Cost of Living in El Salvador in 2024. How expensive is it to live in El Salvador?

By Eddie Galdamez  | Updated on Jan 3rd, 2024
Cost of living in El SalvadorCity of San Salvador.

The cost of living in El Salvador for a family of four without rent ranges from $1,000 to $2000. However, these ranges can go as low as $400 or higher than $2000. Living location and individual needs significantly impact the total living cost per family.

El Salvador’s cost of living for a single person without rent ranges from $500 to $1,300. But, these ranges can go as low as $250 and higher than $1,300. The person’s lifestyle and residency location will influence the overall cost of living.

El Salvador has seen an increase in the cost of living in 2024, especially in food and transportation; this increase has affected the entire Central American region and not only El Salvador. Global inflation caused by the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine are two main contributing factors to the cost of living increase.

El Salvador cost of living
San Salvador.

Cost of Food in El Salvador

The cost of food in El Salvador varies depending on the location; food cost in the capital city or other larger cities is higher than in smaller towns. Also, food items cost less at a local market than at a supermarket. Here are a few samples of prices at a local market compared to a supermarket.

Salvadoran food prices in 2024
Item Local Market Supermarket
30 jumbo eggs $5.35 $6.45
Sugar White (5.5 lb) $2.25 $2.75
Red beans (1 lb) $1.05 $1.75
Corn Flower (5 lb) $3.00 $3.90

The above table only has a few items because the prices fluctuate regularly. But, the prices are about 10% to 30% cheaper in the local markets. If you want to view how much things cost today at the supermarket, visit the SuperSlectos or La Despensa de Don Juan website.

The following table will give you an idea of the cost of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a local market, fast food place, and a restaurant. These prices are at the low end; however, keep in mind that these costs can fluctuate depending on the location.

Average cost for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
local market Fast Food Restaurant
Typical Salvadoran Breakfast
with drink
$3.25 $5.75 $9.50
Lunch combo
with drink
$4.50 $7.50 $13.00
Dinner combo
with drink
$6.00 $8.00 $16.00

A single person in El Salvador can live comfortably on $200 a month of food; of course, some people might go lower or higher than the $200. It all depends on the individual’s wants, needs, and budget.

Transportation Cost in El Salvador

The best mode of transportation in El Salvador is driving, but it is not cheap. You can buy a used car in good working condition for about $7,000. New car prices will vary depending on the car brand, model type, and amenities.

Car insurance costs will also vary depending on the type of car and coverage you want. I highly recommend having full coverage that protects you if someone hits you and is uninsured. In El Salvador, car insurance is optional; therefore, many Salvadoran drivers do not carry car insurance.

El Salvador Traffic
Traffic in El Salvador. Photo by @ObrasPublicasSV

Taking a taxi is an option in bigger cities, but the cost will depend on the trip. An average taxi trip of 5 to 10 miles will cost you about $10 to $20.

Public buses are the cheapest, the cost is about $0.25 to $1.00 per trip, of course, this depends on the distance. Taking a bus from San Salvador to Ahuachapan or La Libertad can cost up to $3.00.

Housing Cost in El Salvador

El Salvador’s exact housing cost is difficult to estimate. Like any other country, the location and type of property play a significant role in the expense of renting or buying.

The following information is for anyone looking to move to El Salvador. I will only list the costs of areas popular with foreigners. I will divide them into three groups, large or popular cities, medium cities, and small towns.

Cost of Renting and Buying Real Estate
***Popular cities
San Salvador
Santa Tecla
Antiguo Cuscatlan
Buying $175,000
Renting $300
Buying $900,000 +
Renting $1,500 +
***Medium cities
Santa Ana
San Miguel
La Libertad
Buying $75,000
Renting $200
Buying $450,000 +
Renting $500 +
***Smaller towns
Buying $35,000
Renting $150
Buying $150,000 +
Renting $350 +
**Disclosure: These prices are the average. There are properties for sale that cost way less, and some that cost way more.

Buying Real Estate in El Salvador

Purchasing real estate in El Salvador is the same as buying in other countries; it is all about the location. The more desirable the area or neighborhood is, the more it will cost.

