May 18, 2014

Confusing Information and Misinformation about Living in Cuenca Ecuador

It’s very easy for information to become less than factual, especially when it gets passed around all over forums.  You know how it goes, after something has been told and retold and then retold again by several different folks information can become downright confusing, misleading, and or simply incorrect to newcomers to Cuenca.
  
Everyone has their own experience to report. No one experience is correct, nor is it wrong, it is just what it is “for them”.  It certainly does not mean that someone else’s experience will be “your experience”. 

This is why a good rule of thumb is to hear and read information by the source(s) that control it and established it, if at all possible.  We should never take someone else’s opinions or experiences as set in stone truth. Not only that but we all have to do the same amount of due diligence when moving to a third world country, by experiencing everything for ourselves!

Good diligence dictates that we need to accept all information available, not only that which suits us best. 

When people try to get a free ride they usually end up not enjoying their experience as much.  We should not expect or assume anything!! It is our own attentiveness to detail in our observations and our own experiences that makes our understanding so much better and enjoyable.   

Misinformation 1 – The tap water in Cuenca has amoebas and parasites so you have to boil it first or buy bottled water. 

Actuality:  Cuenca’s water system is fantastic. It is far superior to the city water in most northern country areas! We have been drinking the water, straight from the faucet, without a filter, since day one of our arrival and we’re not dead yet, nor have we gotten sick, nor do we feel sick!  The water also tastes excellent!

Update 2016- sadly we have to report that we did get parasites in Cuenca, not that the water is not drinkable, but because they turn the water off so often now with the lightrail work that we got parasites. We're not the only ones, other blogs and expats have also reported getting the same parasites (Entamoeba Histolytica) as we did in Cuenca. 

You can get parasites from dirty pipes and letting water sit in the pipes for long periods of time and then drinking it. We recommend to NOT drink tap water from older buildings in El Centro either, which invariably have antiquated pipes. 

Update 2017 - Still all true, however, since the construction of the light rail the water goes off so often that we now recommend travelers to Cuenca just buy bottled water to be on the safe side until they get the tram up and running and they stop turning off the water! 

There are times when the city works on pipes and at that time there is a risk of contaminated waterThat’s why we always keep stored water on hand for those occasions. 

Misinformation 2 - You can retire in Cuenca on $900 dollars a month. 

Actuality: If you live in a small apartment or house for $300 dollars; and if you seldom eat anything out other than the typical almuerzo for lunch and dinner; if you ride the bus rather than take a taxi; if you don’t buy imported foods, clothing, etc; if you text rather than talk on your cell phone; if you have the lowest/slowest Internet plan of $33; if you keep your utilities down to $50; If you never need to go to the doctor; and you can keep your food budget down to $200 a month; and lastly, if you can keep your miscellaneous expenditures down to $100 dollars per month, well then you might be able to make it on $900 a month.  

But we don’t think this is what the mainstream retire abroad press meant when they published the article on how you can retire on $900 a month and live like a king in Cuenca Ecuador, do you? Did they tell you all that above? And actually for those of you who did not see it, they first were touting “live like a king in Cuenca Ecuador on $600 a month, not too long ago. 

They forgot to tell their readers this is only possible with integration and immersion into the Ecuadorian lifestyle. 

Update 2016 - The new amount you can retire on in Cuenca is $1,500 to $2,000!


Facts dictate that if you’re looking for u.s. standards, you may have to spend more than in the u.s.

Misinformation 3 – All Ecuadorians are nice (honest) folks. 
Actuality:  Does that really need explaining? 

Misinformation 4 – Cuenca Ecuador has dry air. 
Actuality: Cuenca is semi-humid climate and actually has fairly high humidity most of the time.    Click here to see the weekly Cuenca weather forecast. 

If you go by "feeling" well then you may not feel the humidity is that high because the air is thin and it is not hot in Cuenca, but we did a 8-week weather humidity experiment and Cuenca is almost always at around 75% humidity or higher, especially in the homes.

Because of this the homes are cool and can harbor mold spores. You need to keep windows cracked open all day to keep mold growth down. See our 8 week series mold experiment here. 

As always, feeling can be subjective: someone from Houston may “feel” it is dry, while some from New Mexico may “feel” it is damp. 

Misinformation 5 - Go to “such and such blog” or “such and such forum” for SPECIFIC documents (and information about process) you will need for your residency. 

Unless you go to the OFFICIAL Ecuador Embassy website this is the worse information you can receive on forums. Click here for the OFFICIAL WEBSITE for Immigrant Visas (in English) or copy and paste the (below) link into your browser. 

http://cancilleria.gob.ec/immigrant-visas/?lang=en 

Actuality: Understand, everyone has something to say about their experience with the immigration process. But the fact is, no two instances are the same…and each lawyer cooks the broth differently. 

One week you need this paperwork, the next week, you don’t need this document, but the next day, you do need this document…this week this law is imposed that wasn’t previously, etc, etc.

The BEST place to find out FOR SURE what paperwork you will need for your particular visa is to go to OFFICIAL Ecuadorian Embassy Website…they make the laws and changes and they update the amendments on their website!

If confused about a document you can call the immigration office, or better yet, show up at the immigration department and talk to an official sitting behind a desk.  Have them write down on a piece of paper, everything you will need for your residency. Get their name and write it down on the list so you will not forget; this way you can say “so and so” told you these are the documents you needed, just in case something goes awry. 

