999. I love El Norte Valle del Cauca (Region). Beautiful Chalets, Villas, Fincas, etc. etc. Food and Entertainment great. Lots and lots of major changes, these past 15 years, throughout the country. I plan on retiring to Colombia (bought a home in 2004) in 2020. Plan on being a ESL to supplement my retirement, besides adding a business to the ground floor of my duplex home (like most homeowners do). The townspeople are pleading for me to be a English teacher (since they trust me dearly). The 20k habitants of the town look out for me and watch over my home (the 11 months I’m not in Colombia). You treat the people of Colombia right, with respect and dignity, and they will watch over you and yours. I foresee Colombia being a major tourist country within the next decade or so.

    • Molly McHugh says:

      What a great story and glad things are going so well for you! Colombia definitely seems to be getting more popular as a tourist destination I completely agree.

  20. Chris says:

    I just wanted to share my idea of relocating to SA with the intention of setting up a small business there. As crazy as it seems to be, I hope to teach legal and business English to local entrepreneurs, business like people. Basically, my main focus would be on those already speaking the language and trying to better communicate with their business partners worldwide. Nothing on a large scale, as I will be taking my first steps on SA soil. I am a NON-native teacher of English, currently living and working in the UK. I have gained knowledge and experience in the field. I feel confident in my abilities to put it into practice. Could you kindly advise me whether there would be such a need for a specialized English in SA countries? Cheers

  21. Monika Blalock says:

    I’m looking to move to South America. I am on

    I am looking to move to South America. I am on Social Security and meed to find a place that would be good for me to move on less than 1,000 USD a month.
    Can you give me any ideas? Thank You.

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Hi Monika, $1000 per month is decent for one person in many areas, especially if you are a smart, budget shopper and only eat out at inexpensive restaurants. Areas in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia would be fun at that monthly budget, and you could travel some too for sure. Sending you a copy of our free ‘Cheap Places in South America & Budget Travel Tips eBook’ now, it has our favorite spots for a low-cost trip or extended stay.

      Don’t forget you have to research visa requirements and all are different if you will be in any country for an extended time, have pages on all countries, just click on the nav link at top of page, then click on ‘Visas’. best, Molly

  22. Paartha says:

    Can you advice me which country is best for work and live above age 53 male.

  23. Sean says:

    Hi Molly, it looks like you rock at responses, I’ll be bookmarking this blog for sure.
    I’m 25, taking a year+ break/permanent change from the US business world and am going to live and learn Spanish in SA. I’m looking at Argentina, Peru, or Columbia. I need a beach/mountain/lake to live by! $1K – $2K per month living if I don’t get a job, and that’s including Spanish lessons. From reading comments and the blog, it seems like I’m on the right track ya??

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Awesome and thanks for the kind words, love to hear I rock every once in awhile.. when the compliment fits :) You will have a great time on that budget – I have a bunch of ideas for you, sending you an email with our free ebook and some suggestions of where to go!

  24. Matthew Griffin says:

    Hi. Im a 29 year old Army veteran. Ive been looking into moving to South America for some time now but still not 100 percent sure where to go. Im on a budget of $1000 per month and have been hearing alot of good things about Ecuador. I would like to be somewhere with nice scenery and not very very far from amenities.

    • Molly McHugh says:

      That is a fine budget for many countries, and I always advise to plan some time enjoying the country, visiting first, then visiting other areas. You never know what will appeal to you until you get there. And to avoid the hassles of permanent residency in Ecuador – stay 6 months then go visit Peru or Colombia… or… :) best of luck, Molly

  25. Dorothy says:

    Hi Molly, what would it take to move to Paraguay from the US? Visa? Safe place to live close to a city. And still be able to collect SSDI?

