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How to Best Adjust to Your New Life in Cuenca Ecuador and Stay Healthy

Most of the expats that come here are of retirement age and we don’t like saying it but some of them are not in that great of health. Many newcomers when they first move here are in a jubilant state because they are enjoying the newness of everything; it’s like being on vacation and so we behave like we are on a vacation.  We don’t eat right and we usually do not get the needed rest we should when we’re sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings and hearing unfamiliar noises that we’re not accustomed too.
Chocolate sandwich?
 Traveling can be hard on the body in so many ways.

Don’t Let Illness Ruin Your First Weeks in Cuenca

Some people (about half of the people who come here) become ill with bronchial coughs and colds when they first arrive.  We think this is caused from several different aspects such as the altitude, climate and air quality. Yes, believe it or not, the air is not that clean in Cuenca. Some people don’t notice the fumes much (maybe they're big city folk and used to it) and others have had to leave because the bad air was making them sick. 
Bus Exhaust
 Let Food BE Your Medicine

It is easy to overindulge when you first get here with the deep-fried foods, local cuisine, international fare and the many bakeries that abound in Cuenca. However, if you are still not quite acclimated to the change in altitude and climate, you may want to hold off on eating and drinking anything that could make your body’s resistance low and make you unwell. 

We can physically adjust better to our new life in Cuenca if we keep our bodily resistant levels up.  The best and easiest way to remain feeling great physically and emotionally is through our diet.  We can be in control of our health by making healthy food choices while our body goes through the adjustment period to our new surroundings.

When we first arrived we ate out in restaurants more often and we indulged in the many bakeries, and some of us would buy the street vendor deep fried potato chips and it slowed us down. This is not how we ate before we moved here and our bodies could tell the difference, although it took months for our bodies to tell us something wasn’t right since we were quite healthy before moving here. 
After about two months of this ‘refined foodie vacation diet’ we decided it was time to get back to our healthy eating habits…but then we found the mold hiding behind our kitchen drawers; we all became ill with sinus/lung issues because our immune system was lowered from not eating right when we first moved here.

Tip: We have found that the healthier a person is when they arrive, the easier it is for them to adjust to the altitude and all the other new things that come with living in the Andes Mountains of South America.  Even though there are some adjustments, most people do fine.

Haste Makes Waste

We noticed that a lot of newcomers seemed to be rushed when they first get here. They brought with them their fast-pace of life! Yikes, in Latin America? 
In fact, some of them have a container full of furniture coming at any day after they arrive and they still haven’t found an apartment to rent. We understand that they are only trying to “time” their household furnishings arrival to their finding a rental but we can count a handful of folks that after putting all of their furnishings in their new home realized it was not the home for them. We don’t think we need to reiterate how haste really does contribute to waste.


Some newcomers are going back and forth to the immigration office and lawyers while trying to find an apartment, while trying to figure out where everything is, while trying to help their doggie adjust, while trying to do the tourist stuff and… all the while trying to stay healthy and enjoy their arrival in Cuenca.

Our chances of escaping any kind of illness when we first arrive in Cuenca Ecuador is much better when we eat right and take it easy…everything does not need to get done in the first week.  And let’s not forget, it may feel like a vacation but uprooting our lives and moving abroad can be one of the most stressful time of our lives, so why push our body to the limit? We say, slow down and smell the cocoa!

Until we write again, you might like to read these other articles about how to better adjust to your new life abroad. 
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!


  1. Great advise! The chocolate sandwich does look pretty good though. :)

  2. great advice! as a very frequent traveler, I routinely follow much of what you've advised and concur that works! Wish that had been dark, dark chocolate in that sandwich!


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