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Cuenca Ecuador — How The American Dream Moved South

Cuenca Ecuador

“Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” — Adam Truslow, coiner of “The American Dream”

So what does Cuenca, Ecuador have to do with The American Dream?

Short Answer: everything really associated with quality of life is more abundantly available in the very best cities of Latin America — with Cuenca, Ecuador a crown jewel among them — than in metro and suburban USA.

Bonus: Learn how Cuenca compares to other places in the tropics. Click here to get access to the free report.

Cuenca, Latin America & The “Joy of Life Ratio”

Basically, it comes down to the Joy of Life Ratio.

You figure out the ratio by determining how many minutes out of every waking-hour in a typical day are spent:

  • Doing what you love (or at least deeply enjoy) — amid beautiful and pleasant surroundings — in frustration-free and friendly environments — enhanced by beautiful weather

Versus how many minutes are spent

  • Doing stuff you hate (or don’t want to do) — amidst clangorous, urban ugliness and/or soul-sucking suburban blandness — in an over-busy and time-crunched and grouchy atmosphere — made worse by inclimate weather

cuenca ecuador colonial townSure, the US has plenty of opportunity to pursue your passion, more than its share of beautiful cityscapes, and no small amount of lovely weather… But — and this is a giant BUT — the communities with the best mix of those things are now priced out of reach for for most Americans.

And even staying afloat in a simply “nice” city can start to take up all of your time and energy in order to pay the bills and have enough left over for a few evenings out, leaving many Americans to wonder if there isn’t a better option out there somewhere.

Many of them are now finding that better option in the best cities of Latin America, with Cuenca, Ecuador chief among them. That’s where they find much higher Joy of Life Ratios at prices the average American can thrive in.

Of course, which Latin American city and country offers YOU the best Joy of Life Ratio depends on:

  • what your passions are (if your passions are sailing, surfing and scuba diving, Cuenca won’t be for you),
  • what you, particularly, find the most beautiful and pleasant, and
  • what your priorities are, in terms of amenities, city life vs. country life, and so on.

Cuenca Ecuador is the city of choice for those people who’d dream of living smack in the middle of Paris, Barcelona, or Sienna (or even Manhattan or San Francisco, for that matter) within walking distance of historical, beautiful architecture, culture, and food — at a price that’s affordable for someone needing more living space than a studio apartment.

In fact when Ecuadorians live overseas, whether in the US or Europe, they typically return to Cuenca, Ecaudor and purchase real estate. Regardless of where they grew up in Ecuador, when they come back, they tend to settle in the city of Cuenca. And this is for a mix of reasons, which I’ll call…

The Big Three Pros of Cuenca, Ecuador:

1. Cuenca’s Old World Character and Ideal Climate

When more and more American cities and suburbs look like they were designed at corporate, Cuenca looks like something out of Europe with its gorgeous architecture, historic buildings, scenic public squares and parks, and tons of authentic character.

Just look at these pictures!

And for nature lovers, Cuenca sits at the cross-roads, so to speak of four major rivers and is surrounded by mountains, as it lies on the Ande’s mountain range. Most state parks are less beautiful than the cities average walking trail.

And outdoor beauty is important because the weather will make you want to be outside — with year round temperatures averaging in the mid-70s Fahrenheit, getting just cool enough in the evenings for a light sweater or jacket.

And all this in a city of only 500,000 people — about 100,000 people smaller than Portland, Oregon.

See a nice drone video of Cuenca despite the hilarious music.

2. Cuenca As a Welcoming, American-Friendly, Metropolitan City

As mentioned earlier, many Ecuadorians who have spent some time working, studying or living in the US, settle back in Cuenca when they come back to Ecuador.

That means the people in Cuenca like and are welcoming of Americans and happy to help make them part of the community. Many are fluent in English and the city has plenty of English-language bookstores, store owners, and people willing to accommodate non-Spanish speaking travelers and expats.

Overall Cuenca has a very metropolitan feel, alive with talents, dollars, and taste for life that these well-traveled and well-educated Ecuadorians and expats bring to it. Think of Cuenca as a combination of:

Cuenca Ecuador Bridge

  • Hip arts community — free symphonies, a mecca for painters and sculptors, and artisans
  • College town — no less than 8 universities, and
  • Tom-Sawyer-esque hometown — very family oriented with excellent schools, community involvement, safe environment.

Now think of all that rolled into a place that’s very reasonable and affordable to live.

For around $150,000 to $200,000 USD you can get a home within an easy walk of the  city’s historic district, or Centro and be able to enjoy the city in a way that’s simply impossible with a US City when you’re forced into a suburb some 30 to 60 minutes away from the hart of downtown.  Think of it like living near downtown Austin, or the Garden District of New Orleans, or near the Santa Monica pier — except at a price you can effort and without most of the hassles that come with living in a major metropolitan area.

Simply put, life is simpler and more enjoyable when you can walk everywhere you need to go and the walk is as beautiful and pleasant as one enjoys when strolling through historic Cuenca.