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Have no clue, sorry. I wasn’t able to include Paraguay – the country has many serious safety issues, horrible human rights issues, etc. – and is not low cost. The new owner of this website Andy Alexander wants to cover Paraguay. Andy will be taking over the site in January. Sorry I wasn’t more helpful, Molly

  26. Dave says:

    Wow Molly lots of great information. I am 62 yr old gay single. I will live quietly/ love animals, nature, ocean, WARM climates.also love mild mountain climates….will need INTERNET/TV and I have researched Lake Chapala, San Miguel Allende and Cuenca, Salinas Ecuador as well.
    Mexico sounds neat as its close to USA BUT as of 2013 the prices quoted for decent looking/furnished apt or a small 2bed 1 bath house – have gone way up – to where they are similar to rental or houses where i live! :(
    My company is soon downsizing so i may retire on SS about 1500.oo a month plus savings over years. I would only want to rent at first anywhere for good while.
    I cant afford to visit all great countries/sites you have mentioned ha but mostly seek a place where little Spanish can get me around, at least moderate expats community important to have as friends at first. I get conflicting reports about safety in many sites and often seems companies only talk up a city to make a sale, rather than truth of city overall. I see that for Ecuador its darn near impossible to bring in a car and ship anything there in containers unless want to spend a fortune, etc. Sounds like great values in Columbia, Argentina but as i speak little english and will travel alone, thats going to make it quite difficult sounds like .
    Anyways I am open to different places for what i have described- thanks for any inpt

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Hi Dave & thank you – it took a few years compiling it :)

      A travel blogger friend – Renee of – just did a cost of living post about Lake Chapala, and they had a really cool bungalow thing with pool: I personally love Mexico too, but have a teenager so the U.S. is best for us right now.

      We stayed over 4 years ago for a month in San Miguel, loved it, but the low cost place to be (and it has developed much from what I’ve read) is Guanajato nearby- spent a day there, such a sweet town. Found this today, good article on ’10 Best Places to Retire in Mexico’

      I’m telling you – with that monthly amount you CAN visit a ton of places in South America – just like we did. You just have to search out low-cost digs, stay put for a few weeks or month, and then move on via cheap bus transport. It’s how we traveled all over South America and you can do the same easily, have more cash than we did! Sending you a copy of our eBook, it highlights the places we stayed for cheap, though of course there are many, many others.

      Colombia is not cheap, but at that amount you could enjoy a nice stay and visit some areas, a month in Medellin which is popular, visit a few other areas then make your way to Ecuador which is very cheap and you will easily live/travel on that amount. There’s a cool place to rent for a month for only $350 USD in the city – check info on this page:

      From Ecuador you can easily move through Peru, lovely spots all over. It is very hard to bring car/stuff but you really don’t want to. You can rent cars easily everywhere, to give yourself some time to explore, then hang-out somewhere so as to not be broke in a week. Been there, done it all over the place :)

      Argentina is tough, as the Spanish is Castellano and the people do not like to speak English. You could have fun in Buenos Aires, make your way to Salta or so and then visit low-cost Bolivia to bring up funds. Tons of options. Safety for you will mostly be common sense, do not share cabs, do not walk around late at night in many places (many places perfectly safe too, you’ll feel it out as you go), don’t flash money, wear an expensive watch, etc.

      Hope that helps, Molly

  27. Suzana says:

    Wow, Ms. McHugh you sure are GREAT and VERY INFORMATIVE :-)

    I am a Clinical Psychologist in the USA and would like to go to South America or Mexico and volunteer along one of the local psychologists. Do you know anything about possibilities to volunteer in psychiatric hospitals?
    Being a female I also need to know where I would be the safest. I will have only about $500-$600/month for survival, but I am not wasteful person and know how to live “like a locals” (born in former Yugoslavia and not spoiled).

    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Suzana, what a great idea and there would be so many options for you, I would have no idea what to recommend, you will have to research, contact universities with graduate programs, clinical settings in hospitals, etc.

      The only time I even saw an advertisement for a psychologist was when we lived in Miramar, Argentina and there was someone with a private practice in the town.

      Safety is really variable, areas in Mexico safe, then others very dangerous. Safer countries are Argentina, Chile and I’d probably say Brazil, but they are also the most expensive. Maybe check out Ecuador?

      best of luck, thanks for the nice compliment, Molly (previous owner, filling in for Andy Alexander the new owner who is on vacation)

  28. jorge torrente says:

    Hi, Molly,
    I’m not the blogging type, but can’t resist the impulse of complimenting you for this site. It is fresh, easy on the eyes and brain, not like other ones bent on writing long diatribes with the sole aim of selling something. I am a sixty nine year old Cuban American from Miami also looking down south for the final years. I understand Andy is taking over this site, probably already did, but still I wish you the best in any endeavor you might have chosen. And to Andy, please keep it light and true, will’ya? jt

  29. James says:

    Hi…great forum here! I hope this is appropriate…

    I’m a Canuck seeking a winter refuge from the 3 metres of global warming piled up in my driveway ;)

    Thing is I don’t want to go nuts baking on the beach, but go to a really good art school…

    SMA in Mexico is an obvious choice but can anyone suggest another venue?

