Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Alice Gives us a Tour of Her Lovely Rental Home in Cuenca Ecuador


This is Alice's home. We truly appreciate Alice and all of the time she has given us, so we can give it back and share it with you, our devoted readers and viewers. Alice's home is amazing, but hey, this is Cuenca and you never know what you might discover.

Enjoy the video tour of Alice's rental home!

Stay tuned, we have more with Alice coming up!

                         

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cuenca Expat's Retirement Dream Comes True! (4 of 6 Cost of Living)

In this interview Alice shares more details about her cost of living. We already know that Alice rents her beautiful home for $350 a month and she goes to FREE symphonies for part of her entertainment of going out in the evenings. Now, find out how much her transportation and utilities are. We think you'll be amazed! Plus, Alice begins to show us her home...stay tuned for next video for the whole house tour!

             

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cuenca Expat's Retirement Dream Comes True by Going Local! (3 of 6 Loving Life in Cuenca)

In this interview Alice tells us how much she pays for rent and shares more wonderful details about how she is loving her new life in Cuenca Ecuador. We are so grateful that Alice has given us her time and talked with us about her retirement life here in Cuenca. Stay tuned because Alice is going to be giving us a grand tour of her new home.

            

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cuenca Expat's Retirement Dream Comes True by Going Local! (2 of 6 Banking, SS, and Safety)

Alice is back! Today Alice shares with us some great info about social security benefits, retirement banking and how safe she feels living alone in a Ecuadorian neighborhood. We are so happy for Alice and that she is living her dream right here in beautiful Cuenca.  Enjoy part 2 of 6 with Alice settling in to her new home in Cuenca. Stay tuned because we have much more to share! 

                 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Alice Retires in Cuenca Ecuador and Rents for $350

We are pleased to share with our readers how an expat's retirement dream has come true in Cuenca Ecuador. Alice shares all of the details of why she chose Cuenca for her retirement and about her new life in Cuenca. Alice also talks about some very important and informative aspects of retirement life for the expat.

In part one of our six part series, Alice tells us "why" she chose Cuenca Ecuador for her retirement city. Below the Video is all the video series with Alice.

             
                        

Alice Retires in Cuenca Ecuador and Rents for $350

Expats Retirement Dream Comes True by Going Local (1of 6)
Why Alice Chose Cuenca Ecuador

Expats Retirement Dream Comes True by Going Local (2 of 6)
Banking, Social Security, and Safety in Cuenca

Expats Retirement Dream Comes True by Going Local (3 of 6)
Alice Really is Enjoying Her New Life in Cuenca

Expats Retirement Dream Comes True by Going Local (4 of 6)
Alice Shares Her Cost of Living

Expats Retirement Dream Comes True by Going Local (5 of 6)
Tour of Alice's $350 Rental in Cuenca!

Expats Retirement Dream Comes True by Going Local(6 of 6)
Alice Talks about Furnishing Her Rental Home

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Playas Ecuador by Taxi

We only stayed in Playas for one day and we were off to Salinas again. As we were leaving I took a short video of the town of Playas while riding in the taxi. I take a lot of video in taxis and buses because it makes it so much easier to see a good part of a city area that way rather than by walking. Not only that, but sometimes you don't want to be walking around with a camera. We talk about this in our crime and safety section of the blog.  In fact, once when Frank and I walked off the beaten path in Bahia de Caraquez, a local elderly women told me to put my camera away because it was a dangerous area for crime. I put my camera away and we got out of that area as well. So sometimes, just as a precaution, we'll do videos while riding in a cab, bus, or trolley...this is one of those times.

              

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dispelling the Myths about Quito Ecuador

Quito is a really neat and beautiful big city. We really found Quito to be a nice, pleasant city with some very nice people. Quito caters to those who like the big city life with lots of things to do. You won't get bored in Quito, that's for sure. We have heard some negative things said about Quito... but we're ready to dispel those myths and bring forth some facts, and of course, our personal observations.

1. MYTH: Quito is Dirty

FACT:  Quito is NOT a dirty city; in fact, we found it to be quite pleasant and clean. Of course in the tourist district where all the night clubs, discotheques and bars are it can get cluttered with garbage, bottles, cigarette butts and broken glass from the night before, but they clean it the very next day and by early afternoon the debris from the night’s party-goers is all cleaned up. 

All big cities have areas where there is more garbage on the streets, Quito is no exception, but you might not want to live, or even enter into such neighborhoods anyway. Overall, Quito was just as clean (they have garbage cleaners and city garbage sweepers) as Cuenca, which was very surprising since it is a much bigger city. Notice in our videos, the streets, they are sparkling clean.

