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What Do Things Cost In El Salvador?


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Caro Rector



Central and South America are home to a rich and diverse range of countries, each with its unique culture, history, and natural beauty. In this article, we will focus on Central America, specifically El Salvador, and explore the cost of living in this fascinating country.


El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America, is known for its stunning landscapes, including beautiful beaches, volcanoes, and lush forests. The country offers a blend of traditional and modern life, with ancient Mayan ruins juxtaposed against bustling cities.


When it comes to the cost of living, El Salvador provides affordable options for both locals and expats. Whether you’re considering a visit or planning to relocate, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the expenses you may encounter.


In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into various aspects of the cost of living in El Salvador, such as housing, transportation, food and groceries, restaurants, entertainment, utilities, clothing, healthcare, and education. By providing a comprehensive breakdown of these expenses, we aim to equip you with valuable insights to make informed decisions.


It’s important to keep in mind that the cost of living can vary depending on factors such as location, lifestyle choices, and personal preferences. However, this guide will give you a general idea of the average costs you can expect, allowing you to plan and budget accordingly.


Now, let’s dive into the details and explore the fascinating world of living expenses in El Salvador, giving you a glimpse of what it’s like to reside in this Central American gem.



When it comes to housing in El Salvador, there is a wide range of options available to accommodate different budgets and preferences. Whether you prefer living in the hustle and bustle of the city or the tranquility of the countryside, El Salvador offers something for everyone.


In major cities like San Salvador, you can find a variety of housing options, including apartments, condominiums, and houses for rent. The rental prices can vary depending on factors such as location, size, and amenities. On average, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost around $400 to $600 per month, while a similar apartment outside the city center may range from $300 to $500 per month. If you’re looking for a larger place, a three-bedroom apartment in the city center may cost around $800 to $1,200 per month.


If you prefer to buy a property in El Salvador, the prices can also vary depending on the location and property type. In popular areas such as Santa Tecla or Antiguo Cuscatlán, the average price per square meter for an apartment can range from $1,000 to $1,500. On the other hand, if you’re looking to buy a house, prices can start from $80,000 for a modest-sized property and go up to several hundred thousand dollars for larger and more luxurious homes.


For those who prefer a more rural lifestyle, there are also options available in smaller towns and villages. Renting a house in these areas can be more affordable, with prices ranging from $200 to $500 per month for a basic two or three-bedroom house.


It’s important to note that utilities, such as water, electricity, and internet, are additional expenses to consider when budgeting for housing. On average, the monthly utility costs can amount to around $100 to $150, depending on usage and location.


Overall, the housing costs in El Salvador offer a range of options to suit different budgets. Whether you’re looking to rent a modern apartment in the city or embrace a more laid-back lifestyle in the countryside, there are plenty of choices available to make your dream home a reality in El Salvador.



When it comes to transportation in El Salvador, there are various options available to navigate the country. Whether you prefer public transportation or owning your own vehicle, it’s important to consider the costs and conveniences associated with each mode of transportation.


Public transportation in El Salvador is relatively affordable and widely accessible. The most common form of public transportation is the bus system, which operates in major cities and connects different regions throughout the country. The cost of a bus ticket typically ranges from $0.25 to $0.50 for short distances, making it an economical choice for daily commuting or exploring the country.


For those who prefer more flexibility and convenience, taxi services are widely available in El Salvador. Taxis typically charge by the meter, with prices starting at around $2 for short trips within the city. It’s important to note that prices may vary depending on factors such as distance and time of day. Ride-sharing services like Uber are also available in major cities, providing additional options for getting around.


If you prefer to have your own vehicle, purchasing a car in El Salvador can be affordable compared to other countries. Second-hand cars are commonly available, and prices can range from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the model and condition of the vehicle. It’s important to factor in additional costs such as insurance, fuel, and maintenance when budgeting for car ownership.


Another popular mode of transportation in El Salvador is motorcycles. Motorcycles are commonly used for daily commuting due to their affordability and maneuverability in congested city streets. Prices for motorcycles can range from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the brand and type of motorcycle.


It’s important to consider the cost of fuel when budgeting for transportation in El Salvador. As of the time of writing, the average price of gasoline is around $3.00 per gallon. However, prices may fluctuate due to global fuel market trends.


Overall, transportation costs in El Salvador can vary depending on your preferred mode of travel. Whether you opt for public transportation, taxis, or owning your own vehicle, there are affordable options available to navigate the country and explore all that El Salvador has to offer.


Food and Groceries

El Salvador is renowned for its delicious cuisine, rich in flavor and influenced by indigenous and Spanish traditions. When it comes to food and groceries, you’ll find a variety of options to satisfy your taste buds, whether you choose to dine out or cook at home.


