July 30, 2011

What We Appreciate Most about Cuenca Ecuador (Updated 2015)

We revived this article that we wrote four years ago, complete with updates. We're still here and this is why! This post still stands true for us four years later. 

There are many things that we appreciate about Cuenca such as the fresh wholesome food in the Mercado and in the many family run restaurants; we appreciate the patient and friendly Cuencano’s as we try and speak their language; we appreciate the splendor of the mountains that envelop Cuenca and keep her protected from the harshness of winter, and the beautiful flowing rivers that adorn all of Cuenca. Ah, wonderful Cuenca has so much that is loved by us but what we appreciate most is the closeness of families.

Why We Moved to Ecuador!

Update 2015: Our number one reason for moving to Ecuador in June 2011was for the abundance of fresh, clean, wholesome food. Of course we had other reasons to choose Ecuador and it was because of the awesome family oriented culture; both of these wonderful features about Ecuador helped us make the move to Ecuador.

It is not unusual to see fathers holding hands with their daughters as they walk down the street, or whole families, dad, sons, daughters, and mother holding hands walking down the street going out to dinner. Mothers and daughters walk arm in arm and big brothers and sisters keep an eye on their little siblings. They work together, play together, pray together, and stay together. Latin American's, for the most part, put families first and that is a beautiful thing and makes for a beautiful atmosphere. 

As we travel around through the city of Cuenca, we see family run Panaderia’s (bread shops), restaurants, hardware stores, cafĂ©’s and small grocery stores that line the cobblestone streets wherever you are in Cuenca, whether you are in colonial downtown or driving along the avenue of  the Americas.

Although there are plenty of Universities here and many young people attend, there is not as much individualism in Ecuador as you see in North America. It’s all about family and relationships here. Families work together and help each other. It’s not uncommon for the young people to live at home until they are married. Businesses and schools in Ecuador shut down between 1:00 and 3:00 pm so families can dine out together or dine at home together for an extended lunch. Now if that is not family oriented, I don’t know what is.

There are very few nursing homes in Ecuador. Unlike in the U.S where most grown children put their elderly parents in a nursing home, here, they take care of their own. The ideals and values that are intertwined within the family unit here in Ecuador is similiar to how North America was back in the 1950’s, however many things are changing.

The closeness of family here is greatly appreciated by us!
If you love seeing families going about their day, caring for one another, you'll love Cuenca Ecuador!!

Update 2015: Now about the food. We have clearly observed that most people lose weight when they move here. The food is no doubt much cleaner and fresher, which accounts for some of the weight loss, nice complexion, skin rashes disappearing, etc, etc.

Speaking of food, another exceptional aspect about Ecuador is the amount of healthy foods available. Other Latin American countries do not have such a variety of grains and healthy foods available, or at decent prices. If you're a "health nut" (lol) you'll find Ecuador, especially Cuenca and Quito has everything you need. You will have to go to a variety of stores but you can find health foods, grains, fresh herbs and other healthy products in Ecuador that you will not find so easily or maybe not at all in other Latin countries.  

And so we really appreciate these things about Ecuador, and even more so, four years later!
We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!

July 27, 2011

Cuenca Restaurants: Eating Out for $2.50 or Less!

It's amazing but you can eat out in an Ecuadorian Restaurant for $2.50 or less. The meal is cooked fresh from start to finish. The meal consists of three courses, and sometimes the dessert comes first, it all depends on which restaurant you are at. This restaurant in the video served us a delicious yogurt drink with pineapple juice. I don't think I ever tasted yogurt so good. Then came the soup which had delicious cauliflower and potatoes and soy based meat balls. And finally they served the main meal of rice, beans, deep fried zucchini, and two vegetable salads. The meal was very tasty and wholesome.

July 26, 2011

What Expats Say They Miss the Most after Moving to Ecuador

We've done our share of research about Ecuador before we moved here, about two years to be exact. Frank talked (on Skype) with other expats who have already lived here for a couple years on just about everything we could think of. Our questions were never ending. We asked about cost of food, clothes, restaurants, furniture, housing costs, dental work, entertainment, weather, etc, etc. Before moving to Ecuador we also considered moving to the countries of either Panama or Chile. Well, we did our research and chose Ecuador and well, here we are. Why we chose Ecuador is a whole other blog post, which will be coming soon!