2. MYTH: The locals are not very nice and some were rude. (this was said in comparison to Cuenca’s people).

FACT: We visited Quito twice just recently and we stayed in Quito for over a month and never experienced any unpleasant locals. We felt that the people were just as helpful and friendly as they are in Cuenca. No matter where one lives in the world you’re bound to run into rude people…it goes with the territory of travel.

Sadly, we hear from the locals in Cuenca that the expats are rude to them, so it works both ways. It is far worse to be the rude expat than the rude local, at least in our book.

3. Myth: There is more smog in Quito than in Cuenca

FACT:  People like to compare Quito to Cuenca. For one thing Cuenca is barely a half a million people and Quito is 2 million people! Therefore, to compare a huge metropolitan city (four times as big) to the quaint little town of Cuenca is really not conducive to any real facts… But anyway, we found Quito to have numerous electric trolleys (fewer buses) for local transportation and because of that there is far LESS diesel fuel pollution in Quito than in Cuenca, if you were to compare. 


When Cuenca gets her light rail up and running she will also have less air pollution as well.

FYI: buses don’t even travel in the colonial district of Quito so there is minimal diesel fuel pollution. At the time of this writing we feel that there is more car and bus pollution in the colonial area of Cuenca than there is in Quito.

4. MYTH: Quito is more expensive than Cuenca

FACT:  We keep hearing this but what we experienced when visiting Quito ourselves, and what we are finding out through our research this is just another myth. Well here, let’s take a look.

Rentals
Just as an example for comparison purposes, there are a lot more vacant homes, apartments and condos to go around in Quito and so it is easier to find a nice 3/2 house or apartment in the $300 to $350 dollar price range than in Cuenca. According to the cost of living index rents are about $100 to $125 cheaper per month in Quito for the same amount of apartment. Click on the city name to see the index.

Rent Per Month - Quito
 

Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre $300
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre $200
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre $475
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre $350.00
Rent Per Month - Cuenca

Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre $400
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre $300
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre $650
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre $450
 

Buying property

As far as purchasing property, we find there are some colonial homes with potential still under $100K in Quito (some need more restoration then others), while in Cuenca you’re looking at $350K (needs restored) up to 1M for a colonial home purchase in the colonial center.  And according to the cost of living price index, again, the price for buying a home or apartment outside of Quito city center is showing $214 per meter cheaper than in Cuenca!
So, Quito wins again.

Food prices


Food prices at the grocery stores in Quito do not cost more than in Cuenca. There are many Mercado’s in Quito where you can find great deals on fresh fruits and vegetables just like in Cuenca. Utilities do not cost more in Quito than in Cuenca.

The weather/climate is the same as in Cuenca, all year long, so you’ll spend the same amount on heating costs.  According to the cost of living index once again, food prices are better in the Quito grocery stores than in Cuenca, for most things. For example, rice, bread, milk, cheese, wine and cigarettes are cheaper in Quito than in Cuenca according to the cost of living index.
 

Dining out

The international priced restaurants are about the same in Quito as they are in Cuenca. Expect to be set back for a nice dinner about $8 to $15 dining out in a nice restaurant. FYI: Quito also has Almuerzo, Merienda, and Desayuno, and at the same $2 to $3 price as Cuenca. 

We ate out two times in the International restaurants and for five adults we were set back around $52 including the tip! These prices were the same as you’d expect to find in Cuenca. Not bad.

Transportation costs

We rode in a taxi several times within the same district and the driver only charged us $1. To go to the colonial district from La Mariscal district it will set you back about $4 to $5. That’s not bad considering the time it takes and the traffic. Buses and trolleys cost a whopping .25 cents.

According to the cost of living index taxis are cheaper in Quito!
 

Traveling 1 kilometer by taxi cab in Cuenca is $1.50, while Quito is $1 per kilometer.  Taxi start (normal tariff) is $1.50 in Cuenca which means no matter how far you need to go, even if it is just 4 blocks it will cost you $1.50. In Quito the taxi start (normal tariff) is just .45 cents. Meaning, if you just want to go 4 blocks it will set you back about .45 cents or maybe just .50 cents.

Health care

Health care is not more in Quito. Doctors do not charge more in the bigger city of Quito. A doctor’s visit in Quito will be between $10 to $40 dollars a visit. Prescriptions are much lower priced in Ecuador.

Entertainment

Quito boasts free concerts (National Symphony Orchestra) and other free musical admissions, just like Cuenca. In fact, Quito has many more free concerts because it is a bigger city.  Quito also has many superstar performances (not free of course) because it is a major hub for such big time concerts. 


