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An Expat Talks about Living in Cuenca, Ecuador

Mar 23, 2015

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Cuenca, Ecuador

An expat in Cuenca, Ecuador appreciates the beautiful environment and people. He advises newcomers to get learn Spanish and meet locals instead of socializing with other expats.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Cuenca

How long have you lived there?

6 months

What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?

Avoid gringos at all costs - they are old and out of sorts. Half of them go home within a year. Learn Spanish as fast as you can. Immerse. Learn Ecuadorian culture and get with it. Meet Ecuadorians any way you can.

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In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.

Race means nothing here. The quechua keep to themselves. The fact that I am a gringo only means the cab drivers will occasionally try to rip me off - classic gringo pricing. Fortunately, my wife is Ecuadorian, so that doesn't fly.

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

Teaching English. It is very hard (as in impossible) to earn a living in Cuenca. Salaries are pathetic - maybe $750/month for a full-time gig. I teach English 10 hour/week for $10/hour. DO NOT COME TO ECUADOR if you need to work to pay your bills.

In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?

Family, church and family, in that order. You will never be a part of that. Get used to it.

If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.

Bring comfortable shoes and get ready to live in a physically splendid environment. The people are gentle. Like any foreign culture, it is deceptively similar to America, but the little differences can sink you if you aren't totally flexible. Stay away from ex-pats, as a rule.

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Comments about this Report

ComingSoon2017
Jul 26, 2016 11:52

GREAT comments. And that is exactly what I plan to do, stay away from 'most' Gringos, but not all, there are nice people everywhere, sometimes you just have to dig a little to get to the riches. Retiring next year, plan to travel for a year or two, staying at Airbnb's, etc. Thank you for your time and have a great one. David

withoutego
May 16, 2018 08:29

After living in Cuenca three years then moving on to Vilcabamba for the last four years I would concur with most of these observations. Individual experience varies naturally. Where my experience differs from the writer's is with taxi drivers and the "gringo" prices. To some extent new people are clueless. I'm not insulting them - they have zero experience and things are a bit different here. If your fare is $1.50 (the minimum) and you give the driver a fiver and start to walk away he sees a $3.50 tip. Have your hand held out - this lets him know that you know. Anyway its all meters in the taxis now. Otherwise I think its the new person not understanding Spanish. Also, most gringos lack "street sense" at home in the USA. Even without the ear buds they are not in the moment and aware of surroundings. To repeat....all this has more to do with you than with Ecuador. And I agree, these are nice people, we have much to learn from them.

withoutego
May 16, 2018 08:29

After living in Cuenca three years then moving on to Vilcabamba for the last four years I would concur with most of these observations. Individual experience varies naturally. Where my experience differs from the writer's is with taxi drivers and the "gringo" prices. To some extent new people are clueless. I'm not insulting them - they have zero experience and things are a bit different here. If your fare is $1.50 (the minimum) and you give the driver a fiver and start to walk away he sees a $3.50 tip. Have your hand held out - this lets him know that you know. Anyway its all meters in the taxis now. Otherwise I think its the new person not understanding Spanish. Also, most gringos lack "street sense" at home in the USA. Even without the ear buds they are not in the moment and aware of surroundings. To repeat....all this has more to do with you than with Ecuador. And I agree, these are nice people, we have much to learn from them.

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