Misinformation 6 – You can get your Ecuadorian residency visa in 30-days

Actuality:  Sure, some (few) people get their residency in 30-days. Many people will not be able to get their residency in just 30-days.  That might be you, so plan accordingly.  The reality is even when you think all of your paperwork is in order, snags, changes, and misinformation/miscommunication occurs.   

Ecuador Immigration videos link - Expat Andrea tells her story. 

Misinformation 7 – Most of the things you mention (Referring to article on our blog) in post called “Cuenca Has Been Discovered” are NOT because of being 'discovered'. They are things the gov't has implemented (ie; traffic police, controlling vendors, fireworks preventing a major fire, gas subsidies, etc etc)....they have nothing to do with foreigners coming here.

Actuality – the new vendor regulations, all the new traffic cops, and no more fireworks (because they are loud at night) have EVERYTHING to do with Cuenca being named the best retirement city in the world!! Anyone who thinks differently is not really in the swing of things.  

When a new place becomes discovered, as Cuenca has for the last four years in a row, it begins to improve all the things that gringos and Cuencano-gringos gripe about.   

You don’t think the locals complain about the noise of the fireworks do you, (they’re the ones doing the fireworks), or the vendors taking up too much of the sidewalk. All of the things (mostly the charms of Cuenca) that are changing are a direct cause of influx of returning north Americanized Cuencanos and gringos retiring to the “best retirement city in the world”. 

Cuenca now has to live up to that label, otherwise how could it truly be “the best city” if they don’t continue to change the old world by modeling it to the new world?

Misinformation 8 – It is not safe to wave down a taxi in Cuenca. 
 Actuality: The only thing hailing down a taxi in Cuenca might be unsafe for is to your pocket book! 

Misinformation 9 – Rents are cheaper in Cuenca compared to the u.s. 

Actuality: For whom are they cheaper? For Californians and New Yorkers, a majority of the rest of the world is cheaper to them.   Still people just don’t get it; they continue to compare South America to North America in everything.  Did you forget that monthly wages are $320 dollars per month here?!

When we continually compare as we do, talking with people about how “cheap” it is to live in Cuenca” it begins to form some kind of brain-wash that Cuenca is cheap. Why don’t you ask your average Ecuadorian if they think a bag of oranges is cheap or the apartment they rent is cheap? Ask them.

Did you see the recent rant on Craigslist from a resentful Ecuadorian about foreigners coming here and raising rent prices? Here it is.

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Craigslist Post/Advertisement Warns of hate crimes against Expats in Ecuador

Posted on March 30, 2014 • Filed under: Ecuador, Internet, Social Issues, TRAVEL

Follows is a Craiglist.org post or advertisement found in the Ecuador section of Craigslist under housing or real estate/ It was originally posted CL >ecuador >all vivienda >piso vacaciones

★★★★★★Warning…WARNING. ALL YOU EXPATS coming to Ecuador racking the rental prices very very high. Which is very rude, especially when…..expats this is ★NOT★Your land…..There is all ready hate Crimes….happening and will continue by the people of Ecuador……All you Expats should be humble and I mean very humble, because you guys are pissing the people of……Thats what basically happened in Mexico..So keep doing this, you will make it Harder for the people of Ecuador which this is there land to live….and they will retaliate.

You dont speaking fluent spanish your out of luck….Any new Expats that are going to Ecuador and has hear of how cheap it is……Yes but most on… Cl …list are thinking there back where they came from..Wait until u r in Ecuador and do your own research…..u will find lots of affordable places to rent. 450.00 and less… Yes I know I rented a 1 bedroom 1 bath, furnished utilities included in a safe and secure place, just 1 block from the malecon for $300.00. do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

post id: 4386796962
posted: 7 days ago http://quito.es.craigslist.org/vac/4386796962.html

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Now you can see how (some of) the Ecuadorians feel when “rich Americanos” go around bragging about how cheap everything is in their country.  Of course those who are going to reap the benefits of it are going to raise prices and gringo us!! 

We also made the mistake (when we first moved here) to call everything cheap, but we now stop ourselves from doing it. Besides, everything is not cheap here.

Instead of listening to Californians, New Yorkers or other large u.s. metro area residents that say how cheap it is, how about asking those that come down here and then leave because they can’t afford it, if they think it is cheap.  Oh, you haven’t heard from one of those lately?

If you live here then it is what it is.  We need to live and let live and quit bragging about how cheap it is.  If you have not yet read the article, “How We Avoid Gringo Targeting by Using the Rule of 3 and 4” we recommend you read it.

For more money-saving expat information don't forget to read the newcomers landing guides for Cuenca and Quito.

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How to Be Responsible Expatters

2 comments:

  1. I agree with you on this 200%. If you are not going to adapt and live like the Ecuadorians -- Stay Home!! I live in South Carolina and have made several trips to Ecuador. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. We frequently get people to say "Our budget is $500-$700 a month for a rental. Can you help us? We're wondering where these people think they're moving to. Do they think they're just moving across u.s. state lines? They must think they're moving to the "best retirement city" in the world, instead of just a mountain town in a third world country with an annual GDP per person of only $8000.
    There's lots of small town north America where you can rent for that! And everyone speaks your language...Or, if you have that kind of a budget, and are sure you want foreign living, why not try Argentina? I hear it is more European than Europe. Ecuador is not even close to Europe and may never be.

    ReplyDelete

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