How much you spend on entertainment is up to you but let us tell you this, there is a lot more to do and see in Quito and so your entertainment as far as cultural museums and tourist attractions means you might spend more in Quito if you do everything. 

The bottom line is, if we’re still comparing Quito to Cuenca, Quito is NOT more expensive than Cuenca. Although, because Quito is a super metropolis, you can spend as much as your budget permits. Quito has elegant high rise condos in the city center and then it has nice homes and apartments just outside of the city. So whatever you want to spend on cost of living, Quito will have no problem consuming it.

If you are considering moving to Ecuador, and you like the big city life, Quito may just be the place that fits your needs. We loved Quito and we'll be talking more about what it is that we loved about Quito in an up and coming post. 


There is so much more we will be exploring with you about moving and retiring to Quito Ecuador, so stay tuned to this blog and don't forget to subscribe with your email for all the latest posts.

Enjoying an Argentinean Musician While Riding the Bus

This time we have a performer from Argentina and he was pretty good. Last week we had local performer's, and the week before that, the musical team was from Columbia. We enjoy all the different musical solos and duets on the buses in Cuenca. It makes riding the bus a whole lot more entertaining, that's for sure. If you plan on moving to Cuenca, you don't want to miss taking the bus now and again, and you certainly can't beat the cost at just .25 cents. Enjoy the video.

             

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cuenca Ecuador Cathedral in Front of Park Calderon

Today was the day after Carnaval and Park Calderon in Cuenca was bustling with tourists from everywhere!

We sat and watched the people for awhile and saw many tourists (around 10 photogs) photograph the cathedral today and in a span of like 20 minutes.

If you didn't already know this beautiful cathedral is one of Cuenca's hot spots.
This photo was taken inside the cathedral. Enjoy the video of the cathedral up close and all of the people bustling about.

     

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Prevalence of Petty Theft Crime in Ecuador (Latin America)

We consider petty crimes to be where there is no weapon involved and no physical abuse of any kind.  Crimes such as snatch and grab are fairly common happenings with foreigners and locals in Ecuador, as is pick-pocketing. Violent crime on expats is rare in the city of Cuenca and other small cities but it still happens occasionally.

What happens is a hoodlum or a group of hoodlum’s eye out something you are using and enjoying and they think they are entitled to it, such as your expensive cell phone or camera. To the thieves, owning such a piece of equipment spurs envy and desire, two emotions that cause some people (with no morals) to steal.


There is much more petty crime in the large Ecuadorian cities where there is more poverty and where there are a lot of “rich” tourists.  Tourism boosts crime, especially petty crime. Vulnerability and showing-off your things by tourists boosts petty crime considerably. Just the simple fact that “you are a tourist” tells the hoodlum that it is not going to be a big deal for you if you have to go buy yourself a new cell phone or camera when you get back home. Of course, it is not true but try telling the thieves that.


And this is the “state of mind” of those who steal things that do not belong to them. They have buried their conscience and justified in their mind that “all foreigners are rich” and therefore their stuff can be replaced. These hoodlums may even go as far as to pity themselves because they don’t have anything. “Oh poor me, attitude” spurs them on, especially when they eye out a “rich gringo” using his/her $1,500 camera and taking photos of the run down shacks in the neighborhood.


After all, if a foreigner pays $750 to $1,200 dollars a month for rent, eats in the most expensive restaurants in town every night, and or pays $80 to $100 per night for a small hotel room, why would they care about losing a cell phone or camera? The thief sees the foreigner as moneyed and sees himself as poor and needy, which gives him more justification to steal from the (so called) rich foreigners.


Think about it; we “supposedly” rich folks go to these third world countries wearing hundreds of dollars worth of Jewelry and clothing, staying in luxurious hotels, spending on one night’s dinner bill what they spend for the whole month’s family’s food bill! Yeah, you’re going to get robbed, and especially if you make yourself vulnerable and don’t blend in; two common mistakes we’ve seen foreigners make in Ecuador.


We know of several people personally who have been robbed within their first 30 days of their arrival when visiting Cuenca. One such incident was friends of ours, it was a “snatch and run” at around 4:30 pm on the stairs at Calle Larga.  The victim appeared as if she could not run after the thieves for various reasons and they felt confident in snatching off the beautiful, shiny necklace she was wearing. And you know what, the hoodlums were right, she could not run after them, nor could her husband.


Incidents like the one above can be prevented by not wearing flashy jewelry or any jewelry that gets noticed by these low-life thugs. Also, sadly the thieves do take advantage of seniors and it does not matter what time of day it is. If you happen to be a senior, or if you happen to just be an expat woman alone or with your friend or husband, and if you are wearing expensive, shiny jewelry, you are likely to get robbed eventually.


