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An Expat Talks about Moving to Cuenca, Ecuador

Sep 04, 2017

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Cuenca, Ecuador

An American woman talks about the ups and downs of moving to Cuenca. She had limited Spanish when she arrived, but a local woman helped her in the apartment search and she found the perfect place in a lovely Spanish-speaking neighborhood. Her apartment is 3-4 times less expensive than in the US.

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


Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.

The very first thing I thought about that I was missing was a good all natural soap for my skin. Until I found out the pharmacies have good soap at a reasonable price I was shopping in grocery stores. Also, I needed a good water bottle that was NOT plastic. Much of what is in Ecuador is plastic and it is not the good kind. On my last trip to the US I brought an aluminum bottle with me. Glass is heavy to carry around. Lastly, I would have brought more warm sweaters. It does not get usually very cold here but the past winter has been really chilly and my plants are my weather forecasters. They let me know right away....Too Cold!

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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?

Find a local you can trust. Start with small tasks you can do together to help both of you understand how the system works and to establish your working relationship. Change is inevitable you have to learn to accept it. Once you learn this life becomes much easier. Most countries will not do it the way western countries do it. That does not mean their way is necessarily wrong.

What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?

I would not say it is not typical. Most expats decide to live in an apartment or penthouse in a primarily English speaking neighborhood with more upscale restaurants. Others will live closer to downtown as it is less expensive. I chose to live in a Spanish speaking neighborhood by one of the rivers and across from the park. The birds sing every morning.

How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?

Because my Spanish was limited when I arrived I found someone who had helped people in her church find an apartment. We looked at many. Some were terrible and some were ok and by the seventh day, I found the perfect place. She was most helpful and she kept telling me to speak Spanish which was not really easy but I did it anyway.

Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?

I could never find a place like what I would get in the US. It is probably 3 to 4 less than in the states.

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