Click to learn more about real estate, cost of living, healthcare, & residency in Cuenca

Along with the beauty and cultural offerings comes all the other amenities you’d expect to find in any first rate city: an active night life, first-rate restaurants, shopping malls (if you want them), luxury boutiques, readily available high-speed internet access, and ease of travel, with an airport offering easy travel.

3. Low Cost of Living Coupled w/ Excellent Schools, Food, and Health Care

Cuenca ChurchWe’ve already mentioned housing costs in Cuenca — they are affordably low, with luxury, furnished rentals running around $650 a month.

Factor in utilities, condo fees, cable, and everything else and you’re looking in the neighborhood of $900 a month — again for a furnished, luxury apartment in a desirable location.
And the same goes for most anything else — eating out at a first-rate restaurant for two runs about $30.  Buying groceries with plenty of grass-fed beaf, fresh seafood and veggies will run you about $250 a month — or about $60 a trip to the market.

And if you’d rather go to a supermarket than a farmers market — don’t ask me why you would but… as the Ecuador’s agricultural and tourism industries, Cuenca has plenty of supermarkets and malls.

Along with the lower cost of living comes the higher quality of life for families and retirees.  Not only does Cuenca have an abundance of Universities, including University courses in spanish for expats, but the local schools are excellent and the community places a very high value on education in general.

Many people who move to Cuenca retire there, but if you’re moving your family there, you can rest assured that your kids will receive a first-class education without worry of payment for private schools.

And this low-cost for premium living extends right through to inexpensive, high quality health care, available at 18 hospitals and medical centers in the city, many of which are home to a large number of English-speaking doctors — something extremely important to both retirees and families!

Cuenca, Ecuador’s Short List of Negatives

Cuenca Ecuador

So why might you decide NOT to move to Cuenca?

Well, the negatives are  tightly related to many of the positives.  In other words, many looking to move to Latin America like Cuenca because it’s both English language-friendly, already popular with and home to a growing community of expats, and has established industries around welcoming US expats into the community.

And all of that is great… unless you’d rather NOT join a crowd of expats, or would rather move to a city BEFORE it becomes “the next big thing,” or if you’ve already mastered Spanish and don’t care about English-language friendliness.

Also, if you’re idea of paradise includes beaches and water sports rather than mountain living, Cuenca, Ecuador isn’t your town. Ecuador has coastal towns, but Cuenca isn’t one of them.

Finally, if you’re primary consideration is how far your dollar will stretch, Cuenca may be less expensive than North America, but it’s certainly not the cheapest place to live in Latin America, and you can be sure that the steady stream of expats are only going to drive housing and rental prices up.

Comparing Cuenca, Ecuador to Your Other Latin American Options

Cuenca Ecuador Street

If you ARE looking for a more tropical or Caribbean flavor to your retirement location, take a closer look at coastal Panama and Belize.

If you like Cuenca, but want something a bit pre-trend, consider looking into Medellin, Columbia and Mendoza, Argentina.


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102 thoughts on “Cuenca Ecuador — How The American Dream Moved South

  1. Val C Spence

    I’ve been following the movement of retirees to Cuenca and i’m interested to learn what are the basic requirements for a resident visa.

  2. Mike Donohue

    On a first visit for a 63 yr old man, how long can he stay? Possible to cross boarder and come back in? Visa facts? Temporary one room apt. near El Centro costs how much?

    Once went to RPhilippines to find out my Cashier Checks could not be deposited or used in banks! Shocker! Now worried. Hope you can answer this. Thanks

    • 6

      Mike, thanks for asking! When visiting Ecuador, you are allowed 90 days within the country without fee or penalty. If you would like to stay longer the easiest solution is a tourist visa, which will allow you six months in Ecuador. It is best to do it the legal way to avoid any problems later at your departure or border crossings. Check out our article on Ecuador Facts for more information:

    • 7

      I had been there twice. Love it ! There are affordable nice small hotels in El Centro ( this is downtown ). Weekly basis possible starting from $ 150 and up. Most of the hotels include good ecuadorian breakfast ! . Affordable furnished apt.or studios for $ 350 and up. Plenty of options, right there on the spot !. Locals are very helpful . They’ll help you find a place. Good luck!

  3. Daniel Patrick

    Just got back from Cuenca yesterday. My brother owns 170 acres there and a 5000 sq. ft. house
    he had built in 2010 in the mountains about 40 minutes from the historic district.
    It overlooks the hillsides with waterfalls and steams, beyond beautiful.
    its worth mentioning the drive to Cuenca from the airport in Guayaquil is about 3+ hours up the
    mountains with elevations that reach 13,600 feet at the summit.
    Prepare for thin air !!!!…..And wild Llamas that come out. (We have deer, they have Llamas).
    Once there, you will be at an elevation of about 8200 feet. (My wife and had to get adjusted)
    All in all, you will find Cuenca one of the most beautiful places on earth.
    There is a Catholic church there in town (took over 100 years to build) that you MUST SEE.
    Enjoy !!!

