Most people have now heard about the wonderful cost of living that is found in Cuenca Ecuador. If by chance you didn’t know about the splendor of Cuenca then let me reiterate. International Living named Cuenca Ecuador the top retirement city in the world for the third year in a row based on cost of living, weather, medical and dental, crime, etc.
Many people from North America and Europe are considering moving to Ecuador as a possible retirement destination. And for the most part all of the things that International Living says about Ecuador are true. But what about the things that you never hear about, or what about the things that you just don’t think of because you really, really want your retirement money to go further so you can live a better life and be in a beautiful country? Here are some things you may have not considered.
1.Family: If you leave family behind (daughters, sons and grandchildren) will you miss them and want to move back? If you are a close knit family in the states and you move to Ecuador, you better believe you will miss them. Yes, you can go visit them but will your budget permit that?
2.Cost of Living: Ah yes, your money will go further here but is this the only reason you want to move to Ecuador? If money is your top priority for moving to a new place so far away from your normal activities and day to day living, you may find that this new place is not for you.
3.Euphoria: Traveling and visiting other countries is a blast but once the newness wears off and the scenery, food, and atmosphere become the same old thing you wake up to every day, will you still like Ecuador for retirement? This depends on what type of person you are. If you are the type of person that makes their own happiness, without relying on others and outside circumstances to make them happy then you’ll do just fine here.
4.Altitude sickness: Some people cannot live in high altitudes because it bothers their asthma and some people have panic attacks. We know of one couple that had to leave Cuenca because the wife was becoming ill from the high altitude. Cuenca Ecuador is quite high at 8,301 ft. Most folks only experience slight dizziness and being out of breath for the first week or so, but those with asthma, or heart and lung conditions should consider the altitude before moving here. Check with your health care practitioner before making such a move.
5.Culture Shock: some people become so shocked by the culture that they can’t take it and have to leave. What is culture shock? A state of bewilderment and distress experienced by an individual who is suddenly exposed to a new, strange, or foreign social and cultural environment. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_shock/
6.Weather: Yes, yes, yes, it’s all true what people say about the weather, it is quite mild. Generally the weather is between 60ish and 70ish every single day. But what we have observed is it is more cloudy than sunny. Frank doesn’t seem to mind this as much as I do; I love sunny days. But I am learning to adapt and that is what most of us long-timers do.
7.Crime: Word is out about Cuenca being promoted as the best gringo haven and now hungry thieves from Guayaquil and other cities are coming here to help relieve us of our materialistic burden of having too much. Stay aware of what you're doing.
We have not experienced any problems with thievery, but look at us, we’re a family of five tall people, and we walk around usually in a group, perhaps we look like a gang of thieves to them. We don’t stay out past 8pm. Plus we walk with purpose and don’t act vulnerable—we never walk around solo. We also think that some of the locals think Frank is an Ecuadorian, which helps us because they don’t rob their own generally speaking. They target gringos.
8.Restaurant Business? A lot of expats think they will move here and start a restaurant or hostel/B&B, but think again. There are already too many restaurants and hostels in Cuenca and it’s very risky to start such a venture with so much competition already in this area.
9. Going Local: Are you willing to learn basic Spanish and have Ecuadorian friends and interact with the locals, at least on some level? If not, you will most likely feel isolated and not be very happy here. We have found the happiest expats are the ones with a "live and let live attitude". Believe us, not everything is going to be going your way.
10.Shipping Your Stuff and Buying Stuff: Ok, so you’re absolutely sure that Cuenca is where you want to hang your hat, not just because of cost of living but because of the friendly people, beautiful country, wonderful springtime (riiiight) weather, and the family oriented lifestyle and culture.
Should you ship your stuff or buy your stuff when you get here. We can’t decide this for you…this is something that only you can decide because of your circumstances, but I can tell you this. You can buy just about everything you need here to furnish your new home or condo but it does cost a bit more than what it does in the states. Electronics cost about twice as much, so you might want to bring your laptops and other favorite electronics with you.