    I’m not looking to retire, just get away for 6 months a year and upgrade my skills.



  30. mike says:


    I’m wondering if I can get some opinions and information; I’m a 32 y/o single male; I’m make about $4K a month in the US, but I own properties so I only have about $2500 after mortgages and bills. I’m politically conservative and religiously a Christian, so I would like to find an area that (at least mostly) embraces that. Can you recommend a safe area to move to, possibly permanent if I find someone to marry – which is something I certainly look to do before I’m too old to have a family. I’m really not sure what to ask about; I’m tired of the politics here in america and the next election (2016) will determine if I stay or go. So the next two years I will save money and do research; I want to find a place that’s safe, but not with overreaching government, and where I can raise a family and just be happy. I would like to keep my costs at or below $1500 a month so could still save and/or invest for the sake of prosperity.

    Sorry for being so vague, I’m on my phone writing this but I will write again when I have more time.

    Thank you for any information!


  31. Bri says:

    Hello, im looking at Medellin, Columbia. Being 20/21 in a few years, I would love to move from the U.S. there. But would you say to live on 1,000-/month would be realistic with being in Poblado? If not, where would you recommend to stay? As far as neighborhoods go? Most likely somewhere with a bit of english that is spoken? Thank you:)

    • RS says:

      I have lived in Medellin for almost 3 months now. Poblado is not cheap. The trick is to search for apartments in spanish. I live in a nice shared apartment for $311 a month but it took a lot of searching. I would recommend Envigado. Very very safe and very cheap to live.

  32. Jennifer says:

    Hi there! My family is ready for big changes and after some research and saving we will be getting a large boat to live on and sail down to SA from California. Do you have any advice on ways to earn a bit of income on our adventure and places along the coasts to explore or avoid? Our children are ages 16, 9, & 6.

  33. BRUCE says:

    I am a single male with a 14 yo son we love fishing and hunting and want to move to sa our budget will be 1400.00 usd per month would love to live on or near the ocean need some place safe where my son can roam and play . what about schools for him thank you for your help

    • Hi,

      There are numerous resources on the site for you, such as the post you read (“Where to live on $800 a month”). In addition, you should check out the links for individual countries – I recommend starting with Colombia, which has beautiful seaside communities, and is quite affordable and attractive to foreigners right now. Thank you for your interest.


  34. Rizwan says:

    Hi everyone, I want to know about Colombia. Anyone can help me plz? I want to know the living cost and earnings. Is Colombia safe to live and what are living standards? Thanks

  35. Sheri Scumwanker says:

    “The small town of Santuario (population around 9000) is cheap to live, with decent apartments for under $300 USD per month with spectacular views of the Andes mountains.”

    Is this still true in 2014? This just seems too good to be true. Why is this place so cheap? Is it difficult to find a job [in this area] as an expatriate who knows almost no Spanish?

    • You’d have to research, things change all the time and it is next to impossible to work in South America – sorry, but if you are thinking of a move you need to know that, even if you did know Spanish. – Molly, previous owner of South America Living. Andy Alexander is the new owner.

  36. Jocelyna says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this wealth of knowledge. So useful + so appreciated!

    We are planning a year sabbatical to learn Spanish, have a cultural adventure and enjoy life; we’re weighing the pros and cons of city vs country. We have two boys (9 and 12). Although I love Buenos Aires, it feels too big for this adventure. I have looked at Bariloche (so cold and remote) and friends have tried to talk us into Cuenca, Ecuador and places in Uruguay. A beachy place like Mancora, Peru looks inviting: Great weather, easy going, walkable, friendly, we can all learn to surf. MY QUESTION: Have you known any foreigners with kids who have moved to Mancora or someplace similar (beautiful, safe, friendly and surfable) AND enrolled the children in a local school for language immmersion. This is possible in Spain (which we are considering too) as long as we supplement some academics on the side. It can be a great way to engage children in the community and language.

    btw: I lived in the Philippines and Indonesia when I was young. I imagine Ubud< Bali in Bali and also Boracay and think, hmmmm, laid back with beaches could be nice!