    • 9

      Daniel – Thanks for your comments. We agree, Cuenca is an amazing place!

    • 10

      Daniel, loved reading that. You are SO right about having to get adjusted. I live at sea level in the USA, and while visiting a girlfriend who lived in Guayaquil, we decided to drive to Cuenca to visit her friend for a weekend. Wow!! We kept going up and up and up and up in the Andes. We got out at Tres Cruces to take a picture and I couldn’t make it up half the steps before I almost fainted. Had no idea were at almost 14,000 feet elevation. And then the entire weekend in Cuenca I was adjusting. But it is a BEAUTIFUL city and one that I plan on visiting again. This time I’ll fly to Cuenca instead of that drive from GQ haha.

  4. 11

    Hi I am a 32 year old indian female with two small girls ( 1 nd a half years and 6 years old ) . My maternal uncle stays in ecodour . I want to know that if I plan to take permanent residensy in ecodour , is education good for the kids over there ?

    • 12

      The schools here are great. My son is at least two grade levels ahead in math of where he was in the USA. Tuition runs anywhere from $75 – $300 a month depending on the school. They try to be bilingual but the English is very much behind where it should be.
      My only other comment is that the BEEF in Ecuador sucks. The article makes it sound good, but we are lucky to get Beef from Chile or Peru. Forget something as good as Argentina or the USA. Never will find it here. I pretty much only eat chicken and pork now.

  5. 16

    In my opinion your article is very accurate except for one thing….the weather. I have lived in Cuenca for 6 months and we have had 3 days when the sun was out all day and a scattered cloud. 99% of the time it has cloud cover. Not partly cloudy or mostly cloudy but completely cloudy. It can rain at any minute for 5 minutes or all day. And because of the cloud cover it is cooler than what you may read….and I am not an elderly citizen who is always cold. So if you like grey days with little sun, you will love what Cuenca has to offer.

  6. Prof. F. Westmark

    I am a college professor who recently moved to Cuenca to teach at the university. I have been here almost two months and I would like to tell everyone that an-expat needs to be careful about apartment rentals. I rented a nice one bedroom apartment in the center from a realtor.
    The apartment was a hell hole. In the forty five days I stayed in the apartment, ten days we had no water. The realtor told not to worry, they would reimburse me for the hotel room. Guess what? In the end, they said they never told me that. The manager wouldn’t return calls. It was terrible. Not only did I not have water, I had little beasties, bedbugs. Please be careful.

    • 20

      Prof. Westmark, thanks for your comment and advice to those choosing to check out Cuenca.

    • 21

      I wanted to know more about how I might get a higher education job teaching in Cuenca? I hold a Ph.D. but have taught the past 15 years at the community college level here in Colorado as a part-time faculty (adjunct). Full-time positions are pretty much non-existent and I have not been able to get a full-time position in any other state. I have searched the websites of higher education institutions in Ecuador (and Colombia, where my wife’s family lives) and never can find an HR link or employer link like you find here in the states. Thanks for your help!

      • 22

        Hi Douglas, Latin America works just a bit different than the US. And I suspect, based on your expertise, you could probably find work, but the first might be to either reach out via email to Universities in Cuenca, or when you make a trip, pass out those resumes. Word of mouth and references help also. Good luck!

  7. 23

    Great article. It’s one of the more honest ones I have seen with regard to current prices for rentals. International living exaggerates terribly. The other negatives I’d mention are bus fumes/pollution, crazy drivers not stopping for pedestrians, difficulty getting anything done, and well… There is a lot if arts and culture quantity wise but not necessarily quality.

    • 24

      I am an extensive international traveler and have lived overseas several times so I am naturally cautious in foreign countries, however Cuenca is the only place in the world that I have been given a ” crime warning” sheet by the local authorities upon entering the city. Even so, I had my purse (which was actually touching my body) stolen in an upscale bookstore similar to our bookstore chains in the US. This the only time I have been a victim in all my years of travel and one should be prepared for very high crime rates in South America!!!! Conversely, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, an item I inadvertantly dropped on the street (not my purse), was immediately returned by a pedestrian. I have never felt less “threatened” in a major city, which is why I have returned many times, and I would consider retiring there, but unfortunately their current laws prevent non-Thais from owning any property except condos.

      • 25

        We traveled to Africa, India .Europe, South America cruised the Caribbean’s, Once we were warned in Brazil when we arrived of thieves in specific area that were preying on the tourists. We have even in areas that , there was civil unrest, and in some war torn countries, I got lost in Los Angeles and ended up in the projects one very scary place ! I made it out a live Gods good graces
        I think safety is important when traveling. I carry safe ID Travelon that shields your information, I never ever carry a purse I put everything in passport carrier around my neck tucked under my top and cash in money belt. This keeps both of my hands free. I never wear flashy jewelry, except in the French Rivera, I generally wait to feel the vibe of the people, and the place of any country before I let my guard down.