The best way to keep yourself from getting robbed is don’t wear shiny, noticeable jewelry on your person. Try to blend in as much as possible and never walk around Cuenca alone, especially where there are no other people.   Look around and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t wear a camera around your neck and use your cell phone in well lit areas where there are people. Don’t act rich. Don’t open your leather wallet and flash a bunch of big bills. You know that everyone eyes out wallets when you pull them out, and it is definitely no different here.


Be a smart, blending in, low profile expat and you probably will never encounter any problems. Behave like a show-off, unaware of what’s going on around you, and you will most likely get robbed of something sooner or later. For more about personal safety and crime in Cuenca, click here.  Your personal safety is really up to you because you’re in control of what happens to you!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Discover Cuenca Ecuador: Peaceful Protest, Children Rappers, and Attack of the Bull?

After a few months of walking around all over Cuenca and doing different things, we end up with a handful of short video scenes that we put together to give our readers a real inside look of Cuenca Ecuador. Most people that are moving to Ecuador appreciate these videos because it's the real deal; nothings staged, nothing is made to look like something its not. What you see in our videos is what you will see when you move to Ecuador. You will see peaceful protests on the streets, and you will see children working for a living (well, for their parents, anyway :-)) And you will see bulls and cows tied up all over the place but hopefully you won't ever encounter the (almost) bull attack!   LIFE IS GOOD IN ECUADOR!

                  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

This is the Hostel We Stayed at in Playas Beach: Los Patios

It's high season on the Ecuadorian coast right now but we did not see many people on the beach or even at this hostel. we only stayed one night in Playas and the next morning headed off to Salinas. The hostel was ok but it could use some updating, especially the tiny and plain rooms. For $33 for a double per night we thought it was a bit out of line. The rooms were very small with holes in the ceiling and dirty walls. The AC was so rackety and loud we couldn't hear the TV.  Before we paid we asked if they had WiFi and we were assured that we could get on the Internet. This was not the case. It was a disappointment.

The bedding was clean and they did give us clean towels. For the price though, we've stayed at much cleaner and nicer places, such as Diamond of the Sea hostel in Salinas for just $15 per person per night; that is if you stay more than a week, and they have a kitchenette too!

So why did we decide to expose the name of this hostel? A reader commented that she would like to know, and we feel it only fair to share our personal reviews and recommendations of the places we stay at and the restaurants we eat in. And, perhaps if owners see our reviews they may just make some much needed improvements.Please scroll down past the video to see all of our videos about Playas beach.

             

Playas Beach in Ecuador - Trashy Beach!
We're Back at the Beach and This Time in Playas - ...
Playas Ecuador by Taxi

Monday, February 4, 2013

Playas Beach in Ecuador - Trashy Beach!

We we're disappointed with Playas beach. The beaches we're really big and wide but unfortunately, they were also the filthiest we've ever seen in Ecuador. We've been to 15 or 20 beach towns/beaches in Ecuador and this one steals first place for the most garbage. Although, playas beach has much potential as being a wonderful beach because of its vastness, they don't clean it! This was a big eye-sore for us. There was garbage everywhere, even though there were garbage cans on the beach.

Playas has a big-wide beach area with big waves, something that Salinas does not have, yet, the refuse on the beach kept us from truly appreciating it. We sat down in the sand for all of fifteen minutes and then we walked about a mile on the beach to see if there were cleaner sections, and surprisingly there were not. Sadly, we decided to leave the very next morning and we were off to Salinas, again!

             

Saturday, February 2, 2013

We're Back at the Beach and This Time in Playas - VACATION!

We found this nice looking hostel online to stay at once we get to Playas for $25 bucks a night for two people, but when we get there they don't answer the gate. The taxi driver trekked through muddy back roads (must of just down poured for 10-days) and he even whistled for the management for about ten minutes, still no answer. Apparently they went out of business...or maybe they we're out cleaning up the beach but we doubt that too. We think, as you'll see in a later video, why they aren't getting any business. Two big things are going against Playas beach...none of the roads are paved and so in rainy season it is REALLY muddy...and the beaches were literally full of garbage. We're sure hostel and hotels are losing customers over it.

We ended up staying at another beach front hostel for $33 for both of us per night. We were told the room had Wifi, but of course, it did not. It was also very small room and very old and the AC was rackety. We should expose the name but we won't, the staff was nice and they were accommodating as best as they could considering the situation...maybe they'll see this blog post and take care of the issues they have control over, such as noisy AC and saying the hostel had Wifi when it clearly did not.

You know, these little things mean a lot to us travelers who are just trying to enjoy a vacation. Frank and I never complain we just don't stay any longer than we have to in places where we feel there is no value for your money.