If you prefer dining out, El Salvador offers a range of affordable eateries, from street food stalls to casual restaurants and upscale dining establishments. A typical meal at a local eatery can range from $3 to $8, depending on the location and type of cuisine. For a mid-range restaurant, expect to pay around $10 to $20 per person for a three-course meal.


Grocery shopping in El Salvador can be cost-effective, especially if you cook at home. Supermarkets and local markets offer a wide selection of fresh produce, meats, dairy products, and pantry staples. The cost of groceries can vary depending on your shopping habits and preferences. On average, a weekly grocery bill for a couple can range from $30 to $70, although this can increase or decrease depending on the size of your household and dietary choices.


Some popular local ingredients to include in your shopping list are corn tortillas, beans, rice, poultry, seafood, and tropical fruits. These ingredients are not only essential to traditional Salvadoran dishes but also affordable and readily available throughout the country.


When dining out or grocery shopping, it’s important to note that prices may vary depending on the location. Major cities may have slightly higher prices compared to smaller towns or rural areas.


If you’re looking to experience the authentic flavors of El Salvador, consider trying local street food, such as pupusas, which are thick corn tortillas filled with cheese, beans, and meat. Other popular dishes include yuca fritters, ceviche, and tamales. These mouthwatering treats can be found at local street vendors and market stalls for a fraction of the cost compared to dining in restaurants.


Overall, food and grocery expenses in El Salvador cater to a wide range of budgets. Whether you choose to dine out or cook at home, you’ll find affordable options that will satisfy your appetite and introduce you to the vibrant culinary traditions of this beautiful country.



When it comes to dining out in El Salvador, you’ll find a vibrant restaurant scene that reflects the country’s rich culinary heritage. From traditional Salvadoran dishes to international cuisines, there is something to please every palate and budget.


In major cities like San Salvador and Santa Ana, you’ll find a wide selection of restaurants ranging from casual eateries to fine dining establishments. Prices can vary depending on the type of cuisine and ambiance of the restaurant. A meal at a mid-range restaurant will typically cost around $10 to $20 per person, including a main course, beverage, and dessert. If you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience, expect to spend $30 or more per person.


Salvadoran cuisine is renowned for its bold flavors and unique combinations of ingredients. One of the must-try dishes is the famous pupusas, a thick corn tortilla filled with cheese, beans, and/or meat. Pupuserias, which specialize in these delectable treats, can be found throughout the country and offer an affordable and satisfying dining experience. A typical pupusa costs around $0.50 to $1, making it a budget-friendly option for a quick meal.


For those craving international flavors, El Salvador also offers a wide range of restaurants serving cuisines from around the world. You can find Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, and American establishments, among others. Prices for these international cuisines can vary, but a meal at a mid-range restaurant will typically cost between $10 and $25 per person.


When dining out, it’s important to consider additional costs such as beverages and service charges. While tap water is not recommended for drinking in El Salvador, you can enjoy local soft drinks like Kolashampan and Atol de Elote or try traditional beverages like Horchata and Maracuyá juice.


It’s worth mentioning that El Salvador also has a growing coffee culture, offering a wide variety of coffee shops and cafes where you can indulge in delicious cups of locally grown and roasted coffee. Prices for a cup of coffee can range from $1 to $5, depending on the establishment and type of coffee.


Overall, dining out in El Salvador caters to a range of tastes and budgets. Whether you’re looking to savor traditional Salvadoran dishes or explore international flavors, you’ll find a diverse array of restaurants to choose from, making every meal an exciting and enjoyable experience.



El Salvador offers a wide range of entertainment options to keep you engaged and entertained during your stay. From cultural activities to outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful Central American country.


If you’re a nature enthusiast, El Salvador boasts breathtaking landscapes and outdoor activities. You can explore national parks such as Cerro Verde, Los Volcanes, or El Imposible, where you can hike, spot wildlife, and enjoy stunning views of volcanoes and lush forests. The cost of visiting these parks is generally affordable, with entrance fees ranging from $3 to $10 per person.


For beach lovers, El Salvador offers pristine coastline along the Pacific Ocean. You can relax on sandy beaches, go surfing or snorkeling, or simply enjoy the sun and warm waters. Some popular beach destinations include El Tunco, El Zonte, and La Libertad.


When it comes to cultural activities, El Salvador has a rich heritage to explore. You can visit ancient Mayan ruins such as Joya de Cerén or San Andrés, which provide a glimpse into the country’s pre-Columbian past. Museums like the Museo de Arte de El Salvador or the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen offer insights into the country’s art, history, and culture. The entrance fees for these cultural attractions are generally affordable, ranging from $2 to $5 per person.


El Salvador also hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, showcasing the vibrancy of the local culture. Festivals like La Fiesta de San Salvador, Panchimalco Festival, and El Salvador del Mundo offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in traditional music, dance, and cuisine.