    If you have a moment to share on this, I will thank you, thank you….

    • Hi, this is Molly, past owner, helping out Andy Alexander (new owner) who is traveling at the moment.

      You’ll have a great time, go for it, and I love the one year timeframe, so much easier to plan and have fun, not worrying about forever abroad which can be very stressful. Buenos Aires for a visit but yes, expensive and crime issues for longer stay, would avoid.

      Bariloche is gorgeous and not remote at all, all of Patagonia is gorgeous (some of it remote), if you are winter sports fans, that would be an excellent choice, and could visit Chile too – but that is an expensive option.

      Skip Uruguay, many reasons but Argentina much, much better (Salta a beautiful area and can visit Bolivia, Peru easily) as is Ecuador. Cuenca would be good, many expats there, so has a safety factor and plenty to do, lots of folks to help out if you need it.

      We visited Mancora – it is a beautiful place but crazy party town, great for a trip from Cuenca where you would be better to find a long-term rental.

      If you don’t have a free copy of my ebook- download it on my new website here: – I am sure you will like it and find it useful.

      Have fun, Molly

  37. Frank says:

    Hello Molly, I enjoy ur blog tremendously, great job.
    I am a 46 year old male living in Vancouver, Canada. As much as I love my city, I plan to move to SA soon( 5-6 years).

    My budget is approximately $1200 USD per month, I love all SA (latin A for that matter) and speak half decent spanish.

    I need to be near a beach and be able to perhaps do something not just for the cash but for the sake of doing something (too young to fully retire), I’m a low key and simple man who loves to garden, cook and socialize with locals. Would love to know your thoughts and suggestions.


    • Molly McHugh says:

      Hi Frank, sorry this is late, I’ve sold the website and we are slowly transitioning to the new owner – Andy Alexander. Thank you for the kind comment – my new website is:

      For $1200 a month your best bets with affordable beach areas are going to be Ecuador and Peru – if it was me, I would do six months in one place, six month in the other. Then after a year, reassess.

      The issue with Ecuador, which is great and very popular, is they limit the time you can stay with only a tourist visa to 6 months in any given year (180 days). Peru, no, you can stay indefinitely currently, just have to cross the border and re-enter when needed with new tourist stamp in your passport.

      So many things you can busy yourself with, and volunteering somewhere for a month or so a great thing to think of, to add some diversity to the experience (laying on the beach day after day does get old… sometimes… :)

      Just start having fun researching online, keeping notes, then go for it when you can and see how it turns out. By then, the visa situations may be different (most likely will be, they change often) so be sure to contact the embassy to verify what is and what is not allowed, before you arrive in a country.

      I think you’d like my ebook if you don’t have it, is free, download here:

      best of luck and have fun, Molly

  38. Rose Cacho says:

    Hello Andy. Thank you for the update on your acquiring this site. I have always enjoyed this blog. Congratulations.

    I am still very much considering moving to Ecuador. Just as most of the writers on this blog, I live on a minimum budget of $800 per month. I am currently on disability. I am not really interested in visiting first. I just want to go after much more research, of course, such as in visa requirements, healthcare, transporting my “friends”, who are actually my 3 dogs, Stevie, Max & Versace, etc.

    I don’t need a mansion or real estate. I only want a peaceful and quiet town to live in where I can enjoy life and my furry friends. I came across Cotacachi. That peaked my interest even more because it’s not far away from Quito. I am a 55y/o single woman who is finally at a place where I am comfortable with myself.

    Wish me luck in my research. I think that Cotacachi sounds like an awesome place and I am looking forward to moving to Ecuador. I also wish you luck with this blog. Please keep on with a great blog. I am learning a lot.


    • Hola!

      Thank you for the kind words. I wish you much success in your upcoming adventures. Please keep in touch and maybe I can share some of your stories as you move and get settled.