  8. 26

    I appreciate reading your honest report about the weather, especially since we like the outdoors, and plan to arrive in Cuenca in about twelve days. I guess the little beasties/bedbugs are just travelling all over, but thanks so very much for the heads up. We will have to watch out in the apartment that we have arranged to rent. I really appreciate all of your honest comments

    • 27

      Seems it would be a good idea for a long-term rental to bug-bomb the place before moving in and then replace the mattresses with new upon move in?

  9. 28

    Living out of country in another foreign country for three years taught me to appreciate what I had in the USA. Have not regretted moving back! The grass isn’t always greener. . .

  10. 29

    Hi, there’s lots of information about retirement in Equador / Cuenca, but nothing about a move for people prior to retirement. We’re married, both 51 out of New York. Is it possible to relocate and obtain a resident visa if you’re in your early 50s. The plan would be to live off our savings until we qualify for 401k withdrawals & then SS. Would $250k be sufficient to support us for 10 years in Cuenca?

  11. 30

    International Living Mag states the medical system is very good and affordable in Cuenca, how true is that statement? As I have learned reading the above posts, a lot of days have complete overcast making it “spring like”. Is there anyother city in EC that might be a bit lower in elevation yet not hot and humid?

  12. 31

    I am a 65 year old female who just returned from a trip to Ecuador. I met a few expats already living in Cuenca, came home to start my research and plan a move. The one thing I am having trouble with in my research is locating health insurance. I was told of a company from the US who insures seniors for a very reasonable rate, sends you to Miami for an annual visit paying for the flight and hotel. This is all I can find out about this coverage. Has anyone heard of this before and if so would you please share the name?

    • 32

      Patricia, I hope you don’t mind me asking OR anyone on our forum. My hubby & I are going to Cuenca in March. Hoping to also see Vilacabama. We are also looking to move and have traveled to Other S. America areas. We would really love to see some quiet areas to live outside the city, but close enough to head to the city. Could someone advise where those areas might be. We are not ready to talk to a real estate agent. Thanks! 🙂

  13. 34

    Hello, does anyone have information on Canadian expats in Cuenca?

  14. 35

    I am Canadian and took retirement in Cuenca 6 yrs. ago. I lived and worked in Montreal for all my life and discovered this lovely place bay a recommendation of a friend. It is easy to get the documentation to permanently live here. The medical insurance covers both my wife and I for under $140 a month for both of us. The cost of living is excellent and we are renting a large single bedroom unit overlooking the beautiful mountains for only $365 a month. Food is cheap and restaurants are very ,very affordable. I know some here that are single from Toronto Canada and can live on less than $800 per month from their retirement income that is deposited on their ATM’s. There is a lot of nightly activities, festivals and excitement at times. Parrots land on my balcony every morning and got used to me feeding them. The people are very nice and gentle, the weather is excellent all year round, no mosquitos, We are living like royalty and cannot find a way to spend more than $1400 a month for us both including rent.

    • 36

      Hello Art,
      My wife (of 33 years) and myself are Canadian Nationals from Toronto that have lived and worked on Grand Cayman since 2006. We have a 1300 sq. ft.beachfront condo that sleeps 8 that we would exchange for similar accommodations near Cuenca for a visit. Is there a blog to communicate with other Canadians living in Cuenca? Regards, Ken

    • 37

      do some accept american health insurance?

  15. 38

    My husband and I are looking into Cuenca but would need 100% reliable internet to conduct our business and keep customers happy. How reliable is internet there and can you use an iPhone like in the states if internet goes down? Thank you!

  16. Derek Washington

    If you want to be reminded every few minutes as to why you left the United States in the first place then yes, by all means you should come to Cuenca. You will see ‘them’ walking around the streets here; clueless, ignorant, dressed like slobs and illiterate in Spanish. ‘They’ are seemingly everywhere; driving up prices and making fools out of themselves to the detriment of the relatively few Americans who actually make an attempt at speaking Spanish, adapting and integrating with the Cuencanos. ‘They’ usually have no real Ecuadoran friends; just acquaintances or a 10 word working relationship with their maid.

    Most of ‘them’ are here only because they were not financially successful enough to afford to live comfortably in the United States or in other Latin American countries.

    So, if you want to see the losers and dregs of American society then yes, Cuenca is definitely the right place for you. You can’t miss ‘them’ because ‘they’ stand out like inflamed hemorrhoids; congregating en masse in American friendly locations such as the Coffee Tree, Cafe Eucalyptus, Restaurante Don Colon etc. where they complain about everything, compare everything to “back home” and talk about their equally shallow children and how they saved 25 cents somewhere on a cup of coffee but didn’t have to leave a tip.

    However, if you want to get away from the American idiots who are escaping the very dysfunctional society that they themselves created then put Cuenca on your Avoid-At-All-Costs list.