When it comes to entertainment in urban areas, cities like San Salvador offer a variety of options. You can find cinemas showing the latest international and local films, theaters hosting live performances, and shopping malls with a range of stores and entertainment facilities. Ticket prices for movies typically range from $5 to $10, while theater performances can cost between $10 and $50, depending on the production and venue.


If you enjoy nightlife, El Salvador offers a lively scene with bars, clubs, and live music venues, particularly in popular areas such as Zona Rosa and Paseo El Carmen. The cost of drinks and cover charges can vary depending on the location and venue, but you can expect to spend anywhere from $5 to $20 for a night out.


Overall, entertainment options in El Salvador cater to various interests and budgets. Whether you’re exploring the natural wonders, immersing yourself in the local culture, or enjoying the vibrant urban scene, you’re sure to find plenty of activities to keep you entertained and make your time in El Salvador memorable.



When it comes to utilities in El Salvador, there are essential services that you will need to consider as part of your living expenses. These include electricity, water, internet, and mobile phone services.


Electricity costs in El Salvador can vary depending on the region and usage. On average, monthly electricity bills for a small apartment can range from $30 to $50. This cost may increase for larger homes or if you use air conditioning frequently. It’s important to note that electricity rates may fluctuate, so it’s advisable to budget accordingly.


Water is another important utility to consider. In El Salvador, water is typically provided by municipal authorities, and the cost varies based on the size of your household and water consumption. On average, a monthly water bill for a small apartment can range from $10 to $20.


Internet services are widely available in El Salvador, and the cost depends on the speed and data package you choose. On average, monthly internet expenses can range from $30 to $50. Providers offer different plans to suit various needs, including fiber-optic connections for faster speeds.


Mobile phone services are essential for communication. Prepaid plans are widely used in El Salvador, allowing you to recharge your phone with credits as needed. The cost of mobile plans can vary depending on the provider and the services included. On average, a monthly mobile plan can range from $10 to $30, depending on data limits and call/text allowances.


It’s worth noting that some housing options, particularly in urban areas or apartment complexes, may include utilities such as water and sometimes even electricity in the rental fee. However, it’s important to clarify these details before signing a rental agreement.


Overall, utilities in El Salvador are essential for comfortable living. It’s important to budget for these expenses and consider any additional costs associated with your specific needs, such as additional data or international calls for internet and mobile services. By factoring in these utility costs, you can plan and manage your overall living expenses effectively in El Salvador.



Clothing in El Salvador is varied and reflects the country’s cultural diversity and climate. When it comes to purchasing clothes, you’ll find a wide range of options from local markets to malls and boutiques.


In El Salvador, the climate is generally warm and tropical, so lightweight and breathable clothing is recommended. T-shirts, shorts, skirts, and dresses are commonly worn throughout the year. It’s also advisable to have a few lightweight sweaters or jackets for cooler evenings or if you plan to visit higher-altitude areas.


When it comes to shopping for clothes, El Salvador offers a mix of local and international brands. In major cities like San Salvador, you’ll find shopping malls with a variety of stores offering clothing for all ages and preferences. These malls often feature well-known international brands as well as local designers.


If you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, local markets and street vendors are great places to find affordable clothes. You can explore markets like Mercado Central in San Salvador or local markets in smaller towns, where you’ll find a wide variety of clothing items at lower prices. Bartering is common in these markets, so don’t hesitate to negotiate for a better price.


When it comes to pricing, the cost of clothing in El Salvador can vary depending on the brand, quality, and location. Prices in malls and boutiques may be higher compared to markets and street vendors. On average, a basic t-shirt can cost around $10, while a pair of jeans can cost between $30 and $50. However, it’s important to note that these are just approximate prices, and there can be variations.


If you’re interested in embracing traditional Salvadoran clothing, you can find colorful and intricately designed garments such as the traditional dress called the “huipil”. These traditional outfits are typically worn during festivals and cultural events and can be found in specialized stores or artisan markets.


It’s also worth noting that there are regular sales and promotions throughout the year, especially during holidays and special events. These sales can provide opportunities to find clothing items at discounted prices, so it’s beneficial to keep an eye out for these deals.


Overall, the cost of clothing in El Salvador can be affordable, especially if you explore local markets and take advantage of sales and promotions. With a mix of international and local brands, you’ll find a variety of clothing options to suit your style and budget in this vibrant Central American country.



Healthcare in El Salvador is a vital aspect to consider when living or visiting the country. The healthcare system in El Salvador comprises a combination of public and private healthcare providers, offering a range of medical services to residents and tourists.


The public healthcare system in El Salvador is managed by the Ministry of Health and provides free or low-cost healthcare services to eligible individuals. While the system aims to provide accessible healthcare to all, the quality and availability of services can vary, especially in rural areas. It’s important to note that public hospitals and clinics may experience long waiting times and limited resources.


