10 Years of Blog Archive

Monday, April 11, 2016

How Many Foreigners Live in Cuenca Ecuador? Updated 2016

How many foreigners live in Cuenca Ecuador permanently?    Our family lives here permanently and so that makes 5 people for sure that live in Cuenca Ecuador. And that is a fact!

Putting all joking aside...We have some new (red text) updates on this topic, which we first published on September 2011. All the original text remains so you can sorta get an idea of what it was like here five years ago.

As of February 28, 2015 it has been reported that there are12,000 foreigners living as permanent residents in Cuenca, according to the 'Ministry of Foreign Affairs'.

[SegĂșn el Ășltimo registro del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, los estadounidenses que viven de forma permanente en la ciudad superaron los 8.000 habitantes; junto a europeos y canadienses sobrepasan los 12.000 residentes extranjeros.] 

At the last registry of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the number of north Americans (U.S) who live permanently in the city exceeded 8,000; with Europeans and Canadians the numbers surpass the 12,000 foreign residents living in Cuenca Ecuador.

Please take notice: the "El Tiempo" article says...AT THE LAST REGISTRY OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.   

Source: El Tiempo Newspaper

There are only about 500 gringo expats that reside (live full time) in Cuenca.  

Update 2016 - Wow, of course that was back then in 2011...Cuenca had a tiny, tiny gringo population. No furniture for sale, no gringo restaurants, no gringo volunteers to speak of, no gringo events, no gringo services like there are today and wow, you barely saw another foreigner when you went out for the day. When we did spot another gringo we'd say, "oh look honey, some gringos over there".
Park Calderon

And $250 to $300 house rentals were the norm all over Cuenca. In fact the high end of back then was $400 and is what you see now for the $800 to $1200 price. And this rental inflation has happened within a five year span.

UPDATE 2018: Ok guys, in early 2017, rental prices softened. you can still find $300 dollar rentals, however, there may not be as many of those as the $500 rental. Still, you will find over-priced rentals, but if you take your time and do your on-the-ground research you can easily find rentals for $400 month in Cuenca Ecuador for 2018.

What Does EXPATriation Mean?

Expatriation means the individual, couple or family has uprooted themselves from their country of origin and has moved to another country to reside full time. While there may be over 2,500 gringos visiting Cuenca in a year’s time, some of them stay only two weeks, some stay a month and then some stay the 90 day visa stamp. Some never return and some do return to live and retire here in Cuenca or Quito. 

Update 2016 - the actual figure of visitors to Cuenca now is way more than what it was back in 2011. In fact, the Cuenca immigration office admitted they get 10 new application for resident Visa from N. Americans each week. 

UPDATE November 2014 - While figures of "how many expats" live in Cuenca" is all over the map, we can safely say the gringo/expat community is growing. More new foreigners arrive weekly than gringos leave, so you can expect to keep seeing more and more foreigners living in Cuenca and even other parts of Ecuador. The gringo population that live here full time is now in the couple of thousands, or more. 

However, compare that figure to Panama which has over 50,000 gringos living full time (expats) in just Panama city, Panama, then it makes this number of gringos living full time in Cuenca seem small. But because Cuenca is not that spread out and gringos love the small 4 mile by 4 mile downtown area you see a lot of gringos in Cuenca.

Where are the Gringos?

With a population of about 500,000 people living in Cuenca, you will see more gringo's at the Supermaxi grocery store, or in a gringo owned restaurant, or if something is going on in the square downtown. It used to be that on some days we never saw another gringo in Cuenca, but that has all changed. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaint, just an observation. 

Cuenca Named Best Place to Live in the World?

Cuenca has been named the best retirement city in the world to live over and over again in the past! Remember: no where on earth is perfect. See our video 12 annoying things about Cuenca Ecuador. This video of our family’s annoyances about Cuenca will surely help your move to Ecuador be that much better because you will see the real Cuenca, at least through our perspective. And the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide will be your best friend when you first get here because it saves you money, time and hassle.

Update 2016 - We updated our 12 annoyances video

More foreigners will be coming to Cuenca to check it out, meaning they are not residents yet, but only thinking about becoming residents. Some of the gringos who visit Cuenca are from Canada, some are from United States and some are from Germany, Italy, and some are from Australia and the UK. We say, Welcome to Cuenca! Come and visit and see if it is a good fit for you!

Ecuador Will Soon Explode with Gringos

Update 2014:  We made the comment above over two years ago and it is coming true! Ecuador is growing with more and more foreigners arriving in all parts of Ecuador but mostly Quito and Cuenca.

Update 2016 - There is definitely more of a gringo population in Cuenca; we notice it when we go out walking and just enjoying our day. However, it does seem as if there is a slow down the last couple of months. 

We also have noticed and experienced that foreigners like to be in certain areas of Cuenca that are near the downtown area, which has really upped the rentals in these areas. The $300 to $400 house is now $500 to $700. We knew this would happen, just didn't think so fast. Sure you can still find the $400 house but it probably will not be up to US standards, or it will not have a yard, or it will be too far from the stores, or up an incline, or etc, etc, etc.

Until we write again, you might want to check out more articles about foreigners moving to Cuenca. 
We're an expat family of five living frugal, healthy and happy in Cuenca Ecuador.  Come follow along with us as we take you on our frugal living abroad journey. 


  1. If this is the 3rd year that Cuenca has been named the most desirable place to retire, AND there are only 500 gringo expatriates in a city of a half a million, then I am hopeful that Cuenca will not become like Panama.

    I'm in the process of relocating and am hopeful that maybe a little bit of that cool weather will deter many folks looking for hot weather.

  2. It is my opinion that the people naming Cuenca the most desirable place to retire have an investment in this choice. They sell seminars and sell videos... Like Frank and Angie are saying, there are a lot of wonderful places to live in the world, Cuenca is just one of them. Don't be fooled my these big marketing companies that are trying to sell you a dream...

  3. Try Guayaquil very little gringos stay there, why maybe crime, heat, or less colonial. I know my in-laws live there and its way cheaper than Cuenca. This being said, I do like Cuenca over the coast since I am Boston where its cold most of the year.

  4. Agreed, but,,,while Gringos annoy the hell out of me too the Gringo infastructor can be a vauble resource if you don't know the local language and cultural quirks of a the country you decide to live in.

  5. Cuenca sounds like a great place. Are there lots of expats there who do yoga and meditation? What are the expats like who live there?

    1. Yes, Cuenca is a nice city. There is yoga and a large expat community.

    2. Oh that's great! THank you! How many of those expats would you say do yoga and meditation?

  6. hello! I am looking to expand a music school here in the States internationally and Cuenca is one choice I am looking into. I know there are a number of Americans Europeans and Canadians so finding English speakers will not be a problem ( I know some Ecuadorians speak it and I know some Spanish). This school has a base office and goes to people's residences and teaches one on one. I will be starting with guitar lessons then expending to other instruments.
    Does this sound feasible in Cuenca? Will I be able to find students - at least enough to get things started? I am looking to teach not just ex-pats but natives too, anyone who wants to learn - I just need to know if this is viable and where in the city people the ex-pats congregate? Also where the locals with a decent income reside.
    ANY INFO will be most welcome!!



HMFamilyLife and Discover Cuenca Ecuador Comment Policy
We welcome applicable and respectful comments. Off-topic comments may be removed.