December 13, 2015

Does Cuenca Have Neighborhoods to Avoid from High Priced Rents?

Ask Frank and Angie: Can you recommend the top 5 neighborhoods to avoid if you want to avoid the gringo pricing, and the top 5 to focus on for best pricing, ambiance? We totally agree that we need to keep prices down for the benefit of all. 
Move in day - our rental house $250 per month
 First, we’d like to say that it is always a pleasant surprise when we receive emails from prospective expats to Cuenca Ecuador like this one. It gives us encouragement to keep on trucking and to see that we’re not the only ones who have the pricing awareness and determination to keep prices from rising too fast like they have in other popular travel destinations abroad.
 

As you can see, we changed the question posed because there really are not neighborhoods to avoid for best rental pricing or neighborhoods for best pricing. It is true, in general the areas where there are not a lot of gringos living, you may find better priced rentals, but we’ve seen outrageously overpriced rentals in all areas of Cuenca. 
 

For example: It is quite possible to get gringo gouged on your rent in any neighborhood in Cuenca; Just as it is possible to find a fair priced rental in the gringo preferred neighborhoods.  That’s what we do for you; we find fair deals in good neighborhoods.
 

It is NOT always the neighborhood that you need to avoid; usually it is greedy / unethical landlords that you have to avoid…it is unfortunate but it is reality of life in popular expat destinations. Homeowners and real estate agents love the tourist pricing and it is something that is somewhat difficult but not impossible to avoid.
 

We often find fair rental prices in nice sought out neighborhoods.  They have gotten somewhat harder to find but they are still in the Cuenca rental market. Some landlords just happen to be a bit more reasonable and will negotiate the price because they want tenants that will stay long-term, pay their rent on time and keep the place clean, and honestly, not all Ecuadorians are in the “greed game”.
 

In general, rental prices have gone up in Cuenca Ecuador. Demands from foreigners and knowing what the gringo prefers in a rental unit, has upped Cuenca’s rental prices more than 100% in five years. Has the bubble popped? Not so much…we’re seeing a slight pin hole and the bubble on rentals stabilizing ever so slightly. It’s still not anything to write home and tell mom about.  

As soon as you see some newbie vlogger online gasping at cheap rents in some other area outside of Cuenca, just as soon, you start seeing massive gringo gouging prices on properties in these "newer" locales.  Will it ever end?

Cuenca Ecuador Pricing Precedent
 

It works like this. A gringo sees an apartment or house he likes (any neighborhood) and doesn’t negotiate; they just pay the asking price and this is what starts the uptrend on rental prices. The next gringo comes along but he is a negotiator and tries to negotiate the price with the landlord, knowing full well it is an over-priced unit. The landlord won’t budge and says “the last gringo paid “such and such price” and I won’t go any lower”.   

We hear this over and over again how the last gringo paid such and such price, which is always overpriced. What do we do? We walk away from these rentals that are based on greed!
 

The landlord knows that a naïve gringo will come along sooner or later and rent the unit at the price he is asking. PRECEDENT IS SET.  It is a vicious cycle that continues to revolve into higher and higher rents. It is a simple concept, but this is how rents get out of control in popular expat locations overseas.
 

Now, it can go the other way too.  We find fair and workable Ecuadorian landlords with apartments at reasonable prices and it might be in a popular gringo neighborhood.  So you see, it can work both ways.  The point is you can’t go by just the neighborhood and think you will automatically be targeted for a higher rent; or automatically get a lower rent. You have to do the work of searching.
 

Most Ecuadorians will negotiate with you on the price, but in the apartments that have had only gringos living in them, the prices just keep going up. We have to face the fact that we’re someday going to have much higher rents in Cuenca Ecuador than what we are seeing now. When we look at travel abroad trends in other popular expat destinations it tells us that Cuenca Ecuador is on the radar.
 

FYI: If we were to mention an area or neighborhood that has not spiked as fast as some (westside) neighborhoods have, it would be the eastside of town near the Monay Mall area. See this article that explores the eastside in detail.
 

Until we write again…
 

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!

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