    • 40

      This is so reminiscent of America only the Spanish speaking immigrants are not trying in the least to learn English. They live off the welfare of the state they land in, take up space in our schools, universities and then expect to be handed… well… everything. They HATE America and all we stand for .. yet, they still come?? Funny how the two are so similar.

    • 41

      Where would you suggest, then, for an older American woman who speaks fluent Spanish and just wants to live a quiet life, in a mild climate – do some charity work in a school or hospital. I need the prices of rent, food and other necessities to be low.

      • 42

        Maggie, in any big city you need to use your street smarts. Pickpockets are everywhere in the world. In the last few years there has been a increase in police presence in Cuneca. Taxis now have meters and legal cabs are easy to recognize. I am in my 60’s and have lived here 4 years and walk and shop without fear. As with any big city you just need to be aware of your surrounding, places to avoid, and to walk with confidence.

      • 44

        Yes Cuenca has changed, in the 4 years I have lived here there has been change. Many Ecuadorians have returned with their US money, many North Americans have come but with a city of over 500,000 they have not had the significant impact some claim. To Derek’s comment about dress, yes we tend to be more casual than the upper class Ecuadorians, over time we have learned not to wear our jeans to the symphony, struggle with learning a new language in our tercera edad, and enjoy our Cuancano friends. You can integrate as much as you want. A friend today said, rescue a big dog and take it for walks, you will meet Los if people. Most people here have been gracious and helpful to the Spanish impaired. The tourists seem to be those matching the description given above. There are wonderful opportunities to give back to our new home. For a single woman this is a good place. There are probably over 100 single gals making Cuenca home.

        Climate wise, it is not hot here,, in fact I think it is eternal fall not spring as marketed. but all Niall it is a good place to live, and being fluent is a huge advantage….come see for yourself!

        • 45

          We live in Costa Rica now and want to move where it is cooler and in a larger city that has a better selection of goods and services. Larger cities here are choked with traffic and NO parking. How hot does it get there? The prices in CR are rising rapidly for food, services (substandard at that), eating places(they all serve the same thing) unless you drive to the Americanized Escazu and the price of electricity (which is ridiculous). Can you fill me in on prices? What kind of stores are there in Cuenca? Other than being a larger city, it sounds a lot like Costa Rica.

        • 46

          Hi Claudia
          I saw your post to Viva Tropical which dated over a year ago. I liked everything positive you had to say about Cuenca. Wondered what area you live in and is it a sweater wearing climate during the day. I will be visiting Cuenca and Villacabama. Any info you would like to share would be appreciated. Thanks Joan

      • Penny Lockhart

        Catalina, have you gotten any responses? Derek’s post scared me a bit re Cuenca. My Spanish isn’t fluent but I do try, after having spent winters in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for a number of years. I love living in places with good food, wine, book stores, opportunities for fresh air & exercise, and, most importantly, mild climate, due to health issues. I do lots of volunteer work in Chicago and would do the same anywhere.

      • 48

        try the Dominican Republic. Ive been here 14 years and living in Costambar within an ex-pat community. Its lovely, sunshine each day and a winter spent in flipflops.

    • 49

      I hate to say it, but I agree. I visited Cuenca with the goal of checking it out to see if it was a place I could retire. I should point out that I speak fluent Spanish having lived in Cuernavaca Mexico for 12 years. I loved everything about Cuenca with one exception, the other Americans who live there. They don’t speak Spanish, don’t integrate with the local society and to make matters worse they are destroying the economy for the locals. The taxi drivers now expect the locals to pay the inflated rate paid by the Americans. Rents have sky rocketed and the asking price for real estate has increased to the point that locals can not afford to buy property in their own city. I don’t think it will take long for resentment towards Americans to become more prevalent.

      • 50

        I have never been to South America but I have been to several places in Mexico and observed the same kind of thing. I was horrified at the behavior some Americans displayed while visiting Mexico. I found them to be rude, demanding and arrogant. In my trips to Mexico I cannot say enough nice things about the people and the customer service I received every time I have been there. It was beyond excellent. Everyone was friendly, helpful and just wonderful to us all during our visit. It’s been over 30 years since my first visit and less than 4 since my last. The locals were great and I do not go to the same place every time I visit. Now I am curious about how many Americans behave like complete jerks when travelling or living abroad. I really do hope it is the exception rather than the rule but based on the whiny, spoiled, selfish people I have watched Americans become and in particular our spoiled children I have a feeling it’s probably more prevalent than I want to think.

      • michael ludin

        sounds like Cuernavaca to me…

    • 52

      Dereck do u live in cuenca?

  17. 53

    This is the best article I have read about living in Cuenca, Ecuador. Most other blogs or internet information written by expats or x-whatever seem to be factually wrong.

  18. 55

    My partner and I are in the final stages of a month long trip to Ecuador, with the intention of finding real estate and establishing a second home. I’m a registered nurse, and not ready to completely retire. Any advice about how I can work or at least contribute to the community with my skills.

