Category Archives: Rental Prices

Posts about the cost of renting apartments abroad.

What You Get For $300 – Pondicherry, India

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Located in the Southern end of India, Pondicherry is a charming and small city.  We chose to visit here because I was curious about a place called Auroville, its related ashram, and the city’s history as a French colonial base.  I was not quite sure whether we would be staying for 3 months or 1 year so we decided to rent an apartment to get the best feel for the city.

As a single woman, travelling with 2 daughters and a young sister, I wanted to make sure our accommodations met the following standards:

  • Secure and safe
  • Clean and furnished
  • Close proximity to the beach
  • Close to transportation

We ended up in the beautiful and quaint Muslim quarter of Pondicherry, where yes, the majority of the residents are Muslim. Many are descendant from some of the original Arab traders who settled in the area. One of the perks of this neighborhood was that because of the religious requirement for cleanliness, street cleaners came through twice a day and the trash was picked up daily.

For $3oo rent we had a 2-bedroom, 2-bath, furnished apartment with a combined living /dining room, and a small kitchen.  Unfortunately, in a late night rush to organize my pictures, I accidentally deleted about 500 of them.  However, I did want to share some pictures of  our road, which I took subsequently.

The cost of living in Pondicherry, compared to Cuenca (Ecuador), is slightly higher, but the experience of living and breathing India for a moment, was definitely worth it.

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What You Get for $250 – Cuenca, Ecuador

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In one of my earliest posts, I said that it was possible to live in Cuenca and only pay $250 in rent per month.  A kind commenter, who currently lives in Cuenca, then replied that really the monthly rates are more in the range of $300-$500. So, delaying further discussion, I decided to see for myself.

After a week in Cuenca, talking to everyone from taxi drivers, to friends, to shop keepers and bank officers, I can say that the commenter was WRONG!!  You can absolutely live in a nice place in Cuenca for $250 or under and $250-$300 is considered the higher-end by the average Cuencano.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is a fact.

Sure if you want to live the high life/expat life, with the other expats, paying higher rental fees to live in condo buildings that are essentially occupied by other retired expats from North America (ex Mexico)….then go ahead and pay more. [There’s also that really fabulous, fully furnished house for $600 that I really want.]  However, if you are moving to Ecuador to make friends AND save money, well then you are in luck, because there are lots of options, you just need to have patience, a little flexibility and some time.

Okay, so why the serious difference in rental rates (perceived or real) between the commenter and I?  Language skills, living standards, other stuff ….take your pick.  All the conversations I had with people regarding living expenses were in Spanish.  While I did contact one of the expat real estate agents, it was on the last day I was in town and we really did not have a chance to speak.  For $250 and below (and it should be below), you can get a two bedroom newly renovated, apartment and the further you are from El Centro, the cheaper it gets.  I took a tour of a small, 2nd floor, 2-bedroom apartment that had just been renovated and the asking price was $250, which to me means that for a year lease you can get it for $200.  It is a 10 minute walk from downtown and in a decent/typical area.  I also spoke to the owner of a 2 bedroom, new construction apartment that had just rented it for $180.  It is walking distance to a Coral Supermarket (one of the supermarkets that we all would be happy with), a $2 taxi ride or a $0.25 bus ride to downtown and it is a block off a major road and right on the bus lines.

If you are looking for a place, there are tons of rentals, signs are posted on the homes (“se arrienda”) and foreigners are very welcome.  Just bring along some Spanish or a Spanish speaking friend, and negotiate heavily.

The big prize, however, is the home that originally got me excited about living in Ecuador.  I actually got to see the house in person, had dinner on the beautiful handmade/homemade furniture, and it is now the type of house I aspire to have…at the exact same price or less! [Side Note – Frank, Angie and their boys have created some really incredible furniture pieces, my personal favorite is the dining table and its seating.]

