Ecuador Expat Forum - Pros and Cons of Cuenca

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lauraazelie
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9/14/2009 11:39    
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Hi, I am just wanting to get a perspective from any expats that live in Cuenca (or Ecuador in General) on the Pro and Cons to living there.
Thanks- Laura

Chiquita
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9/15/2009 11:34    
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Hi Lauraazelie,

We chose Cuenca as a place to live because it is not so hot as Quito and Guayaquil. In Quito the UV rays are extremely dangerous. Also crime is higher there than in Cuenca.
Cuenca is smaller so it is easier to get from place to place.
The traffic in Quito is a headache!
In downtown/Centro Cuenca the traffic is also during certain hours, bumper to bumper but not as bad as the two bigger cities.

Cuenca is situated in such a way that mountains surround it so you get the feeling of living in the country although you are in a city.

We have been here 6 months and have such wonderful friends from the local people. They are always willing to help us and regard us as family.

There are many shops downtown and a large mall near us. There are supermarkets and other markets where fruit, vegies etc. can be purchased rather cheaply.

Cons which I have been told about but have not yet experienced, is that medical care is better in Quito.
I have the best dentist I have ever had, here in Cuenca. My husband visited a dermatologist for some pretty intensive treatment, including having a large cyst removed, and received expert attention.
Some of the doctors offices in town are not so posh, but their knowledge and expertise seem good. Better so than in South Africa from where we come.

There are larger malls and so more variety of goods and products in Quito.
It is more upmarket than Cuenca. Also, very much busier. People here in Cuenca are very relaxed and take their time about everything.
We had to stand in a queue at the Banco Pichincha in order to get access to internet banking. We knew very little Spanish and the machine to take fingerprints just wouldn't work. The lady serving us went back and forth to get help. In all this time, no one in the queue behind us showed any irritation at the delay. When I turned and apologised to them for keeping them waiting, they simply smiled at me. We were amazed!

We enjoy living in Cuenca and in Ecuador. We have found such a better quality of life here. A healthier way of eating, and true friends.

Of course it all depends on your perspective and from where you have come. We have come from South Africa, a beautiful country but which has become a third-world country which supposes it is a first-world country. Second-rate medical care, iin fact you take your life in your hands if you go into a government hospital, intolerable, violent crime, corruption at the highest levels, and astronomical medical fees. So if you come from a first-world country like the U.S.A. your perspective on Ecuador and Cuenca might be different. However, we are very happy here.

Regards,
Chiquita.

Davidpdq
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9/15/2009 13:40    
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What a really helpful and "just nice" communication. Your information is very helpful concerning views and expectations.

Chiquita
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9/16/2009 08:46    
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Thank-you,David.

Just thought to let anyone who is interested, that TripAdvisor has a "Tripwatch" on Cuenca this week. It has information on flights, restaurants, hotels, and things to do, from people who have been there and done it.

Chiquita.

caper58
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9/18/2009 01:38    
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I have been in Cuenca for 2 months now and I hate it here...... just 5 more days and I am gone....

Davidpdq
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9/18/2009 08:29    
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What is the negative experience. Please describe for the benifit of others thinking about movig to Ecuador

Chiquita
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9/18/2009 09:13    
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Sorry about that. Guess it's a case of different strokes for different folks. Truly hope you find the ideal place to suit you and your needs.

Chiquita.

JP55301
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9/18/2009 19:02    
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Caper, sorry to hear you had to go through this ordeal but maybe is for the best. Only time will tell. I hope you didn't fall victim to some of the misinformation out there that try to show only the good and neglect the bad.

Unfortunately many people will have to go trough this since they depend on info posted in various forums and neglect to do their homework excited about all the good they have heard.
Hope you will find the place that makes you happy and remember there are many other good countries where you may find happiness but make sure you apply what you have learned from this negative experience.
By the way can you share?

JP55301
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9/18/2009 19:07    
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Chiquita, you are so right but perhaps you could help others avoid this negative expience if you would share the negative (or at least items others may find unacceptable) about EC, like the slow internet speed you experienced and the uncomfortable bathroom condition you encountered.

Chiquita
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9/19/2009 09:04    
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JP,

We have a more than adequate internet service in Cuenca through TV Cable. It is stable and the speed is suitable for my husband who does forex trading. The bad internet service (for our needs) was in Bahia and was one of the reasons for us moving to Cuenca.

The Ecuadorian system of placing your soiled toilet paper
in a bin instead of flushing it down the toilet which horrified me at first, I have adapted to. I have been told that this is the custom in many other countries around the world besides Ecuador.

All this, plus other negative experiences encountered, I have already posted on this forum.

By the way, it seems our experience in opening a bank account in Bahia was different to other expats'.
We only had to get a letter from our landlady stating that we were living at the address stated, and our friend, Dean, went with us to the Banco Pichincha, as our interpreter, and we were permitted to open an account. This was in the first few days of arriving in Bahia from South Africa.

Of course there are other negative things and negative experiences we have had, but all's well that ends well, and we have learned from them.

Moving to a different country from one's own, demands a certain kind of personality and adaptability. Nothing is going to be the same. we cannot take "our thing" to a different culture and expect people to be like we want them to be and act like we want them to act. It is we who have to adapt to the culture and ways of our new country. The only alternative is to form a gringo community and only interact with your own circle of friends. This is a kind of "lager" mentality. (The word "Lager" comes from South African history when the Boers formed their wagons into a circle to protect them from enemies.)
Ecuador is certainly not for everyone. But, I repeat, we are happy here. Perhaps because we have integrated into the community and have made such good, true friends.