Private healthcare facilities in El Salvador offer higher quality services and shorter waiting times, making them a popular choice for those who can afford it. Private hospitals and clinics are equipped with modern technology and highly qualified medical professionals. Many private facilities in major cities provide services in English to cater to expats and tourists.


Health insurance is strongly recommended when living or staying in El Salvador. Expats and tourists can obtain private health insurance, which provides coverage for medical services and treatments. The cost of health insurance can vary depending on factors such as age, coverage limits, and pre-existing conditions. It’s advisable to research different insurance providers and compare their coverage and prices before selecting a plan.


The cost of medical treatments and consultations in El Salvador can vary depending on the healthcare provider and the services required. Consultation fees with a primary care physician typically range from $30 to $50, while specialist consultations can range from $50 to $100 or more.


Pharmacies are easily accessible in El Salvador, and over-the-counter medications can be purchased at affordable prices. However, it’s important to note that certain prescription medications may require a doctor’s prescription.


In the case of emergencies, El Salvador has a well-developed emergency response system. You can dial 911 for immediate assistance. It’s important to note that emergency services provided by private hospitals may require upfront payment or proof of insurance coverage.


It’s advisable to research and familiarize yourself with the available healthcare options and facilities in the area where you reside or plan to visit. Understanding the healthcare system and having appropriate insurance coverage can provide peace of mind and ensure access to quality medical services when needed in El Salvador.



Education is highly valued in El Salvador, and the country has made significant efforts to improve access to quality education for its residents. The education system in El Salvador is divided into three levels: primary education, secondary education, and higher education.


Primary education in El Salvador is compulsory for children aged 6 to 13. Public schools provide free education, but there are also private schools available for those who prefer an alternative. Public schools are funded by the government and follow the national curriculum, while private schools may offer different curriculum options, including international programs. The quality of education can vary, with some private schools known for their higher standard of teaching and resources. It’s important to note that private schools typically charge tuition fees.


Secondary education in El Salvador is not compulsory but highly encouraged. It usually consists of a three-year cycle and is divided into two levels: basic education and diversified education. Basic education focuses on core subjects, while diversified education offers specialized tracks such as technical, academic, or vocational programs. Public and private schools offer secondary education, with private schools often providing a wider range of subjects and extracurricular activities. Tuition fees may apply for private secondary schools.


Higher education in El Salvador is provided by universities and vocational institutions. There are both public and private universities offering a variety of programs in different fields of study. Public universities generally have lower tuition fees compared to private universities. Some of the recognized public universities in El Salvador include the Universidad de El Salvador and the Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador. Private universities, such as the Universidad José Simeón Cañas and the Universidad Dr. José Matías Delgado, offer a broader range of programs and may have higher tuition fees.


It’s worth noting that the cost of education can vary depending on the level of schooling and the institution chosen. Public education up to secondary level is free, but there may be costs for uniforms, books, and other supplies. Private schools and higher education institutions charge tuition fees, which can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per year, depending on the institution and program.


Overall, El Salvador provides a range of educational opportunities for residents, from public schools that offer free education to private schools and universities that provide specialized programs. The country has made significant investments in improving its education system, ensuring that students have access to quality education and a brighter future.



Living or visiting El Salvador offers a unique and enriching experience in the heart of Central America. With its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and affordable cost of living, El Salvador has much to offer for both residents and travelers.


In terms of housing, El Salvador provides a range of options to suit different budgets and preferences. Whether you prefer a modern apartment in the city or a cozy home in the countryside, there are affordable choices available.


Transportation in El Salvador is relatively affordable, with options such as public buses, taxis, and owning your own vehicle. Public transportation is widely accessible, making it convenient to navigate within the country.


When it comes to food and groceries, El Salvador offers a delectable culinary experience. From traditional Salvadoran dishes to international cuisines, there’s something to satisfy every palate, and the cost of dining out or grocery shopping is generally affordable.


Entertainment in El Salvador is diverse, with ample opportunities to explore natural wonders, immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, and enjoy various recreational activities.


When it comes to utilities, it’s important to budget for expenses such as electricity, water, internet, and mobile phone services, as they are essential for comfortable living.


Clothing options in El Salvador cater to different tastes and budgets, from local markets offering affordable options to malls and boutiques with international and local brands.


Healthcare in El Salvador includes a combination of public and private providers. It’s important to have health insurance and be familiar with the available healthcare facilities and services.


Education in El Salvador is valued, with free public education available up to secondary level. Private schools and universities offer alternative options, though they may require tuition fees. The country’s commitment to education ensures access to quality learning opportunities.


In conclusion, El Salvador presents an attractive destination with its affordable cost of living, diverse culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re considering relocating or planning a visit, being informed about the various aspects of life in El Salvador will help you make the most of your experience in this captivating Central American country.