Our Family Does Not Miss Anything Back in the States

We (Frank, Angie, Brandon, Angelo, and Alex) do not miss anything back in the United States! These pictures were taken on the last day of living in the United States.

Frank with our three sons

We like Cuenca! It is everything we thought it would be and more. The people are friendly (for the most part), the weather is great, the cost of living is ok (if you know how to shop for food, housing, clothing, furniture, etc)and the scenery is amazing. From colonial downtown architecture to beautiful parks with a flowing river running through it, to every kind of family run shop, and store imaginable. There are beautiful malls and shopping centers here too, nicer than in the states! There are beautiful mountains and countryside, and everything is so green. The flowers and trees are amazing! And most of the food is fresh and clean

We have everything we need for our daily living and comfort levels. Ok, ok, so things are slower here (manana) and many things are done somewhat differently than what most people are used to, but that is the beauty of it. Live and let live. enjoy the simplicity and be happy!! We live in a beautiful home, we drink the tap water, we eat out in family run restaurants and eat wholesome home cooked meals, we buy extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese from a big, clean grocery store, we meet friendly people, we have all of the comforts of home but at a far better financial means and lifestyle. There is nothing that we miss in the States.Our family has gone local in Cuenca Ecuador.

Expats Miss Their Family

Talking to other expats and reading several expats blogs the one thing they miss the most when they move to Ecuador is "family". Many expats have moved to Cuenca or Quito because of the better health care system and cost of living for their retirement, meaning their retirement money goes a lot further here than back in the states. But most expats have daughters, sons, and grandchildren back in the sates. This means they must travel back and forth if they want to visit their children or grandchildren.

It is difficult to leave family behind. Fortunately we have our three sons with us here in Ecuador, and it is a wonderful blessing to have all three of them here with us!! We do, of course have extended family members, such as brothers and sisters in the states, and Frank and I both have our mothers living in the states as well. I'm trying to talk my mother into coming here for a visit so she can see if she likes it here. But I lived 3,000 miles away from all of my family anyway, since they lived on the west coast and I on the east coast.

If you are a family oriented person, leaving children and grandchildren (missing their growing up years) and moving to a far away country may not be right for you. This is something you must truly think about and contemplate. Unless you have the financial resources, good health, and time to travel back and forth to visit with your family a couple times a year, you may want to advise against moving to a far away country, or bring them with you.

July 23, 2011

We're Food Shopping in one of the biggest Outdoor Markets in Cuenca (Fiera Libre Mercado)

This is one of the biggest outdoor markets in Cuenca. This is where the farmers bring their crops to sell to the public. If you like fruits and vegetables it is a great place to shop. Every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable can be found here. On Wednesday they also sell clothes and other household items.

July 21, 2011

Cuenca ~ Simply Beautiful!

Cuenca Ecuador with a population of about a half a million is a very clean city. I've been here for about 3 weeks now and I have noticed that most Ecuadorians take great pride in their beautiful Cuenca. There are sweepers and garbage picker uppers that police all of Cuenca throughout the day. Walking down the cobblestone streets you hardly ever see a piece of garbage on the ground, and if there is garbage it will soon be picked up by the groups of young people who keep the city clean. Here are some pictures of Cuenca around the river downtown. We think the old town Cuenca looks a lot like southern Italy towns.

July 19, 2011

Here is the House We Rent For $250 a Month in Cuenca!

The house we rent in Cuenca is about 150M (1600sq ft) and was built in 2008. It is a cement home with 3 bedrooms, office, sun room, living room, dining room, kitchen, outdoor laundry patio area under roof, small green area, and 2-1/2 baths. There is tile throughout and the bedrooms and office have hardwood floors. The kitchen has granite counter tops. Living room has a sunken hardwood floor from the dining room, and both of these rooms have about 1/2 thick crown molding and lots of detail. we are enjoying our new rental home in Cuenca. 

UPDATE: You will obviously pay more for amenities such as 24 hour security, or a big yard, or many bedrooms, or furnishings, etc. But you still need to watch out for price gouging. We  live in a wonderful, safe, Ecuadorian neighborhood and we built all of our own furniture, plus we have a beautiful view of the Andes Mountains. This house was renting for $350 but because it had not been rented in awhile we negotiated the price down $100. We also had to sign a lease for one year. Update: we signed a second lease and still rent for $250.

Here are some pictures I took when we first moved in.