  19. 56

    I live in Houston, Texas. I am retired and planning to move to Cuenca Ecuador in the very near future. I was in the military back in the 60″s and was stationed in Spain for 3 years. I vacationed throughout almost every country in Europe while I was stationed in Spain. I’ve been to several states in the US over the last 45 years and I can honestly say that I don’t think there is any state or country in the world for that matter that is insect or bug free, except the north and South poles and maybe other countries that are frozen over year round.
    I have read a lot of good things about Cuenca, Ecuador and I think I would like to move there soon, but of course I plan to go visit first and see for myself. I have also read a few negative things about Cuenca like apartments with no water at times and bedbugs and air pollution and rude locals. It sounds like New York, Los Angeles or most large cities in the U.S. Even Houston. I read what some expats are saying on the internet about Cuenca and I don’t know what to believe. I guess that is why I must go visit for myself and form my own opinion.
    I would like to also say that some expats mention that they lived or are living in an apartment and some are paying $380 a month and others are paying up to $1,000 per month. Is it the $380 per month apartments or do the $1,000 per month apartments that have the bedbugs? Or both ? I’ve always believed that you get what you pay for and even here in the U.S. you are going to find bed bugs when you check into a cheap motel. Will somebody please elaborate?
    Since I am retired, I only want to get away for a while, like for 5 years or so and see something and someplace different and exciting and fun. Then I would like to return to the U.S. for the remaining of my golden years. My main goal is to enjoy my retirement. I’m not just looking for a way to save money, I want to enjoy life so I don’t mind paying for a good, clean and comfortable place to live and if I can save money in the process, so much the better.

  20. 58

    Are there any other cities that are affordable without expats? I could speak Spanish and I would rather live with the natives.

  21. Ruth Alvarado

    Hey American Citizens,I’m Ecuatorian from Cuenca,if you do not went or live there you do not what are talking about.Cuenca is a little part of the heaven in Ecuador.
    Some guy are talking about bugs and mosquitos,talking to bad about Cuenca tray to talk with someone from Cuenca or americans who live there.
    Listen I live in Chicago,here or in many cities of the U S have infection of the bed bags,mosquitos,y garbage for every were,in the alleys rats like cats those things you don’t have in Cuenca. My advice is go there enjoy .

    • 61

      Agree with u .

    • 62

      You can’t compare Chicago, New York, or any large city like that to the USA. These are areas that yes, have problems because of large number of people in a small area. Where I live you don’t see garbage in the streets, bed bugs, alley rats but you do see deer coming out at night from the pockets of park forests in our area. I live in Iowa in a community of towns and cities that is about 300,000 people, Bettendorf Iowa, called the Quad Cities, and you don’t see these problems in any areas. As far as mosquitos go, yes we have them, but they do not carry Malaria. We buy insect repellant, and use lemon grasses to keep them away that we plant. We also make bat boxes for bats to live in that eat these at night. You have a really weird idea of what the USA is.

    • lloyd sutton

      Thank you Ruth, I dont like people to talk bad about a nice place, Go back to where they came

  22. Danny Jimenez

    Hello VIVA TEAM.. my name is Danny jimenez and Im from Ecuador but I live in the USA at this moment. I’ll probably be moving back to my beautiful country pretty soon. And my idea is to go to Cuenca to find a job as an interpreter. But I need someone to guide me. I’m bilingual 100%. thank you.

  23. 65

    Are there any nursing services focused directly on visiting retirees living in Cuenca? How do retirees manage their health care?
    I am actually ecuadorian, but I went to school in St. Louis Missouri and I have a couple of old friend´s parents that are planning in moving to cuenca; however they are worried about the health care issue. They really need to know if there are nursing services focused on retired people in Cuenca.

    Thank you for your time.

    Kind regards,

  24. art southwick

    I have just recently returned from the Philippines and am looking to relocate in equador however I cannot due altitude of 8200 ft is there somewhere lower that I should be looking to. I like the way my money might work for me in this country. Ideally I am more of a beach guy and love the sun..grew up in las vegas sun is what I am used too..any suggestions for this country for me to look at…art

  25. Amraah Carole White

    Dear Friends, I am 75 this year and I am seeking to move directly to Ecuador sometime soon. I am searching for a property in a special location for a permaculture plantation and a healing temple. I know that many people are directly related to their ‘lifestyle” their favorite brand of chips and beer, their style of apartment or house, their car, their shopping habits: personally I am hoping for a much simpler, indigenous life on a farm, growing useful crops and finding very good ways to help all people to better health. I am seeking Ecuadorean friends and invite anyone who reads my post to email me.Let us somehow make a contribution instead of waiting and hoping that everything will be as we think we need it to be for our lives to work. Somehow it just makes sense to give something of myself, my savvy in the market, my skills ( nearly 7 decades as a seamstress for one) my artistic aesthetic and a 40 year training in Oriental health philosophies. I seek to give my skills and receive friendship and mutual trust to build a better life. If you like what you read of me here, please get in touch: [email protected]. I love you all, Peace and Blessings, Amraah

    • sharon solieri

      Amrah, Hello. My name is Sharon Solieri. I have been a licensed Clinical Social Worker for thirty years. I am 61. I too am seeking a better life sharing my skills and making friends with the people of Ecuador. I seek a more authentic life with kind people. Gardening is one of my passions. I look forward to hearing from you. Peace and love, Sharon

  26. sharon solieri

    I am a 61 year old active, educated woman living on $1500 monthly. Is Cuenca a good place for a single woman? I speak Spanish and hope to become fluent.