      Bien Viaje,


  39. mila says:

    Hello Molly! I am an American living in Brazil for the past 5 years and am counting the days when I can leave this country. Besides being extremely expensive, it has been announced that of all the South American countries 16 cities have been put on the most violent list considering only 4 cities from the US and 2 cities from South Africa have made the list. Jobs are not easy to find and the Brasilians will always have preference over foreigners. Equal opportunity doesnt exist. I live in a town of 600,000 habitants outside of Sao Paulo city….it is a very burocratic country…I am still waiting for my residency but am having a long wait…my children are all Brasilians and they too are having a hard time…no place is easy but there are always places that make life easier to cope. I am still trying to get my retirement as I have worked for 20 years here, left the country so that I could get my american retirement as well just to find out that there are no acordos (agreement) between brasil and the united states. My question would be where would it be easiest for me to live on my retirement from brasil and the united states? thank youl

  40. MARLIN MARTIN says:

    Like many others on site, am contemplating a move (solo) to SA. a, 70 years old and experienced a stroke a couple years ago, but otherwise doing fine. From what I have initially gleaned from you Cuenca Ecuador sounds like a good initial direction. I like to eat well and enjoy people and their surroundings.
    I am comfortably retired … your thoughts?

    • Hi Marlin, this is Molly, previous owner of SAL helping out Andy Alexander the new owner of this website. It is wonderful that you are 70, a stroke survivor and doing fine, absolutely awesome… and planning an adventure abroad to boot, wow! Cuenca has a lot of expats, and prices are rising of course, but it would offer folks who speak English and decent health care, without the crime of Quito.

      There are many beautiful places in Ecuador, so enjoy a little time exploring before you settle in an area. Food in Ecuador in general is not overly-impressive, so Cuenca would be an excellent spot for that as you will have access to grocery stores with import items plus a higher scale of restaurants. Peru is becoming very well known for its culinary traditions, you should definitely try to fit in a trip to Lima if you can and hit some hot spots – what I would have done if we could have afforded it!

      The new owner Andy will be focusing on the cusine of Latin America more than I did, which I think is going to be an excellent addition to the site with many posts on the way.

    • Hi Martin: I also recently suffered a stroke. It has taken one full year, but I am now recovered. Hope your recovery is coming along well too. Yes, I think that Cuenca would be a terrific place for you. Not only is the weather pleasant year ’round. But it would also be a great place to land, get your ‘feet’ wet so to speak, and then go from there. Good luck in your future endeavors Martin. Buen viaje!

  41. Karl says:

    Hi, I am taking a career break for 3 years and want to spend 1 maybe 2 in south America or similar but the hitch is I will be bringing 2 young kids. Would you have any recommendations for the best place when your priorities is sun, beach, playgrounds instead of bars and night life?

    We will be getting 1000 euro (1350 dollars at the current rates) per month as part of my package. My wife in Spanish so bi-lingual and I have a TEFL course but neither of us want to work fulltime if possible.

  42. Karl says:

    I should have added that the front runners at the moment are Peru and Dominican Republic as we have experience of both and the maths suggest we can lead a decent life in both if were sensible with the cash.

  43. Kym says:

    My husband & I would love to move to south america, mexico, equador….somewhere along that nature. We would like to be somewhere quiet that we may simply live. Can anyone offer good advice for where to start? What would be a good location? How hard are citizinships to obtain?

  44. Erma says:

    This is my first time go to see at here and i am truly impressed to read all at single

  45. Miguel says:

    I enjoy reading the expat blogs around the web from across the world, what seems peculiar is always the extremely high costs of living that are always being portrayed. I am an American living in South America, for the past 8 years and I am not sure where the information regarding costs of living is being obtained from, but to give you a basis of comparison. I live extremely well, rent a 1 bedroom very comfortable smack in the middle of town walking distance from parks, beaches, etc. I cook for my self but i do go out every once in a while to eat out, I am not stingy at all with the food i buy for my self mainly local organic, including free range chicken, eggs and raw milk plenty of veggies and fruits. I go to the cinema, see some plays and also go see live music 1-2 per month in all i live very very well, what I see around the web is that in order to live like this in South America you need at least 2000USD. Honestly after living here 8 years and knowing many expats, traveling around the continent and having many friends in it, I can say that number is preposterous, consider the average wage in South America even in the big cities Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires, Santiago is roughly 900USD and that is average, roughly 60% of the population don’t even make that much. I live on a monthly basis with 650USD, yes you read correct 650USD a month and i am not frugal at all. If you want to live like a king/queen, eat out at all the best restaurants, party every weekend have the new car to show off then 2000USD will fall short.

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