Living room looking towards the office and sunroom

Dining room and living room area

another view of dining and living area


Another view of the kitchen

Bath 1from master bdrm.

Bath 1 from master bdrm.

Bath 2 in Hallway

Half bath 3 (social bath)

Hall leading to 3 bedrooms

Outdoor laundry area and patio under roof but outside

Each of the 3 bedrooms has its own built in closets just like this one.

Last but not least, this is a propane hot water unit. I know, it looks small but it does heat the water just fine. It costs about $2 to fill the tank (its a big tank, oops forgot to take picture of the propane tank) and with five people taking showers every day, and three sons that take 15 to 20 minute showers, we have had to fill it once a week so far. So, it costs about $8 a month for all of us to take hot showers daily. We're quite happy with that. We've been told that electricity is about $20 a month. Our new stove and oven is propane too. When we get the bill in another few weeks, I'll let you know in a new post all about the utilities costs, including propane usage for a family of five living here in Cuenca.
UPDATE: June 2012 - it now cost $2.50 to fill the gas tank
Update: December 2014 - We still pay $2.50 for a tank of gas.

Here's photos of the living, dining, and kitchen after we built our furniture and settled in.

July 15, 2011

Food Shopping in Cuenca Ecuador

This video is about some of the fruit and vegetables prices in Cuenca. Now, mind you, this food is home grown right here in Cuenca! All the produce we show you in this video is organically grown. Now you can't beat that.

July 14, 2011

Here We Are Taking a Busetta (minivan) from Guayaquil to Cuenca Ecuador

This was a beautiful and scenic drive traveling from the coast of Guayaquil to the Andes of Cuenca. There were lots and lots of farms and beautiful countryside.

July 13, 2011

Ecuador Food and Cooking

Most of the expats that come to Ecuador (North Americans and Europeans) describe the food here in Ecuador as bland and not that great. But my family and I tend to differ. We feel blessed to be eating freshly grown, organic foods. Besides that, our diet is already similar to the Ecuadorian staple diet of rice, vegetables, beans and chicken, with the exception that we eat brown rice rather than white.

Let me set the record straight. The food here in Cuenca is wholesome and simple. If you want cuisine food, Ecuador has it, but you will have to cook it yourself or eat in a fancy restaurant and pay $6 to $18 a plate, which is fine once in awhile, but why come to Ecuador to eat North American or European foods? Rather than complain about the food, learn to enjoy the wholesome flavor of what real food supposed to taste like, and get healthy in the process.

The standard Ecuadorian fare tastes as if you prepared it at home and it is made with all fresh ingredients. I have been eating the same way as I did in the states, but adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet and have lost over 5 pounds in two weeks!! This is because we are walking more and because the food has no chemicals, additives, or other bad stuff in it that causes weight gain.

The Ecuadorians do have some great snacking foods here. I think they love to eat! What's odd about that is no one here is fat even though everyone is walking around eating something, from ice cream on a cone, to a homemade pastry or a plantain with cheese on it. Why are most people here not fat even though they seem to always be eating? My guess is because the food is not laden with chemicals and most Ecuadorians walk a lot. Cuenca, the city we live in, is a wonderful cobblestone street, southern Italy kind of a town, which makes it ideal for walking to most everything. We are blessed to be a part of the Ecuadorian culture.

If you come here expecting spicy Mexican food or cuisine type food when eating Ecuadorian style fare than you will be disappointed. But if you come here wanting to get healthy and to taste the flavor of freshly prepared basic foods, such as chicken, beans, rice, fresh cheeses, variety of organic vegetables and fruits than I think you will be happy.

July 09, 2011

Hotel Europa Review Guayaquil Ecuador

On our journey to Cuenca Ecuador we had an overnight layover in Guayaquil Ecuador. We stayed at Hotel Europa because of its convenience to the airport, but I would not recommend this hotel. First of all, the pictures you see on the Internet for this hotel must have been taken 20 or 30 years ago. Secondly, there is not a free shuttle to and from the airport like their website says, and thirdly, the price is too high considering what you get. Even so, the staff/owners were helpful and pleasant. Watch the video and decide for yourself.

July 03, 2011

Moving to Cuenca Ecuador

We have just moved to South America to Cuenca Ecuador. We will be posting articles and videos detailing our lives in S.A. This video is of our plane trip from Miami To Quito Ecuador on Lan Ecuador.

We hope you will join us in our travels to South America

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