  27. 73

    My sister, brother-in-law and myself are looking to make the move to Cuenca within the next year. For you that have made the move already, what kind of employment is available there? I have been in the automotive parts business for 20 plus years. We are actually planning on opening a small pub after in the future but I’m sure that I would need to fid something for all that happens.

  28. Maggie Scott

    Our 20-year-old just started a study-abroad semester in Cuenca. We were told: pickpockets are everywhere — never keep anything in your back pockets; never use an iPhone in public because it will be stolen right out of your hands; carry your backpack on your front at all times; despite the law, never carry your passport on you — along with iPods, passports are hot commodities; never get into a cab sitting on the street, only use a cab you call for; agree on the cab fare before you get in the cab (most routes are $3-4 and a tip is usually $1); etc. I’m now in full panic mode for this kid, who’s admittedly had a life of relative privilege — or at least a life without fear of crime every day. So, tell me again why Cuenca is such a great place to visit?

    • 76

      Yup, pickpockets are everywhere in every country of the world. He/she should never carry more than what can be afforded to be lost. A little caution goes a long way. Might be a good time for your 20 year old to become “worldly”.

    • 77

      Dear Maggie,

      As a parent, i can sympathize with your concerns regarding the welfare of your son. But the true world out there beyond our corporate tee-vee screens is beautiful and always filled with risk- which is what makes an adventure adventurous. Like my children (and grandchildren), your son will experience what he must- and (highly-likely) will be successful as a result of All his encounters- especially as Rich A.’s “worldly” wisdom suggests.

      It is our personal, unexamined fear… as parents/individuals that poisons not only us but all those we are close to. Prudence and caution do not have to be soaked in fear- which is the lens we pass on to our adventurous youth if we don’t examine our ‘own’ largely programmed perceptions.

      If you’ll excuse the suggestion, perhaps traveling there yourself to get a first-hand taste of Cuenca-life might reveal a different reality than what mainstream fear-medias propagate. As a retired, perpetually traveling homicide Investigator, i can assure you the Mexicans (and other Latin Americans) are not eating gringos at the border. 🙂 Here is a link (as example) with statistics that may surprise a few:


    • 78

      I have lived here in Cuenca with my three kids (blonde) for years without a single episode of robbery, crime, or violence. Cuenca is very peaceful. The cab drivers did try to cheat foreigners frequently but that is no longer an issue as the government now requires them to use meters. Normal fares have dropped, most routes cost $1.50-$2.50.

  29. Darrell and Julie Brunet

    Would like information on Cuenco Ecuador for retirement.

    [email protected]

  30. 81

    loved the info about this location and prices to live there. unfortunately, your prices to live in this area is higher than where I live in Bettendorf Iowa along the Mississippi River with a community of cities tied together along the Mississippi River, we have about 300,000 people here and the price of living and food costs is lower. We are one of the top 10 cities to live in for the USA in multiple magazines over the years, and so, I have been trying to find a place to retire to that is better than this location because of the Arctic air we get in the winter. So far, I have not found any place as nice as our area for prices. 10 percent of the USA population watches our local television channels because they live in our area. Looking for a place to move to after retirement. So far, this looks like the best I have seen compared to our area.

  31. Gail Ghiretti

    Enjoyed reading about Cuenca. I will be traveling to Cuenca in 2 weeks to check it out as possible retirement place I have lived in a few countries and prefer to avoid large expat communities. I will be taking Spanish lessons while I am there. Curious to learn more about moving there, residency etc? Thanks

  32. 84

    Thanks to all who provided input and continue to do so from various perspectives. This is helpful to all who visit here. Like many, I’ve been exploring options for ‘the next chapter’ and Cuenca has many good points as well as some minuses. No place is perfect. All we can do is find the best fit. To those who mentioned the expats who appear not to be contributing, this is human nature. USA has a similar problem, likely worse. Those seeking a better situation need to be part of the solution: don’t just take but get involved and contribute!

  33. 85

    Thank you all for your comments and perspectives on living in Cuenca (or Ecuador in general). My husband and I are just starting to research retirement options as Bermuda has become incredibly cost prohibitive and not retirement-friendly. We’re planning on visiting Cuenca next Spring and your comments are an invaluable resource!