Buying Real Estate in Popular Cities

San Salvador, Santa Tecla, and Antiguo Cuscatlan are some of the best places to live in El Salvador. However, they are some of the most expensive areas in the country.

These cities are ideal for urban living; they have excellent shopping malls, restaurants, nightlife, attractions, and hotels. Also, they are a short distance from the international airport and a short distance from some of the best beaches in El Salvador.

Purchasing real estate in any of these three cities is expensive. On the low end, you could probably buy a smaller house or condominium for about $150,000. On the other hand, a single-family property can cost you more than $900,000.

Buying Real Estate in Mid-size Cities

In cities like Santa Ana, Ahuachapan, San Miguel, or La Libertad, buying real estate is less expensive. A centrally located house in a safe neighborhood can cost you from $75,000 to over $450,000.

Purchasing Real Estate in Small Towns

El Salvador is full of colorful small towns such as Suchitoto, Juayua, Apaneca, and Sensuntepeque. Buying real estate in these towns can cost you from $35,000 to over $150,00.

Renting in El Salvador

Renting a property in El Salvador is similar to buying; it’s all about location. The more desirable the area is, the more it will cost to lease.

Renting in Popular Cities

San Salvador, Santa Tecla, and Antiguo Cuscatlan are some of the most desirable places to live in the country. Rentals can go from $300 to over $1,500 per month.

Renting in Mid-size Cities

I consider Santa Ana, San Miguel, Ahuachapan, and La Libertad mid-size cities. Even though Santa Ana and San Miguel are the second and third-largest cities in the country. Rentals in these cities go from $200 to over $500.

Renting in Small Towns

Rentals in small towns such as Suchitoto, Juayua, Apaneca, or Sensuntepeque can cost you on the low end about $150 and the higher end about $350, or even more.

Suchitoto El Salvador
Suchitoto El Salvador. Photo by @wsalamanca

Cost of Utilities in El Salvador

Electricity is the most expensive utility in El Salvador; the cost will range from $75 to over $200 per month. Other monthly utility costs are $30 for cooking gas, $35 for water, and $30 to $75 for internet and cable.

Keep in mind that the cost of utilities will fluctuate depending on the location you live in and the amount you use. Municipalities add extra taxes to some utilities to pay for local projects.

Cost of Entertainment in El Salvador

The cost of entertainment will vary depending on location and type of establishment.

  • Dining out at a fancy restaurant for two $45.00
  • local small restaurant for two $22
  • Movie tickets for two $13.50
  • Domestic 12oz beer at a local bar $1.00
  • Imported 12 oz beer at a local bar $2.00
  • Cocktail drink in San Salvador upscale area $6.00

These prices can vary depending on the establishment and the location.

Healthcare Cost in El Salvador

Healthcare cost varies depending on the person and the type of insurance it has. El Salvador is a developing country; some doctors or clinics will not take insurance.

Just so you can get an idea, a doctor’s visit will cost between $5.00 to $50.00, depending on the location and type of doctor.

Here are some over-the-counter medication costs: Tylenol 500 ml extra strength 24 caplets $3.50 and cold medicine (Viro-Grip), 12 gel cap pills are about $2.75. These prices are as of today’s date.

Clothing Costs in El Salvador

Clothing is a cost that will vary depending on how the individual thinks about clothes; this cost will depend on individual needs and wants. For example, a typical dress shirt can cost you $10 at a local store and $100 or more at upscale retail stores. The item at the retail store will be of higher quality.

Cost of Living in El Salvador

The cost of living in El Salvador is ideal for anyone looking to live in Central America; it’s not the lowest in the region but is not the highest either.

Many wonder how Salvadorans can survive when the cost of living is higher than the minimum wage. Well, Salvadorans are resourceful by necessity.

For example, some of them live at home until they can afford to buy a property, while others live with roommates to lower the cost of the rent.

The cost of living in El Salvador is not the cheapest nor the most expensive in Central America. So, if you are on a budget and plan to live in El Salvador, there are various ways that you can lower expenses.

Lastly, keep in mind that the prices or costs in this article can vary depending on the location and type of establishment. Anyways, use them as a guideline to get an idea of the cost of living in El Salvador.