If anyone would care to know our journey since coming to Ecuador, cold, in May 2008. I would be glad to let them know. But it's too long a story for this forum, as perhaps this posting is, for which I apologise.

Chiquita.

JP55301
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9/20/2009 00:00    
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Chiquita,
I appreciate you sharing and I couldn't agree more with what you are saying.
But as you say people have to adapt to the country. That is why i said it would help a lot to let future expats also know the things that will be different, because many of them have only heard the good things from someone (with good intentions) who has sold them EC because they are happy there w/o thinking that othersr may not think the same way.
So your experiences (not necessarily good or bad) will open the eyes of others who have not heard about these customs or are not aware of some existing limitations and maybe this would be enough for them to realize EC is not for them and avoid the horrible experience of moving to a country and then have to leave because of finding an atmosphere different from the one imagined. Like it happened to a person in a recnet posting.
That is why I recommend everyone to do their HOMEWORK before they make such an important decision. Did you know that some people research more the type and brand of TV they should buy than a decision to move abroad?

You are also right that many americans when they move to other countries ,form their own community and fence themselves inside a private development.

For example your experience with the internet in Bahia is a case in point. It was not adequate for your work yet others are very happy there with the limited service. Take your service now, its adequate for you but a future expat may be expecting a speed of 12 MB, like available here, and then find out its not available and he can't play games. So its important to share these details because some time they can be the tie breaker. For example what is the cost of your service in Cuenca now and the speed?

For me the tie breaker was the new disclosure act! We are having enough problems in the US fighting those ideas for me to walk into a place that has it. But that is just me others may not care about their privacy and possible future taxations or whatever. I feel that our private things and holdings is not any business of the government or anyone else including the family.

Thanks for sharing and when you read a question from a future expat asking about the specifics of life in EC it does not hurt to bring these things up besides all the good ones.

suspirar
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9/24/2009 20:33    
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Cuenca can be COLD at night, and many buildings are not well insulated or heated. Take a substantively thick jacket, a scarf, and a thick hat. You have to take T-shirts for the day, when you might sweat. Bring a radio so that you can dance to music to stay warm, or bring a laptop or something electric to keep you warm in your bed. I am not the only person who has complained about shivering in Cuenca.

I have read from more than one source that Quito, Cuenca, and Loja city have pleasant climates. I don't know how people can say that. You would think that they are Canadian, high on drugs or love, happened to arrive during a hot spell, or their bodies were having hot flashes themselves. I think some of those people were actually from the United Kingdom, but I didn't think the U.K.'s weather was that cold.

I had spent the same miserably cold night in Quito as another woman who was from eastern Canada, and when I complained about it the next morning, she looked at me perplexed. I am from southern California. When getting a description of climate, ask where the person is from. Cuenca is just as cold as Quito.

suspirar
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9/24/2009 20:58    
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Oh, also don't believe the real-estate websites that try to get you to believe that you don't need to be concerned about crime in Cuenca. You can't even trust International Living to give you the truth about crime. Cuenca is a big city, not a small rural town, and you should take precautions.

A friend of mine stayed at an hostal on Calle Hermano Miguel, and he met many people who had been victims of crime in Cuenca (theft; nothing like attempted murder). As an example, before leaving that hostal to leave Ecuador, another guy in the hostal was robbed at knife-point at 9 p.m. An acquaintance of mine was mugged early this year at knife-point only a block from a police station at midnight. This all happened in Cuenca.

Some people promoting real estate in Cuenca tried to convince ?me? that Cuenca has little crime. This post says otherwise:
http://lovingcuenca.blogspot.com/2009/05/blog-post.html

JP55301
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9/24/2009 21:15    
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Thank you! Finally someone steps up to the plate and provides realistic information. I'm like you looking for a warm climate all year round and I keep hearing from IL and Gary Scott and some postings how the weater in Cuenca and Quito as well as Cochibamba is the Eternal Spring! Well all I have to say its just give me the temperature during the day (9Am to 4PM) at night 4PM to 12 Midnite and then from midnite to 7 AM and I can reach ny own conclusions. I have heard it can reach the 50's Farenheit at night and that to me its cooold!

JP55301
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9/24/2009 21:21    
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Amen! Excellent information! I wish everyone considering moving abroad would do their homework and not be sidetracked with their dream of a new perfect place. There is crime everywhere and its worse when it happens in a new location with different culture and language.

carolannemck
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9/25/2009 06:05    
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Don't kid yourself about the Andes and the temperatures. It often falls into the 40s at night, sometimes the lower 40. During the rainy season, when you don't have the sun to heat your home during the day, it can be quite cold at night.
Carol

lauraazelie
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9/25/2009 13:48    
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Chiquita,

Was it you that said you have a husband who trades? If so, there are a few of us coming who trade and are wondering about if we can because of the internet in Ecuador.

If its not you, I am also asking anyone who trades.

Thanks
-Laura

Chiquita
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9/26/2009 08:19    
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Yes, I mentioned that my husband does forex trading here.
We had to make sure and confirm that he would have a stable and the fastest internet service, (for here anyway) before moving into this apartment and before purchasing the apartment in which we are in the process.
This has always been the major consideration when deciding on where we settle.
If you need any info on internet services and technical info, you can contact my husband via email
at: kenneth.cardwell@gmail.com
Chiquita.

Chiquita
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9/26/2009 12:40    
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Here is an interesting blogspot for those interested in Cuenca.
http://retire-in-cuenca-ec.blogspot.com/

Chiquita.

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