  34. 86

    Please don’t move there. I’m from Cuenca, and life is miserable since your started to move, it is hard to afford a rental o buy a property for us it is almost impossible. We don’t like you or want you or need . I don’t meant to be rude . But you are not welcome…!!

    • 87

      Ale, I have lived in the Seattle, WA area for a few decades and we always tell anyone thinking of moving here how much they will hate it and that it rains ALL the time. Especially they will hate it if they are coming from California. You’ve convinced me to come to Cuenta to check it out. It sounds like a great place for my wife and I to retire. As a bonus, unlike the people who come to the U.S.A. to live, we won’t be taking your job away from you. Regards.

    • 88

      Ale, you could be right but the property standards have come up many notches since the gringo invasion. Just think of it this way, one day many of the gringo’s won’t be able to afford to live there either. I won’t be one of them.

  35. 89

    I plan on retiring in Cuenca Ecuador or Merida Mexico when the time comes.People just have to do their homework,their is good and bad in all countries.It all dependes on what it is you are seeking.I have been reading and watching viedos on Cuenca Ecuador for about 4 years now and so far I like what I see.Remember if you move,you are no longer in you’r country things are different and my not be what you are used to,so don’t complain if you are a complainer,you are probabley better off if you stay right where you are.Don’t try to change their country,anyway you are leaving you’r country for various reasons why would you want to bring those reasons with you to you’r new country.I live in San Diego calif.The reasons that I want to leave the USA is because I’m getting tired of our politics,we don’t take care of our veterans,our poor,you can’t say merrychritmas,pladge of allegency under GOD,everyone in the USA want’s to sue you ETC things like that.Plus California is expensive.

  36. 90

    My wife and I have been considering opportunties for living in Ecuador, and I found your artticle to be very helpful and informative. I think we are looking for a place closer to beaches, but after enough away to be about 5,000 ft. elevation. So far, Vilcabamba seems to be the best fitt for what we are looking for.

  37. 92

    I just returned from Cuenca for my second visit this year and I will tell you that it is a great place to retire. It is not the USA but it reminds me of the USA maybe in the 70’s with technology. The place you stay while on your visit does shape your views of the city. I stayed in El Centra at Mansion Alcazar hotel and it is first class. The best service and food the staff goes out of its way to make you feel special. The people are friendly and accomadating and if you try just a little to speak their language they will do what they can to help you. I met several expats from people that have lived in Cuenca for awhile to some that their furniture just arrived and are getting set up in their new home. Everyone I met was very helpful and gave me their email address to ask any questions I had about relocating to Cuence. Iphones are used by most people and WiFi in in every restaurant we went to. Cab rides accross town were about $2.00 and you can walk to most of the events in town. I never felt threaten or unsafe but I live in a big city and I’m aware of my surroundings and I’m not walking around at midnight alone. I looked at real estate and it is very affordable to rent or purchase. A $1,000 a month rental will get you a new furnished condo finished out very nice. Look at some of the Cuenca sites for real estate. Go and see the city first hand and be your own judge of what it is like. I personally loved it.

  38. 95

    Cuenca Ecuador is awesome. I moved here in October 2014 and did my own 9-1 Permanent Residency Visa.

  39. 96

    my daughter is finding out at pittsburg USA . on North American country study visa,she is traveling to eucador for 2weeks as a part of the analysis team. will she would like visa to eucador or she will travel on her usa study visa . pls recommend

  40. 97

    Thinking of visiting Cuenca in April for 3 months. Who do you suggest we contact to rent a 2 bedroom 2 bath furnished condo.

  41. 98

    I have a small standard poodle and a small schnauzer. May I bring them if I decide to move to this lovely city? We are retired and do not have a large retirement. What special information can you give us about housing. I have never been the type of person who was against assimilation. Cultural differences are very interesting to me, and living in the multicultural city of New Orleans when I was growing up gave me many delightful interactions. My best friend since I left the city is Chinese who has never mastered English. I can read some Spanish, but I am eager to improve my speaking abilities.

    • 99

      My husband and I are both PRs here in the US. My husband has lived here for over 30 years and is 61. I’m currently am unemployed but have been seriously thinking of relocating … Is Cuenca a place we can afford to live without working? Firstly can we move there since we are not US citizens? What are the requirements for people like us ?

  42. 101

    We have an 3 BD RM 2 Bath apartment fully furnished very new hardly lived in LOL we currently have it listed on Airbnb but are willing to sell out if anyone is interested please contact us at airbnb-at-milomisty-dot Com

  43. Marcia Benites

    Beautiful country house to be released, 220 m2 of construction. Land area of 1300m with luxury internal finishes, 3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen; wood and tile porches, bamboo flooring, jacuzzi, green spaces, beautiful view of the valleys. It is located in Salcedo – Ecuador, Argentina Alta neighborhood, private sector, 5 minutes from the main highway Panamericana. For more information, contact numbers: +593987552021 (0987552021)/+593999247274 (0999247274)/+59332263193

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