There are many expenses we've had to incur due to the fact our current apartment #5 was unfurnished - and I mean unfurnished. We had no closets in any of the bedrooms, no cabinets or storage in the kitchen (a typical Ecuadorian-style kitchen), and no storage in the teeny-tiny bathroom. The wrap-around windows had no curtain rods or curtains, and there was absolutely NO FURNITURE in this little flat. We came to Cuenca with 4 suitcases and 4 carry-ons, so moving into this #5 apartment was another easy "roll the suitcases down the streets of El Centro."
Our greatest expense since moving here in April has been on furnishings and home decor, but that expense had finally decreased to almost nothing as of last week. Our place is now up to our standard of comfort, and we are enjoying the blessings of what we turned this unfurnished boring "white" apartment into. If you don't have a vision, which I did, then you will never be able to take a $280 a month diamond in the rough and transform it frugally and with passion and expectation. You will end up paying an exorbitant monthly rate just to have someone elses furnishings and decor. Of course, you'll have to know that you plan on being here awhile, or doing the "furnish" thing will be a waste of money and time. Personally, we're glad we did now that we look at the after and remember the before.
Okay, enough of my pontificating. You wanted an update of our yearly budget, so I will give you a monthly average and you can extrapolate that to one year.
Longoods' Monthly Budget for Two:Produce: $52 - We buy fresh delicious produce daily at the 10 de Augusto Mercado.
Meat:$ 73 - We LOVE meat, and we try to eat Paleo, mostly.
Groceries: $78 - This includes all staples for cooking our meals.
TOTAL MONTHLY FOOD EXPENSE: $203 - We used to spend well over $700 a month for our monthly groceries in Oregon)
Household: $30 - paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc - I've become a true minimalist here, so I don't keep a lot of extra products on hand. When I run out, I walk out my door and everything I need is within a block or two.
Rent: $280 - Oh, how we love our low monthly rental cost. We've been told we are paying too much by Ecuadorians, but we are thankful for this apartment, its location, and for us the rate works perfectly.
Electric: $10 - This is an average. Sometimes it's $1 less, sometimes $1 to $2 more.
Propane: $3 - We have two tanks, so we never run out. Each tank is $2.50 plus a 50 cent tip for the one who hauls it up our 4 flights of stairs.
Internet: $28 - Yes, it's High-Speed and works fabulously.
Phone: $50 - This includes internet for our iPhones - Claro is our provider choice and works fabulously.
Dining/Entertainment: $250 - We find ourselves eating out more and we also include any travel in this category.
Medical: $100 - Though we don't spend anywhere near this amount monthly, we allow for it since we are self-insured and do not plan to get insurance for now.
Transportation: $50 - We don't spend anywhere near this amount since we rarely take a cab, mostly walk or ride the city buses. Yet, we plan to travel more out of area and allow extra for long-distance buses or van costs.
Miscellaneous - gifts, ministry giving, laundry, wine, home decor, clothes, etc.:
$ 240 - another flexible amount we set aside monthly for those extra expenses that come up regularly.
TOTAL MONTHLY EXPENSES: $1,244Again, we no longer have major furniture/remodel expenses.
We no longer have professional/Visa fees (Thank God).
This may seem like a very very frugal budget, but neither of us is lacking anything here, and all our needs are being met. We aren't counting our pennies or consciously trying not to spend when it comes to our daily necessities. I am not going to list our furniture/decor expenses, because that will vary from person to person according to one's personal budget and desires. Our furnishing/decor choices were done frugally because we still don't know what our long-term plan will be, and also because we don't need the luxuries others must have. I would suggest to anyone coming with only their suitcases and who plan to furnish an apartment or home frugally but comfortably to allow $4,000 to $8,000 for everything you might need (and even want). This all depends on the person's personal style and wallet. Some may spend more, way more - some may spend less. This is just a realistic range to give you an idea of what to expect.
Last week, I hit the jackpot when I went to a garage sale three days before the posted "sale" date. I was the first one there, and I scored big time! The movers had classy quality STUFF, and I was able to find everything I didn't have, and more. The deals I got would be considered unheard of in Cuenca, because most people don't give away their STUFF here. Plus, I don't like being in the midst of frantic grabbers. It has that "Black Friday" style of shopping which I have never experienced, nor will I ever. I have been to only one garage sale here which was in El Centro, and I HATED IT! All the grabbys were there GRABBING! This recent sale was so cool. I took my time looking around and touching things, enjoyed talking to the sellers, and made offers that received a "Yes" without the greed. They wanted to sell, I wanted to buy - so it was a win-win situation for both parties. It was a good time and a good memory for me.
Now, it's time to cool it - the spending, I mean. I'm having fun doing some at-home projects, enjoying that comfort-of-home feeling again, and I'm ready to kick back and STOP! I'm thankful for a husband who feeds my passion, never says, "You don't NEED that...." and trusts my frugal spending, my creative taste, and my artistic decorating gift. He's a one-of-a-kind guy, and he's all mine. Besides, we have the exact same taste and style, so it makes my choices a piece of cake!
I hope this helps those who asked for our "one year later" Cuenca budget, those who stumble on this post, and those who have no idea what it costs to live in this amazing and affordable city. Prices have been going up, so they say - but we still find it to be the best cost-of-living place for us personally. I compared our current budget to the one I posted back in February, and we are spending a bit less since we changed from a "furnished" apartment budget to our current "unfurnished" apartment budget. So, that makes me smile. Though we have spend a few grand on furnishings and decor, we are finished with that expense, will continue to pay our low monthly rent, and we can sell our STUFF should we decide to move on from Cuenca because its OUR STUFF!!! Plus, I'M HAPPY! Like Bo always says, "HAPPY WIFE, HAPPY LIFE." He's one smart esposo.
Not only is Cuenca the best cost-of-living place for us today, but we LOVE our Spring-like weather here. Recently, it got down to -9 degrees in Eugene-Springfield, Oregon. Our renters sent us pictures of our Oregon home in their recent Winter Wonderland snow fall.
Our Renters' PROOF that it is -9 Degrees at our home in Eugene-Springfield. CRAZY!!!
A peak at our house through the snow-covered Filbert Orchard.
The only time the skies are clear and blue is when it snows. Other than that, it is raining for 8 months, pretty much continually. A side view of our beautiful Oregon home.
Yes, it's a beautiful site to behold - but I'd rather be in spring-like weather year round. Sometimes I miss my unique and classy home, but I'm truly enjoying our frugal affordable minimalist lifestyle here in Cuenca one year later!