UPDATE March 2015: Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ecuador is estimating there are now 8,000 permanent residents living in Cuenca Ecuador, and if you count the Canadians and Europeans there is around 12,000 permanent residents in Cuenca.
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 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 gringos arrive weekly than gringos leave, so you can expect to keep seeing more and more gringos 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! 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.
More and more gringos will be coming to Cuenca to check it out, meaning they are not residents yet, but only thinking about becoming residents or expats. 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. Some will buy a property and only live here three to six months out of the year.
Update 2014: I made the comment above over two years ago and it is coming true! Ecuador is growing with more and more gringos arriving in all parts of Ecuador but mostly Quito and Cuenca.
Cuenca, Quito, and the coastal areas of Ecuador are going to explode with gringos just like what happened to Costa Rica and then Panama, both of which are now full of gringos that have expatriated there. One of our sons talks daily with a young lady from Panama and she tells us lots of things about Panama. To live in Panama now is like living in Miami and so then what’s the big deal about moving there? Crime rates are high, real-estate prices have skyrocketed. One of the major reasons for people to expatriate or uproot themselves is for a better way of life. But how is Panama or Costa Rica any better than say, living in Miami or Myrtle Beach in the states?
UPDATE: February 2013!! now 2014!! We see (more and more) gringos everywhere in Cuenca now. It used to be you rarely saw foreigners, but now we see them all the time. Cuenca is growing with foreigners.
The bottom line is today there are several thousand full time gringos living in Cuenca Ecuador. Tomorrow, that will be changing. The fact is there are other wonderful, great, and perfect cities in this world that most people would like just as much or more than Cuenca; they just were not named the best city to retire in, yet, and no one is looking at those other cities—out of sight out of mind.
The important thing to remember is it doesn’t matter where you live in the world. Happiness does not grow on trees. You can live anywhere in the world but if you are not happy within yourself it won’t matter how great a place is or how perfect the weather is because happiness and contentment is something within our attitude. We make our happiness.
Even though the weather is not perfect to my standards, I still like it here and am fine about living here and being here. That’s because I would never allow such a thing as weather dictate my happiness. My only issue with the weather here is I was told the weather was perfect, spring like weather all year long. So I came here with the intention of being warmer and it being a bit more sunny, that’s all. Now that I have lived here myself, I am prepared for what the weather may bring.
Last week I met a gringo young lady, who is living here with her parents and she told us that she is moving back to the states (Miami) because of the weather. She says she is too cold here. She is leaving her family because of the weather. Comparatively speaking to snowy, freezing weather in say, Canada or Minnesota, the weather is perfect here. But for those people who truly love snow and cold that kind of weather is perfect for them and then the weather here is not perfect for them. So then I think you just have to experience it for yourself.
One word of advice from me: if you do come here to explore Ecuador, just remember to rent a house or apartment with a fireplace or wood stove for those chilly days because these cement homes do not warm up!
Take care! Hasta Luego!