To supplement the pictures of the house, below are pictures of the neighborhood. The house is about a 10 minute, $2, taxi-drive from downtown area, or a $0.25 bus ride.

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Pictures of the home I visited, before it was furnished, are at following link – Frank and Angie’s Blog.

So when someone says it is not possible and you can’t, just repeat these words, “Yes you can!”

Ecuador, I’m in love… too bad you’re not a man!

What you get for $600 – Cuenca, Ecuador

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Want to see how the 1% live in Cuenca?  Then rent a house for $600.   For this “great” (this is all relative to the  US because it is an outrageously ridiculous price for most Cuencanos) price you can get:

  • Gated and private entry onto your own private street of only 9 homes
  • House in a compound of houses that are all owned by the same family (none of the others are rented out and there are children in all the homes)
  • 3 story fully furnished home with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths
  • Formal dining room
  • Sunken living room
  • Large  kitchen with all the requisite plates, pots, spoons, forks and other items included
  • Servant’s Quarters
  • Laundry room with washer and dryer
  • Private garden with fruit trees
  • Private enclosed and tiled courtyard
  • Beautiful views of Cuenca
  • Only 10-15 minute walk to center of town
  • Secure home with intercom buzzer
  • Deposit is $1,000 and renter pays for all utilities (which depending on usage maybe about $100 including light, gas, water, internet, cable and telephone).

Can you live on your social security check in Cuenca, Ecuador?   Yes you can!  Come and live like the 1% – if that is what you choose.

So tell me, if you could choose between spending $600 just on rent or $600 on everything for the whole month?  Which would you choose?

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Updated Thoughts on Otorongo Apartments– Cuenca

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I realize that I am probably a more flexible traveler than most and once I leave a situation I generally forget about it and move on.  That said, I have an update on the Otorongo Apartments.

  • If you like to smoke, you will find it to be an outdoor smoker’s paradise complete with orchid garden and water elements.
  •  If you like being around 65+ year-old people who like to spend a disproportionate amount of time describing their ailments to you, as they puff on a cigarette,
  • If you like the chance of 2nd hand smoke wafting into your room because other resident that smokes  like a chimney lives next door (all rooms are non-smoking so people stand outside),
  • If you like these things or can get past these things…then Otorongo Apartments will suit you just fine.

We spent most of our time away from the hotel, so while I did note the above issues (as a non-smoker and asthmatic), I stayed around only long enough to get the information that I wanted/needed, then I would retreat to our room or leave the property (which ever was applicable).  I found the staff to very helpful…but that is because I could speak Spanish with them.  Only Javier, the manager/owner, speaks English fluently.

I still recommend the Otorongo Apartments  if staying in a hostel is not your thing and staying at a $55+ per night hotel is over budget. Just know that, in fairness, American (yes Canadians I am including you too) smokers want a place to feel comfortable and at home too, and the Otorongo Apartment Hotel is that place.

Hotel Apartamentos Otorongo – Cuenca, Ecuador

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Hotel Apartamentos Otorongo is a great place to stay

  • for families,
  • travelers who like living locally vs in a hotel
  • people considering a longer term stay in Cuenca
  • Wiser (that is older) travelers

We are staying in a 1 bedroom for a week at a cost of $290.  Now for those of you gasping in delight at the low rate….remember this is Ecuador. This is more than the majority of Cuencanos pay for monthly rent! (Rents and living will be discussed in a separate post).  It is also more expensive than some of the great hostels in town which are $7-$10 a night (per person).

That said, this is the perfect location and accommodation for us.  I really prefer to cook my own food when I travel so I wanted a kitchen, the landscaping makes me feel like I actually live here, and the other residents are interesting.  We are within walking distance of everything, we are on a bus line and taxis are always nearby.

The staff is friendly and helpful.  Javier Montezuma, the site manager, is a fluent English speaker and he and his staff are available to answer questions and make suggestions.  To make a reservation, you will need to call or email and pay by Western Union or Paypal.