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An Expat Talks about Moving to Cuenca, Ecuador


Cuenca, Ecuador

An American woman who moved to Cuenca 2 years ago advises other expats about how to avoid gringo gouging. She also recommends that others moving to Cuenca bring more rain gear and a space heater.

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

Cuenca

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

Wish I had brought: more rain gear, especially shoes (low quality shoes here), books (not a country of readers even in Spanish), back-up computer. The best thing I brought was a small space heater.

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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?

Most importantly, ask yourself if the place is a spiritual or emotional match Are the values similar? Or are they so different that you are always on pins and needles. Even though there are wonderful people in every country (I've lived or worked in over 40 countries), this is the hardest place for my sensibilities, I am not accustomed to toughness and indifference, so I may not stay. I've given it two years, done my best to fit in. It's also too cold for me, no insulation or heating in buildings. Why not move to the coast? Fewer amenities and not the best idea for a woman alone.

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

Condo. Yes, most prefer to have an elevator and a guarded place.

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

Can only afford to rent a room so I rent from another Californian (a blessing) in a mostly quiet building of other North Americans. It is a condo. Met the dear lady I rent from at church.

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

If you have funds, you can afford to live anywhere in the world. Ecuador can cost almost as much as the U.S. because of "gringo gouging" Best way to find housing is not to read paid ads but to first find a neighborhood and buildings you might like, then look for signs and call the numbers directly. It takes an enormous amount of work to figure out which landlords are honest and fair and those who are not. Even if they seem correct, they may turn on you. The name of the game is $$$ and if you are not on a budget, then nothing really matters and you can pay double or more than a local would... This later remark is noteworthy... paying more contributes to the economy, but also creates understandable resentment among locals.

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