Putting all joking aside...We have some new (red text) updates on this topic, which we first published on September 2011. All the original text remains so you can sorta get an idea of what it was like here five years ago.
As of February 28, 2015 it has been reported that there are12,000 foreigners living as permanent residents in Cuenca, according to the 'Ministry of Foreign Affairs'.
[Según el último registro del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, los estadounidenses que viven de forma permanente en la ciudad superaron los 8.000 habitantes; junto a europeos y canadienses sobrepasan los 12.000 residentes extranjeros.]
At the last registry of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the number of north Americans (U.S) who live permanently in the city exceeded 8,000; with Europeans and Canadians the numbers surpass the 12,000 foreign residents living in Cuenca Ecuador.
Please take notice: the "El Tiempo" article says...AT THE LAST REGISTRY OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.
Source: El Tiempo Newspaper
There are only about 500 gringo expats that reside (live full time) in Cuenca.
Update 2016 - Wow, of course that was back then in 2011...Cuenca had a tiny, tiny gringo population. No furniture for sale, no gringo restaurants, no gringo volunteers to speak of, no gringo events, no gringo services like there are today and wow, you barely saw another foreigner when you went out for the day. When we did spot another gringo we'd say, "oh look honey, some gringos over there".
What Does EXPATriation Mean?
Expatriation means the individual, couple or family has uprooted themselves from their country of origin and has moved to another country to reside full time. While there may be over 2,500 gringos visiting Cuenca in a year’s time, some of them stay only two weeks, some stay a month and then some stay the 90 day visa stamp. Some never return and some do return to live and retire here in Cuenca or Quito.
Update 2016 - the actual figure of visitors to Cuenca now is way more than what it was back in 2011. In fact, the Cuenca immigration office admitted they get 10 new application for resident Visa from N. Americans each week.
UPDATE November 2014 - While figures of "how many expats" live in Cuenca" is all over the map, we can safely say the gringo/expat community is growing. More new foreigners arrive weekly than gringos leave, so you can expect to keep seeing more and more foreigners living in Cuenca and even other parts of Ecuador. The gringo population that live here full time is now in the couple of thousands, or more.
However, compare that figure to Panama which has over 50,000 gringos living full time (expats) in just Panama city, Panama, then it makes this number of gringos living full time in Cuenca seem small. But because Cuenca is not that spread out and gringos love the small 4 mile by 4 mile downtown area you see a lot of gringos in Cuenca.
With a population of about 500,000 people living in Cuenca, you will see more gringo's at the Supermaxi grocery store, or in a gringo owned restaurant, or if something is going on in the square downtown. It used to be that on some days we never saw another gringo in Cuenca, but that has all changed. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaint, just an observation.
Cuenca has been named the best retirement city in the world to live over and over again in the past! Remember: no where on earth is perfect. See our video 12 annoying things about Cuenca Ecuador. This video of our family’s annoyances about Cuenca will surely help your move to Ecuador be that much better because you will see the real Cuenca, at least through our perspective. And the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide will be your best friend when you first get here because it saves you money, time and hassle.
Update 2016 - We updated our 12 annoyances video.
More foreigners will be coming to Cuenca to check it out, meaning they are not residents yet, but only thinking about becoming residents. Some of the gringos who visit Cuenca are from Canada, some are from United States and some are from Germany, Italy, and some are from Australia and the UK. We say, Welcome to Cuenca! Come and visit and see if it is a good fit for you!
Update 2014: We made the comment above over two years ago and it is coming true! Ecuador is growing with more and more foreigners arriving in all parts of Ecuador but mostly Quito and Cuenca.
Update 2016 - There is definitely more of a gringo population in Cuenca; we notice it when we go out walking and just enjoying our day. However, it does seem as if there is a slow down the last couple of months.
We also have noticed and experienced that foreigners like to be in certain areas of Cuenca that are near the downtown area, which has really upped the rentals in these areas. The $300 to $400 house is now $500 to $700. We knew this would happen, just didn't think so fast. Sure you can still find the $400 house but it probably will not be up to US standards, or it will not have a yard, or it will be too far from the stores, or up an incline, or etc, etc, etc.
Until we write again, you might want to check out more articles about foreigners moving to Cuenca.
We're an expat family of five living frugal, healthy and happy in Cuenca Ecuador. Come follow along with us as we take you on our frugal living abroad journey.